In a truly amazing turn of events that it seems like nobody saw coming, Clara has been cleared by the prosecution of blackmail threats against her Polaris Entertainment CEO, Lee Gyu Tae, while also announcing that they indicted him for blackmailing Clara.
In case you’ve forgotten, Clara had previously stated that she wanted her contract terminated because of sexual harassment. Lee Gyu Tae responded that Clara and her father had actually threatened to blackmail him by releasing false sexual harassment testimony to the press unless she was allowed out of her contract.
What followed was a media drama that played out poorly for Clara, and which turned basically everybody against her. After the initial back-and-forth accusations and denials in the press, text messages were released and it sure as hell looked like nothing in terms of sexual harassment happened, and Clara ended up looking horrible for not only seemingly making up sexual harassment charges but also for seemingly flirting with her CEO and not wanting to bother with Ladies’ Code after their tragedy. If that wasn’t enough, the police sided with Lee Gyu Tae, saying that he was a victim of blackmail and that there was no evidence of sexual harassment.
It’s shocking then that the prosecution concluded the opposite, saying that the messages constituted sexual harassment and that Clara was right to ask for contract termination.
“We don’t think that her claims of feeling sexually humiliated are exaggerated or are of ill-intention. We also don’t think that telling the CEO that she’ll report him to the police is an expression that has crossed any boundaries [cannot be considered blackmail or threat].”
This is the extremely surprising part, because given what we had seen of the KakaoTalk messages and given that her side had basically said the dog ate her homework as to why they couldn’t release further KakaoTalk messages, unless there was other evidence presented, I struggle to see how the sexual harassment didn’t come from her more than him.
That said, I think the primary ruling about her right to terminate the contract came from Lee Gyu Tae being an intimidating presence that basically constantly threatened Clara and lorded over her with what he can, has, and will do to people who cross him.
Thus, what isn’t shocking, given what has already been released of him on recording, is that the prosecutors also added that they have decided to charge Lee Gyu Tae.
According to them, they learned while investigating Clara, that CEO Lee met with Clara’s parents in August 2014, and had spoken menacingly as if he was going to physically hurt Clara and her manager. He allegedly told Clara to cut her ties with her manager and mentioned that he is someone of the position who has connections all over the industry capable of anything. According to what Clara has told the prosecution, CEO Lee said to her, “This might sound scary to you, but I can have someone’s neck in an instant. I could make them into a crippled person.”
In one instance, over dinner, he has allegedly said to her, “What can you gain from making me angry? The money I used for you can be used to bring you down.”
He is also said to have emphasized his connection to the authorities citing his experience in the police force and the national spy agency. The prosecution also revealed that Lee claimed that he could monitor Clara’s messages, and that the actress was at one point unable to leave her home for the fear of being watched by Lee.
Uh, wow? Yikes.
Personally, I thought Clara would go 1-for-2 in court in the sense that she would probably lose the sexual harassment claim based on the evidence we’d seen and what the police concluded, but that it also didn’t appear that there was solid evidence of her blackmailing him. Turns out she went 3-for-3, winning both the sexual harassment side of things and getting the blackmail charge dismissed, plus now the CEO is being charged with blackmail due to his threats. Also, and I know this wouldn’t stand up in court, but Lee Gyu Tae being on trial for defrauding the government is not the best of looks for him, and it helps her in terms of public image narrative.
That’s not to say she’s a complete innocent here, as she still did send those relatively fucked up KakaoTalk messages, but based on what we know now, the CEO did things more than a few degrees worse and it’s understandable why the courts sided with her on all three counts.
Nevertheless, I wonder how her career goes from here. Basically everybody, including me, just assumed her career would be over after this mess. That was because even if she did win, the damage had unfortunately been done in public, and while it still might be that way, this overwhelming court victory for her may provide a slow and steady path back.