Attack on TV Star Renews Old Fears

Noh Hong-chul Noh Hong-chul

A violent attack on popular TV entertainer Noh Hong-chul just two months after actress Lee Seung-shin was assaulted by a stalker has again struck fear in Korea's entertainment industry.

Police said that a man identified only by his surname Kim waited for Noh in front of Noh's apartment in Apgujeong, Seoul on Tuesday night and beat him when the entertainer returned home.

Noh suffered a cut to his left ear and a bruise on his face. He is now receiving treatment at a hospital in Seoul. The attacker was arrested on the scene after a neighbor who witnessed the assault called the police. The attacker reportedly was carrying a knife in the pocket of his jacket.

Police said that the attacker told them that he recently had to quit his job because of mental illness, but they are still questioning him to discern his motive.

Attacks on entertainers are not uncommon in Korea. Entertainers can be easily targeted due to the nature of their job and they can hardly protect their privacy from determined individuals.

In 1972, singer Na Hoon-a, who was recently at the center of public attention due to ugly rumors regarding his private life, was assaulted during a concert by a man who leapt onstage with a broken bottle. Na suffered an injury to his face. Na's attacker claimed that rival crooner Nam Jin put him up to the task, but the same man also attacked Nam three years later. Nam suffered yet another attack in November 1989.

In July 1998, actress Do Ji-won was kidnapped by a man and a woman who threatened the actress with a knife in the parking lot of a sports center in Seoul. The couple stuffed Do in the trunk of a car and drove around for five hours before releasing her after extorting W14 million (US$1=W946).

Another actress, Lee Ji-hyun, was also kidnapped by strangers in September 2006. She managed to escape after two hours. Several other Korean entertainers have been attacked by ardent fans and stalkers.

In 1999, a fan of Moon Hee-jun, a member of top boy band H.O.T., sent a threatening letter along with a razor blade to Kan Mi-youn, a member of popular girl group Baby V.O.X. who Moon was rumored to be dating. In 2000, Kim Chang-wan had his nose broken by a stalker who had trailed the singer for 13 years.

Also in December 2000, Yoon Kye-sang, a member of now-disbanded pop group g.o.d., received a poisoned drink. Yoon's mother drank the drink and had to have her stomach pumped. More recently in October 2006, U-know Yunho, the lead singer of the popular group TVXQ, was taken ill after drinking juice that had been laced with glue.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 21, 2008 07:55 KST