Look Into Lee Soo-Geun’s Dark Past, Controversy, And Sad Stories
Any Korean variety show lover must have seen Lee Soo-geun’s funny acts and has been entertained by his funny jokes. Lee Soo-geun is a regular face in variety programs, from music, comedy, games, sports, outdoor activities, to talk shows. In the peak of his popularity, he participated in 16 variety shows throughout the year. Among his entertainer friends, he is known as a hard worker, best driver, and multi-sportsman.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know his criminal records like assaulting a woman and illegal gambling and his sad life stories. He was broke and penniless in his early debut as a comedian. His wife’s health condition deteriorated while he was sentenced to probation.
Lee Soo-geun met his best friend that took him through a difficult period and encouraged him to pursue a career in comedy entertainment. He also met his best partner, introducing him to a successful career in variety shows. In this article, Channel-Korea invites you to look beyond his dark past and be inspired by his versatility and hardworking character. So stay tuned!
Full Profile and Facts
Name: Lee Soo-geun
Date of Birth: February 10th, 1975
Place of Birth: Yangpyeong, Korea
Height: 164 cm
Weight: 62 kg
Blood type: O
Management: SM Culture & Contents
Education: Seoul University, Recreation Department
Chinese Zodiac: The Year of the Tiger
YouTube: Sugeun Lee’s Channel
- He was an aerobics instructor before debuting as a comedian
- He lived with only 80000 KRW per month during his early career as a comedian
- His wife used to operate her own online shopping malls for clothing
- He is the hardest working member on every TV program show that he has participated in
- Lee Soo-geun holds taekwondo 5th-degree black belt
- He has a professional level billiard skills
- He holds a license for a commercial driving instructor
- He holds a license for driving buses and trucks
- Lee Soo-geun has one car with a right steering wheel
- Lee Soo-geun drives well in right steering wheel countries
- He once drove a bus during a 1N 2D shooting
- He is close friends with comedian Kim Byung-man and Kang Ho-dong
- Lee Soo-geun participated in Kangbyeon Music Festival in 1996 but he was eliminated by Yoo Hee-yeol
- Lee Soo-geun and actor-singer Im Chang-jung were born in the same neighborhood
- He is a Buddhist
- He is a Starcraft maniac
- He has one brother and one sister
Debut As A Comedian
Before debuting as a comedian, Lee Soo-geun worked as a recreation instructor in a youth training center. In 1999, he followed a casting for a minor role in a movie titled Last Present. The male leading role worked as a comedian in Gag Concert and several people were needed to play as comedians. In the casting set, Lee Soo-geun met his future best friend, Kim Byung-man. Both of them were selected because they were short and they were of similar height.
Lee Soo-geun and Kim Byung-man were asked to make a comedy skit for the film. It turned out that their scene was very funny. The actual producer and writer of KBS’ Gag Concert heard about them and went to see their comedy skit. The producer and writer loved their comedy and their skit was immediately recorded. They were soon contracted to perform on Gag Concert.
Last Present was released in 2001, marking Lee Soo-geun’s and Kim Byung-man’s debut in the entertainment industry. The leading roles were played by Lee Jung-jae and Lee Young Ae.
While working as a comedian in Gag Concert, Lee Soo-geun and his best friend Kim Byung-man lived together in a building rooftop. It was a very difficult period for them. Since they didn’t have any money, they collected empty bottles to pay their monthly rent. Both of them participated in Gag Concert for a year but failed the KBS public audition for comedians.
In order to support his living expenses, Lee Soo-geun decided to pursue a career outside the entertainment world and returned to teach at a youth training center. He called Kim Byung-man and told him about his decision. Kim Byung-man was extremely sad and angered by Lee Soo-geun’s betrayal. Kim Byung-man tried another audition the following year and passed the KBS 17th public audition. After passing the audition, he persuaded Lee Soo-geun to give it another try. In 2003, Lee Soo-geun passed the KBS 18th public audition.
The KBS Gag Concert was recorded on Wednesday and broadcasted on Sunday. Lee Soo-geun, Kim Byung-man, and Jung Jeong-cheol performed their comedy corner titled Warrior Battle. Lee Soo-geun and Kim Byung-man played as warriors that faced each other in a soundless battle. Jung Jeong-cheol played as the middle man, supplying background sound of the battle using his own voice. The trio performed Warrior Battle from October 5th, 2003 to January 4th, 2004.
Lee Soo-geun performed in Gag Concert for several years, continuously playing minor roles. He gained huge popularity after performing a comedy corner called High Pitch Impossible. He performed as a trio member who failed to sing in high pitch and was always out of tune while other members, comedian Ryu Dam and Byeon Ki-soo, sang extremely well. The comedian trio performed High Pitch Impossible from January 29th, 2006 until July 9th, 2006. After his breakthrough role as the off-tune singer, he started appearing in TV variety shows.
