Korean actress faces 5yrs in prison for hunting endangered clams in reality TV stunt

A South Korean actress could spend five years behind bars after she poached two giant clams protected under Thai law. The crime was well-documented, as the illegal shellfish stunt was filmed for a reality TV show.

Lee Yeol-eum has found herself in hot water after being filmed diving for giant clams at a Thai marine park. In footage from a recent episode of ‘Law of the Jungle’, a popular South Korean reality show, the 23-year-old actress is seen diligently hunting for the endangered species, then celebrating her catch and later even eating the rare and protected delicacy.

Narong Kongaid, the head of Hat Chao Mai National Park – where the show was filmed in April – told AFP that Lee now faces two charges for violating Thailand’s National Parks law and Wildlife Protection law. If the authorities decide to prosecute the case, a guilty verdict could result in a five-year prison sentence and fines of 20,000 baht (US$650). The publicly-broadcasted poaching reportedly caught the attention of the show’s Thai viewers, who reached out to the national park.

In a statement published Friday, the South Korean show offered their “deep apologies” and claimed they were not aware of Thailand’s wildlife regulations.

“We will be more cautious of our actions when producing the show in the future,” it said. Kongaid, however, told local media that the show’s production team was informed of the giant clams’ protected status before they began filming, and that they were “fully aware” of all regulations and laws.

Even if Thai prosecutors decide to pursue charges, it may be difficult to hold Lee accountable for her illegal clambake as it’s not clear whether she is still in Thailand.