The Trials of Daniel Lee
An internet smear campaign nearly destroyed the South Korean star, but he fought back with the only weapon he had: the truth.
by Joshua Davis
ON AUGUST 19, 2010, Dan Lee stood on the steps of Meyer Library and pointed to a nearby patch of grass.
“The Rodin statue,” he said nervously. “It was here.”
The Korean television crew following him noted that there was nothing there, just a well-mowed lawn. Students on bikes zipped past, paying no attention to the cameras or the skinny, dark-haired 30-year-old they were filming. In Seoul, it was hard for Lee to walk down the street without being mobbed. To Koreans, he was known as Tablo, a chart-topping rapper who was also married to one of the country’s most prominent movie stars. Until recently, he had been one of Korea’s biggest celebrities. Now his career was in tatters, he’d parted ways with his record label, and his family was receiving death threats.
The reason? Hundreds of thousands of Koreans refused to believe that Lee graduated from Stanford.
The cameraman for the television crew closed in on Lee as he looked at the empty lawn. They were here to document for Korean national TV whether or not Lee was a liar.
“It’s not here anymore,” Lee said, staring at the spot where he knew The Thinker had been. He rubbed his face and wondered if maybe he was going crazy.
When the program aired two months later in Korea, this was the opening moment.