Extra! Korea

October 15, 2010

Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager faces a maximum of one year in jail

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime, gender equality, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 2:34 pm

Jang Ja-yeon was a young actress who committed suicide on March 8, 2009. In her suicide note, she described how her former manager, Kim Sung-hoon, beat her up, embezzled money that she had earned, threatened her and her friends, and forced her to sleep with directors, executives, and CEOs. Kim fled to Japan but was caught and extradited. The trail has begun, and he faces a maximum of one year in jail. Verdict hearings will begin on October 29th.

One year? That’s it? He abused a young woman terribly, and probably drove her to suicide, and that’s the maximum punishment that he’s facing? Something isn’t right.

July 7, 2009

Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager admits to beating her up

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, crime, gender equality, 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 warrant to detain Kim Sung-hoon, the head of the late actress Jang Ja-yeon’s former management agency, on charges of physically assaulting Jang, embezzling money she earned from her performances and threatening Jang and her friends.

Kim has admitted to assaulting Jang, but he denies the other allegations. Kim is also accused of forcing Jang to serve drinks to and have sex with influential figures.

(emphasis mine)

So in his mind, corruption is something to be embarrassed about, but it’s OK to beat up women. If it were me, it would be the last thing that I’d admit to.

“Sure, I embezzled money. I both gave and accepted bribes, and cooked my accounting books, too. But I never beat up any women to force them into prostitution. Only a low-life smear of scum would do something like that.”

But that’s just me. And look at the pictures of him at the Hankyoreh and Korea Beat. I realize that, since he’s such a high-profile suspect, the police would escort him with huge guys. But Kim looks really small compared to just about every person in those two pictures. I guess that’s one reason why he beat up girls, to try to feel like a big man. I guess he doesn’t feel so tough now.

June 30, 2009

Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager to be deported to Korea Friday

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, crime, gender equality, suicide — extrakorea @ 6:46 am

Kim Sung-hoon, the former head of late actress Jang Ja-yeon’s management agency, is to be deported to Korea this Friday.
If you’d like to throw eggs at this piece of human filth, he’ll arrive at Incheon International Airport at 3:20 p.m., on Korean Air flight KE702.

June 24, 2009

Japanese police arrest head of late actress Jang Ja-yeon’s management agency

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, crime, gender equality, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 3:13 pm

Japanese police officers have arrested Kim Sung-hoon, the former head of late actress Jang Ja-yeon’s management agency. You might recall that Kim is the lame excuse for a human being who beat up Jang if she refused to sleep with rich and powerful men who were old enough to be her father.

“It will take about two months for Kim to return to Korea,” a police officer said. “Once his arrival, we will resume the stalemated investigation into figures allegedly involved in the scandal.”

Following her death, police launched a large-scale investigation, pledging to discover who had received such nasty favors from the actress regardless of their social positions.

Police concluded the investigation in April. They 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. At that time, 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.

Jang hanged herself at her house in Bundang, south of Seoul, on March 7.

A few days later, her agent disclosed a seven-page suicide note, supposedly written by Jang, which stated that a former agent had forced her to provide sex and entertainment to several VIPs, including CEOs of two print and online media organizations, program directors and a bank CEO. The other bigwigs allegedly include owners and presidents of chaebol.

May 5, 2009

National Human Rights Commission finds eight cases similar to actress Jang Ja-yeon’s

Filed under: celebrities, crime, suicide — extrakorea @ 6:37 am

About a week ago, it was announced that Korea’s human rights commission would investigate, among other things, the contracts of female entertainers.

Korea’s human rights watchdog is to investigate the contracts of female entertainers as part of efforts to improve the human rights of vulnerable groups.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) announced its working plan for 2009 Tuesday and said it will launch an investigation into the working conditions of the entertainers.

The recent suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon triggered the commission’s action. She was found dead after her agency allegedly forced her to provide sex to several high-powered entertainment figures and journalists.

The NHRCK estimated that many other actresses are exposed to sexual exploitation within the entertainment industry, while most of them were uninsured and underpaid.

“There hasn’t been a systematic case study of the human rights conditions of female entertainers so far,” an official of the commission said.

[ snip ]

The study, expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year, is intended to serve as a supplement in creating policies to improve rights protection for the broader entertainment industry, it said.

(sources one and two)

I 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 that they’ve found eight similar cases.

The National Human Rights Commission (국가인권위원회) announced on the 28th that its investigation of human rights violations of entertainers has turned up eight such cases.

I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude, as I’m wondering if anything will come of it.

After they are checked by outside experts the Commission sends the reports to various organizations in an effort to have them reflected in the law and official policy.

