Lee Byung-heon targeted for blackmail
Get ready for what will surely become another entertainment industry rollercoaster of scandalous claims: Lee Byung-heon, megastar and current lead in KBS drama IRIS, has been accused by a Korean-Canadian woman of sexual misconduct and slapped with a lawsuit. Lee refutes the claims and is fighting back.
According to Lee’s management company, BH Entertainment, the star had been the target of “severely slanderous” phone calls beginning in November from an undisclosed group of men, who blackmailed Lee with threats to “expose him to a scandal” if he did not pay them several billions of won. On December 8, a lawsuit was filed with the Seoul District Court by a 22-year-old Canadian gyopo (a Ms. Kwon), who charged that Lee had lured her into a sexual relationship with false promises of marriage. As a result of the mental and physical harm she suffered, she demanded compensation for damages. The amount is for 100 million won, or roughly $86,000 USD.
The woman in question had been a student studying rhythmic gymnastics at York University in Canada before meeting Lee in September 2008, and was a Canadian national athlete. He had been in Toronto to promote his movie The Good, The Bad, The Weird when they met through a friend’s introduction. The president of a company that sponsored Lee told her that she could continue to study and practice gymnastics in Korea and asked her to move to be with Lee. Lee approved the idea, and she left Canada. However, she says that Lee’s behavior changed after her arrival in Korea, and he grew indifferent. He set her up in a home in Seoul but left her to be alone most of the time. She emphasized, “I believe that as a famous star, he used his celebrity and financial power to merely toy with me then abandon me.”
A BH Entertainment representative explained, “Lee Byung-heon did have a girlfriend whom he met last autumn and broke up with this spring, but the abovementioned men threatened to create falsehoods about him and the ex-girlfriend while demanding money. However, when Lee Byung-heon refused to comply, they presented the woman as plaintiff in a civil suit.” The threats demanded 2 billion won (approx $1.7 million) and the men are said to be connected to Ms. Kwon, although their exact relationship was not disclosed. The rep explained that as Lee’s side had done nothing wrong, they had requested an investigation into the threats. They will counter through legal channels with their own lawsuit for defamation of character.