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Korean Star Mulls Defamation Case in Vietnam

2005/08/21 Source

A Ho Chi Minh paper retracts allegations that Song Hye-kyo was stopped with 50 ecstasy pills
Email Article Print Article Nguyen Ngoc Trung (ngoctrung)
On Aug. 10 a legal affairs newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City published an article alleging that Song Hye-kyo, the Korean star of films such as "Full House", "Autumn in my Heart" and Guardian Angel, was caught red-handed with 50 ecstasy pills in her luggage at Incheon International Airport after returning from a trip to Hong Kong.

Titled "Korean Actress Song Hye-kyo's Career is Destroyed by Ecstasy", the article, which was published in the newspaper Phap luat Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh, said Song told customs officers that she had bought the pills from a pub in Hong Kong for later use to lose weight and had not known those were banned items. It also alleged that investigators decided to prosecute Song on two counts of possession and use of the illegal drug.

The article quickly spread via various Internet news sites, sparking widespread outrage among Song's fans in Vietnam and Asia. Many speculated that the allegations about their idol was an effort by individuals in Vietnam to tarnish Song's image at a time when her film "Full House" is proving very popular there.

On Aug. 19, The Hanoi-based Tien phong newspaper quoted sources from South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan as saying that the Song's management company had already collected evidence and hired a law firm to take legal action against the Vietnamese newspapers in question. The company stressed that the news has ruined Song's reputation during the actress's intensive campaign to capture the hearts of Asian fans in 2005.

Song has denied the allegations.

Lacking evidence to back-up the article's claims, Phap luat Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh issued a written correction on Aug. 17. "Since Anh Nha -- the translator of the article -- could not present us with the original English version of the article, we regret to say that we were careless in publishing this contributor's story. From now on, we will no longer be publishing news contributed by Anh Nha. We offer a sincere apology to Song Hye-kyo and others mentioned in the article", the newspaper said.

If this legal dispute is not settled out of court, it will be the first time that a Vietnamese media company has faced a lawsuit by a foreign newsmaker. At present the name of the Vietnamese law firm hired by Song's management company and the names of the Vietnamese newspapers involved are unclear.

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