Some people still don’t know the truth.
People say no good deed goes unpunished, and that was the case for this well-meaning celebrity.
Lee Jae Won, once a member of H.O.T (one of the very first K-Pop idol groups), is not a sex offender, but for the past decade, people have associated him with a particular sexual assault case.
In 2008, Lee Jae Won was sued and arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 19-year-old singer trainee whom he knew well. Articles came pouring out about Lee Jae Won’s arrest. Only three hours after the arrest, however, the 19-year-old dropped all charges against Lee Jae Won, and he was released. Lee Jae Won explained in an interview article that he did not assault the woman.
She got really drunk and passed out so I checked her into a motel. I wanted to drop her off at home but I didn’t know where she lived. At the motel, she threw up. I asked the female motel owner to help her out of her vomit-soiled clothes.
— Lee Jae Won
The trainee, not knowing the full story, had misunderstood the situation and sued Lee Jae Won, thinking that he had raped her while she was drunk and unaware. The owner of the motel served as a witness, however, to help Lee Jae Won prove his innocence.
I am the one who undressed the girl. Lee Jae Won left after he dropped the girl off at the motel. He did not rape her.
— Motel owner
This latter portion of the incident was not covered widely by the media. So, for years people believed the assault actually took place and that Lee Jae Won is a sex offender. In fact, when Lee Jae Won’s name is searched via Korean search engines, related keywords include sexual harassment and rape.
After learning the truth, the trainee dropped the charges and apologized to Lee Jae Won. She texted him, “I loved your music. It’s what got me to start training to become a singer. To see you fail because of this would be hell for me too… Please stay strong! You lost so much weight!!!”
Although the unfortunate misunderstanding caused Lee Jae Won hardships, he deserves to be commended for keeping the vulnerable trainee safe in her time of need.