Lee Sang-min’s Love Life: Marriage With Lee Hye-young
Lee Sang-min married his girlfriend of seven years, actress and singer Lee Hye Young in the United States. The couple got married on June 19th, 2004. Unfortunately, the celebrity couple decided to divorce after being a married couple for a little over a year. The couple officially divorced on August 8th, 2005.
The divorce settlement didn’t go well because his former wife filed a lawsuit against him for financial fraud. She claimed that Lee Sang-min bought two luxury cars using her name, both cars worth a total of over 180 million KRW. She also stated that he failed to pay the installment debt. Due to the fraud, Lee Hye-young claimed that her salary and bank accounts were seized. During their short term marriage, she claimed that Lee Sang-min took around 2.2 billion KRW. Lee Sang-min replied by stating that he promised to reimburse around 1.3 billion KRW while for the remaining 0.9 billion KRW he didn’t promise to reimburse.
Lee Hye-young also sued him for forcing her to participate in a nude photoshoot and allegedly earning 800 million KRW from the contracts and benefits. To make it worse, she said that Lee Sang-min borrowed money using her name and even asked her friend to lend him money for business purposes. Lee Sang-min denied all accusations and said that it was a misunderstanding. On November 28th, 2006, she dropped the lawsuit against her former husband.
Lee Sang-min’s “Icon of Debt” story
In the early 2000s, his reputation as a music producer and singer spiraled down as he started venturing out from entertainment to business. Strings of scandals and conflicts damaged his reputation and financial status. In 2001, disharmony and conflict between members of Chakra and members of S#arp caused both groups to disband.
Lee Sang-min opened a mega restaurant called Give Me Five showing live martial arts fights and transgender performances in 2004. At first, the restaurant attracted plenty of attention until an accident occurred and a fighter died while fighting on the stage. Lee Sang-min was forced to pay a huge sum of money causing the restaurant to go bankrupt. By 2005, he was indebted with a total of 6.9 billion KRW (around over 6 million USD).
He married longtime girlfriend in June 2004 but ended up divorcing her in August 2005. Lee Sang-min got entangled with financial lawsuits from his former wife. He was accused of stealing 2.2 billion KRW from her and several other financial wrongdoings. He admitted to several wrongdoings and promised to reimburse the money.
In December 2006, Lee Sang-min was arrested for operating an illegal gambling website. According to police reports, Lee Sang-min operated 80 affiliate stores of gambling sites across the country from May to July 2006. The gambling sites earned 5.4 billion KRW and he was suspected of receiving around 0.2 billion KRW. He denied receiving the benefit from the illegal gambling sites. He was sentenced to three years of probation, serving the community, and paying 210 million KRW in fines.
Lee Sang-min started reappearing in variety shows in 2012. He became the main cast of mocking documentary-style variety show on Mnet titled God of Music. He was dubbed God of Music and worked on establishing an entertainment agency. His character is portrayed as an authentic and truthful person. During the show, he found and cast newcomers in the Korean entertainment industry. The show itself was a TV program based somewhere between reality and scripted show.
During one of the episodes of God of Music, a creditor approached him while he was working in the office. The creditor asked the reason for evading his calls. The creditor’s face was blurred and the audience was left to decide whether the situation was real or fabricated.
In one of the episodes of SBS’ My Ugly Duckling, he invited one of his creditors and treated him a meal. It was revealed that Lee Sang-min has returned the debt of around 1 billion KRW since 2004. The creditor was impressed with his diligence and even considered him like a younger brother.
Lee Sang-min proudly showed his strict lifestyle through one of his variety shows. He rented a space in his creditor’s house and bought low-priced clothing items. He collected a minuscule amount of money by receiving and reading commercial messages. He regularly participated in more than 10 TV variety shows. It was basically very hard to turn on the TV and switch channels without seeing him appearing on TV programs. It showed his wholehearted efforts to pay back his monstrous debts.
Korea’s household debt is continuously rising and domestic consumption is declining with any sign of improvement. Korean is indebted and Lee Sang-min’s debt reflects Korean citizens’ consumer behavior. Positively, Lee Sang-min becomes the icon of debt for his determination to pay back all his debt.
Recently, on November 11th, 2019, Lee Sang-min appeared on SBS’ Kim Young Chul’s Power FM. He revealed that he is finally debt-free and he has a positive equity bank account. Later that day, he clarified that he is still repaying his debt. Kim Young-chul heard that Lee Sang-min finally can visit a bank so he thought that Lee Sang-min’s debt was reimbursed. Lee Sang-min said that his debt still exists but he sees hope for repaying all his debt. He thanked the audiences and fans for believing in the miracle.