SEOUL – A South Korean author and stage director apologized publicly on Monday to women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Kim Su-hee, one of the members of the street theater group Yeonhee, of which Lee Youn-taek was the artistic director, said last week that the 66-year-old playwright had sexually assaulted her a decade ago.
Several others, including an actress who requested anonymity and who alleges Lee raped her twice in 2001 and 2002, joined Kim in her complaint, forcing Lee to resign and dismantle his theater group.
“I sincerely apologize to the victims. I feel really ashamed of myself and terrible,” Lee said during a press conference, reported by the new agency Yonhap, adding “I’ll accept any punishment, including legal responsibility, for my sin.”
Despite the apology, he denied allegations of rape. He said he did have a sexual relationship with the woman but “not in a violent way against her will.”
Lee’s case comes after the online campaign against sexual abuse known as #MeToo since late 2016 in the United States and other Western countries in the wake of allegations of rape, sexual assault and abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
The movement has only begun to take hold in South Korea this month following the arrest last week of a Seoul district attorney’s office member, whom a lawyer accused of raping her in 2010.