‘Ashfall’ star Ha Jung-woo admits illegal use of propofol in trial

Korean actor Ha Jung-woo (Instagram) 

Korean actor Ha Jung-woo, 43, star of the film “Ashfall,” has admitted to the illegal use of propofol, a psychoactive sleep anesthetic drug, during the first day of his trial on Aug. 10 in Seoul.

Propofol is a highly regulated drug in South Korea that the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety issued standards for its use last September. 

“Medical professionals must properly adjust propofol dose based on the patient’s weight, always bearing in mind that propofol has a high risk of misuse and abuse. Propofol should not be administered independently without reasons related to surgery, surgical procedures, or medical examinations,” the ministry said. 

Ha Jung-woo is facing charges of using propofol 19 times for non-medical purposes at a plastic surgery clinic in Gangnam, Seoul from January to September 2019. 

Prosecutors initially filed a summary indictment against the actor, seeking to impose a fine of 10 million won ($8,694) as they believed he illegally administered propofol under the name of his younger brother and manager. With a summary indictment, Ha Jung-woo would not undergo trial. 

However, the Seoul Central District Court rejected this and ordered Ha Jung-woo to undergo a public trial. 

According to Korean media, Ha Jung-woo told the court, “I will live more carefully so as not to stand here again.” Ha Jung-woo hired 10 lawyers from four law firms for this case. 

One of his lawyers said, "The accused admits to all the charges in this case.  Please take into account the fact that most of the crimes were done along with the procedure and were administered by medical personnel," adding that the actual dose of propofol administered is much lower than the dose on medical record. Ha Jung-woo previously said he used propofol for his dermatological treatment. 

Ha Jung-woo told the court, "I regret and deeply reflect on how careless and rash I was. As an actor who received a lot of attention, I should have lived more carefully and set an example but I deeply apologize for causing concern and damage to my colleagues and family because of my fault.”

"I am very ashamed but I ask the judge for mercy so that I can become a healthy actor who contributes to society, make up for my mistakes in the future and pay off debts," he said. 

His sentencing will be held on Sept. 14.