Alleged blackmailer of actor indicted

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Alleged blackmailer of actor indicted

The baseball player-turned-TV personality Kang Byung-kyu was indicted without physical detention yesterday on blackmailing and defamation charges.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday Kang had demanded cash from star actor Lee Byung-hun, threatening to reveal details about Lee’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend Kwon Mi-yeon, a former gymnast in Canada.

According to prosecutors, Kang and Kwon colluded to blackmail Lee for large sums of money on Nov. 5 and Nov. 14, 2009.

When Lee refused to pay, prosecutors said, Kang apparently urged Kwon to file a lawsuit against Lee in December and published a press release detailing the suit. Kang was charged with defamation for issuing the release.

According to the release, Kwon argued in the lawsuit that she suffered mental and physical damage after her relationship with Lee and that Lee had engaged in sexual intercourse with her after fraudulently promising to marry her, which is against Korean law. Kwon has asked for 100 million won ($88,400) in compensation.

Soon afterward, Lee sued Kwon for defamation and extortion.

According to prosecutors, Kwon returned to Korea in July last year when an acquaintance of Lee offered to provide financial support for her career and help her become a star athlete. But the acquaintance’s support stopped, and Lee didn’t see Kwon as often.

The frustrated Kwon then befriended Kang through Kang’s girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors said when Kwon complained of her plight to Kang, the former baseball star conspired with her to sue Lee.

Kang denied the charges to investigators, saying, “I felt sorry for what Kwon was going through and I tried to help. But I never colluded.”

This is not the first time Kang has tangled with Lee. In January, Kang was booked without detention on assault charges after entering without permission a filming location for the TV drama “Iris,” which stars Lee, to confront the actor about rumors that Kang had been the mastermind behind Kwon’s lawsuit. Kang scuffled with the film crew, including the show’s executive producer Chung Tae-won during the incident in December.

By Yoo Jee-ho []
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