HONG KONG - Vancouver-born Hong Kong actor Edison Chen admitted Thursday taking most of the widely circulated photos showing him and several women performing sexual acts.

Chen, who appeared alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Grudge 2,'' didn't identify the women in the photos, which appear to show him and several female stars -- including singer Gillian Chung and actress Cecilia Cheung -- either engaged in sex acts or in sexually suggestive poses.

"These photos were very private and have not been shown to people and were never intended to be shown to anyone,'' Chen said at a news conference, adding the photos were stolen and distributed without his approval.

Chen was born in Vancouver and attended secondary school in Richmond, B.C., before moving to Hong Kong where he was discovered in 1999 and asked to do a commercial.

Hong Kong police have already arrested several people in connection with the photos on suspicion of violating local laws governing obscene material, including the man who is accused of downloading the photos from a computer brought to a shop for repairs and publishing them on the Internet.

The scandal has dominated headlines in Hong Kong for weeks, with the images widely circulated over the Internet.

Chen, 27, who returned to Hong Kong from the U.S. Thursday, apologized profusely for the photos and said he would take an indefinite break from the Hong Kong entertainment industry after fulfilling his outstanding contracts and devote himself to charity and community work.

"I would like to apologize to all the ladies and to all their families for any harm or hurt they have been feeling. I'm sorry,'' Chen said, without identifying the women.

"I hope after today, I can have your forgiveness . . . I hope you all will accept my apologies and give me a chance,'' he said.

Cheung has not spoken publicly about the photos and Chung, a member of the Hong Kong female pop duo Twins, said last week she was "naive and silly'' without confirming the authenticity of the pictures. Chung's management company, Emperor Entertainment Group, said earlier the photos were doctored.

Wearing a black jacket over an untucked striped shirt and dark blue jeans, Chen appeared nervous, taking a deep breath before reading a prepared statement in English to several hundred reporters who were cordoned off from the actor by several metal barriers.

He also said he failed as a role model.

"To all the young people in our community, let this be a lesson for you all. This is not an example to be set for you,'' Chen said.

Chen is mainly known for his singing and acting careers in the Chinese industry, with his main credits including the crime thriller "Infernal Affairs'' -- which was remade by Martin Scorsese as "The Departed'' -- and its two sequels.

A hub for the Chinese-language movie and music industries, Hong Kong is known for its vibrant celebrity culture. Voyeurism in connection with local stars has stirred controversy in the past.

A magazine cover photo showing Chung changing after a concert in Malaysia sparked a major backlash in 2006.

A local magazine was shut down temporarily after it published a cover photo of a visibly distressed, seminude female, widely reported to be actress Carina Lau, in October 2002.