(source: Korea Beat)

April 26, 2009

Newspaper exec named in Jang Ja-yeon’s list cleared of charges

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime, gender equality, prostitution — extrakorea @ 4:57 am

The newspaper executive who was publicly named by two lawmakers and an Internet-based newspaper, Surprise, has been cleared of charges by the police, at least until they are able to take Kim Sung-hoon, the head of Jang’s management company, into custody and interrogate him.
This seems to rest upon, among other things, an alibi based upon one of the executive’s scheduled meeting. Just because he had a meeting scheduled doesn’t mean that he attended it, or attended it on time. Anyone who lives and works in Korea knows that higher-ups have carte blanche to be tardy, reschedule things, leave early, and even to cancel.

The Hankyoreh also has a cartoon in which a police officer buries the Jang Ja-yeon list in a grave while shadowy figures watch him to make sure that he does it to their satisfaction.

The Jang Ja-yeon list has made its way onto the Internet, and though the Korean government has tried to chase it out of cyberspace, I think (and hope) that they will fail. That way, the list will never be buried.

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.

Edit/Update:

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.

April 11, 2009

Newspaper executive sues lawmakers over actress’ Jang Ja-yeon’s list

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, censorship, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 1:36 pm

Last month actress Jang Ja-yeon committed suicide. A note, said to be written by her, said that she was forced to have sex with some of the biggest executives in the Korean media (broadcasting companies and newspapers). When she tried to refuse, she was beaten. Though one copy of the letter was burnt, another copy was leaked to the press (no one knows which one was the original) and has made its way onto the Internet.

First, some background on Korea’s libel laws. As Brendon Carr explained, in Korea, one person’s right to protect their reputation trumps another person’s right to free speech. Further, telling the truth is no guaranteed defense. Even if you print verifiable facts that are a matter of public record, you can still be sued for libel.

Two lawmakers implicated the senior executive of the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in the actress’ death, and now he is suing the lawmakers for “damaging his reputation.”

In my opinion, if you don’t want your reputation to be damaged, don’t commit crimes. When you commit crimes, you lose your right to protect your reputation. Just my opinion.

Edit/Update:

It turns out that at least one of the lawmakers, Lee Jeong-hee (also spelled Lee Jung-hee), is a woman, which could help to explain why she wanted to give this pig the humiliation that he richly deserves.

March 15, 2009

Sexual harassment, assaults let to actress Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide

Filed under: celebrities, gender equality, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 11:27 pm

Ever since actress Jang Ja-yeon committed suicide on March 8, there has been talk of a suicide note which detailed her reasons for committing suicide.

A representative at another agency identified as Yu, to whom Jang had reportedly talked about her problems, is believed to have seen the suicide note but has been incommunicado since he wrote on his website, “People in the entertainment world know why she killed herself.”

(source)

Her former manager has come forward and it has come to light that her suicide note described traumatic indignities that she endured before finally taking her own life.

Police have started investigating the authenticity of a note actress Jang Ja-yeon allegedly left before committing suicide on March 8. The note said she was unable to withstand the pressure of entertaining and having sex with program directors and corporate and media executives.

The former manager of the 30-year-old actress made public her alleged handwritten letters. Jang, who recently starred in the hit drama “Boys Over Flowers,” was found dead in an apparent suicide at her home in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province.

According to the Bundang Police Station, Jang’s letter said she was beaten, forced to serve drinks, act as an escort at golf matches and coerced into sex with several program directors, CEOs and media executives.

“Jang’s letter aroused concern toward the unfairness of entertainers’ contracts once again,” a FTC [Fair Trade Commission] official said. “We found several unfair contracts at big agencies last year, but it’s almost impossible to investigate hundreds of small- and medium-sized companies.”

(source)

Unfortunately, this seems to be common in the entertainment industry here.

재키림은 마약을 비롯한 좋지 않은 사건에 휘말리는데, 그녀가 이런 사건에 빠진 이유는 ‘한국에서 실력으로 활동하려 했지만 자신을 성적대상으로만 보면서 높은 사람 자리에 불려나가야 하고, 동료연예인들로부터 왕따당하면서 외로워서 약을 하게 되었다.’고 밝혔다. 재원이라고 떠들었던 뒷편에는 여성 연예인에 대한 여전한 성차별과 고위권의 압력, 동료 연예인의 텃세가 있었던 것이다.

Later, she became disgusted and further disheartened by trying to succeed as a singer in Korea through her own abilities but while facing the virtual prostitution of female entertainers that goes on behind the scenes. Not only was she regularly pressured to entertain and provide sexual services for politicians and business leaders, who saw her merely as yet another trophy girlfriend to be used, but on top of that she was also ostracized by other entertainers too, angered by whom they saw as an uppity overseas Korean whom they intended to put in her place. In the end she became very lonely and depressed and got involved with drugs.

