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Wang Leehom Apologizes to Ex-Wife as Divorce Scandal Blows Up Online

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Chinese-American singer Wang Leehom has released an online apology to ex-wife Lee Jinglei, with whom he shares three children, and accepted full responsibility for his failures in their marriage.

The latest statement, posted to Chinese microblogging site Weibo on the morning of December 20 (the evening of December 19, for those in North America), follows days of online back and forth between the idol, his wife of eight years, and people caught up in the growing outrage.

A Deeply Troubled Marriage

The scandal began when Wang announced the couple’s divorce last week, following a period of separation from Lee, who hails from Taiwan.

Lee then took to Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, and Instagram on December 17, posting a scathing nine-page rebuke of her former husband that alleged emotional abuse and serial infidelity, including sex with married women, soliciting sex workers, and having various mistresses.

According to Lee, Wang used her as a “shield” while denying the affair allegations that appeared in the media.

“You said your reputation was important. But a woman’s reputation is also important,” wrote Lee.

Her post also contains troubling allegations about their early relationship: Lee says they met when she was just 16 and Wang was 26 and that she slept with him, enthralled by his celebrity status and charm.

She says Wang then told her he wasn’t interested in a relationship and claimed she discovered that he was in several “friends with benefits” arrangements at the same time.

Even before their marriage, Lee claims to have learned of Wang’s infidelities and says she wanted to separate, but he insisted he wanted only to be with her. But after the couple was married, she claims the affairs continued.

She also accused Wang of keeping a catalog of sex workers he had visited, arranged by their physical features.

But perhaps the most scandalous allegation came at the end of Lee’s statement, when she implored her ex-husband to “face yourself honestly, ignore others’ judgment, and be with the right person.”

Netizens speculated that she was alluding to a relationship between Wang and Li Yundi, a male pianist whom many believe has been sleeping with Wang for up to eight years. (Li was recently embroiled in his own scandal involving sex workers in Beijing.)

Li Yundi

Li Yundi. Image via Wikimedia

Lee’s initial post outlining her allegations against Wang has gathered more than 12 million likes on Weibo and nearly 1 million likes on Instagram.

Netizens on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, not typically known for being in agreement online, appear overwhelmingly united in their support for Lee, and the scandal continues to captivate internet users worldwide.

“The one who ruined Wang’s career is not Lee but Wang himself,” a netizen commented under Lee’s post.

Shotgun Wedding?

Wang’s father came to his son’s defense on December 19, accusing Lee of using her pregnancy to trap his son. Wang issued his own response the same day, after two days of silence.

“Today marks the most difficult day of my life; it is a huge, painful nightmare,” his retort begins.

Wang said that he didn’t want to cause further harm to the mother of his children by arguing against her claims but vehemently denied all the allegations.

He said that while he did meet Lee at a concert when she was 16, they didn’t speak again for 10 years — a claim he says can be backed up through their email correspondences. However, the evidence he provided was misleading Chinese translations of the English phrases “hey stranger” and “haven’t seen you in forever.”

“She even called me a stranger, and I told her I haven’t seen her forever,” Wang wrote in his announcement, translating the terms literally to imply they hadn’t spoken in a long time. He included a screengrab of emails sent back in 2011.

Wang’s statement describes a marriage plagued by conflict and frequent visits to counselors. He said he was pressured into marrying Lee after she became pregnant and that she said she would flee with the child if they didn’t wed immediately.

According to Wang, his accusations of marriage coercion can be confirmed through an audio recording of a couple’s counseling session in 2016.

Netizens, however, were not convinced, with one writing, “I am speechless. She got pregnant, and you didn’t want to get married? It is normal for her to want to leave.”

Wang also says Lee demanded 200 million RMB (more than 31 million USD) for the divorce and that the couple’s divorce mediator said that Lee had threatened to publicize information that would ruin Wang’s career if he didn’t comply.

Lee pushed back on December 20, less than an hour and a half before Wang’s apology, writing, “after confirming with our mediator, he said there was no such thing, and there was no recording either.”

Since Wang’s initial divorce announcement, Lee has posted on Weibo six times (that we counted, anyway) outlining her version of events. Now, with Wang finally assuming responsibility, it appears that the public conflict may be over — at least for now.

Additional reporting by Kayla He

Cover image via Depositphotos

Jesse Pottinger
    Jesse is a Vancouver-based journalist who spent four back-to-back summers living in Guangzhou and working with That’s magazines. He currently serves as a remotely-based junior editor with RADII. Jesse has spent considerable time traveling around China over the past half-decade and has something of a passion for dumplings. You can follow his adventures on Instagram at @messy_jesse.
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