O Yeong-su, the actor from Squid Game, has been charged with sexual misconduct after allegedly inappropriately touching a woman.
South Korean prosecutors indicted O Yeong-su, 78, on Thursday following a complaint from a woman who claimed the Golden Globe winner inappropriately touched her in mid-2017.
The alleged victim filed a complaint with the police in December of last year, but the case was closed in April without charges being filed against Yeong-su, according to Yonhap news agency.
But the prosecutor’s office in Suwon, south of the capital of Seoul, reopened the case and investigated the allegations, which Yeong-su has consistently denied.
The actor has previously spoken about the allegations, telling local media last year that he had ‘held hands with the woman to show the way around a lake’.
Yeong-su apologized to the alleged victim last year, but insisted he did so because the woman said “she wouldn’t make a fuss about it,” and stressed that an apology “doesn’t mean that I admit the charges.”
Yeong-su won South Korea’s first Golden Globe award in January for his role as Oh Il-name in the Netflix hit Squid Game.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in congratulated Yeong-su and the drama’s crew, saying that despite its bleak portrayal of society, ‘Squid Game’ gave hope to humanity.
‘Squid Game’, in which cash-strapped contestants play childhood games with deadly consequences in a bid to win 45.6 billion won, became a worldwide sensation and Netflix’s biggest original series launch.
The dystopian drama has inspired countless real-world recreations and social media memes in South Korea, including his use of the term ‘kkanbu,’ which roughly translates as ‘friend,’ propelling his popularity as a hippy ‘kkanbu grandpa.’
Born in 1944 in what is now the North Korean border town of Kaepung, O is regarded as one of South Korea’s greatest stage actors, having appeared in over 200 stage productions since 1963 and winning a number of major awards.
He has also played many charismatic supporting characters in film and television, including in late award-winning director Kim Ki-2003 duk’s film ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.’
O’s portrayals of a Buddhist monk in that 2003 movie and others won him the nickname ‘monk actor’ and several television commercials.
He said during a TV appearance in October that he had decided to join ‘Squid Game’ out of appreciation for the director’s insight over social irregularities.
‘Our society goes by as if only No. 1 survives. No. 2 lost to No. 1, but beat No. 3. After all, everybody is a winner,’ he said then.