Photo scandal ends entertainment career

HONG KONG — Edison Chen, the actor and pop star at the center of the three week long celebrity photos scandal, Thursday announced that he will “step away from the Hong Kong entertainment industry.”

Retirement will take effect as soon as he has completed his current obligations.

“I will be away from Hong Kong entertainment indefinitely. There is no time frame,” he said at a press conference.

Chen said that he had chosen to retire as “society as a whole has begun to be affected (by the scandal).”

“I admit that most of the photographs being circulated on the Internet were taken by me,” he acknowledged early on in his six minute statement. “But these photographs were very private, not to be shown to people.” He added that they were “stolen illegally” and distributed without his consent.

He apologized profusely to the “ladies” in the pics, his parents and to the people of Hong Kong.

His request for forgiveness appeared to be addressed to the journalists and camera crews, which were assembled in their hundreds at the unlovely Kowloon Bay Exhibition Center, probably in greater number than at any previous point in his career.

Chen strode into the sixth floor conference room, a gait which for a split second looked like a swagger, but was probably an over-compensation brought on by nerves. It was a brave performance.

Sitting at a solo table with a single microphone, Chen cut a lonely figure. Gray and skinny, he spoke without notes, in English, and with only a couple of hesitations. But as his voice faded and his apologies were repeated it became clear that he was more likely a man in a state of shock.

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