The recent suicide of popular Korean actress Jang Ja-yeon, known for her latest role in a Hana Yori Dango drama, is revealed to have been prompted by her shocking treatment at the hands of her agency; it emerges she was treated as little more than an indentured prostitute, being forced to have sex with the rich and powerful and being beaten if she displeased her masters.
As detailed in an earlier report, Jang was found dead hanging from a stairway railing recently.
It was later discovered that the actress had left a suicide note. The note is said to have named names and given sordid details of the unglamorous side of the Korean entertainment business.
The contents of the note, which remains in the hands of family, has not been made public. However, speculation of what caused her death soon focused on Jang’s management agency.
Rumors of the dark underside of the Korean entertainment industry had surfaced years before. Actresses, who are brought into the public spotlight through enormous investments made by their management agency, are often put into a contractual form of slavery.
In order to make back their investments, the firms often hire out the young women to politicians and powerful individuals in the corporate world to serve as escorts.
In private salons and bars, the actresses pour drinks, dance and are often coerced to sleep with their guests. Actresses who wish to be free from their contracts often have to pay back three to five times the amount of the initial investment.
However, Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager spoke out against her agency in a statement to the press.
He alleged that Jang Ja-yeon had been forced to have sex with the management agency’s production director, and not only that: he also described an episode where the actress was physically beaten with water bottles and threatened via text messages.
The former manager also revealed that Jang had felt powerless, a newcomer with little money or leverage. He stated that he was revealing these details against the family’s wishes in accordance to the late actress’ desires to see her abusers brought to justice.
Jang’s former manager was cooperating with the police in their continuing investigation.
The agency’s production director was unavailable for comment having conveniently flown to Japan on an unscheduled business trip.
Shortly afterward, Jang’s former manager reportedly attempted suicide.
It is speculated that he attempted to kill himself to avoid the inevitable backlash for his statement. He remains hospitalized.
Via Chosun Ilbo.