A shocking video that went viral on Korean social media earlier this month depicted two Western men tormenting a South Korean woman at a bar in Seoul. At least one of the men had an Irish accent and is heard insulting the woman over her physical appearance as he makes unwelcome advances, another man gropes her as she struggles to resist.
Although it has since been confirmed that the video was staged, it generated widespread controversy and gave expression to a longstanding concern in Korea that the population of young Western men in Seoul often live a hard-partying lifestyle.
Meanwhile a Korean man who claims he was involved in the video’s production sent two alternate takes of the controversial scene to the Washington Post. Each video include the same three people in the same setting, with the same dialogue, suggesting it was a performance as the participants claim.
Fearing a public pillorying, the men involved have refused to reveal their names or their nationalities, though their accents have been heavily debated online. One reportedly sounds American, while the other says he’s from a European Union country (which sounds like Ireland to most hearers).
They two men say they have no physical evidence, beyond some screenshots of a Facebook exchange with man who seems to admit some role in staging the scene, to help them prove that the video was staged.
They maintain that in 2011 one of the men was approached by a co-worker, who asked them to participate in an experimental film that would be made to look as real as possible.
According to the Washington Post they arrived at a bar in the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon, where a Korean man introduced himself as the director bought them beers and tequila. A Korean woman — the woman in the video — joined them for drinks as well.
The interaction was filmed on an iPhone with the director telling one of the Western men to use the iPhone to record his friend groping and insulting the Korean woman.
They were reportedly told that the movie would be a commentary on plastic surgery. After several takes, the men were paid about $90 each in cash and went home.
An investigative reporter for the Washington Post spoke to the film's maker last week, who insisted 'it was all in good fun and that there was nothing wrong with staging the incident.'
Meanwhile one of the Western men involved in the shoot told the press, 'I’m disappointed about what’s happened, but I’m not sad about it because this was just an acting piece. I was doing an acting job — there was no sexual harassment involved while shooting the video, and no one was hurt.'
He added that he had been naive to think that the images contained in the video would never come to anything.