News recently broke from various foreign newspapers that Lee Joon-gi is among those "blacklisted" in Korea by the government, together with a few other entertainers, cultural artists, and public figures.
According to Yonhap News, the government of former conservative President Lee Myung-bak is suspected of blacklisting left-leaning cultural figures. It was also reported that the former administration mobilized the National Intelligence Service to disadvantage those artists in various ways, an NIS reform task force said.
Joon-gi's international fan club surmises that one of the reasons for this ban was allegedly caused by his playing of a role in the movie May 18. The film dealt with the Gwangju Democratization Movement, and Joon-gi played one of the rebels in the regime.
Another speculation is that Joon-gi reacted to Lee Myung-bak's support of importing beef from the U.S. in 2008. It was reported that importing beef from the U.S. was banned at the time because of mad cow disease.
According to KBS, the National Intelligence Service committee's investigative findings, which were released last Monday, reveal that there were some 82 people listed across cultural arts, film, broadcast, and music industries. The task force was set up after the inauguration of liberal President Moon Jae-in and was tasked to investigate allegations that the NIS created such a list of TV celebrities and artists to persecute them for their critical stance toward the previous president's government.
The artists that were included in the blacklist were labeled as "left-leaning" and banned from appearing on TV programs and films. It was alleged that under former NIS chief Won Sei-hoon's direction, a secret online campaign mainly aimed at tainting their reputations was launched, accusing them of being pro-North Korea. Kim Joo-sung, another ranking NIS official, is also being investigated on possible charges of being involved in the blacklisting of cultural figures from 2008 to 2013 during Lee's rule.
The other artists designated by the NIS as being targets for suppression and were pressured in variety of ways include writers Lee Oi-su, Jo Jung-rae and Jin Joong-gwon; actors Moon Sung-keun, Myeong Gye-nam, and Kim Gyu-ri (formerly known as Kim Min-sun); film directors Lee Chang-dong, Park Chan-wook, and Bong Joon-ho; TV celebrities Kim Mi-hwa, Kim Je-dong, and Gim Gu-ra; and singers Yoon Do-hyun, Shin Hae-chul, and Kim Jang-hun.
Following the news, Kim Gyu-ri said, "I can't believe my previous tax money was used to kill me."
Meanwhile, some of the artists claimed they felt "excluded" from TV shows and some commercial activities during Lee's term, and this revelation only confirmed their suspicions.
[Featured Image by Andrew Redington/Getty Images]