Jang Ja Yeon’s Death
On March 7, 2009, actress Jang Ja Yeon, known for her role in Boys Over Flowers, died at the age of 29. She was found hanged at her home in Seongnam by her older sister, with whom she shared her residence.
Jang Ja Yeon left behind a lengthy document that revealed 31 names of high-profile personnel in the entertainment industry who had sexually abused her. She claimed that her manager Kim Sung Hoon had regularly beaten her and forced her to have sex with a number of CEOs and media executives.
Jang Ja Yeon’s Death Is Ruled A Suicide, Charges Are Laid
After Jang Ja Yeon’s death, police launched an investigation into her cause of death and her sexual abuse claims. Jang Ja Yeon’s cause of death was ruled a suicide, as investigators found no evidence of foul play.
Over 40 police officers looked into Jan Ja Yeon’s case for four months and the prosecution office additionally assigned a special investigative team to the case. None of those who were named by Jang Ja Yeon were found guilty; the court ruled that Jang Ja Yeon’s allegations lacked evidence.
Only the CEO of Jang Ja Yeon’s agency and Jang Ja Yeon’s manager, Kim Sung Hoon, were indicted for violence and defamation. The CEO received 4 months in prison and 1 year of probation, for physically abusing the actress. The manager received 1 year in prison, 2 years of probation, and 160 hours of community service for defaming the CEO.
The Public Calls For A Re-investigation, 9 Years Later
In 2018, the #MeToo movement gained significant traction in Korea, drawing attention to sexual abuse within the Korean entertainment industry. In light of this, many who remembered Jang Ja Yeon’s case called for a re-investigation. In February of 2018, a Blue House petition was started and signed over 230,000 times, urging the prosecution to re-investigate her case.
The Blue House Responds To Jung Ja Yeon’s Petition, Re-investigations Begin
In response to the petition, the Blue House stated that the prosecution would be reviewing all aspects involved with the case, should it be selected for re-investigation.
By April 2018, the case was chosen as one of several cases to be reviewed for possible re-investigation. On June 5, 2018, the South Korean Justice Ministry appointed the prosecution to reopen the case, just two months before its statute of limitations would expire.
Yoon Ji Oh Speaks Up About Jang Ja Yeon’s Sexual Assault Claims
In June 2018, Yoon Ji Oh, a friend of Jang Ja Yeon who was an actress from the same entertainment company, shared her story with the public for the first time. She claimed to have witnessed Jang Ja Yeon being sexually assaulted on the birthday of their agency’s CEO.
He (the assailant) pulled her (Jang Ja Yeon) from the table onto his lap and began sexually harassing her. It was the first time I saw this happen with my own eyes.
ㅡ Yoon Ji Oh
Yoon Ji Oh allegedly testified 13 times to the police and prosecution during the initial investigation, but her statement was rejected. She believes it was because the assailant has close ties to the prosecution.
I thought it was weird that he trusted the assailant’s words over mine. I was just over 20 years old at the time and didn’t have the greatest sense of judgment, but even so, I felt that something was not right. It wasn’t until later that I found out the man’s (assailant’s) spouse was a prosecutor.
ㅡ Yoon Ji Oh
The prosecutor who was in charge of the 2009 case stated that the Yoon Ji Oh’s testimonies were not accepted due to inconsistencies. He claimed that she had changed details of her testimony, including her description of the assailant. The prosecutor also admitted that “Cho” (the suspected assailant) was his acquaintance, but he denied any bias toward him.
He is my acquaintance. But just because he is an acquaintance, do you think I would disregard the witness’s testimony and defend him? That’s absolutely absurd.
On June 26, 2018, “Cho” was indicted for sexual harassment charges. Charges against “Cho” had been dropped in the past, but the re-investigation acknowledged the allegations.
Dispatch Releases CCTV Photos And New Details About Jang Ja Yeon’s Final Meetings With Yoo Jang Ho
In March 2019, Dispatch released photos taken from CCTV videos during Jang Ja Yeon’s final days. A week before her death, Jang Ja Yeon met with a former manager of her former agency, Yoo Jang Ho, several times in the hopes that he would help her expose those who had wronged her.
In August 2008, Yoo Jang Ha had left Jang Ja Yeon’s agency, The Contents Entertainment, to create his own company, Hoya Spotainment. He had taken two actresses, Song Sun Mi and Lee Mi Sook with him, but Jang Ja Yeon remained at The Contents Entertainment. Both actresses were mentioned in Jang Ja Yeon’s document.
Jang Ja Yeon and Yoo Jang Ho met on February 28, at his office in Songpa. This is where Jang Ja Yeon allegedly gave Yoo Jang Ho a pile of documents about her sex slavery contract. Here he can be seen watching Jang Ja Yeon exit the elevator.
On March 1 2009, Yoo Jang Ho took these documents to the MBC Drama Center in Ilsan. He met Lee Mi Sook here, who was filming her drama, East of Eden. In his police testimony, Yoo Jang Ho claimed he did not show the documents to Lee Mi Sook. Instead, he talked about Jang Ja Yeon’s CEO, Kim Jong Seung, and commented on the “bad things” Kim Jong Seung was doing to his rookie actor. Lee Mi Sook advised Yoo Jang Ho to speak with the Director, Jeong Se Ho.
