Park Shi Hoo’s Two-Pronged Post-Scandal Return To K-Dramas

Park Shi Hoo "Neighborhood Hero"

A scandal can crush the career of a Korean actor. But if carefully managed, a scandal can also be a mere bump in the road.

Park Shi Hoo’s agency Eyagi Entertainment recently staged a successful comeback for the actor that consisted of a two-part strategy. The first part was a carefully chosen comeback role that would reframe the actor as a gentleman and a hero and the second part consisted of legal action against lingering negative reactions. Damage control was necessary because Park Shi Hoo’s career was derailed by a scandal in 2013.

At the time, he’d recently finished a role in the successful K-drama “Cheongdamdong Alice” with Moon Geun Young. He played a chaebol [a wealthy heir to a large conglomerate] in love with a woman who would have traded love for money. He loved her anyway. The actor’s future looked bright.

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Then he was accused of rape. A trainee said he assaulted her while she was drunk. He said the sex was consensual following a night of drinking with friends. She filed charges. In April 2013, the Seoul Seobu Police held a press conference.

“We have charged without detention Park Shi Hoo with quasi rape and sexual battery and have forwarded the case to the prosecution,” said Yoon Tae Bong of the Seoul Seobu Police. Yoon said that the police found the victim’s statement consistent and matched it to video footage in the neighborhood

Park Shi Hoo maintained his innocence, eventually filing charges against the unnamed trainee and another person, citing defamation of character. Some rumors argued that the trainee was after a settlement. It would be difficult to pass judgment on what actually happened that night, since the only people present had differing opinions.

Whatever happened on the night in question, the plaintiff eventually dropped her charges and Park dropped his lawsuits. Korea’s network television stations decided not to ban Park, which sometimes does happen during a celebrity scandal. After all, he had not been found guilty. And there were no longer any charges filed against him.

Despite not being banned by the networks, Park would not work in Korea for another three years. He took some time off and focused on the international premiere of “Confession of a Murder,” a film that was completed in 2012. He considered a K-drama comeback in 2014 with the drama “Golden Cross.” But there was plenty of negative netizen feedback. Some fans stayed loya,l but a percentage of viewers argued that he should never work in Korea again. Park ultimately declined the role, saying that his decision had nothing to do with the negative feedback. It would be another two years before he appeared on the small screen in Korea.
During that time he appeared in a Japanese film “Scent,” then made his Korean big screen comeback in the film “After Love” alongside Yoon Eun Hye, released in March 2016.

In 2015 his agency announced that he would take a role in the drama “Neighborhood Hero” and the role seemed like a perfect fit to redeem Park’s public persona. In “Neighborhood Hero” Park plays a former agent, whose best friend dies during a mission. The failure of that mission causes him to spend three years in jail, a mirror of Park’s real-life experience; it’s exactly how long his career was confined due to negative comments.
Park’s character Baek Shi Yoon starts out seeking revenge for the death of his friend but when the former owner of the bar that he buys cautions him to take a higher path, it appeals to his noble side. Baek Shi Hoon becomes a hero in his neighborhood, unjustly convicted for his past actions, and ready to nobly stand up for the rights of his neighbors. The plot is complicated and often confusing but one thing is clear. Park Shi Hoo’s character is a gentleman and a much maligned hero.

He defends women from the bad guys, which underlines the fact that he is a knight in white armor. Baek is cautious and does not make rash decisions. He’s not given to impulsive actions and respects the opinions of others. The drama’s script takes great pains to show what a good guy he is. It’s inevitable that viewers will associate Baek’s noble characteristics with Park Shi Hoo.

In an interview with the Korea Herald, the drama’s director Kwak Eun Jong compared Park to the character.

“Baek Si Yoon has some painful memories so I needed someone who was able to be sincere about his feelings as well,” said Kwak. “Then I thought about Park Shi Hoo.”

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Around the same time, in February 2016, the actor and his agency announced that they would be filing defamation charges against 79 netizens who posted negative comments about the actor’s comeback drama. Park was not the only actor to take such action against slanderous comments that year. Park Hyung Sik, IU, and Song Hye Kyo also did so recently. But Park’s legal action was well timed to minimize negative comments about his comeback.

As all charges were dropped, Park should be considered an innocent man, one who deserves a fresh start. But even the lingering effects of so serious a scandal could have ended his career.
Choosing the spy comedy was the first part of an effective comeback strategy and ending negative comments was the second.

Ratings for the OCN drama were respectable for a cable show, reaching 1.4 percent for the first episode, which implies that a percentage of the viewing audience was prepared to watch the actor in a drama, however they felt about the scandal. Respectable ratings mean Park Shi Hoo will be offered new roles without the fear that his casting will be controversial enough to hurt drama profits.

At the same time the legal action taken against netizens effectively shut down negative comments that might detract from the show’s success.

