Actor Choi Min-soo apologizes on his knees for assaulting a 73-year-old man during a press conference at the office of Hyun Jin Cinema in Seoul, Thursday. / Korea Times
By Kim Rahn
Famous Korean tough guy actor Choi Min-soo, 46, got down on his knees, with tears welling up in his eyes, to make a public apology for assaulting a 73-year-old man.
Police are investigating the case in which the actor allegedly beat up the man, threatened him with a weapon and drove his car with the man hanging on the bonnet. The family of the victim are considering filing a suit against him.
The allegations come as Choi is scheduled to co-star with Robert de Niro and Andy Garcia in ``Street of Dreams.'' The film, which starts shooting in December, is a 40-billion-won ($40 million) co-production among U.S.-based FR Productions, Korea's Hyun Jin Cinema and Japan's Wides Japan. How the incident will affect the casting of the Hollywood film is still unknown.
For its part, Seoul-based SBS TV said Friday that it decided to cancel airing two programs in which Choi appeared, taking simmering public anger against the actor into consideration.
According to police, Choi, while driving his jeep, swore at a tow truck driver on a road in Itaewon-dong, central Seoul, around 1 p.m. Monday, as it was blocking the road.
A nearby restaurant owner reprimanded Choi for using abusive language, and the quarrel started. Choi cursed at the owner, identified by his last name Yu, grabbed him by the collar and threw him down, according to the victim and witnesses. Choi beat up the old man and Yu called police.
Choi tried to leave the scene in his jeep but Yu blocked the car with his body. Ignoring him, Choi drove the car and Yu was dragged for some 50 meters holding on to the hood of the car.
Yu managed to climb to the passenger seat of the jeep and demanded Choi stop the car. Choi then told him to get off the car, threatening him with a knife-like weapon, according to witnesses.
Police officers arrived and took both of them to the police station. They have questioned them several times since.
With the incident being made public, Choi apologized to the public at a press conference Thursday evening. He said he was to blame, saying: ``I did not come here to defend myself. Above all, I cannot forgive myself.''
Choi said allegations involving a weapon, fleeing the scene and assault will be proven after a police investigation. Regarding the weapon, he said that there were some tools in the car, and that Yu may have mistaken the gearsticks as weapons.
``I did something I shouldn't have. I'm deeply sorry. I'll keep visiting Yu and apologizing to him until he forgives me,'' Choi said.
When asked about his future as an actor, he said, ``I feel like I'd rather die.''
Despite the apology, Yu and his family said they would sue Choi if the actor tries to distort the truth.
A daughter of the victim spoke to the media. ``How can a person who assaulted an elderly man be called a top star? We will take legal action against him if he tries to distort the truth even slightly.'' She said her father is still suffering from pain in his back.