Prominent playwright and director Lee Youn-taek apologized publicly on Monday after a raft of sexual harassment allegations from actresses.
"I give my sincere apologies to everyone who has been hurt," said Lee (66). "This was a horrible misdeed that has been habitually done over the last 18 years. Sometimes I did it without knowing that it was wrong, and sometimes I felt guilty, but I could not hold in my filthy desires."
Lee resigned from all positions in the theater world in Korea, including as theatrical director of the Street Theatre Troupe, which he founded 32 years ago.
Lee admitted groping young actresses after pressuring them to stay after rehearsals for "voice training" but denied an anonymous allegation of rape. "I did not force myself on them. I hope that the truth will be revealed through the legal process."
On Feb. 13, allegations surfaced that the playwright sexually assaulted an actress in 2015 while working with the National Theater of Korea. The next day, another actress said on Facebook that she was forced to "give him a massage near his genitals."
After the press conference, Kim So-hee, the head of the troupe, said, "We concluded after discussions that the troupe needs to disband. Some of our members knew about the sexual harassment and made Lee apologize to the troupe."
She said the victims "were all members of our group. I failed to tend to the suffering of our members as I focused solely on putting on better shows."
The troupe was founded by Lee in the southern port city of Busan in 1986 and pioneered the local theater scene by reinterpreting traditional Korean plays and shamanistic rituals.