Emmy Award Nominee Lee Jung-jae has recently had his past dug up by netizens. Screenshots of news reports of the Squid Game actor being involved in assaults and multiple DUIs have been doing the rounds on social media.
On Instiz, a famous South Korean online forum, a user posted the many crimes of the 49-year-old actor that had allegedly been swept under the rug. The actor was arrested for driving under the influence and charged with assaulting people, including a woman.
Trigger Warning: Mentions of homophobia and suicide. Reader's discretion is advised.
News of Lee Jung-jae being homophobic has also emerged lately. Back in 2013, Korea JoongAng Daily reported about the actor's Vogue Korea interview where he made homophobic comments towards his friend who took his own life.
One K-netizen was surprised that people did not know about the actor’s past, while many mentioned that it was their first time hearing about them. Several netizens also shared that some big stars had been able to clear their image, especially when it was reported at a time with hardly any internet access. The alleged crimes are noted to be dated as far back as 2000.
On the other hand, many rose to defend the actor. They argued about how a person can change in 20 years or that someone was creating controversy since he landed the lead role in a major Star Wars project.
Veteran South Korean actor Lee Jung-jae’s past catches up with him, draws mixed reactions from netizens
Lee Jung-jae, the Squid Game actor who rose to international fame and broke records, has been a point of debate on the internet for nearly a day. Discussions regarding the actor's past, including his multiple DUIs and charges of assault, are spreading like wildfire on Twitter.
In a news clipping posted on Instiz, Lee Jung-jae was arrested by the Gangnam Police Station for driving under the influence. The report stated that the actor had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.222% and had collided with a 23-year-old female office worker at Gangnam-gu around 2 am. It also mentioned that the actor denied the allegations and said that his manager was driving the BMW.
Lee Jung-hae was arrested for another DUI in 2002. In their article dated August 22, 2002, Yonhap News reported that Gangnam Police arrested the actor without detention. He was reported to have a blood alcohol percentage of 0.054%. Additionally, the actor admitted that he drank three beer bottles with his friends.
Assault cases against the Squid Game actor were reported in 2000. On January 14, 2000, in a report by a local news publication, it was stated that Lee Jung-jae got into an altercation with another man at a bar, a 30-year-old man with the surname Pyo.
The incident occurred in November 1999 in Seoul's Cheongdam-dong. The report stated that he allegedly had an argument with Pyo and assaulted him with another friend, one with the surname Park.
Sometime in September 2000, the Busan Haeundae Police Station booked him for assaulting a 22-year-old woman. He reportedly dragged and kicked her in front of a nightclub in Haeundae-gu, Busan. The woman sustained injuries for two weeks.
Along with these DUI and assault reports, a comment by Lee Jung-jae about his friend was deemed homophobic. In a 2013 interview with Vogue Korea, he spoke about his friend, Mr. Y, who died by suicide, and commented that he told him to "stop being gay."
"A while ago, Y left for heaven…[Before he died,] I said to Y, ‘You should stop being gay. Haven’t you been that way enough?’ But it was not easy."
For a South Korean superstar who has been making history for over a year, his past actions have become a target of great discussion. Some netizens criticized him while others defended him. A few people also commented that they brought out the past controversies even during Squid Game, but not many people paid attention to it.
Lee Jung-jae recently landed the lead role in Disney+'s Star Wars: The Acolyte. With his past actions now up on the internet in mainstream media, it is up for debate whether the actor's projects, including Squid Game 2, will be affected or not.
There was no official announcement regarding the matter from Lee Jung-jae's representatives at the time of writing this article.