Rhee Keun, also known as Ken Rhee, who recently gained huge popularity playing a South Korean Navy SEAL on YouTube, has suddenly found himself fighting to safeguard his reputation and lucrative commercial deals after a groping conviction on his record was revealed to the public.
“I apologize for posting another message dealing with such unfortunate matters,” said Rhee on his YouTube channel Tuesday. He admitted that he had been convicted of sexual assault in 2019, but said he was wrongfully convicted.
Rhee acknowledged that he was convicted of grabbing a woman’s bottom and fined 2 million won ($1,700). “I obviously did not commit any sexual crime and I fought to prove this,” he said, adding that he had appealed the verdict but the court had denied his appeal.
Rhee’s statement came after Kim Yong-ho, a YouTube content creator, brought up Rhee’s criminal record in a video posted Monday. Kim also raised questions about Rhee’s career background, including a stint at the UN.
The dispute immediately dealt a blow to Rhee, better known as “Lt. Lee” for his high-profile training instructor role in “Fake Men,” a YouTube video series. Rhee, who served in Korea’s Navy Special Warfare Flotilla, the Korean equivalent of the US Navy Seals, emerged as a popular YouTube star. Rhee even made inroads with the terrestrial TV networks, appearing on major entertainment programs.
Rhee’s star power led to an appearance in a commercial for a military-style hamburger set from a major fast food franchise. Shortly after the controversy hit major portals and news sites, the franchise pulled down all its YouTube videos featuring Rhee.
But Rhee maintained his innocence and defended the authenticity of his career and academic records, including his experience at the UN. “I realized how dangerous it is to become famous,” Rhee said, adding that he would try his best to explain what happened.
By Song Donna (firstname.lastname@example.org