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(LEAD) T.O.P recovers consciousness, able to communicate: family

All Headlines 15:39 June 08, 2017

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; UPDATES with new details in paras 2-4)

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- T.O.P, a K-pop star who has been hospitalized for an apparent drug overdose, has shown improvement in his condition and is able to recognize people and communicate, according to his family Thursday.

"(His condition) has improved substantially," the singer's mother told reporters at Ewha Womans University Medical Center in western Seoul after visiting her son being treated in an intensive care unit.

When asked whether she made eye contact with her son, the mother answered, "Yes."

A senior police official from T.O.P's police squad, who accompanied the mother, said, "He recognized me. It seems he can communicate."

The 29-year-old singer-rapper, whose real name is Choi Seung-hyun, was hospitalized Tuesday from an apparent overdose of benzodiazepine, a day after he was indicted without detention on charges of smoking marijuana.

T.O.P, member of popular boy band BIGBANG, is suspected of smoking the banned substance four times with a 21-year-old would-be singer, only identified by her surname Han, at his home in Seoul in October last year.

YG Entertainment, which represents T.O.P, apologized for the singer's marijuana scandal that sent a shock wave through fans.

"We deeply apologize to everyone who was let down and hurt by the string of disgraceful incidents involving T.O.P," YG said in a statement.

South Korean singer and actor T.O.P of boy band BIGBANG, who is serving his mandatory military service as a conscripted policeman, leaves his workplace in Seoul surrounded by reporters questioning his marijuana charges on June, 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

"For not being able to rise up to your expectations, we will gravely acknowledge any blame," YG said, adding that it will do its best to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Choi has been serving his mandatory military service as a conscripted policeman since February. He had worked at the Gangnam Police Station in Seoul but was transferred to a different police corps in eastern Seoul following his indictment.

His military service period will be put on hold until a court reaches a verdict. If he receives a jail term of 18 months or more, he will be dishonorably discharged from the service.

All able-bodied Korean men are required to complete at least 21 months of military service before the age of 35 in South Korea.

The use of marijuana is banned in South Korea and can be punished with a maximum of five years in prison or a fine of up to 50 million won (US$44,640).

Media crew are staked out at a hospital in Seoul on June 6, 2017, where T.O.P, a member of the Asiawide popular boy band BIGBANG, is in intensive care for a suspected drug overdose. The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Choi Seung-hyun, was indicted a day earlier without detention on charges of smoking marijuana. (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr
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