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‘Squid Game’ actor found guilty of sexual misconduct

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                South Korean actor Oh Young-soo arrives to attend the first hearing of a trial at a branch of the Suwon District Court in Seongnam, South Korea, in February 2023. A South Korean court on Friday found Oh Young-soo, an actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a contestant in the Netflix survival drama “Squid Game,” guilty of indecent assault.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    South Korean actor Oh Young-soo arrives to attend the first hearing of a trial at a branch of the Suwon District Court in Seongnam, South Korea, in February 2023. A South Korean court on Friday found Oh Young-soo, an actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a contestant in the Netflix survival drama “Squid Game,” guilty of indecent assault.

SEOUL >> A South Korean court on Friday found Oh Young-soo, an actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a contestant in the Netflix survival drama “Squid Game,” guilty of indecent assault.

Oh, 79, was given an eight-month suspended sentence and ordered to attend 40 hours of classes on sexual violence. The verdict and sentencing were announced Friday at a district court in Seongnam, a city southeast of Seoul.

Many of the hearings in the case had been closed to the public. Oh had publicly denied the charge.

Prosecutors charged Oh in 2022 after an actress filed a complaint accusing him of inappropriately touching her while the two were on tour for a play in 2017. She was not identified.

The charge carried a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years or a fine of up to 15 million South Korean won (about $11,400). But prosecutors said last month that they would seek a one-year sentence and an employment ban if he were to be convicted.

A few months before he was charged, Oh became the first South Korean to win a Golden Globe, for best supporting actor for his role as Player No. 001 in “Squid Game,” a dystopian drama about people who risk their lives in a secretive contest in hopes of winning a fortune. He was also nominated for a 2022 Emmy for his performance on the show, still the most watched series ever on Netflix.

Oh, who has appeared in more than 200 plays since 1968 and won numerous theater awards, is considered one of South Korea’s most accomplished stage actors.

The sexual misconduct charge hurt his career well before the court rendered a verdict. Oh was not included in the cast for Season 2 of “Squid Game,” scheduled for release this year. The country’s Culture Ministry has also stopped airing a government commercial that features him.

Oh will also will not appear in an upcoming film called “About Family” by South Korean director Woo-seok Yang. The film’s distribution company, Lotte Entertainment, told the local news media last month that it was deleting all of his scenes and refilming them with another actor, Lee Soon-jae.

Last year, Oh was dropped from the cast of a South Korean play, “Love Letter,” about a pair of actors who take turns reading love letters to each other.

Oh’s accuser filed a complaint against him in 2021, prompting a police investigation in Seongnam. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case, but the woman appealed to reopen it, and Oh was later charged after more evidence was gathered.

In November 2022, Oh told JTBC, a South Korean broadcaster that first reported the charge, that he had only held the accuser’s hand to guide her way during a walk around a lake. He also said that he had apologized to her, not as an admission of wrongdoing but because she had said she would not make an issue of his behavior if he did so.

“I am sorry,” he told reporters while walking into his first court hearing in February 2023. “I think I behaved badly.”

But he continued to deny the charge.

Other details of the case have not been made public. The hearings have been closed and the woman has not been identified, in keeping with standard practice for sex crimes cases in South Korea.

People convicted of indecent assault in South Korea become registered sex offenders who are monitored by police even after completing their prison terms. First-time offenders can receive reduced sentences, or simply a fine.

Since 2018, South Korea’s #MeToo movement has led to accusations of sexual misconduct against an array of prominent men, including powerful figures in the entertainment industry and government. Some have apologized or resigned. Others have been convicted of rape or other sex crimes and sentenced to long prison terms.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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