Top actress Jun Ji-hyun (Jun Ji-hyun
) filed a criminal suit against a local news agency, claiming that a news report about her alleged wedding plan is "groundless" and damaged her reputation, Sidus HQ, Jun's agent, said in a statement.
The suit was filed with the Seoul District Court on Thursday, and plaintiffs are Newsis, a news agency, and a reporter who put out the controversial report on Wednesday.
Because of Jun's Asia-wide popularity and the size of the damage amount that may be sought, the suit is drawing keen attention in the domestic media circles.
Notable is that Jun has filed both criminal and civil suits. Except for defamation suits involving high-ranking politicians, it is rare for an entertainer to file criminal actions against news service operators in Korea.
Speculation is also mounting about the amount of damages she will claim through her legal representative Kim, Lee & Partners. Local media report that the damages might set a record given that Jun's annual revenue is estimated at over 5 billion won.
Sidus HQ said in the statement that it will decide on the amount of damages when it files a civil suit against Newsis. It will also ask the news agency to print a correction notice.
The report in question said that Jun plans to marry Chung Hun-tak, president of Sidus HQ, in November. "Jun has set the wedding date with Chung for around November, but the schedule might be pushed back because of some personal problems with Chung", the report said.
Sidus HQ, one of the biggest entertainment agencies in Korea, stressed that the news report is "totally groundless" and it is "regrettable" that Newsis put out a story without proper fact-checking process, thereby hurting Jun and Chung.
A lawyer from Kim, Lee & Partners said in an interview with local media that Jun has filed the criminal suit first because of her status as a public figure and a defamation suit seeking damages will be filed soon.
Chung is known to have balked at taking immediate legal action. It remains uncertain whether he will take a cue from Jun and also file suits against Newsis.
Meanwhile, Newsis officials said they would cooperate fully with the prosecution once the investigation kicks off, but the company has yet to get any formal document or contact from Jun or Sidus HQ.
Jun was catapulted to Asian stardom with her quirky yet charming role in "My Sassy Girl
" (2001), a Romantic Comedy
movie directed by kwak Jae-Yong
. She starred in a sequel titled "Windstruck
" this year, which hit various Asian countries, a reflection of her rising popularity in the region.
Newsis, which competes with Yonhap News Agency, Korea's largest news agency, may suffer a severe financial loss if it fails to fend off the legal fight from Jun because damages are likely to be in billions of won.
Jun routinely clinches several one-year advertising deals each bringing about 500-600 million won for each contract. She is now featured in ads for seven Korean companies including Naver, Olympus Korea and Hyundai Oilbank. In overseas markets, her clients range from VK, a mobile handset maker in China, to Coca-Cola in Taiwan.
Last year, Jun sought 2.5 billion won in damages in a civil suit against a local mobile service provider, claiming alleged violations of contract. The court mediated a settlement giving Jun 100 million won.
By Yang Sung-jin