Note: This article is only a summary and not a detailed explanation of everything that happened for the past 10 years.
The name Jang Ja Yeon might be a familiar name to you, it’s a name that’s been discussed by local and international media a lot recently.
So let’s go through a brief summary of what happened back in March 2009 and why you should care.
Jang Ja Yeon played the role of one of the mean girls in the popular series “Boys Over Flowers.” However, prior to the drama ending, she committed suicide by hanging herself.
Her suicide is still talked about to this day because of all that unfolded after it. She had been suffering depression and committed suicide back on March 7, 2009.
The entire “Boys over Flowers” cast has visited her funeral and paid respect to the late actress.
The death of the actress was national news and caused a lot of buzz. The police ruled her death to be a suicide. Jang Ja Yeon explained why she had killed herself in a note, she revealed she was beaten and forced to entertain and have sex with several program directors, CEOs and media executives.
After netizens found out about the note, riot erupted, the public asked for the punishment of everyone she had been forced to entertain. The actress claimed her manager Kim Sung Hoon regularly beat her and forced her to have sex with many VIPs.
She had left 7-page note listing at least 31 names of prominent media executives, CEOs and directors she claimed to have been forced to entertain.
The police tried to suppress the list, however, parts of it were released. Some argue the list is fabricated while others argue it isn’t.
Since the prosecution only charged two people, the public wasn’t happy. There were ten people investigated on the list but not charged which caused even more uproar from netizens.
In 2018, during the #MeToo movement, women’s rights organizations have demanded the actress case be reopened and investigated, more than 200,000 people signed a petition for it.
This resulted in South Korea’s Justice Ministry calling on prosecutors to reexamine her death.
A witness named actress Yoon told JTBC about what the actress endured at the hands of one politician named Cho. She even said she spoke 13 times to the police and prosecution but her testimony wasn’t accepted.
“I thought it was strange, they seemed to believe Cho. I was just over 20, unable to judge the situation well, but even for me, it was strange.
After the investigation, I learnt that Cho’s wife was a prosecutor.”
Actress Yoon later revealed her identity. Yoon Ji Oh came forward and revealed her name risking her life to bring justice to the late actress; she has been taking part in witness interviews and doing her best to bring people’s attention to the ongoing investigation.
Yoon Ji Oh life was threatened and became a topic of discussion, in August of 2018, a national petition called for her protection. Starting from March 14 at 2:30 p.m. KST, Yoon Ji Oh has been receiving personal protection from the police.
Yoon Ji Oh says the list was not a suicide note but simply a document. She also argues that the actress had never received an autopsy.
On broadcasts, the actress also called for Lee Mi Sook and Song Sun Mi to reveal the truth. They had both been under the same agency as Jang Ja Yeon. Actress Lee Mi Sook was questioning by police but back then she said she had only found out about the actress following her death.
The status of limitations was set to expire soon and people petitioned to the blue house to keep investigating the case in hope of punishing everyone who had anything to do with her death. The petition was signed by more than 600,000 netizens.
There is good news, today, on March 18, 2019, the Ministry of Justice’s Committee of Past Affairs announced the investigation of the late actress will be extended for another two months.
This is the same committee that has been investigating the case when it was reopened. This investigation will be active until May, fans are happy the petition raised enough attention and awareness to extend the investigation.
On March 18, Dispatch released an exclusive report with CCTV footage taken of Jang Ja Yeon last moments before her suicide. The report even alleges that actress Lee Mi Sook forced her to sign an agreement to provide sexual services.
Apparently, the document that had more than 50+ pages was later labeled her suicide list but it was a document where Jang Ja Yeon exposed the wrongdoings of her CEO and how she was forced to have sex with various figures.
You can read the full translated Dispatch report by Koreaboo, they have done a good job with it. Read it here.
In short, Dispatch questioned the validity of Lee Mi Sook previous statement, providing evidence that Jang Ja Yeon got in contact with Lee Mi Sook only a few days before her death.
The public’s opinion of Lee Mi Sook has been extremely negative after reading the Dispatch report. Her rep initially gave a statement saying they cannot hastily release a statement and will do one after confirming the facts with the actress.
People are now questioning the death of Jang Ja Yeon that was ruled a suicide. The circumstances leading up to it doesn’t indicate the actress wanted to take her own life. She was ready to fight for justice and the chance to get off from her contract with her agency.
On the other hand, the name that was mentioned by Yoon Ji Oh (Actress Song Sun Mi) gained more attention, which is why Actress Song Sun Mi stepped to clarify her position on March 18 as well.
Actress Song Sun Mi responded to the reports linking her name to Jang Ja Yeon’s case with denial. She told news outlet Edaily that she found out about the late Jang Ja Yeon through the news and hadn’t been aware of her until her death.
She says she’s burdened that her name is being mentioned in this case and added,
“CEO Kim and manager Yoo will have to speak now.”
You can read what she said in more details here.
President Moon Jae In responded to the petition and has ordered a thorough investigation for three ongoing cases including the Burning Sun Club and Jang Ja Yeon’s list on March 18.
The president acknowledged the cases happened within the privileged class. He says,
“If we fail to clarify the truth behind the cases that occurred within the privileged class, we will not be able to talk of a righteous society.”
He also asked the Minister of Justice and the Minister of National Security to take responsibility for revealing the truth and clarifying each suspicion related to the cases.
Fans are happy that the president of South Korea is putting pressure on the authorities to investigate these cases properly.
Now if you’re asking why does this case relate to Seungri, Jung Joon Young and Burning Sun… That’s because netizens believe Jang Ja Yeon case is being overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Seungri and Jung Joon Young.
Jang Ja Yeon matters and her death should not go in vain. Her death casts a light on the dark side of the Korean entertainment world. I sincerely hope this gives you an idea of what’s going on right now and why it matters. Please remember this article is only a brief summary and not a detailed explanation of everything that happened for the past 10 years.
I hope that justice prevails.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12