Earlier this month, Joo Jin Mo’s agency Huayi Brothers revealed that his cell phone had been hacked and that the hackers were threatening to release personal information if they were not paid. When Joo Jin Mo did not pay the hackers, they sent his KakaoTalk messages to multiple media outlets and threatened the actor once again. Ultimately, the messages were posted on various online communities, and Huayi Brothers released an official statement warning that they would take legal action against spreading of the hacked information.
On January 16, Joo Jin Mo released his own personal statement about the incident in which he explained his decision not to pay the hackers and apologized to his fans and acquaintances. (His full statement can be found at the end of this article.)
The actor also claimed that there was “malicious editing and distortion” of his text messages, a claim that was repeated in an official statement published by his legal representatives on the same day. Attorneys Chun Jae Min, Yoo Young Suk, and Kang Tae Hoon of Barun Law wrote that after Joo Jin Mo repeatedly refused to pay the hackers, they “ultimately spread the above text messages on online communities after maliciously editing part of the messages.”
The attorneys continued, “While we are undoubtedly concerned about this kind of hacking and illegal extortion, what we find even more regrettable is that because the personal text messages that were released in this criminal manner were quickly spread through various outlets to the public and distorted, there arose misunderstandings about the actor’s personal life—and that because of this, the media and public are more focused on criticizing and reproving the actor for his personal life rather than protecting the victim of hacking and criminal extortion.”
The law firm went on to announce that it would be filing criminal charges against the hackers for both illegal hacking and attempted extortion that same day. It then warned that it also planned to take both legal action against the people who had posted and spread Joo Jin Mo’s text messages on online communities, as well as those who defamed his character by claiming he was a criminal.
Finally, Joo Jin Mo’s legal representatives released the following letter penned by Joo Jin Mo:
Hello, this is actor Joo Jin Mo.
First, I apologize to my acquaintances who have suffered damages because of me, to my fans who have cared for me all these years, and to the many people watching over me. I myself am currently finding it hard to breathe easy each and every day because of this incident.
About two months ago, the criminal hackers suddenly sent me a text message on my phone using my real name. Above all else, when they contacted me and sent me my personal information that they had obtained through illegal hacking, I was beyond shocked—I was extremely afraid.
When I did not respond to this kind of criminal behavior, they kept coming at me by sending me photos of my passport, my ID card, and my driver’s license, as well as the personal information of my wife, my family, and my fellow celebrities, which I had stored on my cell phone. It was to the point where I felt dizzy.
I came to the conclusion that if I chose to yield to their threats, they would not stop and would continue to bother me afterwards. I also decided not to submit to their threats and attempts at extortion because I thought that [if I did so,] it might negatively affect other celebrities or famous individuals who are currently receiving the same kind of threats, or that it might lead to further crimes.
However, because of this, there was unintentional damage caused to my acquaintances who were mentioned in my text messages. It has reached the point where I don’t even know how to apologize to the women who were mentioned in my text messages, whether I will even be able to apologize. I bow my head and ask for forgiveness.
I also found it frightening and hard to watch as rumors about me were spread at an alarming rate and, due to malicious editing and distortions, things I did not do were reported as fact.
I did not commit the immoral act of secretly taking photos of women’s bodies and spreading them.
I have heard that even now, many people are receiving threats. I ask that you not yield to the threats no matter what. They will use the situation that has unfolded due to my text messages being released as a way to convince victims to quickly make deposits, and they will continue with their extortion and blackmail.
I have a precious wife and family. They have been wounded by the threatening messages that were sent with the goal of extortion, and it has been extremely difficult for me to watch. However, I still think that it is right not to submit to threats or extortion. If I had easily agreed to their demands, then I would have encouraged further crimes, and there would be even more victims.
Finally, I would like to sincerely apologize once again to my many fans and the people who have suffered secondhand damage.
I will use this incident to look back on my life and reflect, and I will always work hard to become a better person. Thank you.