Kim Lee and Li Yang
At 8:40 am, as Lee walked into the court, she was surrounded by the activist group. The volunteers painted fake injuries on their face and held a banner saying "Zero Tolerance to the Domestic Violence - Anyone Could Be the Next One," also presenting a scroll with over 1,000 signatures to Kim.
Kim appeared surprised and touched at the gesture, hugging one of the volunteers while choking back tears.
In response to the display, Li Yang called the tactic a publicity stunt, saying "A Lawsuit is a lawsuit, you can't engage in such planning" to reporters encircling him outside the court.
Li Yang insisted that his actions did not constitute domestic violence, saying the incident with Lee was an isolated spat of anger which had been building up over a long period. "I don't think that I'm a [perpetrator] of domestic violence. I think I did a good job in taking care of my family," Li said.
After they entered the court, demonstrators sang and danced to the song "Shangbuqi" (too delicate to bear a blow), the lyrics of which discuss domestic violence. Volunteers included female office workers and students, some of which came in from out of town. One of the volunteers said that she hoped that the court affirmed domestic violence charges against Li Yang. Another volunteer said her placard, which carried the lines of "Shangbuqi" was snatched by two unidentified men on her way to the court.
After three hours of proceedings, Li Yang emerged from the court. As to the question of custody of the couple's children, Li Yang said: "I'll definitely fight for the custody of our children and I'll try to [gain custody of] two. As for our first child, it depends on her choice."
"This is a small issue. It became relatively large just because it occurred with me. I don't want it to affect my three children as well as my career. My career is [based on] helping Chinese to learn English. This is a small issue for my family," Li said.
Shi Ziyue, Li Yang's lawyer, said that most of his property was bought in 2000 and 2002, before his marriage to Lee in 2005 (The couple married in the U.S. in 2005 and later applied for marriage registration in China in 2010).
Kim Lee's legal team argues that the two had been in a committed relationship since 2000, and thus Lee is entitled to additional compensation.
Qi Lianfeng, Lee's lawyer, reinforced that what Li Yang had done was domestic violence. Besides dividing up the eight houses registered under the name of Li Yang, Lee also asked that Li Yang pay child support for their three children as well as 50,000 yuan in emotional damages.
"When I walked into the court, Li Yang threatened me and said that you have to shut up today because this is in China. He also demanded that I shut down my Weibo," Lee said.
"I'm so touched and very happy because so many people paid attention to me and helped me," Lee said of the support she received after news of the incident broke.
Feng Yuan, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Anti-Domestic Violence Network, said the divorce of Lee and Li Yang has played a great role for people to understand and stop domestic violence. Very few people have spoken out about the issue before Lee spoke, she said. The women who stood out previously were helpless because our government and relevant departments have not provided professional services and adequate laws to protect them.
The court's decision on Lee's case is still pending.