Rapper B.I openly apologised for his past drug use to the local press for the first time.
The apology came on Thursday during a press conference for B.I's second studio album To Die For that took place in Seoul, few hours before the album's release at 6pm.
"I've disappointed many people by making wrong decisions and choices in the past. I'm sincerely sorry. I know I haven't properly addressed my honest thoughts to the public and wanted to deliver my apology today," he said.
B.I, whose real name is Kim Han-bin, was given a suspended sentence on charges of drug use in September 2021. He was found guilty of using and purchasing illegal drugs and was given a three-year jail-term suspended for four years.
He had to leave the group iKON due to the scandal in 2019.
However, he was fast to return to the music scene.
In June 2021, even before his sentence was announced, B.I started off fresh as a solo musician with his first studio album Waterfall.
B.I on Thursday said he feels indebted to many people, and wants to give back through his music.
"I've never forgotten what happened four years ago. My heart tears up realizing how I've hurt so many people," he said.
"I know that many people still feel discomfort about me. I also have not gotten any more comfortable or relieved, to be honest."
The 26-year-old continued, saying that he spent "every day in regret and remorse" and vowed not to repeat his mistakes.
"This will not change much in the future. I realize I may not be welcomed by the public for a long time. That is also on me. I will spend the rest of my life reflecting and apologising."
It was his fans and people around him who had supported him to stand up again, he said.
"I'm the most grateful to my fans. I always question how they could give me such big love. All I can do is just try my best to do my best at what I do," he said.
At Thursday's event, the press questioned B.I on his future plans, amid his repeated apologies about his past.
"Not only was I too immature, (I was also) thoughtless then," he said, speaking about the excuse he had given in the past that he had used drugs as a source of inspiration for his music.
"These days, I think it's only my passion and effort that matter. My work itself is my focus now. I've lost so much and learnt a lot. But most of all, I've lost so much in the process," he said.
B.I on Thursday returned seven months since his last release with his new album To Die For.
The album is a 15-track studio set, with all songs written by B.I. himself. With the expansive collection, B.I sings of the desperate emotions about dreams, love and life felt at the height of youth.
Two title songs front the package, "Dare to Love, featuring Big Naughty, and Die for Love featuring Jessi.
The album includes seven more new songs from B.I, including Wave (feat. Kid Milli, Lil Cherry), The Island of Misfit Toys, Beautiful Life (feat. Crying Nut), Cloud Thought and Truth. It also includes six songs from B.I's half-studio album Cosmos, dropped in November 2021.
"The second LP was already complete when I released 'Cosmos, but I didn't feel satisfied, so except for one song, I remade everything," he said about the new album.
The new album is like his diary, the rapper said.
"I wanted to apologize and show the results of my hard work and how I have changed since," he added.
A singer-songwriter who composes and writes the lyrics to almost all of his songs, B.I said that his thoughts are now the fuel for his creations.
"I get inspired by poems, books and films, but more than anything, I think a lot. I spend much of my time at home and poring over my own thoughts. I get my own answers from them. Those answers inspire me," the musician said.
In September, the rapper is set to take the stage at Lollapalooza Berlin as the first Korean artist ever to perform at the German festival. He is also the only Korean act to attend this year.
The rapper acknowledged that he has not regained the public's trust, especially in South Korea.
While some criticise him for coming out too early without spending enough time to reflect, B.I said he made the decision for his fans and the public.
"There is no set period for remorse. It does not end. I came back to return to all the people I am indebted to. This is a burden I need to take for the rest of my life," he said.
With an occasionally trembling voice, he kept his gaze mostly lowered throughout the press conference.
"Although I've changed, deep inside me there are things that I cannot let go just because I want to. I will never forget. My songs are like a record of my thoughts, and I will continue to do what I can do, staying humble and aware of what the public is saying to me." – By Choi Ji-won/The Korea Herald/Asia News Network