After the scandal happened, some drama fans continued to believe in Park’s innocence, some didn’t care about his alleged crimes, and yet others were horrified at the charges and thought Park should never work again. Public opinion is still mixed but the comeback campaign is working to improve that.

What do you think about Park Shi Hoo’s saga? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

  • D Lee

    I have just finished watching The Princess’ Man and I truly admire Park Shi Hoo’s acting. I like his character very much. As for the so-called scandal some three or four years ago whereby the charges aagainst him were dropped, I don’t see why some netizens and fans must react so negatively towards him. If charges were dropped and the broadcasting networks did not ban him, that means Park has a right to have a fresh start in his life and his acting career. Sometimes the ‘goody-two shoes’ people who react negatively and pass negative comments are the hypocrites. No one is perfect. Our fingers aren’t of equal length and size, so let’s just enjoy watching good Korean dramas and admire our heroes and heroines.

  • D Lee

    I am glad that Park Si Hoo and other Korean stars who have been ‘harrassed’ with malicious comments are taking legal actions to curb those so-called ‘holy than thou netizens’ who spend their time posting and airing negative and slanderous comments.
    Whatever that took place in 2013 between Park and the aspirting actress, only both of them know the story. And, if the charges were dropped that means Park has a right to move on with his life. Many things can happen in today’s world, be it in the entertainment world, politics, business or anything pertaining to people who are in the limelight. Some may project themselves well and garner lots of positive support and some may project themselves in the negative ways and garner slanderous comments etc. That is life. If the latter parties realise their mistake and attempt to make amends for the better ( there are of course certain quarters who are the die hards who refuse to change for the better ), let’s give them a chance to do so.

  • D Lee

    correction – ‘holier than thou’

  • Ester

    I dont think the case was rape. They were both drunk , she went with him in his place. She said she was too drunk. Did she say No when he was making advances? For sure she knew what will happen when the opposite sex were drunk, only the two of them in the apartment. Dont tell me you will just stare at each other. You will not go with him if you think you do not like the guy. The girl is 22 years old and not a kid anymore.

  • Yot W

    Totally agree with Ester! In the adult world (over 21 yrs), if you want to “play the field” do it with taking own responsibility fully. To hide under a facade of self-willed drunkenness (surely he didn’t force her to drink?), consciously returning with him to his place and then resorting to the law later to hopefully get even is highly underhanded, truly malicious and shameful to the female gender! To first file and then drop charges means it is a no-case at all so why are people still harping on it? Had the defendant been a nobody, this so-called “case” would be forgotten in a whiff. Apparently, these negative netizens cannot bear to see that people can be young, handsome, highly talented, internationally popular and rich to boot but somewhat imperfect. Is there any of you who can claim that you have never made any mistakes? Get a life and do some good instead!
    I am a Great Park Shi Hoo fan even though I am not Korean nor live in Asia. Hang in there, I believe in you. You are one-heck of an actor, dancer and singer.. boy, I can watch “Chengdamdong Alice” over and over.. what amazing dancing! Let your great acting potential bloom over the years to come. Do not allow garbage hinder you. I sincerely hope that someday you will meet the love of your life, who is utterly noble, honest, talented and love you like crazy because You DESERVE it. Until then, do please be careful who you date! Happy New Year!

  • MsJeannie

    I am sad that the Korean entertainment industry, and actually even most companies, as far as I know, in Korea, penalize individuals for rumors and slander. I have watched many of Park Shi Hoo’s dramas. His charisma shines through in every drama I’ve watched. How sad, that because of a malicious accusation of rape, his career had to be damaged for these years. I have been waiting and waiting to see him again. He is the best. Korea, wake up, and don’t waste talent with these ridiculous black-lists.

  • Amanda

    I am totally against Park Shi Hoo’s comeback. I admired him as an actor and remember laughing when his mom waved at the crowd instead of him. However, the gravity of his crime and the fact that it was left unpunished due to the settlement (so-called blood money) – I will never see him or Korea in the same light. The girl was heavily intoxicated. Instead of taking her home, like any real gentlemen would do, he takes her to his bedroom and has sex. She was obviously not in the condition to consent, she could barely walk, according to CCTV videos – what he did it’s like having sex with a person who was under anesthesia.
    He came out clean out of water because he has money and an agency that backs him up. I will never watch any other movies or dramas with him again.

    • Debby

      There is a place of forgiveness but who are you to really judge him? Yes, he committed such a big sin but scandals in Korea are extreme to the extent, people prefer to kill themselves instead of living with scandals. Just forgive him and let him move on with his life.

      • Abi

        Enough people have looked pass Park Shi Hoo’s scandal for him to continue his career and now he’s in one of the biggest hit shows of the year. If the OP doesn’t want to forgive him that’s her business, a person’s forgiveness is theirs to give and no one else’s whatever your own personal opinion. Let people follow their own morals and don’t impose yours on theirs.