BUSAN — Popular Korean actor Lee Byung-hun, normally a regular on the BIFF red carpet, was conspicuously absent at the opening ceremony Thursday night due to his ongoing sex and blackmail scandal.
The aggressive social media scene in South Korea has exploded with the sordid “he-said, she-said, wife-said” presumptions in a case still being sorted out by authorities.
The 44-year-old star (“G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “RED 2”) made headlines this week after filing a police report for being blackmailed by two women who claimed to have compromising video footage of Lee making sexually explicit remarks to them. The women have been detained on conspiracy charges.
Lee, married to another Korean star, Lee Min-jung, is the victim in the eye of the law, but public opinion criticizing his “immoral” actions has been severe.
Online petitions have been launched demanding his ousting from the industry including a ban at BIFF. Lee is the face of a Samsung cell phone advert, an online shopping mall, a casino, as well as Nescafe. One company, SSG, has removed pictures of Lee from its online advertising since the petitions began.
Lee stars in two forthcoming Korean movies “Memories of the Sword” (Lotte) and “The Insiders” (Showbox) and he has a supporting role in Paramount’s “Terminator: Genisys.” Lotte and Showbox are currently adjusting the release dates.