Extra! Korea

April 24, 2009

No justice for Jeon Ji-hyun, but hopefully for Jang Ja-yeon

Filed under: celebrities, crime, gender equality, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 7:36 am

Actress Jeon Ji-hyun’s agency created a duplicate of her cell-phone so that they could monitor all of her private phone calls and text messages. Though one low-level freelancer has been convicted, and two other executives were indicted, the agency’s CEO, Chung Hoon-tak, escaped justice.

This raises the question of whether or not there will ever be justice for deceased actress Jang Ja-yeon, who was beaten by her agency if she refused to be, for all intents and purposes, a prostitute for some of the biggest moguls in the Korean media.
A piece in the Chosun Ilbo expressed concern that the investigation would die down and eventually lead nowhere, just like a similar one in 2002 did.
The Hankyoreh newspaper, via Korea Beat, has just reported nine arrests in connection to the actress’ suicide.

The Bundang Police Department, in charge of the investigation into the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon, announced on the 24th it has arrested nine people on charges including forced entertaining, forcible molestation, and defamation.

Of the nine arrestees, three are in public relations, two are directors, three are bankers, and once is a businessperson.

[ snip ]

Police also arrested a director on charges of being an accomplice to extortion and abuse of office, and a banker was arrested for forcible molestation.

Police investigated 20 people, including those arrested today, and of the remaining 11, five are directors, five are in the media, and one is a banker. Of those 11, four investigations were cancelled, without public comment three concluded without public comment, and four concluded with no arrest.

Hopefully, there will ultimately be justice and she can finally rest in peace.


The Korea Times has more, and here’s an excerpt.

In a press briefing on the progress of the investigation, Bundang Police Station in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, said that they have so far booked three entertainment agency officials, two directors, three financial industry officials and a private entrepreneur on charges of defamation, coercion and assault.

Included are Yoo Jang-ho, Jang’s most-recent agent who disclosed the letter, on charges of libel for making the letter public through the media. Police are also trying to track down the head of Jang’s agency, the former agent, accused of coercing the actress into offering sexual favors.

A court has issued an arrest warrant for the head of the agency, identified only by his family name Kim, who is now in Japan. Police officials have requested that Japanese authorities extradite Kim, as he has repeatedly defied summons by investigators.

The police decided to suspend interrogating five suspects until Kim is extradited, as they have had difficulty confirming the allegations without questioning him.

Criticism has mounted that police have done little to uncover the truth during the month-long investigation. Critics claim that investigators have not been active in questioning big names in the media and corporations allegedly mentioned in the suicide note and the circulated list.

Police decided to conclude their investigation into 11 directors, media-industry and financial-sector officials, which include journalists at broadcaster KBS that initially reported the existence of the suicide letter.

Further Update:

There’s more from the Korea Times and Korea Herald, respectively.

Police Fail to Pursue Sex Scandal List

Police booked nine people out of the 20 questioned but failed to identify who the late actress was forced to provide entertainment and sexual intercourse to.

None of the corporate figures and media executives suspected of having sex with the late Jang have been booked. Police said they were unable to find concrete evidence to the claim that the late actress was forced to provide sex in completing their investigation Friday.

[ snip ]

Many suspect police succumbed to pressure from the VIPs.

Police initially vowed to investigate all listed figures, but after two months, they were nowhere close to taking legal action against them as none of them were summoned for questioning.

In 2002, a similar scandal involving famous entertainment directors and singers and actresses occurred but no legal action was taken.

Police yesterday wrapped up its probe into allegations behind the death of Jang, 30, who hanged herself in her home on March 7.

[ snip ]

“Though we tried to reveal the truth, we faced limits in investigation, as the victim is now dead and the most crucial suspect Kim is overseas,” said Han Poong-hyun, head of the Bundang Police Station in the briefing. “Further steps will be taken once Kim is brought in for questioning.”

These investigation results were denounced by many as fruitless, especially as they came after a long period of silence from the police. Public suspicion also rose that the police may be covering up for socially influential suspects as their detailed identities remained hidden.

Yet Another Update:

There is a Joongang Daily article which is somewhat lengthier than most of the others I’ve posted links to. A few things are notable. The police report is described as interim, not final, as the Korea Herald article had suggested. There’s a summary about the guy who fled to Japan on December 2 and has since refused to return, despite a summons from law enforcement.

Kim Sung-hoon, head of Jang’s management company, was accused of assaulting her.

He was also accused of coercing Jang to serve drinks to influential businessmen, police said. The alleged exploitation and assaults took place in Kim’s office and bars in the southern Seoul area.

The police also said Kim is accused of embezzling money.

While serious accusations were made against Kim, he was never questioned by the police.

There’s also a description of eyewitness testimony given by a fellow actress.

“A fellow actress of Jang, who had attended a drinking event with Jang and the suspect, testified that he had acted inappropriately,” Ha said.

While the witness identified the financier as the suspected harasser, he denied the accusation by saying that her testimony has been inconsistent.

At first, the witness identified the head of an Internet media firm as the suspect, but later changed her account and identified the financier.

Thankfully, the case seems to have been left at least partially open.

Of the 11 other people who had been questioned, the police left the case open for at least four of them. “The four had met with Jang at least once, so we want to investigate them further after Kim is arrested,” said Lee from the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency.

And finally, here’s a “What-the-hell?!” moment.

Jang’s family filed a defamation suit against the [president of a major newspaper company], but police said Jang must have mistakenly mentioned the man in her letters.

“[M]istakenly mentioned the man in her letters”?! If you’ve been raped by someone, I think you would remember the fine details about him pretty well.


  1. […] was skeptical, since the Jang Ja-yeon investigation has been wrapped up, at least for now, and all of the really big fish seem to have escaped the net. However, they say […]

    Pingback by National Human Rights Commission finds eight cases similar to actress Jang Ja-yeon’s « Extra! Korea — May 5, 2009 @ 6:37 am

  2. […] prostitution — extrakorea @ 2:13 am You might remember the ex-manager of late actress Jang Ja-yeon, Kim Sung-hoon, who was arrested in Japan and deported to Korea. Police yesterday sought an arrest […]

    Pingback by Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager admits to beating her up « Extra! Korea — July 7, 2009 @ 2:17 am

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