Rain Trial Starts

A promoter’s lawyer told federal jurors that South Korean pop star Rain and his agency engaged in “shameful and dishonest business practices” when they canceled a 2007 concert in Hawaii without explanation and kept a $500,000 appearance fee.

The promoter, Seung Su Lee, president of Honolulu-based Click Entertainment Inc., testified Wednesday that the cancellation cost him $1.5 million and damaged his business reputation. He also said Rain and his traveling entourage of 90 people never intended to perform in Hawaii, saying the crew never applied for proper visas.

Lee was the first witness to be called in his civil lawsuit alleging Rain and the performer’s former agency, Seoul-based JYP Entertainment Co., breached a contract and defrauded his company.

Eric Seitz, Lee’s attorney, told the U.S. District Court jury that his client “hasn’t seen a penny” of the $500,000 paid for the rights of hosting the Honolulu concert or an explanation for the cancellation.

“Not even an apology,” Seitz said during opening arguments.

Seitz accused the performer and the South Korean company managing his affairs of “shameful and dishonest business practices.”

“They did not suffer any financial consequences at all,” Seitz said. “They kept the money.”

Jon Crocker, lead attorney for Rain and JYP Entertainment, said the contract Lee had was with a company named Revolution Entertainment, owners of the North American rights to Rain’s concerts.

“It’s not Rain and it’s not JYP. They’re suing the wrong people,” he told the jury, adding that it was other promotion companies that were to blame.

In 2006, JYP sold its license for the “Rain’s Coming World Tour,” which at the time was selling out arenas across Asia, to Star M Entertainment for $10 million. The following year, Star M sold the North American rights to Revolution for $2.25 million.

Seitz, however, argued, “Rain was the main guy. It was his show.”

Crocker pointed to the problems before the scheduled June 15, 2007, performance at Aloha Stadium, where tickets were sold for as much as $300 each. Among them was a copyright challenge from a Beatles tribute band named Rain that sought to bar the South Korean performer from using the name in the U.S.

Crocker said another major issue was there wasn’t a stage that met the star’s standards. His elaborate stages include a huge LED background, waterfall, fireworks, catwalk and five elevators.

“Rain is a great performer. Absolutely. But he needs a stage,” he said.

Lee testified that all contractual requirements were met, including the stage. He even hired an experienced production manager, Mark Russo, who was recommended by Rain’s handlers to oversee the creation of the stage.

Rain is expected to be called as a witness as early as Monday.