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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ravi of VIXX accused of using draft-dodging broker for military duty

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Ravi of boy band VIXX was accused Thursday of being a client to a broker who was recently arrested for manipulating medical records to help young men evade their mandatory military service.

Ravi is currently serving as a social service agent in lieu of his active duty military service.

The large, draft-dodging broker organization has been under investigation since earlier this month for manipulating the health records of its young male clients. The brokers have since told prosecutors that their clientele included celebrities, athletes, and sons from wealthy families and that the organization bribed a neurologist in Seoul to give clients fake diagnoses of epilepsy.

In Korea, all able-bodied men must serve in the military for 18 months or more, depending on the service branch.

The organization told prosecutors that a famous K-pop idol-turned-rapper was also one of its clients, according to news outlet Kyunghyang Shinmun. The client allegedly stepped down from a popular entertainment show last year and started serving as a social service agent in October.

No specific names were revealed until local news outlets broke the news Thursday that Ravi fits the description. Ravi stopped appearing on the KBS entertainment show “1 Night & Two Days” last year and soon after enlisted as a social service agent, last October.

The Korean government examines every male citizen’s physical and mental condition to determine whether they are fit for active duty. Draftees are classified into physical grades from 1 to 6: 1 to 3 serve in the military for 18 months as active duty personnel, while those ranked 4 substitute their service by working as social service agents at public institutions for 21 months unless they volunteer for active duty. Grades 5 and 6 are exempt from active duty.

According to the brokers, the alleged rapper client also received a grade 4 in his physical evaluation through their tactics of faking an epilepsy diagnosis.

Ravi has kept an image of an upstanding young man since debuting on the small screen in 2012.

Numerous Korean news outlets have tried and failed to reach his agency Groovl1n directly, but the agency later issued an official press statement.

“We are currently meticulously trying to figure out the situation,” the agency, founded by Ravi himself in 2019, wrote. “We are aware we should clarify our stance as quickly as possible, but because the issue is related to military duties, we think it is best to present a detailed explanation after fully figuring out the matter. We will be cooperative with the investigative authorities in the future if necessary.”

Prosecutors say the broker organization seems to have aided around 70 men in evading their military service.

BY HALEY YANG [yang.hyunjoo@joongang.co.kr]