Kang Dong Won is known to be the great-grandson of Chinilpa- a group of Koreans who were pro-Japanese and collaborated with Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea. His great-grandfather Lee Jong Man gained immense wealth by supporting the Japanese. It is also alleged that Lee Jong Man financially supported the creation of comfort women.
In an interview with Chosun Ilbo in 2007, Kang Dong Won spoke high of his pro-Japanese great-grandfather, stating, "My great-grandfather is amazing. His name is Lee Jong Man. He was the CEO of Daedong Industrial Company."
The interview quickly circulated around various online communities, and Kang Dong Won gained criticism for proudly speaking of his great-grandfather who actively took part in pro-Japanese actions.
However, several netizens suggested that Kang Dong Won might not have been aware of his family history and that they shouldn't jump onto criticism too fast.
The question on rather or not Kang Dong Won knew about his family history at the time of the interview remains unanswered to this day as no official statement was given regarding the controversy.
Recently on March 1, the issue surrounding Kang Dong Won's pro-Japanese family history resurfaced. For Korea's Independence Movement Day, Korean movie portal site Max Movie wrote an article about the celebrities with Chinilpa family members. Kang Dong Won was an actor on the list.
A netizen shared the article on their blog, and a representative of Kang Dong Won or an employee from his agency, YG Entertainment, sent an email threatening legal action.
The netizen, frustrated and angered, shared about the email she received in an online community. S/he stated, "I've only linked the Independence Movement Day article and they're telling me its defamation of character. It didn't create false information or put the blame. It's written as history remembers it with no exaggeration. You can't change history. There will be no future for those citizens who try to conceal."
In response to her post, netizens are criticizing Kang Dong Won; not for being the great-grandson of Chinilpa but for his reaction to the controversy. His agency is also gaining criticism for trying to cover up instead of facing the issue.
Comments stated, "Kang Dong Won is not criticized for being an offspring of Chinilpa. He's criticized for speaking high of his great-grandfather Lee Jong Man who was Chinilpa. If he didn't know then he should've apologized for his ignorance. It's a problem that he's stirring up anger by threatening legal action for defamation of character. It might be YG's specialty to just report and delete all the posts, and that's the biggest problem", "It's only going to get worse if he tries to cover this up. His label needs to stop", "I'm getting goosebumps. I'm having a second take on Kang Dong Won. Is he stupid or just ignorant..."