South Korean celebrities are known for their meticulous efforts in upholding a pristine public image, a crucial aspect of their careers as it directly impacts their fanbase. The Korean entertainment industry thrives on image management, where stars are expected to embody the ideals they promote, and any misstep can lead to significant criticism. Even the most prominent figures in K-pop and K-media can disappear from the limelight when netizens decide to boycott them. However, some manage to navigate these treacherous waters, emerging stronger than ever, and Lee Min-ho is one such star who demonstrated the resilience of his superstardom.
Lee Min-ho has graced us with his presence in a slew of iconic projects that served as our gateway to the Hallyu wave. From the beloved “The Heirs” to the timeless classic “Boys Over Flowers” and the enchanting “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” he has left an indelible mark on our hearts. Who didn’t wish they could be part of F4 while watching “Boys Over Flowers” or long for a Kim Tan to come to their rescue when they were in distress? And let’s not forget Heo Joon-Jae, a character so charming that we’d gladly let him con us.
Our love for Lee Min-ho knows no bounds. However, not many are aware that this Hallyu superstar once stood on the precipice of being canceled due to a gambling controversy. Yes, you heard that correctly. In 2014, “The King: Eternal Monarch” star found himself at the center of a storm of criticism when reports surfaced that he had indulged in gambling while in New Zealand, where he was filming for an outdoor brand. Many of his admirers turned against him, questioning his integrity and moral standards, given the shadowy reputation often associated with gambling.
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As the controversy gained momentum and calls to boycott the actor grew louder, Lee Min-ho’s agency, M-net, decided to address the issue. In a statement, they clarified that the actor was not at a conventional gambling establishment but had visited a restaurant with a small adjacent casino-like area. They explained, “The location is a small casino next to a restaurant that’s more like a small arcade. It’s a place where anyone can enjoy a simple game as they eat. While he was resting during the photoshoot, he had a game that cost about the same as a drink. Even the townspeople game there holding their [grocery] baskets. It’s a legally licensed place where only people 18 and older can enter.”
With his agency’s statement dispelling any misunderstandings, Lee Min-ho managed to weather the storm and continued his career, delivering numerous blockbusters. Up next, fans can anticipate his appearance in the upcoming film “Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint,” co-starring Ahn Hyo-seop. He also has a drama titled “Ask The Stars” in the pipeline, where he will share the screen with Gong Ryong. Lee Min-ho’s journey serves as a testament to his resilience and the enduring allure of his stardom.