8:53 pm - 03/24/2009
Latest in Jang Ja-yeon Case
Just a small warning this is a very long post, though I have tried to highlight relevant information.
Police find Jang Ja-yeon took golf trip with agent - Late actress alleged abuse for refusing other such tours
Police investigating the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon confirmed yesterday that she went on an overseas golf tour with the head of her former agency, who has fled to Japan.
Lee Myeong-gyun, who is in charge of the violent crime bureau at the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, told reporters that Jang accompanied agency head Kim Sung-hoon and an unidentified producer from a broadcasting station on a golf trip to Thailand last May.
“We were able to prove the trip took place by checking the records at the immigration bureau at Incheon airport,” said Lee. “We also found pictures that were saved in a computer taken from Kim’s office on Sunday. The photos were taken during the trip.”
On Monday, Lee requested that the producer come in for questioning but he couldn’t because he was not in the country.
According to police, Jang allegedly wrote in a document that surfaced after her suicide that she had been mistreated after refusing to accompany another producer on a different Thai golf trip.
“I didn’t know Kim had forced Jang to go on the trip,” Lee quoted that producer as saying when he called into police around March 16 or 17. Despite the pre-emptive calls, however, police said they are also planning to summon that producer for questioning.
Lee also said, “We have collected statements from acquaintances of Jang that she was serving a high-profile figure drinks when he acted inappropriately.”
He explained that the name of that figure does not appear in Jang’s accusatory document.Police will decide if they will subpoena the person after confirming he actually was involved in the alleged exploitation of Jang.
Meanwhile, police said they have confirmed that Jang was not on good terms with Kim before her death.
“We have concluded that Jang did not have a good relationship with Kim. We’re assuming that the cause of her death, other than the depression she suffered from, was partly due to that unsettled relationship,” Lee reported. “We will further investigate the specific reason for the discord.”
Police said they are still pushing for Kim to come back from Japan. Oh Ji-yong, head of the criminal affairs division at the Bundang Police Precinct, called Kim on Monday to try to persuade him to return and cooperate in the investigation.
Police also intend to question 12 other people, including the seven who have been sued by Jang’s older brother.
Yoo Jang-ho, the head of Jang’s agency at the time of her death, is scheduled to be questioned today.
Head of Jang Ja-yeon’s agency says he’ll appear
The head of the talent agency that was managing actress Jang Ja-yeon at the time of her suicide has said he will turn himself in for police questioning tomorrow.
The Bundang Police Precinct in Gyeonggi announced yesterday that if Yoo Jang-ho does not show up, they will consider filing for an arrest warrant against him. Yoo missed a police request to appear on Saturday.
Police regard Yoo as a key source of information in resolving suspicions of sexual exploitation swirling around following Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide.
Meanwhile, accusations by Grand National Party lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo during a legislative inspection on Seoul’s supreme and district prosecutors’ offices in September 2002 have resurfaced amid the Jang controversy.
Speaking with the JoongAng Ilbo by telephone yesterday, Hong said, “The head of the show business-related agency whom I mentioned in the legislative inspection of government offices back in 2002 is the same person who managed Jang.”
At the time, Hong had said that three Democratic Party lawmakers were involved in a sex scandal with three actresses.
Democrats fiercely denied the accusation and no probe was conducted after the prosecutor in charge of the case at Seoul’s District Prosecutors’ Office was demoted by lawmakers and then transferred.
The controversy was sparked by suspicions that a talent agency manager had plied politicians and businessmen with sexual services provided by actresses under his charge.
“If the scandal was thoroughly investigated at that time, another tragedy like Jang’s would not have occurred,” said Hong. “The police have to do their upmost in finding the truth in this case in order to eradicate customary sexual services by young actresses for high-level figures.”
Why No Progress in Jang Ja-yeon Investigation?
Police seem strangely unable to make progress in their investigation of claims in documents apparently written by actress Jang Ja-yeon before her suicide, even though those claims have generated an enormous wave of suspicion and rumor in Korea.
Jang's body was discovered at her home on Mar. 7. On Mar. 8, her former agent Yoo Jang-ho showed Jang's family members a copy of the documents she had allegedly left behind. On Mar. 9, police concluded that the cause of Jang's suicide was depression. On Mar. 12, Jang's family burned the documents Yoo had given them. On Mar. 13, a portion of those documents was broadcast on a television news program.
On Mar. 14, police put together a 27-member investigation team. On Mar. 20, they bolstered it to 41 officers, according to the orders of the Gyeonggi police commissioner. But the investigation has so far been able to confirm nothing.
While all of this was happening, a new witness has come forward with new testimony. About six days before the suicide, a well-known actress is said to have tipped off a well-connected producer of a TV program to the existence of Jang’s documents and asked him to take care of the head of the agency that managed Jang, a man identified only as Kim.
Before Jang's suicide, Yoo allegedly contacted several entertainment reporters. This could mean that Jang killed herself out of shock when she found out that explosive allegations she had written at Yoo's behest for the purpose of pressuring Kim to relinquish control of her ended up being leaked to journalists and other people in the industry.
The investigation must start by cross-examining Yoo and Kim. But police are simply twiddling their thumbs until Yoo shows up for questioning on Wednesday, as he promised, while Kim is in Japan and refuses to return to Korea. It was only last Wednesday that Korean police applied for Interpol assistance in the investigation, and it is uncertain when Kim will be extradited. Even though reporters have contacted Kim by phone several times, police are saying they are unable to reach him. An official in charge of the investigation even said the case was "not an urgent matter."
Police must expose the problems that have long plagued the entertainment industry in Korea and drove at least one actress to commit suicide. And our society must not sit by and simply swallow the rumours and watch innocent people be damaged by such accusations. Failing to conduct a proper investigation would make the police guilty of negligence.
And surprisingly some changes might be actually happening in Korean entertainment industry:
FTC Probing Entertainer's Contracts with Agents
In the wake of the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon, the Fair Trade Commission has embarked on an investigation of so-called "slave" contracts between entertainers and their management agencies.
"We have started investigating exclusive contracts between entertainers and small and medium-sized management firms," an FTC official said Monday. "After field investigation, we will take appropriate measures to correct unfair contracts."
The FTC plans to look at clauses that infringe on the privacy of contracted entertainers, such as those that require them to take part in various activities to promote the agencies for free, and to constantly report their whereabouts to the agency. It will also look at unfair clauses that give the management the right to hand over the contract to a third party without the entertainer's consent.
"We're going to draft a standard contract for entertainers in the first half of this year, and encourage some 500 management agencies to follow it," the FTC official said.
The FTC in November 2008 investigated the contracts of 354 entertainers with 10 large management companies and ordered 204 of them to be corrected.
Celebrity Agents to Face License Exam from June
In the wake of the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon, the association of entertainers announced that it will carry out a license examination for management agents from June. "Since it is not officially recognized by the government, the license will not be legally binding. However, in order to enhance the quality and professionalism of publicists or managers, and reform past and ongoing malpractices, we decided to introduce the examination system," said the association.
Apart from that, Corea Entertainment Management Association decided to draft a standardized contract between entertainers and management agencies in order to prevent the exploitation of entertainers. It also decided to enforce the registration of current managers. Kim Gil-ho, 42, of CEMA, said, "We will expel anybody whose quality is questionable or whose acts are deemed problematic by the association, and will come up with measures to penalize them when they attempt to re-enter the industry."
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5