Active in Variety Shows and Reality Shows
KBS2’s Happy Together Season 2 marked Lee Soo-geun’s first appearance in a variety show. He started appearing as a regular cast member in episode 54 that aired on May 11th, 2006. Other cast members were Yoo jae-suk, Lee Hyori, and Eugene. His appearances lasted 50 episodes and his last episode was aired on April 26th, 2007
Lee Soo-geun gained more popularity after appearing in hit variety show 1 Night 2 Days (henceforth 1N2D). The concept of 1N2D is fun traveling with friends and visiting less known travel destinations throughout Korea. He joined the show in the premiere episode that was aired on August 5th, 2007. He left the show at the end of Season 2 in November 2013, having participated for more than six years.
Regular members of the first season were Kang Ho-dong, Lee Soo-geun, Kim Jong-min, Eun Ji-won, Noh Hong-chul, and Ji Sang ryul . In 1N2D, Lee Soo Geun was famous as the hardest working member. He was responsible as the regular member’s main driver because he has a driving instructor license. He was famous among the members for his athleticism and funny jokes.
The year of 2017 was his best year. He participated in around 16 variety shows, making him one of the busiest TV hosts at the time. Among those variety shows, only 4 programs were continued and extended.
Although he has appeared in many variety shows and is known for his funny comments, he has some apparent weaknesses as well. When he would participate as the main host, his variety show would fail badly within several months. As the main host, he usually got paired with a junior host, for example, Jun Hyun-mu or a new face that has less experience. The new host would not be able to follow up on his jokes or joke hints or wouldn’t be able to give him any material for him to make a joke. The production staff had to cast him as a supporting host for the main host. Just like he supports Kang Ho-dong as the main host of jTBC’s Knowing Bros. It is one of the reasons for the success of tvN’s New Journey to the West, KBS2’s 1N2D, and tvN’s Kang’s Kitchen.
When his popularity increased in 2005, Lee Soo-geun and his manager were accused of a sexual assault. He and his manager met a girl in an adult game room. They went out drinking beer at a nearby restaurant. They went to the girl’s house and had another round of drinks. The girl accused both men of sexual assault while they were sleeping in her house. From investigation and trial, it was revealed that both men had slept with the girl and the manager was found guilty of a sexual assault.
In December 2010, keen viewers spotted a glimpse of Lee Soo-geun smoking while shooting 2 Days 1 Night. In a previous episode, another member, MC Mong, was also seen smoking during filming. Viewers criticized the production staff from broadcasting scenes of the members smoking on air. Since the program was aired nationwide and was watched by kids, the viewers asked the producer to pay closer attention during editing. Not so long after, representatives of the 2 Days 1 Night apologized to the viewers for showing the scene.
In early 2013, senior comedian Kim Young-man was arrested for illegal gambling. His arrest led to an investigation involving several other Korean celebrities, Lee Soo-geun was one of them. From the investigation, it was revealed that Lee Soo-geun bet around 370 million KRW on illegal sports gambling. He placed a bet on the result of a football match between top league teams in the United Kingdom through an internet website and cell phone message. He was gambling from February 2008 to April 2011.
Other celebrities involved in the scandal were H.O.T member Tony Ahn, TV personality Tak jae-hoon, MC Boom, Sinhwa’s member Andy, comedian Yang Sae-hyung
During the final trial in early December 2013, Lee Soo-geun, Tak Jae-hoon, and Tony Ahn admitted the charges and cooperated during the trial. Lee Soo-geun showed up in public trial and begged for mercy. The prosecution attorney demanded eight months prison sentence for Lee Soo-geun and two years of probation, 10 months prison sentence for Tony Ahn, and six months prison sentence for Tak Jae-hoon.
On December 27th, 2013, chief judge of Seoul Central District Court sentenced Lee Soo-geun to six months of prison, while Tak Jae-hoon and Tony Ahn were suspended for one year.
Boom, Andy, and Yang Sae-hyun were charged with a fine of three to five million won because they gambled a smaller amount of money.
Due to the scandal, Lee Soo-geun and other celebrities were banned from appearing on KBS and MBC.
More problems kept mounting up for Lee Soo-geun. On April 3rd, 2014, a car product manufacturer sued him for as much as $1.8 million USD after his gambling scandal surfaced to the public. The company stated that Lee Soo-geun, the commercial ambassador of their product, damaged their brand image by participating in illegal gambling.
Due to his damaged public image, the company couldn’t use the advertisement that he appeared in. The sum included payment already delivered to him, a fee for producing the ads and additional fees to produce the new advertisement. Lee Soo-geun’s company, SM C&C stated that their legal team managed. On January 28th, 2015, the court ordered him to compensate around $0.6 million USD to the company.
After the trial, Lee Soo-geun decided to go on a long hiatus to reflect on his wrongdoing.
Recently, in November 2019, a Congressman of the Democratic Party of Korea sent a revised bill in motion. According to the revised bill, Broadcasters are prohibited from casting celebrities with criminal records. If the bill is passed, Lee Soo-geun and other celebrities will be prohibited from appearing in any broadcast.