Korea has its own Hollywood of sorts, centred largely in Seoul. For a while, the Korean wave was a big thing, as Korean movie stars, K-pop singers, and others gained fame throughout Asia. While the tide may have crested, Korea’s own movie industry still manages to churn out internationally respected films. In fact, sometimes the local movies do better here than the ones from Hollywood do. Bae Yong-joon, known in Japan as Yonsama, still has a huge following there.
It also seems that our Korean Hollywood of sorts is quite capable of churning out its own scandals. Among the male actors, quite possibly the biggest star is Lee Byung-hun. I’ve seen some movies that he has starred in. He is a pretty good actor. I especially enjoyed his movie JSA, the story of a doomed friendship between North Korean and South Korean soldiers at the DMZ. He is currently starring in the TV drama Iris, a huge hit on KBS.
Who needs Hollywood when the Korean stars are perfectly capable of getting into scandalous situations on their own? Currently, a 22 year-old gymnast and ex-girlfriend is suing Mr. Lee alleging that he lured her into a sexual relationship by promising to marry her. She is suing him to the tune of 100,000,000 원 somewhere in the neighbourhood of $90,000. She also alleges gambling, something which could get him into some hot water, as Koreans can gamble only in two types of places. However, he is now countersuing her for defamation. Korea’s libel laws are very broad, so she could well find herself in legal trouble.
Despite the fact that he is the face of the government-owned 7 Luck casinos in Seoul and Busan, only foreigners may gamble there. Korean citizens may only gamble at Gangwon Land, a resort in neighbouring Gangwon Province. However, any Koreans who live in the area of the casino may not gamble there, as the casino is required by law to check IDs.
You can read about his legal woes in The Korea Times.