×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

South Korean Director Retires After Sex Assault Verdict, Social Media Storm

South Korean director Lee Hyun-ju says she will immediately retire from filmmaking. She was found guilty in December of a sexual assault against another woman in the industry in an incident that took place in 2015.

Acclaimed for her 2016 film “Our Love Story,” Lee was given a two-year jail sentence, suspended for three years, plus 40 hours of sex-education therapy.

This week Lee was stripped of an award she received from Women in Film Korea late last year. The organization said it did not know of the charges or the verdict against her when it awarded the prize. Korean law protects the identities of both the attacker and the victim in sexual assault cases. Lee, who had been known only as “A,” chose to identify herself.

She issued a statement Thursday that ran the gamut from contrition to an avowal of innocence and an accusation that the trial judge was biased.

“Although I accept the ruling, I feel I have been falsely accused….I agree that my behavior has hurt the victim and the victim’s boyfriend, regardless of the reasons,” Lee said. “Thanks for those who supported and liked ‘Our Love Story.’ I am sorry to disappoint many people. To me movies were all I had in life, and I lived for it until now. However, I will quit working in the film industry to take responsibility for the issue.”

Lee’s acceptance of responsibility and retirement, however, are unlikely to end matters. The victim, still identified only as “B,” has taken to social media with a series of recriminations. A friend of Lee’s from their school days, she said the incident occurred after she got drunk with friends and was taken by Lee to a motel to sleep it off. When she woke up, B said, she was largely unclothed. Lee said the sex between them was consensual, but B has insisted otherwise.

B accused Lee of forcing the matter to trial rather than privately accept that the incident had been one-sided. She said that Lee had not apologized and that Lee had used the Women in Film award to promote her film in the same month as the court found her guilty.

“Our Love Story” won the top film prize at the 2016 Jeonju film festival. The film earned Lee the best new director prize in 2017 at the Blue Dragon Awards.

Women in Film Korea said it learned of Lee’s assault case Feb. 2 through a report. “The board members believe she has clearly violated the cause of the association’s establishment and have decided to cancel her award,” the organization said in a statement.

More Film

  • Cate Blanchett's 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette'

    Cate Blanchett's 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' Moved Back to August

    Annapurna Pictures has moved its Richard Linklater literary adaptation “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” starring Cate Blanchett back five months from March 22 to an Aug. 9 release. A rep for Annapurna explained that August has served well as a launching pad for release of female-skewing films such as “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Florence Foster Jenkins” and [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani Issa Rae

    Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae to Star in 'Lovebirds' Romantic Comedy

    “The Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani and “Insecure” star Issa Rae will topline Paramount’s romantic comedy “The Lovebirds.” The project will reunite Nanjiani with “The Big Sick” helmer Michael Showalter, who’s on board to direct from a script by Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall, and Martin Gero. The project goes into production at the end of [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized by the [...]

  • 'The Pledge' Review

    Film Review: 'Pledge'

    “Privilege comes with sacrifice” says one character to another in “Pledge” — exactly the kind of noble sentiment authority figures always voice to hush the protests of those about to be sacrificed. This third feature for director Daniel Robbins is no delicate flower of cinematic art, but a lean and mean shocker that tells its [...]

  • John Lithgow

    John Lithgow-Blythe Danner's 'Tomorrow Man' Bought Ahead of Sundance Premiere

    In one of the first deals for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, Bleecker Street has acquired North American rights to the John Lithgow-Blythe Danner romance “The Tomorrow Man.” The movie will hold its world premiere at the fest, which opens on Jan. 24 in Park City, Utah. The distributor is planning a May 17 release. [...]

  • Dragon Ball Super Broly

    'Dragon Ball Super: Broly' Scores Big First Day With $7 Million

    Funimation Films’ Japanese anime movie “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” has opened impressively with a dominant first-day total of $7 million at 1,260 North American locations on Wednesday. The English-language version of “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” which screened at 180 Imax and Cinemark XD premium large format screens, generated by far the best per-screen average among [...]

  • Shoplifters Cannes

    Box Office: 'Shoplifters' Hits $2 Million to Become One of 2018's Highest-Grossing Foreign Films

    Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” has become an unexpected box office success. The Japanese drama about a petty thief who adopts a young girl has earned critical raves and picked up the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. That translated into commercial success for Magnolia, the indie distributor that’s been overseeing the film’s rollout. “Shoplifters” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content