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Authorities dig deeper into claims

After questioning, police take steps to arrest Lee Youn-taek
Mar 22,2018
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From left, directors Lee Youn-taek, Lee Hyun-ju and Jeon Jae-hong have all been charged in recent sexual assault and harassment cases. [JOONGANG ILBO, YONHAP]
More actions are being taken by local authorities to investigate those who have been accused of sexual harassment after the recent rise of the Me Too movement.

The police requested an arrest warrant be issued by a judge to theater director Lee Youn-taek Wednesday for multiple sexual harassment charges. Seventeen women filed 62 cases of sexual misconduct from 1999 to last year to police, but only 24 cases from eight victims confirmed by police are stated on the warrant as punishable by law. There are no charges of sexual abuse included in the warrant, as the statute of limitations for the alleged acts has expired.

Police said that Lee admitted his wrongdoing while he was questioned by police on March 17 and 18, saying that the charges “could be true if victims said so.” He denied some of the charges, saying that he did not recall the events or that he was trying to teach acting skills to the members of the troupe.

In another case, the Korean Film Council (KFC) admitted the Korean Academy of Film Arts’ (KAFA) role in trying to cover up an incident of sexual assault committed by director Lee Hyun-ju against another female director.

The Council released the results of an investigation into KAFA’s role in attempting to cover up Lee’s crime on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, a female director and her fiance disclosed on social media that Lee had sexually assaulted her, and also accused KAFA professors of trying to convince the victim to drop the case in fear of disgracing the school’s reputation. Both Lee, who won many awards for her debut feature “Our Love Story,” and the victim are KAFA graduates.

“The first professor who was alerted [of Lee’s crime] has been confirmed to have tried to cover up what Lee did instead trying to protect the victim,” the statement read. “The victim also spoke of the mental suffering she experienced because of inappropriate comments made by the professor. The professor stood as a witness for the assailant, giving an unfavorable testimony towards the victim,” wrote the statement, which added that the professor also requested other staff from KAFA to stand up for Lee.

In December, Lee was found guilty of sexually assaulting a female colleague when the victim was drunk and unconscious, and was sentenced to two years in prison with a three-year probation and 40 hours of sexual abuse education. Although she maintained her innocence, Lee decided to retire following public criticism.

Director Jeon Jae-hong, a known student of filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, who has also recently been engulfed in sexual assault allegations, was found guilty Wednesday of secretly filming men naked at a sauna in August 2016.

At the final trial on Wednesday, the Seoul Western District Court ruled against Jeon, who was indicted in September 2016, and ordered him to pay a fine of five million won ($4,500) and 24 hours of a treatment program on sexual assault.

Though he admitted to the crime, Jeon said he filmed the men “to prevent the frequent loss of his cell phone,” arguing he didn’t intend to film the men’s bodies to fulfill his sexual desires.

In addition to the three directors, photographer Rotta was called in for questioning on Wednesday for sexually assaulting and harassing three models. One of the alleged victims was a minor when she was sexually abused.

“I was only taking pictures,” said Rotta during the questioning. The police will examine the victim’s testimonies and the photographer’s answers to decide whether to request a warrant.

BY SUNG JI-EUN, JIN MIN-JI [sung.jieun@joongang.co.kr]