Nine years ago, when actress Jang Ja Yeon committed suicide, she left behind a seven-page letter, revealing 31 names of high-profile personnel in the entertainment industry who have sexually abused her.
Such news shocked the nation and Korean citizens grew outraged, but the case was closed concluding Jang Ja Yeon’s death had been caused by her own depression.
Jang Ja Yeon was only 29 years old, in March of 2009, when she wrote her will accusing high-profile entertainment business figures who forced her to drink and have sex with them.
Over 40 police officers looked into the case for four months and the prosecution office additionally assigned a special investigative team to the case. None of those who were named by Jang Ja Yeon was found guilty as the court ruled the allegations to lack evidence.
Only the CEO of Jang Ja Yeon’s agency and Jang Ja Yeon’s manager were indicted for violence and defamation.
The CEO received 4 months in prison and 1 year of probation, for physically abusing the actress. The manager received 1 year in prison, 2 years of probation, and 160 hours of community service for defaming the CEO.
As the recent #MeToo movement grew stronger in Korea, those who remember Jang Ja Yeon’s case called for a re-investigation. In February of 2018, a Blue House petition was started and signed over 230,000 times, urging the prosecution to re-investigate her case.
To the petition, the Blue House responded that, while the statute of limitations may have expired for things related to the case, the prosecution is expected to fully review all aspects involved with the case should it be selected for re-investigation. By April of 2018, the case was chosen as one of the several cases to be reviewed for possible re-investigation and Koreans grew hopeful.
Finally, on June 5th, 2018, the South Korean Justice Ministry has appointed the prosecution to reopen the case of Jang Ja Yeon and investigate what was the nation’s most scandalous case of its decade. The case has two months before its statute of limitations expires.
The list by Jang Ja Yeon not only reveals names but also depicts what she went through as a rookie actress in the industry. She was forced to serve as sexual entertainment for movie and drama producers, officials of press companies, and more. She was threatened if she turned down these “sponsor (스폰서, high-profile figures offering financial support in exchange for sex)” offers.
“I was locked up in a room and beaten endlessly. I didn’t make a lot of money as a rookie, but I was in charge of paying the manager’s wage.” — Jang Ja Yeon
Jang Ja Yeon was found dead by her older sister on March 7th, 2009. Parts of her controversial will was released to the public by the media just days after the actress passed away. The painful outcry in these documents broke her fans’ hearts.
“I’m only a weak and vulnerable rookie actress. I wish to stop this pain.” — Jang Ja Yeon
Jang Ja Yeon debuted in 2006 as a model in a TV commercial. Since then, she picked up her career as an actress and appeared on several K-Dramas and movies, the more popular ones being Boys Over Flowers and “Searching for the Elephant”.
Through these works, Jang Ja Yeon had received some spotlight and gained a legitimate fan base. Her fans were completely heartbroken when the actress took her own life. The entire nation hopes the complete truth will be revealed in the upcoming re-investigation.