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 18, 2010

These “singers” are busy with non-singing activities

Filed under: actors/actresses, movies, music, television — extrakorea @ 1:10 pm

According to this post, the members of the girl group T-ara are so busy acting in dramas, movies, and variety shows that they can’t sing on stage or record in the studios.

Jiyeon has already been in a lot of movies and dramas, Eunjung has been in a drama and preparing for a movie, Hyomin has been preparing for a drama, and Qri, Boram and Soyeon have been regulars on variety shows. When album activities occur, the girls become very busy.

A representative said, “T-ara’s Hyomin is preparing for a drama shoot and future individual activities,” he said, “in this case, it means they girls can’t regularly be on stage or record often or else members would be missing and that’s why we recruited a new member to hold activties and keep interest in T-ara and not the dramas/movies.”

I thought that they are, you know, singers. It reminds me of the time that Uee, of the girl group After School, was so busy with her acting that she couldn’t join After School in performances.

This kind of thing, combined with the fact that most girl groups only have one or two members who can really sing well, reinforces the notions that:
a. to be a “singer” in South Korea you don’t need to be able to sing well
b. South Korea doesn’t really have singers and actors like other countries do. That is, in other countries, singing and acting are professional careers that require ability and specialized training. In Korea, there are just “celebrities” who both sing and act, but don’t dedicate themselves to either and don’t do either particularly well.

June 30, 2010

(Updated) Actor Park Yong-ha, latest celebrity suicide?

Filed under: actors/actresses, suicide — extrakorea @ 12:16 am


K-Bites has numerous updates, including reactions from Jo Kwon (of boy band 2AM) and his friend Jae-joong (of boy band DBSK (a.k.a. TVXQ)


Original Post:

It looks like there’s been yet another celebrity suicide: actor Park Yong-ha (Korea Herald, AllKpop)

He was found this morning by his mother, hanging from a cell phone recharging cable. He was only 32.*

He earned his fame as a hallyu celebrity through TV drama “Winter Sonata.” Park was particularly popular among fans in Japan and Southeast Asia.

He was also scheduled to play the lead role in upcoming drama “Love Song,” a remake of the film “Chum Mil Mil,” with actress Yoon Eun-hye.


* Keep in mind East Asian age reckoning.

April 29, 2010

Over 60% of actresses pressured to have sex, says comprehensive new study

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, crime, gender equality — extrakorea @ 1:12 am

Last July, in the aftermath of the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon, whose suicide note claimed that she had been forced by her manager to sleep with rich men, a survey of about 2,000 entertainers was conducted. Unfortunately, there were a mere 183 responses, which rendered the study almost meaningless.

Fortunately, more recent studies are giving us a clearer picture of what goes on behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, but unfortunately, the image is an ugly one.

Last October, a survey of 200 people, of various professions in the entertainment business, revealed that:

37.5% [of actresses] experienced physical or verbal assault, 25% experienced unwanted physical contact and 12.5% received “sponsorship” offers. By Sponsorship, it means those in power who support actresses, financially and also using their connections and influences (to get important roles), in exchange for sex. Many famous stars such as Ivy and Song Yoon Ah confessed to turning down such offers, while some female celebrities who seem to receive a lot of media attention compared to their popularity are rumored to have very powerful sponsors.

Now a more comprehensive study did extensive interviews with 240 aspiring actresses and 111 actresses, of whom 10% were top actresses. Eleven entertainment industry insiders, including managers, also participated. The results are far more damning that those from the previous two surveys. Sixty-point-two percent of them reported being pressured to have sex with influential figures like producers, directors, businessmen, politicians and advertising executives. The study has been written about in the Joongang Daily, the Chosun Ilbo, and the Korea Times, and the following quotes are taken from those articles. Apologies for block-quoting huge swaths of text, but it speaks for itself.

An up-and-coming actress in her mid-20s is still reeling from a nightmarish experience she had a couple of years ago.

