Lee Byung-hun Dating Lee Ji-yeon?
The dating rumor was brought up on September 9th, 2014, when Lee Ji-yeon’s lawyer revealed the reason why she blackmailed the actor. According to Soompi, the lawyer said that the model and the actor started seeing each other three months before and ended things in August. The actor said not to see each other anymore and that made Lee Ji-yeon upset so she blackmailed him with a video. The lawyer emphasized that she acted out of impulsive action and was carried by her emotion.
The lawyer also explained about the tickets to Europe that were alleged to be an escape plan. “What model Lee had in her possession was not an airline ticket, but a piece of paper that she had used to write down the time and price of a round trip ticket to Sweden,” he said.
Meanwhile, BH Entertainment disproved the statement and said that it was different from what was said during the police investigation. Later, on September 11th, the agency released an official statement regarding Lee Ji-yeon’s claim about the reason of her blackmailing act. According to Soompi, the agency explained that Lee Byung-hun met Lee Ji-yeon through a mutual friend near the end of June 2014 and had never met her alone so they were not sure where the breakup came from. Lee Byung-hun also said that Lee Ji-yeon and Da-hee used to talk about their financial problem that he found it suspicious so he didn’t want to continue meeting them.
“This sort of response, making the premeditated crime appear to be an impulsive one, we believe is an attempt to damage our image and avoid a severe sentence,” they continued. The agency said that they would rely on police investigation to reveal the blackmailers’ motives. They also said that they would be the first ones to reveal any confirmed results so they hope people would not just believe unverified pieces of information.
On September 29th, 2014, the two women were finally formally arrested and charged with blackmail. DongA.com confirmed that the crime was not an impulsive and emotional act but a premeditated one. They also revealed that on August 29th, the two women attempted to record Lee Byung-hun hugging them but failed so they decided to show him the previously recorded video of their inappropriate conversation to blackmail him. The women told him what kind of impact that would have and that it could affect his image and threatened him to give them 5 billion won while giving him two travel bags. Instead, Lee Byung-hun reported it to the police and the women were held for investigation on September 1st.
The blackmailers received their first trial date, that is October 16th, 2014, after previously Lee Byung-hun was asked as a plaintiff on September 23rd. The police also revealed that Lee Ji-yeon did not have a stable income and Da-hee had a debt to her agency, Big Hit Entertainment, as big as 300 million won (approximately 300,000 USD).
On the first hearing of the trial, both females stated that it was Lee Byung-hun who initiated to meet them first. They also said that there was more skinship than just hugging and even the actor demanded more but was rejected. Last, when the model Lee Ji-yeon rejected the demand, Lee Byung-hun said not to meet anymore. The next day, Da-hee sent an apology letter to the judicial court and was followed by her second letter on October 21st. The specific content of the letter could not be revealed but a few details about it were released. It was handwritten and Da-hee apologized for her wrongdoings but also attempted to correct what had been falsely charged on her. Meanwhile, Lee Byung-hun’s side denied all of it and said it was a one-sided claim.
On November 24th, 2014, Lee Byung-hun appeared in the court as a witness. He was called on November 11th, but due to his schedule, it was postponed. He was present to testify against the previous claims about him conducting sexual acts and bringing up about the house first instead of Lee Ji-yeon. He was accompanied by six to seven individuals, including his manager and bodyguards.
When he was accused of having a relationship with Lee Ji-yeon based on her submitted Kakaotalk chat, Lee Byung-hun said that it was a joke and he did not remember it. The trial was privately held to avoid any defamation of the witness testimony as decided by the court. After doing a three-hour trial, Lee Byung-hun said to the media that he had answered honestly and would be waiting for the final verdict.
The third trial was held at Seoul Central District Court on December 16th, 2014. The women admitted to being accomplices but denied planning and doing the crime. Since it was a serious crime, the prosecution demanded Lee Ji-yeon and Da-hee to serve a three-year sentence for blackmailing Lee Byung-hun. The prosecution added that both of them had shifted the victim to blame instead of repenting and self-reflecting which caused damage to the victim’s family. The prosecution also showed text messages as pieces of evidence that the two women had planned on earning money using private recordings.
