January 25, 2008 / 5:55 AM / 10 years ago

South Korea holds breath as singer drops trousers

SEOUL (Reuters) - An ageing South Korean crooner stunned a live, national TV audience on Friday by dropping his trousers and saying he was ready to prove he had not been castrated or dismembered in a love quarrel.

This combination photo shows singer Na Hoon-a trying to drop his trousers during a news conference in Seoul January 25, 2008, to prove he was not castrated in a love quarrel. Na spoke on Friday to deny rumours he had been castrated by a Japanese gangster yakuza boss who was angry that the 60-year-old singer had a fling with one of his favourite South Korean actresses. REUTERS/Lee Gwang-Ho/Newsis

Na Hoon-a, who can still fill concert halls with legions of his middle-aged fans, spoke at a packed news conference to deny rumors he had been castrated or had his penis cut off by a Japanese “yakuza” gangster.

Media reports have said the gangster was angry the 60-year-old singer had a fling with one of his favorite South Korean actresses.

“Do I have to show you, or would you just believe me?” Na asked.

Saying he was ready to prove he had not been damaged “down there,” he jumped on a table, slightly lowered his pants and was revealing his underwear when the live TV broadcast cut away, with surprised reporters heard shrieking in the background.

Internet sites were quickly flooded with office workers who had put their assignments on hold to gather around TV sets and housewives who found new excitement in daytime programming wanting to know the results — which were inconclusive.

Na, whose act draws the same sorts of audiences as British singer Tom Jones, pulled his pants back up and did not expose himself.

Na’s story has been the fodder of popular daily newspapers that traffic in celebrity gossip over the past several days.

“He should have just gone all the way to prove the rumors are false and sue all the reporters that started it,” one Korean said in an Internet discussion board.

Reporting by Jack Kim and Lee Jae-won; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and David Fogarty

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