Big Bang’s T.O.P opens up about his past suicide attempt, solo album and future plans

Published March 9, 2022, 10:12 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

K-pop boy band Big Bang’s T.O.P has opened up about his life, drug controversy and suicide attempt, and plans for the future.

In February, it was announced that Big Bang will be making their comeback in four years by releasing a song in the spring.

This will be the first time that they will be releasing a song with four members: G-Dragon, Taeyang, Daesung and T.O.P. Seungri left the group and announced his retirement from the entertainment industry in March 2019 due to the controversy related to the Burning Sun club.

Big Bang’s T.O.P uploaded the March 2022 cover and pages of Prestige featuring him on his Instagram account (Photos from Prestige online and Instagram)

In addition, T.O.P terminated his contract with YG Entertainment but he will still be a member of Big Bang.

“We respect his decision of wanting to expand his activities as an individual, not only as a Big Bang member, and we drew a great conclusion with other members too regarding this. He will join Big Bang’s activities when the situation allows him to,” the agency said, according to YG Blog.

In an interview with Hong Kong-based lifestyle magazine Prestige, T.O.P talked about his past suicide attempt, Big Bang, solo album and establishing his own record label.

Military service and suicide attempt

“This is the first time I’ve spoken this publicly, but I did try to commit suicide about five years ago. I realized later how much hurt and painful memories I gave to the people around me, my family and fans out there,” said T.O.P.

T.O.P enlisted on Feb. 9, 2017 as a conscripted policeman, the first member of Big Bang to start military service.

However, on June 1, 2017, it was revealed that he tested positive for marijuana use. The police got a sample of his hair in April. He issued an apology for causing disappointment and vowed to reflect.

“I’m too ashamed of myself to stand in front of people and apologize. There are no excuses for my behavior, and I deeply regret what I did. I know I’ve caused irreparable pain to the members, our agency, the public, my fans, and my family, and I believe that I deserve to be punished,” T.O.P wrote.

On June 5, 2017, he was indicted by prosecutors for smoking marijuana four times at his home in Yongsan, Seoul in October 2016 and his military service was suspended.

A day after his indictment, he was found unconscious in an apparent drug overdose from benzodiazepine used “to treat generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, seizures, social phobia, and panic disorder,” according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Examples of the drug are Valium and Xanax. T.O.P was rushed to a hospital.

“It is suspected that Mr. Choi [T.O.P’s surname] was overdosed with benzodiazepine,” doctors at Ewha Womans University Medical Center told the media on June 7, 2017, according to Yonhap News. He was discharged from the hospital on June 9 and was transferred to another hospital.

The Seoul Central District Court convicted T.O.P on July 20, 2017 for using marijuana and imposed a jail time of 10 months suspended for two years and a fine of 12,000 won (P524).

“Actually, I was going to seriously stop making music and stop being a musician. But during the bad times, the rough times, my motivation to keep going was the music. I wrote more than 100 songs over the past five years. It’s been my motivation, like wanting to fill up a bookshelf with my work. It’s been my passion. I realized how precious it is to pay back what I’ve received. I feel that I’m reborn,” T.O.P told Prestige.

T.O.P lamented that “tragically, Korea is number one in suicide rates among OECD countries. Over the past five years I’ve been studying that a bit more, and inside my studio, I’ve tried to put that mentality into my music. Through my music, I want to provide hopes and dreams to many young people who are in despair at this very moment.”

OECD is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an organization composed of 38 countries including South Korea.

Big Bang and solo album

T.O.P, 34, also talked about Big Bang, a group that debuted in 2006, and his own plans.

“From the beginning, I’ve always shared with my fans that I’m fully proud that I am T.O.P of Big Bang, but in the last few years I was starting to think that maybe this was the end, and maybe there won’t be T.O.P of Big Bang for a while,” he said.

He added, “Big Bang is an idol artist group. But I’m too old, and everyone’s old too!”

He said it will be a while before he comes back as T.O.P of Big Bang.

“Being super honest with the fans, I really don’t want to say this is my last,” he says. “But even more frankly, it might be a long while until I come back as T.O.P of Big Bang. Over those five years, our music tastes and activities probably differed a lot, and now Big Bang music and T.O.P’s music are quite different. I’m at the stage in my life where I want to awaken to fresh new challenges, stimuli and transition,” he said.

He revealed that he will be releasing his first solo album.

“I’ve been saying to my fans since my debut that I’ve been planning to come back with a solo album sometime in the future, whenever I feel ready. Now, I feel ready. My first album will come out soon, and it will be my very first journey of sharing who I really am,” said T.O.P.

He added, “You’ll be surprised, because I’ve been recording continuously during the hiatus, and there’ll be a lot of different genres included in the album. All the songs are from my pure heart — I spent a lot of sweat and effort to make this album possible. For the first time since my debut 16 years ago, my first full album will be released, and this album will be created as a feature film.”

Record company

T.O.P also said he will be establishing a record company.

“I don’t want to be a robot maker. I want to make a real artist and help real artists. I’m positive about making a group that’s completely different from Big Bang in the future,” he said.

He wants it to be different from other K-pop entertainment agencies.

“I myself am fortunate that I only spent less than a year as a trainee before I debuted — a relatively short time — but after, I saw all the trainees, the boys and girls, they’re under a very harsh system. They’re told what to do and trained just like robots. They might get popular, they might get bigger, but in their heart and in ways we can’t see, they’re being isolated, and feel lonely inside,” he said.

He is also planning to release his own wine.

“It started when I was going through some tough times, as a way to pay back fan support. I came up with this idea that I wanted to share some good wines at a reasonable price. It doesn’t have to be only for certain people out there – I want to share with everyone,” he said.

T.O.P is on the cover of the March 2022 issue of Prestige magazine.