“I was with the boss of my agency that evening,” she said requesting anonymity. “We went shopping together at brand-name shops. His behavior was unusual as he provided lavish hospitality, going on a spending spree in buying me pricy clothes and other accessories. Afterwards, he escorted me to his luxurious car.”

According to the actress, the man drove toward the area where she lived. She thought he would drive her home. But he pulled over near a hotel and propositioned her.

“He told me that how much I know about men would decide how famous I would be,” she said.

She terminated her contract with the agency but this just highlights the lack of a fundamental solution to prevent future incidents from occurring, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said Tuesday in a 294-page report on the rampant rate of such propositioning of actresses and actress-hopefuls by those who can influence their career development in the domestic entertainment industry.

Almost 60 percent of respondents said they believed rejecting sexual advances would disadvantage their careers, and 48.4 percent said they had in fact lost out on appearances on shows because they refused.

Wealthy men were cited as the most common group of people seeking sex with the stars, cited by 43.9 percent of respondents, followed by TV producers and directors with 38.6 percent. Heads of TV production companies came next with 22.8 percent and senior businessmen with 15.8 percent.

Fifty-five percent of the interviewed actresses said they received at least one offer of “sponsorship” – a secret contract between a rich man and his favorite actress in which the actress receives financial support during a certain period of time in exchange for having sexual relations with him on a regular basis.

“I got such an offer at the initial stage of my career,” said an actress in her mid 40s in the report. “He told me if I accepted, he would support me unlimitedly. But I rejected him.”

Among those who made such offers were wealthy businessmen, TV and movie directors, and politicians, the NHRC said.

More than 6 percent said they had been victims of sexual crimes including rape.

Rape? Things are clearly worse that what some have smugly dismissed as merely “the casting couch.”

Another 31.5 percent said they were molested when men touched their bodies, including breasts, hips and legs.

Among the actresses surveyed, 58.3 percent said they had felt sexually harassed by people who “stared at certain parts of their bodies,” while 64.5 percent said they had to listen to sexually explicit jokes and 67.3 percent said they were judged by their appearance. Some were directly asked to have sex, or even suffered sexual harassment or assault. Some 21.5 percent of respondents said they had received direct requests for sex …

The NHRC said one of the main reasons for the abuses in the entertainment industry was the competition of a large number of actresses for a limited number of parts. “Each year, 48,000 aspiring actresses graduate from various acting schools in major cities, and there is no way of telling how many more women are hired by small talent agencies,” a commission official said.

Public auditions should also be encouraged to create a transparent culture,” the rights commission said. “Actresses are also urged to create labor unions or other representative bodies to improve their working conditions and protect their rights.”

April 14, 2010

Nearly 40% of actors have considered suicide

Filed under: actors/actresses, suicide — extrakorea @ 2:02 pm

Park Jin-hee (a really hot actress who became famous among expatriates due to a brouhaha surrounding some Nazi-themed cosmetics advertisements) is working on her Master’s degree at Yonsei University (so she’s smart as well as hot).  For her study on depression and suicidal tendencies among actors, she interviewed 260 actors, and found that 38.9% had suffered depression and had considered suicide.  About 20% had bought pills or other means through which they could potentially kill themselves.

Why did they think about harming themselves?

Park said most of these symptoms derive from their “unstable status” in life. They thought their employment status was too rocky and that their talents weren’t received well enough by the public and industry insiders.

The gap between the general public’s perception that entertainers “live flamboyant and happy lives” and their actual life being “not so glamorous” also caused them mental anguish.

They were often forced to hide their real characters or feelings from others to remain “likable” and some of them thought “having to stay young and blissful” was self-consuming.

Her conclusion:

“The numbers show that people, who seem to be in the middle of amiability, love and glamour, are some of the most lonesome and troubled,” Park said in the paper.

December 22, 2009

Actor Lee Byung-hun, illegal gambling, and gangsters … Oh my!