It was revealed that the relationship between Lee Byung-hun and Lee ji-yeon was not true considering the messages that she sent with Da-hee underestimated Lee Byung-hun and that the two of them met only a few times. Meanwhile, Lee Ji-yeon’s side denied the crime being premeditated. They also said that the messages Lee Ji-yeon sent to Lee Byung-hun were revealed but the messages Lee Byung-hun sent to Lee Ji-yeon were only partially submitted.
Lee Ji-yeon and Da-hee Sentenced to Prison
On January 15th, 2015, Lee Ji-yeon and Da-hee received their final sentence for blackmailing Lee Byung-hun. The Justice Department sentenced Lee Ji-yeon to a year and two months in prison and Da-hee to a year in prison. According to Soompi, the Justice Department said that the two of them were guilty but they did not have any records and the situation did not carry through. Even though the video was not released, the blackmailers did not seem to show contemplation or appreciate the gravity of their actions. Although Lee Byung-hun made an inappropriate obscene joke during a meeting with alcohol involved, it was recorded secretly only to threaten him for money.
“This caused emotional distress to the victim and with the unconfirmed, one-sided statements, the victim suffered significantly from public criticism. Lee Ji-yeon was in a relationship with the victim, and caused even more damage by claiming that she was the victim of sexual harassment,” they added.
They added that their apology letter submissions did not show sincerity in apologizing for their behavior towards Lee Byung-hun. “The victim, as a celebrity, is a man with a family but engaged in sexual jokes and expressed his interest in them, who are much younger women. It is important to consider their ages and circumstances in the assessment,” they ended. The hearing was not attended by the victim, Lee Byung-hun who was in the United States at the time due to his schedule.
According to Soompi, the final sentence was followed by an apology from Lee Ji-yeon’s mother. She said that during the trial, she only said certain things to establish the facts and that she didn’t intend to cause any harm to Lee Byung-hun, and for that, she apologized. “As a mother, I am very sorry for the public controversy that the trial has caused,” she said. As it was hard for her to watch her daughter go through hardships for months, she wished nothing but happiness for Lee Byung-hun and Lee Min-jung. The mother also said that the family was discussing with the lawyers about the possibility of appealing the court’s verdict.
The Sentence Being Appealed?
Lee Byung-hun had requested for favorable arrangements for the blackmailers. On February 13th, 2015, it was reported that Lee Byung-hun sent a document to the judicial court, indicating that he didn’t want the females to be punished. It was after both of the women appealed the decision, on January 21st.
On March 5th, the first trial of appeals took place for Lee Ji-yeon and Da-hee. Their lawyer emphasized that Lee Byung-hun didn’t want to punish the defendants and that he had met agreements between two parties. The lawyer also asked to consider the defendants’ young age and their regret for their actions. Lee Ji-yeon added a request to bail due to her chronic illness as she said at the trial. She also said that it would be difficult to continue her treatment in prison. Both of the women apologized to Lee Byung-hun and his family, tearfully saying, “Our action was foolish,” then posted bail on March 9th.
Meanwhile, Lee Byung-hun’s representative announced that the actor himself regretted his action as a public figure. Previously, Lee Byung-hun made an apology statement in an interview at the airport after arriving from the United States with his pregnant wife, on February 26th. According to Soompi, the actor thought all the problems started because of him so he would go on reflecting himself. He ended by saying, “I have a huge debt to my family that cannot be repaid over my lifetime, and have been reproached for this also. I will use this place to apologize to everyone once again. I am sorry,” and bowed deeply in front of the cameras.
On the second trial, held on March 26th, 2015, it was reported that the sentence had successfully been appealed and the two women received reduced punishments. Both of them had been released after six months in prison before the second trial. According to Soompi, the judge listed the reasons to appeal the sentence. First, the victim had submitted a statement to the court that the women had been forgiven. Second, although the crime was premeditated, it was only attempted and was not carried out. Third, the defendants were found to have deeply reflected during the six months being detained and both of them were first-time offenders. Last, the victim who was older had made an inappropriate obscene joke with the defendants who were younger females.
Therefore, it was decided that the two women still faced the original sentences but it was suspended for two years. In other words, they did not have to serve 12 months and 14 months in prison if they behave in the two years probation.