In March, Ji Soo was accused of having been a perpetrator of school violence. Ji Soo apologized and KeyEast Entertainment released a statement about the issue. At the time of the controversy, Ji Soo was starring in “River Where the Moon Rises,” which had already aired several episodes up to that point. KBS decided to remove him from the drama and replace him with actor Na In Woo.
Na In Woo began appearing in the drama in episode 7. The drama also reshot episodes 1-6 to replace the footage of Ji Soo with Na In Woo in the role of On Dal.
On April 2, Victory Contents, the production company behind “River Where the Moon Rises,” announced that they had filed a lawsuit for damages against KeyEast at the Seoul Central District Court the day before.
In their statement, Victory Contents said that the drama had suffered damages due to Ji Soo’s allegations of school violence, which included physical assault, mugging, cheating on examinations, and sexual violence. (Note: Neither KeyEast nor Ji Soo have admitted to specific allegations, and in the case of the sexual violence allegations, KeyEast has issued a firm denial.)
Victory Contents said that 90 percent of filming had been complete at the time of the allegations and that all the scenes with Ji Soo had to be reshot when the role was recast. The drama had had a large budget to begin with, but the additional reshoots had caused the company significant financial damages in the form of extra staff salaries, set and prop expenses, actor appearance fees, and artistic production costs. Despite this, the drama decided to reshoot episodes 1-6 in order to give viewers a complete production.
The company also said that the controversy had resulted in declines in ratings, claims filed by foreign audiences, a reduction in profit compared to initial expectations, and damage to the company’s image.
Victory Contents concluded, “We reached out to KeyEast for discussions because we had hoped to settle the damages quietly and move on to our next project, but due to KeyEast’s noncooperation, we were forced to file a lawsuit.”
In their response, KeyEast denied that they had been noncooperative in discussions with Victory Contents. “After the allegations of school violence arose against actor Ji Soo, we participated in close discussions with Victory Contents and KBS,” KeyEast said. “Ji Soo was quick to apologize without preamble, and even though nothing had been proven regarding the allegations, he wanted to avoid causing the drama any further damage.”
KeyEast said that they had sympathized with the production staff’s difficulties and had expressed their intention to take responsibility for reasonable costs associated with the reshoots. However, Victory Contents had failed to provide concrete evidence for the costs they had calculated, so KeyEast requested that the company provide them a detailed settlement. As this would take a long time, considering the drama was still filming, the agency offered a payment in advance to assist them.
KeyEast reiterated that they had faithfully cooperated in all discussions with Victory Contents and KBS while requesting objective arbitration.
In response to KeyEast’s response, Victory Contents issued another statement. Victory Contents said that although KeyEast had promised to take “moral responsibility” for “reasonable costs,” the agency kept citing “lack of concrete evidence” and the “restrictions of being a listed company” in their negotiations.
Victory Contents said that their damages had been severe because they had had to reshoot 18 episodes without being able to release the first six episodes either in Korea or abroad. The company said that KeyEast had been self-centered and high-handed in promising “moral responsibility” for “reasonable costs” in the light of “concrete evidence.” Even though the drama was still filming and some of the contracts with other actors and agencies had to remain private, Victory Contents agreed to share what details they could about their costs. However, KeyEast continued to request a detailed settlement, and Victory Contents eventually accused them of trying to stall for time. “It’s enough to make us suspect whether the agency really recognizes how serious the issue is,” the company stated.
The company concluded, “If KeyEast, who has to bear all the responsibilities for this situation, has a sincere desire to resolve the issue, they should clearly state their intention to take full responsibility and participate in negotiations from that position.”
Finally, KeyEast issued another response saying that they would no longer be making press statements for the drama’s benefit. The agency stated, “We feel that the drama, which is airing through the hard work of the cast and crew and through the steadfast support of viewers, might incur further harm from the multiple press releases between us and Victory Contents. Therefore, we have decided to refrain as much as possible from further media statements about this issue until the drama has finished airing. We intend to continue discussions with Victory Contents from a position of responsibility in order to reach an amicable settlement.”
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