‘Squid Game’ Actor Oh Young-soo Goes on Trial on Sex Crime Charges on Feb. 3

He has long been considered one of the best stage actors in Korea, appearing in more than 200 productions since 1968 and winning several awards. In 2021, he rose to international fame after portraying Oh Il-nam, an older, devious contestant in the Netflix hit series “Squid Game.”

On Friday, he will appear in court on charges of indecent assault. If convicted, he would be the latest example of how South Korea is trying to crack down on sex crimes as the country continues to grapple with the echoes of the #MeToo movement.

Prosecutors charged Oh Young-soo, 78, in November, after a woman filed a complaint accusing him of inappropriately touching her in 2017. If a district judge in Suwon, how? Seoul about 20 miles south, convicted Mr. Oh, he will face prison. up to 10 years or a fine of up to approximately $12,000.

Some additional information is known about the case and the incident. Court documents are not available by law and the authorities have declined to provide further details about the whistleblower, citing its policy not to disclose any information about victims of sex crimes sex.

Mr Oh has denied any wrongdoing, but he has faced consequences since being charged. He was dropped from the cast of the Korean play “Love Letter,” in which he was slated to perform on January 14. The country’s Ministry of Culture has also stopped broadcasting a show. government advertisement featuring him.

Lim Dong-sik, head of the advertising department of the broadcasting network that sponsored the play in which Oh was in, said: “I rushed to ask for a replacement as soon as I heard the news. Mr. Lim added that the allegations had tarnished Mr. Oh’s reputation.

Last year, Mr. Oh became the first Korean Win the Golden Globe, for best supporting actor. He is also nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance in “Squid Game,” a dark psychological drama about lucky Koreans entering a secret, deadly contest in hopes of winning a life-changing fortune. life.

The show has shocked pop culture around the world — becoming Netflix’s most-watched new series ever — and features Mr. Oh as Oh Il-nam, an older opponent known as “Player 001” in the game. Netflix did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Prosecutors in Suwon filed charges on November 25 after initially dropping the case. Jang Shin-mo, a department head at the station, said that a police station in Seongnam, a neighboring city, initially received the woman’s complaint in December 2021 and immediately started it. investigate the case. Jang said the station sent the case to prosecutors in February 2022, but authorities decided not to press charges two months later.

Ms. Jang said the woman appealed and asked the police to reopen the case in May. After gathering more evidence, prosecutors filed charges last November.

People convicted of indecent assault in South Korea become registered sex offenders and are monitored by the police even after serving prison terms. First-time offenders may receive reduced sentences, such as five years, or simply a fine.

Mr. Lim, the advertising director, said that after being charged, Mr. Oh had become particularly unfit to appear in the play “Love Letter”. The play is a romantic love story about a pair of actors who take turns reading love letters to each other. Each character is married to someone else, but they exchange intimate letters throughout their lives.

Mr Lim said his company decided to remove Mr. Oh from the play on the day the charges were announced. Mr. Oh and the other actor who had been scheduled to be paired up were replaced by two other actors.

After the Culture Ministry canceled government advertisements featuring Mr Oh, the ministry said in a statement it did so to avoid “unnecessary controversy”. The emailed statement did not explicitly mention the allegations against Mr. Oh. Ads promoting regulatory reform disappeared from government websites, official social media channels and subway stations just 11 days after they appeared.

Throughout her career, Oh has played supporting roles in film and television, including the role of an elderly Buddhist monk in the 2003 romantic drama “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring.” .” That role earned him the nickname “actor monk”, a role he would reprise in other movies, TV shows, and commercials.

Over the past five years, the fledgling #MeToo movement in South Korea has led to allegations of sexual abuse against a range of famous men, many of whom are powerful figures in the entertainment industry. Some have apologized or resigned; a few were found guilty of rape and other sex crimes and sentenced to long prison terms.

In South Korea, the legal threshold required to be convicted of a sex offender is very high. Prosecutors must prove that force or threat of force was present when the sexual act was committed. But in recent years, some have called for the law to be relaxed; Women’s rights groups have argued that prosecutors should be able to convict sex offenders simply by demonstrating that the victim did not consent.

Chang Dahye, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Criminology and Justice, said securing evidence in indecent assaults can also pose challenges. However, courts often rule in favor of the prosecution in indecent assault cases in South Korea. Ms Chang added that prosecutors here have the sole authority to decide whether to charge a suspect and they are unlikely to do so unless they believe they have enough evidence to win.

The conviction rate of prosecuted sex crimes cases is more than 80 percent, she said.

Matt Stevens contributed reporting from Seoul.


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