Choi Il Hwa admitted in a recent interview that he was guilty of sexual harassment.
In an interview he said, “I sincerely apologize. If there is anything, no matter how small, related to me I will come forward and accept the sin. I just have a heart of a sinner.” He continued, “When the news came out I wanted to apologize and relay my feelings, but it is true that I had a lot of fear. It’s late but I really wanted to apologize. I want to sincerely apologize to them. I apologize for gathering courage late. I don’t want to cowardly evade this. While this will not heal their pain, I will have a time of self-reflection and be judged by the law according to the truth.”
As a result, he’ll leave the drama ‘Hold Me Tight‘, will be removed from the board of the Korean Actors Association, and will lose his role of an academic advisor for Sejong University.
However, a former actress alleges that the admission of sexual harassment was insufficient and described what he did as definitely sexual assault.
She said that reading Choi Il Hwa’s confession, she couldn’t hold in her anger at how he made it seem like simple sexual harassment, and brought up her suspicion that the actor confessed because he knew that her name would come up soon, with the #MeToo wave hitting Korea in full force.
“It was 25 years ago. At the time I was a 24 years old, I had just graduated, and was an aspiring play actress. After I was cast as the lead in a play called ‘Henequen,’ [Choi Il Hwa] called me out late at night to practice voice projection. We practiced for about a week, late at night in the mountains. After about a week, he asked me to have some drinks, so we met. Over drinks, he said I was bad at acting and started criticizing me about all kinds of things. As he continued to point out my shortcomings in acting, he suddenly sexually assaulted me. At the time, I was 24. It was 25 years ago, and it was a time when women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted were asked, ‘How did you act to make that happen?’ I was so scared I wasn’t able to say anything, and I spent a couple of days pretending nothing had happened. After that, when Choi Il Hwa tried to take me somewhere, I screamed. And then he punched me in the face, after which I passed out. I regret so much not having been able to become a play actor. I had just become an actress, being cast in my first lead role, and I had to leave the industry. Now, I have a daughter who’s 24. When I look at her, she’s so young. I was 24 when I was [sexually assaulted]. When I think how painful it must have been for someone so young, I regret so, so much that I didn’t reveal what happened back then. I was scared. There was a time when I went to the theater company because I wanted an apology from Choi Il Hwa. I wanted to at least hear an apology from him before I died. But he just passed me by without even looking at me. That time, too, I was scared and basically ran away. I’m currently battling breast cancer. Before I die, I’d like to receive a sincere apology from Choi Il Hwa.”
Hopefully she gets the apology she wants sooner than later. Given that he likely faces no legal ramifications for what he did, it’s the least he could do.