Jang Ja-yeon

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Jang Ja-yeon
Born(1980-01-25)25 January 1980
Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, South Korea
Died7 March 2009(2009-03-07) (aged 29)
Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Cause of deathSuicide by hanging
Years active2006–2009
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJang Jayeon
McCune–ReischauerChang Chayŏn

Jang Ja-yeon (Hangul장자연; 25 January 1980 – 7 March 2009) was a South Korean actress. She was born in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. She debuted in the entertainment industry when she appeared in a television commercial in 2006. She was known for being part of the KBS television drama series Boys Over Flowers as Sunny, one of the antagonist of the series.

At the time of her death at the age of 29, Jang had been starring in 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 was claimed that she had been sexually and physically abused by a number of prominent entertainment executives during her career, and that this alleged abuse had contributed to her depression.[1][2][3][4]


Jang made her debut in 2006 in a television commercial.[5] Her big break came in Boys Over Flowers playing the role of Sunny, one of a trio of girls who antagonize the female lead played by Ku Hye-sun. At the time of her death, Jang was awaiting the release of her first two films, They Are Coming and Penthouse Elephant.[6]

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.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Since the death of her parents in a traffic accident in 1999, Jang had been living with her older sister and younger brother.[8] Prior to her own death, Jang had been suffering from clinical depression and had received medical treatment for her illness during the past year.[5]

Death and subsequent scandal[edit]

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".[5] 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.[9]

A police investigation concluded that her death was a suicide,[9] and found no evidence of foul play.[8] Jang is believed to have killed herself at around 4:30 pm.[9] 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.[10][11]

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.[12] Jang left a 7-page note listing at least 31 names of media executives, CEOs, and directors that she claimed she was forced into having sex with. South Korean police have suppressed the full list.[13] Internet users later uncovered a partial list of the 31 people involved, including Bang Sang Hoon, CEO of The Chosun Ilbo daily; Vice-President of Sports Chosun, Bang Myung-Hoon; JoongAng Ilbo ("Central Journal")'s Director of Advertising, Lee Jae Young; Chairman of Kolon [ko], 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. The Chosun Ilbo 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.[14]

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".[15] 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.[16]

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,[8] 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.[9] Jang's funeral was held there on 9 March, and was attended by family, friends and fellow actors, including Boys Over Flowers lead Ku Hye-sun. Her cremated remains were buried next to her parents in Jeongeup, North Jeolla province.[6]

In film[edit]

Her death inspired the 2013 film NORIGAE.[17][18][19][20]



Year Title Role Ref.
2009 Boys Over Flowers Sunny [1]


Year Title Role Ref.
2009 Searching for the Elephant Hye-mi [21]
The Weird Missing Case of Mr. J Min-a [22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kim, Mi-ju; Jeon, Ick-jin (9 March 2009). "Actress from 'Boys Over Flowers' hangs herself". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Celebrity sex-for-money is probed". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  3. ^ https://variety.com/2018/tv/asia/korea-prosecutors-to-reopen-actress-jang-ja-yeon-suicide-case-1202742137/
  4. ^ http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20180801000659
  5. ^ a b c Chung Ah-young (8 March 2009). "Boys over Flowers' Actress Jang Found Dead in Apparent Suicide". The Korea Times. Seoul. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009.
  6. ^ a b ""Boys over Flower" actress Jang Ja-yeon Laid to Rest". KBS World. 9 March 2009. Archived from the original on 11 March 2009.
  7. ^ Glionna, John M. (9 January 2011). "In South Korea's entertainment industry, exploitation remains an issue". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ a b c "Actress Jang Ja-yeon in Apparent Suicide". Digital Chosunilbo. 9 March 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d Kim Mi-ju (9 March 2009). "Actress from 'Boys Over Flowers' hangs herself". JoongAng Daily. Seoul: JoongAng Ilbo.
  10. ^ Kwon Mee-yoo (15 March 2009). "Late Actress Was Forced to Have Sex With Showbiz VIPs". The Korea Times. Seoul. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009.
  11. ^ Park Si-soo (15 March 2009). "Police Tracing Sex Contacts of Late Actress Jang". The Korea Times. Seoul. Archived from the original on 24 March 2009.
  12. ^ "Storm in South Korea over Jang Ja-yeon's suicide". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media. 1 April 2009.
  13. ^ Si-soo, Park. "Jang Ja-yeon scandal resurfaces". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014.
  14. ^ "VITALSIGN" (8 March 2011). "Netizens uncover offenders' names from the 'Jang Ja Yeon list'". allkpop.
  15. ^ "S. Korean held over starlet's suicide". Japan Times Weekly. 4 July 2009.
  16. ^ "Suicide Actress 'Forced into Sex with 31 Influential Figures'". The Chosun Ilbo. Seoul. 7 March 2011.
  17. ^ Conran, Pierce (26 March 2013). "Trailer for NORIGAE Seeks Justice".
  18. ^ Tong-hyung, Kim (31 March 2013). "True-story indie films get popular". The Korea Times.
  19. ^ "Film inspired by true story lacks sensitivity for real-life victim".
  20. ^ "Hangul Celluloid: Director CHOI Seung-ho interview – February 2014". hangulcelluloid.com.
  21. ^ "Late Korean actress' work invited to Polish film fest". The Korea Herald. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  22. ^ "정승필 실종사건. The Weird Missing Case of Mr. J (Jeongseungpil Siljongsageon)". Korean Movie Database (in Korean). Retrieved 28 July 2018.

External links[edit]