(source of translation)
(original source)

On the sexualization of actors and pop stars:

One time the band I was playing in back in 2002, the year I arrived here, or maybe 2003, and we had a gig at the OLD (yack! mold! but nice mood…) location of Club Bbang. I think it was summer 2003, actually. Anyway, before we played, I went outside into the street as usual with my horn to warm up.

(Saxophones need more warm-up, you know, checking the reed and getting the embouchre tight and so on.)

(Quit laughing about my nice tight embouchre, you dirty-minded slobs!)

Anyway, this guy was standing around, ordering people about as a film shoot for some crappy TV drama or other was being conducted — apparently some famous show from 2002, but my Korean was so bad at that stage that I missed it, so I guess it was famous. Anyway, I walked off around a corner and walked off to warm up, and came back a while later.

When I returned, the rest of the band was outside having a smoke and beer, waiting for our gig to start. Three guys in the band were foreigners, but I was the only obvious (non-Asian) one. So when I got back, I joined the crowd to watch the film shoot, and the guy running the show noticed me standing there with my horn.

When the actress flubbed something, and they had to re-shoot, meaning the car pursuing her had to drive off. This guy who was running the show turned around and started chatting with me in English. “Pretty actress, isn’t she?” A few minutes later, he was bragging about the sexual favors he’d gotten from the lead main actress in the show, and all the women in the show in fact, and how his wife had no idea. (Yeah, sure!)

My somewhat unimpressed reaction was, “Is that so?” He was so brazen about it, and he seemed just sleazy enough to have maybe done so, and quite proud to have gotten a job with such good perks. I was surprised, though, and took his bragging for bullshit. My bandmates suddenly started speaking English, and he joked with them about it, too. It was pretty stomach-turning, as well as surprising — he seemed to take for granted that his whole crew had no idea what he was saying. Or didn’t care, probably.

I asked around after that, and everyone (Korean) I knew said, “Yeah, that’s showbiz here. Poor girls. But they get easy money, so… yeah, it’s like a 다방 girl…” Maybe it’s just such common knowledge (or so commonly assumed) nobody publicizes it?

(source)

May 10, 2011

Seven bar “hostesses” have committed suicide since July

Filed under: celebrities, drinking, gender equality, music, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 12:56 pm

On March 24th, a young woman committed suicide, the seventh bar “hostess” (known as “jeopdaebu,”) to do so since last July.

In a suicide note, the 27-year-old said she was forced to have sex against her will and was no longer able to stand the abuse from customers and the bar owner.

Apparently, she was not able to quit because of a “slave contract.” In such bars, the owners are, or are connected to, loan sharks who lend out money at excessively high interest rates.

In the article, it is subtly hinted that the recent crackdowns on prostitution may have actually exacerbated the situation by forcing prostitution underground, leading to the exploitation of women who, unlike those in red-light districts such as Chongyangni and the now-defunct Yongsan, never had any intention of becoming prostitutes.

As shown in the crackdown by the Pohang Police, the sex industry has developed into a well-organized business run by bar owners, gangsters and loan sharks who exploit the women, they say.

Many of them first start working at a bar or club to earn “easy money” without knowing it will put them in a trap from which they can’t get out, they say.

“Most of these hostesses regret starting the job,” Lee Jung-mi, the head of the Korean Shelter for Women, said. “They first thought they would make a lot of money by simply talking to male customers at bars or karaoke, serving drinks and singing for them. But the reality is they are forced to sell sex and they can’t say no due to money they have been loaned in advance.”

Here is a statistic that, if true, is interesting:

According to Statistics Korea, one out of 60 economically-active women work in bars, clubs and karaoke rooms, or in red light districts.

Also, in case you were wondering, the Korean music industry, despite all the rhetoric since the suicide of Jang Ja-yeon, still harbors sexual exploitation. Here is a report from this past February, in which journalists went under cover to find out what happens to young trainees.

The trainee was also asked to call the director of her agency without alerting him that he was being recorded. When asked about the contract fee she was forced to pay, he replied, “There are no agencies these days that support you financially 100%. Since we do support you 100%, don’t leave us. Even if you say that we forced you to provide sexual favors, you really have nothing to say in the end.”

Upon hearing his shocking statement, reporters visited the agency themselves while hiding their cameras. They found that the agency, on the outside, looked no different from any other agencies, and when asked to name the celebrities they housed, they had no trouble listing the names.

[ … ]

Another trainee hoping to become an actress later gave her own account, revealing, “The agency said they were looking for a small role and wanted to meet me in person. They instead dragged me to their home and force fed me various drinks, claiming that they needed to check my limit. After a while, they taped my mouth shut so that I couldn’t scream, and further claimed that in order to become a celebrity, I needed to have sex with him.”

What was even more shocking for viewers was that this all happened before she entered her third year of junior high school.

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