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Politician's likeness to criminal in Netflix's 'A Killer Paradox' sparks controversy

Feb. 12, 2024 - 14:24 By Yoon Min-sik
The character Hyeong Jeong-guk eats sushi while incarcerated in this scene from the Netflix drama "A Killer Paradox." (Netflix)

Popular Netflix original drama "A Killer Paradox" has been embroiled in controversy over one of its characters, who many here have alleged "bears a striking resemblance" to main opposition Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Jae-myung.

Netflix denied such rumors, saying such accusations are "completely baseless."

The character, Hyeong Jeong-guk, portrayed by actor Seung Eui-yeol, is depicted as a corrupt older politician who is incarcerated for his crimes, with neatly-combed grey hair and dark wire-rimmed glasses. In the latest episode, he was seen eating sushi behind bars with the prisoner number 4,421 on his chest.

In addition to the real-life political bigwig also having neatly-combed greying hair and wearing dark-rimmed glasses, supporters of Lee took issues with the character's prison number being "4,421." Commenters in an online community here alleged the number is a reference to Lee's suspected involvement in a high-profile corruption scandal involving a redevelopment project at Seongnam city in Gyeonggi Province, when Lee was the city's mayor.

Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)

It was alleged that the construction company involved had made 442.1 billion won ($331.6 million) in illegal profit.

Lee is currently under trial for his alleged involvement in the case, although he has continually claimed his innocence.

Online commenters also alleged that the character's choice to eat sushi was supposedly to satirize Lee's wife, who was sentenced last year to a prison term for misusing public funds for her personal benefit. The charge included the allegation that she had ordered sushi with the government credit card when Lee was the governor of Gyeonggi Province.

"A Killer Paradox," directed by Lee Chang-hee, follows the story of Yi Tang (played by Choi Woo-shik), a college student who ends up killing evildoers after committing murders by accident. The eight-part series is based on the award-winning webtoon of the same name.