Filed under: actors/actresses — extrakorea @ 2:02 pm

The story revolving around actor Lee Byung-hun (of the Korean movie The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, and the Hollywood movie G.I. Joe ) keeps becoming an ever-deeper rabbit hole. How far does it go?

It began with Kwon Mi-yeon, a 22-year-old Korean-Canadian rhythmic gymnast* whom Lee met in Canada. She came over to Korea to live with Lee, believing that he was serious about her, and would marry her. He later dumped her, providing her with a humble apartment (so humble that she moved out and is now living with a friend). Due to the mental and emotional distress that she claims he inflicted upon her, she is now trying to sue him. Kwon released pictures of herself and Lee to prove that they really were a couple, and appeared on a Japanese TV program (which, to me, looks very tabloid).

But most damaging to him were allegations by Kwon that he participated in illegal gambling. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office have questioned Kwon over this, and plans to summon Lee in the near future.

But it gets even better. Lee stars in a popular TV spy drama called Iris. On December 14, gang members came to the set and became physically belligerent towards staff members. Initially, the blame was cast towards Kang Byung-kyu, a baseball pitcher-turned TV entertainer, because of his history of gambling problems and allegations that he is related to Kwon. Kang denies all charges, and says that he will file a lawsuit against TaeWon Entertainment.

“The story about me calling in those gangs is not true at all. I have actually been beaten directly by Jung Tae Won, the president of the company [TaeWon Entertainment]. The rumor that claims that I am related to Lee Byung Hun’s ex-girlfriend, Kwon Mi Yeon is also not true, and I have been receiving many death threats through phone calls with Jung.”

Kang Byung Kyu had also revealed that he had attempted to compromise with Jung on the 14th, but received violent beatings for 20 minutes, resulting in 3 weeks of hospitalization. He persuaded the reporters that he was helplessly being framed for false accusations.

A representative of the police department stated, “No evidence has been found proving his relation to the gang riot yet. Since both sides are claiming to be the victim of this case, we will carefully investigate this much deeper.”

* Do you know how flexible they are? (Flexibility starts around 1:30.)

September 1, 2009

(Updated) Actress Jang Jin-young has passed away

Filed under: actors/actresses — extrakorea @ 12:25 pm

Commenter Kushibo informed me that the article that I linked to in my previous post was changed. Actress Jang Jin-young has passed away. I enjoyed some of Ms. Jang’s movies and think that she was a good actress. Rest In Peace.


The Korea Times has a more recent article which goes into her career in more depth. By the way, it states that her age was 35, whereas the previous article said that she was 37. Perhaps they’re going by international age and East Asian age, respectively.

Actress Jang Jin-young in critical condition

Filed under: actors/actresses — extrakorea @ 7:10 am

Actress Jang Jin-young’s stomach cancer has gotten worse, and she is now in critical condition. Ms. Jang starred in Singles, Blue Swallow, and Between Love and Hate. In a sad irony, she played a woman dying of stomach cancer in the movie The Scent of Love.

August 26, 2009

Thief of Choi Jin-shil’s Ashes Arrested

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime — extrakorea @ 1:07 pm

You might recall that someone stole actress Choi Jin-shil’s ashes. The thief has been arrested. The man, only identified as Park, turned himself in to police. So why did he do it?

“Choi appeared in my dream one day and begged me to take her out of the urn and move her to a grave.”

And this was very surprising to me.

The National Scientific, Criminal and Investigation Laboratory will conduct a DNA test on the ashes to prove its authenticity.

They can do DNA tests on ashes?

August 15, 2009

(Updated) Somebody stole Choi Jin-shil’s ashes!

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime, suicide — extrakorea @ 8:53 am

You probably remember late actress Choi Jin-shil. Well, somebody stole her ashes.


We have some updates thanks to Korea Beat and the Korea Times. Somebody smashed a hole in the tomb to get the ashes. Empty soju* bottles were found and are being checked for fingerprints. The police suspect that it may be the work of a fan of Ms. Choi.

* cheap, nasty spirits

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