Illegal Gambling Websites
In December 2006, not so long after his problems with his ex-wife ended, the police arrested Lee Sang-min on the suspicion of having a gambling website that had received 210 million KRW in proceeds.
In 2009, the final judgment sentenced Lee Sang-min a year and a half in prison. The sentence was reduced when Lee Sang-min appealed the ruling, to three years on probation and 160 hours of community service, plus 210 million KRW in fines. The scandal got Lee Sang-min banned from the major television channels.
The Peak of The Misfortune
As Lee Sang-min tried to rebuild his business, he started a mega-restaurant featuring live martial arts battles and transgender shows. However, he failed royally in 2005, and that left him heavily in debt, to the tune of about 6.9 billion KRW (roughly $6,200,000 U.S. dollars). This led to a difficult time for Lee Sang-min for years to come. The court started to seize his property as part the payment so that he wouldn’t be able to receive his hard work payment directly.
Finally, in March 2018, Lee Sang-min accepted the happy news from the court that he was partially released from paying the debt through the seizure of the property. Lee Sang-min’s agency, Dmost Entertainment said, “Lee Sang-min paid off a portion of his debt and the court has stopped seizing his income. He is still in the process of repayment and plans to pay it all back by the end of this year.”
However, even though Lee Sang-min is still in the process of paying his debt, he was able to receive payment directly from the TV programs he’s involved in. On SBS’s My Little Old Boy, Lee Sang-min expressed his resignation, “in 10 years, even the scenery changes. However, not my credit score.”
Because of Lee Sang-min’s consecutive financial debt scandals, some people have called him South Korea’s “Icon of Debts”.