South Korean actress Lee Yeol-eum has been charged in Thailand for catching endangered giant clams while participating in a reality TV show.
She could face up to four years in prison if found guilty, according to the officials, despite the show’s extensive apology.
The actress was caught on tape as cheered for catching the three giant shellfish in a Thai national marine park in March on the survival TV show named “The Law of the Jungle.”
The episode which went on air on 30th of June showed the participants if the reality show eating the giant clams, the creatures which are listed as an endangered species and protected under Thai law.
A photo of 23-year-old Lee picking up the mollusks started circulating on social media, bringing the star of the Korean TV drama “My First Love” to the attention of the Thai authorities.
Narong Kongeiad, chief of Hat Chao Mai National Park, said he filed police charges against Lee for violating wildlife laws by hunting the giant clams. The charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,300).
“The one who must be responsible is the actress who caught the shellfish because she directly violated the law,” he said. “Others who were involved with the incident could also be charged as well.”
“Sea resources in Hat Chao Mai cannot be caught, hunted or cooked, and the cast and crew were fully aware of that because the park firmly informed them of the park’s restrictions before they began filming,” Narong said.
The incident has triggered an angry reaction among internet users, especially among South Koreans, who have called for the show to be canceled.
In a statement published Friday, the South Korean show offered their “deep apologies” for not being aware of Thailand’s wildlife regulations.
“We will be more cautious of our actions when producing the show in the future,” it said.
“The Law of the Jungle” is a popular reality TV show which has been airing since 2011 and places South Korean celebrities in groups that are sent out to test their survival skills in remote locations.