25 January 1980|
Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, South Korea
|Died||7 March 2009
Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||Jang Jayeon|
Jang Ja-yeon (Hangul: 장자연; 25 January 1980 – 7 March 2009) was a South Korean actress. At the time of her death at the age of 29, Jang had been starring in the KBS television drama series Boys Over Flowers. She had been suffering from depression, and a police investigation concluded that her death was a suicide.
Her death caused a national scandal when it emerged that she had been sexually and physically abused by a number of prominent entertainment executives during her career, and that this abuse had contributed to her depression.
Jang made her debut in 2006 in a television commercial. Her big break came in Boys Over Flowers playing the role of Sunny, one of a trio of girls who antagonise the female lead played by Koo Hye-seon. At the time of her death, Jang was awaiting the release of her first two films, They Are Coming and Penthouse Elephant.
Jang was known to have had difficulties with her management agency. In her seven-page suicide note, the actress alleged her management regularly beat her and demanded she submit to ongoing sexual exploitation with industry professionals and cultural elites, naming almost two dozen executives.
Since the death of her parents in a traffic accident in 1999, Jang had been living with her older sister and younger brother. Prior to her own death, Jang had been suffering from clinical depression and had received medical treatment for her illness during the past year.
Death and subsequent scandal
Jang Ja-yeon was found hanged at her home in the Bundang district of Seongnam, Gyeonggi province, on 7 March 2009. During a phone call at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, Jang had complained to her sister about the "overwhelming stress" she was under, saying that she "wanted to die". Having later been unable to reach her on the phone, Jang's sister returned to their shared home at 7:42 p.m. to find her body hanging from the stairway banister.
A police investigation concluded that her death was a suicide, and found no evidence of foul play. Jang is believed to have killed herself at around 4:30 p.m. An alleged suicide note left by Jang describes how she was beaten and forced to entertain and have sex with several program directors, CEOs and media executives, causing considerable debate about relations in the entertainment industry, as well as a police probe into her management agency.
According to South Korean reports, Jang claimed that her agent Kim Sung-hoon had regularly beaten her and forced her to have sex with a string of VIPs, including directors, media executives and CEOs. Kim Sung-hoon, who was in Japan, denied the accusations. Internet users later uncovered a partial list of the 31 people involved, including Bang Sang Hoon, CEO of Chosun Journal; Vice-President of Sports Chosun, Bang Myung-Hoon; Chosun Central Journal's Director of Advertising, Lee Jae Young; Chairman of Kolon, Lee Woong Ryeol; Chairman of Lotte, Shin Kyuk Ho; former KBS PD, CEO of Olive 9, Go Dae Hwa; producer of KBS’s Geumji Ok Yeob, Jun Chang Geun; producer for KBS, MBC, SBS, Jung Seho; producer for KBS’s Boys Over Flowers, Jun Gi Sang; and Broadcasting/Music producer of Playful Kiss, Boys Over Flowers, Perfect Couple and Goong, Song Byung Joon. Chosun Journal later issued a statement saying that it was not their current CEO, Bang Sang Hoon, but their former CEO, whose name has not been revealed.
The former manager of Jang's management agency, Kim Sung-hoon, was arrested in Tokyo, Japan in June 2009 for overstaying his visa. Korean police requested Kim's extradition on a warrant related to Jang's death. Kim at the time of his arrest stated that he "committed a crime in South Korea and overstayed in Japan to avoid being arrested." Twenty figures were investigated by the police, resulting in seven prosecutions. Kim was sentenced to one year in jail, two years of probation and 160 hours of community service.
Approximately 250,000 fans visited Jang's website on the day of her death to express their condolences, with a further 700,000 the following day, while the entire cast of Boys Over Flowers paid their last respects at the mourning hall set up at the Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang. Jang's funeral was held there on 9 March, and was attended by family, friends and fellow actors, including Boys Over Flowers lead Koo Hye-seon. Her cremated remains were buried next to her parents in Jeongeup, North Jeolla province.
In 2013, the court sentenced a man from her agency to jail and community service for fabricating letters from Jang that claimed she was abused by her agency's CEO. Investigators discovered that the letters were false based on handwriting analysis.
|2009||Boys Over Flowers (TV)||Sunny/Park Seon-ja|
|They Are Coming|
- Chung Ah-young (8 March 2009). "Boys over Flowers' Actress Jang Found Dead in Apparent Suicide". The Korea Times (Seoul). Retrieved 9 March 2009.
- ""Boys over Flower" actress Jang Ja-yeon Laid to Rest". KBS World. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2009.[dead link]
- Glionna, John M. (9 January 2011). "In South Korea's entertainment industry, exploitation remains an issue". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 January 2011.[dead link]
- "Actress Jang Ja-yeon in Apparent Suicide". Digital Chosunilbo. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2009.[dead link]
- Kim Mi-ju (9 March 2009). "Actress from ‘Boys Over Flowers’ hangs herself". JoongAng Daily (Seoul: JoongAng Ilbo). Retrieved March 2009.
- Kwon Mee-yoo (15 March 2009). "Late Actress Was Forced to Have Sex With Showbiz VIPs". The Korea Times (Seoul). Retrieved 23 March 2009.
- Park Si-soo (15 March 2009). "Police Tracing Sex Contacts of Late Actress Jang". The Korea Times (Seoul). Retrieved 23 March 2009.
- "Storm in South Korea over Jang Ja-yeon's suicide". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). 1 April 2009.
- "VITALSIGN" (March 8, 2011). "Netizens uncover offenders’ names from the ‘Jang Ja Yeon list’". allkpop. 6Theory Media.
- Japan Times. Kyodo News. June 26, 2009. p. 1.
- "Suicide Actress 'Forced into Sex with 31 Influential Figures'". The Chosun Ilbo (Seoul). 7 March 2011.[dead link]
- "Court Gives Jail Sentence to Fabricator of the Late Jang Ja Yeon’s Letters", February 3, 2013, Soompi. Retrieved 2013-05-21.