Agency scammed by conman never actually had contact with actor Shim Eun-ha

Actor Shim Eun-ha during an election campaign event for her husband, former National Assembly representative Ji Sang-wook, at a market in central Seoul on April 7, 2020. [JOONGANG PHOTO]

BY4M, the company that claimed it had paid actor Shim Eun-ha to star in a new drama series, did not actually pay the actor but was scammed into paying a conman surnamed Lee, local entertainment news outlet Dispatch reported Friday.

BY4M disclosed the text message exchange with Lee to Dispatch, in which Lee confessed that he had forged Shim’s personal seal on documents and had elicited another person to make calls on behalf of Shim — impersonating the actor.

The agency became acquainted with Lee last year, who claimed to be a former manager of a famed actor. BY4M signed a contract with Lee on Feb. 10, 2022, and transferred 1.65 billion won ($1.34 million) — a 1.5 billion won down payment for three episodes of the drama plus 10 percent tax — on Feb. 14, 2022.

There were three signatures on the contract — BY4M’s, a company named “D Media” which Lee claimed to represent, and Shim’s personal seal. Seals are still used for most written contracts in Korea.

Lee assured BY4M that he had made contact with Shim and was confident that she would be open to returning to the screen and the entertainment industry. Lee was also a close acquaintance with an executive at BY4M, a company manager told Dispatch.

However, even after many months, staff at BY4M were still unable to meet Shim in person. When the company grew suspicious, Lee returned 880 million won in an apparent move to show his sincerity.


The only contact the company had with Shim was through a phone call last November, which Lee later confessed was a fake.

Lee confessed to BY4M this week that everything was a scam.

The company called Lee to ask what was going on, during which Lee admitted that he had in fact forged Shim’s seal and even had gotten a female acquaintance to pose as Shim and call BY4M.

Ji Sang-wook, Shim's husband and former National Assembly representative, has filed a defamation lawsuit against BY4M and the reporter who first broke the news of Shim's supposed contract with BY4M before fact-checking the information.

BY4M issued an official statement Friday afternoon saying that the company will take strong measures in response to the issue.

"We would like to express our apologies to actress Shim and her family for causing concern and distress with these controversies," BY4M said in its statement. "We will seek strict legal repercussions against Lee and thoroughly check and improve the verification process for business dealings internally to prevent a reoccurrence of any similar situation."