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'I Think I Behaved Badly': 'Squid Game' Star's Indecent Assault Trial Begins In South Korea

Golden Globe-winning actor O Yeong-su previously told reporters that he did hold his accuser's hand while going for a lakeside stroll in 2017, but has repeatedly denied any criminal wrongdoing. 

By Jax Miller
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“Squid Game” star O Yeong-su denied at a court hearing in Seoul that he did anything wrong after a woman claimed he made unwanted advances.

The 78-year-old South Korean actor appeared in court on Friday for a first hearing into charges of indecent assault, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The woman — whose name has not been released — accused O of forcibly hugging her and planting a kiss on her cheek.

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O Yeong-su previously claimed in an interview with local news outlet JTBC that he took the then-22-year-old actress’s hand while out for a lakeside stroll during a 2017 tour with a theater company. When asked about the alleged incident by prosecutors, O claimed he only meant to walk the woman home.

“I am sorry,” O told reporters on Friday. “I think I behaved badly.”

O admitted to JTBC at the time of the initial reports that he had apologized to the victim, but claimed that it wasn’t an admission of guilt but a means of remedying the situation, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

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The woman's legal representative released a statement to reporters early on in the case, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

“O admitted his wrongdoing when the victim asked for an apology, but he has denied the charges during the investigation, failing to show any remorse for his act,” it read.

O, a celebrated stage actor in his own country, attained international acclaim with Netflix’s September 2021 worldwide release of “Squid Game,” which later earned the stage actor a Golden Globe — a first for a South Korean actor — and an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor.

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The controversial series revolves around a group of down-and-out adults agreeing to compete in a series of childlike games where the losers are violently murdered until one player is left standing. The South Korean series gained criticism for its violence and its appeal to a younger demographic.

The series stands as the streaming platform’s most-watched series of all time.

The woman filed a report with South Korean officials in December 2021. Police initially closed the case in April 2022, citing a lack of evidence. The woman appealed that decision, prompting prosecutors of the Suwon district to file indecent assault charges against O in November, according to ABC News.

On Friday, an attorney representing O’s alleged victim told local media outlets that O’s success with "Squid Game" exacerbated her client’s years-long trauma, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The victim allegedly possesses evidence she claims will prove O was in the wrong, such as her medical history, which reportedly includes psychiatric treatment following the alleged 2017 incident.

The allegations have reportedly affected O’s career, including prompting him to abandon a role in the South Korean stage production of “Love Letters” and the suspension of an advertising campaign.

The woman’s public claims came in the wake of that country's #MeToo movement, during which many Korean actresses accused high-ranking men in the arts industry of sexual abuse, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Advocates waited outside the court during O’s Friday hearing with signs noting that #MeToo isn't yet over.

O’s expected to be back in court for a second hearing on April 14, according to the Hollywood Reporter. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, ABC News reports.

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