Yoo Jang Ho told me to come into his office because he had something to tell me. He said he’s preparing a criminal investigation on Kim Jong Seung [CEO]. He said if I wrote down everything that’s happened to me, they’d guarantee my identity would be kept a secret, and they’ll also release me from my contract. So, I went ahead and wrote the document.
— Jang Ja Yeon
Jang Ja Yeon believed that her contract would be terminated, following the document that she wrote outlining everything that had happened to her. This document became known as her suicide note. In March, Dispatch released four pages of this document that detail her sexual abuse at the hands of her CEO, her feelings of powerlessness, and more.
Jang Ja Yeon’s Family Members Give Their Thoughts On Her “Suicide Letter”
At the time of her death, the document in which she detailed her abuse was believed to be a suicide letter, but experts have since stated that this is not the case. Her family members suspect that Jang Ja Yeon may have been coerced or coached into writing what she wrote, in the way she wrote it.
The following are statements made by Jang Ja Yeon’s family:
Older brother: The younger sister I know didn’t know the format for these kinds of documents. She had never been to a police station before.
Older sister: There were words and sentences that [Jang] Ja Yeon doesn’t usually use. It feels like she was writing down what she was told to write.
Older brother: I want to know why they said there was a suicide note in the interview. Yoo Jang Ho kept on saying that he wanted to kill Kim Sung Hoon.
In 2009, the family wished for Jang Ja Yeon’s death, and the scandal surrounding it, to pass quietly. They demanded that the note be burned, and on March 12, 2009, Yoo Jang Ho pretended to follow the families wishes and burned the original copy in front of the family.
However, the next day, Jang Ja Yeon’s suicide letter was on the news again. KBS 9PM News ran an exclusive report on how they found the burned and blackened document outside of Yoo Jang Ho’s office, in a trash bag.
Dispatch was able to obtain the final text message Jang Ja Yeon received before she died. It was sent on March 7, 2009 at 3:34PM. It was two hours before Jang Ja Yeon died.
I think you’ll meet someone with me on Monday, March 9. Please clear your schedule for the afternoon. Call me Monday morning.
– Yoo Jang Ho
That “someone” referenced in the text messages was a Producer (PD) for KBS, MBC, and SBS – Jung Se Ho.
Lee Mi Sook’s Messages About Jang Ja Yeon Are Released
When Lee Mi Sook left The Contents Entertainment in 2008, a year before her contract was up, the agency sued her for ₩200 million KRW ($220,000 USD) in damages. The courts ruled in the company’s favor, but for only ₩100 million KRW ($110,000 USD) in damages to be paid as a penalty fee.
During this legal fight, a chat log was revealed showing Lee Mi Sook mentioning Jang Ja Yeon. The following is a conversation between Lee Mi Sook and Producer Jeong Se Ho.
Lee Mi Sook: Jang Ja Yeon came to me crying and asked for a favor. She came after writing a document for Yoo Jang Ho. There’s also something about how you and Jang Ja Yeon went golfing in Thailand together.
Jeong Se Ho PD: Lee Mi Sook, wouldn’t you come golfing with me? How could you not come, after I’ve been gone for 10 years?
Lee Mi Sook: The contents are shocking. The only person Kim Jong Seung is afraid of is you. Please scold him. Whether you have to break a hand or a foot, this cannot hit the floor. Yoo Jang Ho has the documents, meet him and listen to what he says.
Lee Mi Sook’s witness interview statement, however, conflicts with her above text messages to Jeong Se Ho.
Police: Did you know Jang Ja Yeon?
Lee Mi Sook: I did not know her in the past, I came to know of her name through this incident.
Police: Did you know that Jang Ja Yeon wrote the document?
Lee Mi Sook: I didn’t know.
Police: Did you know if Jang Ja Yeon wrote the document with Yoo Jang Ho?
Lee Mi Sook: I don’t know.
Police: Is there any truth that you received the documents from Yoo Jang Ho?
Lee Mi Sook: There is none.
Police: Have you seen the contents of the documents?
Lee Mi Sook: I have not seen them.
Police: According to Jeong Se Ho PD’s statement, Jang Ja Yeon’s completed documents were seen and Jeong Se Ho knew of the contents, is this true?
Lee Mi Sook: No. Jeong Se Ho PD must have heard incorrectly. There is an urgent filming, so I’d appreciate if you could postpone the investigation until next Monday.
Yoon Ji Oh was a friend and colleague of Jang Ja Yeon. Back in June 2018, when the case was placed under consideration for re-investigation, Yoon Ji Oh shared her witness testimony with the public for the first time. In court, she testified about seeing Jang Ja Yeon getting sexually abused at a party shortly before her death.
Despite her noble intentions, many commenters online have been leaving malicious comments, bashing Yoon Ji Oh and her character, claiming she had ulterior motives for speaking up about the case. In March 2019, Yoon Ji Oh posted pictures of malicious comments made about her on Instagram, saying she would take legal action against those making these comments.
Yoon Ji Oh Posts Her Psychological Diagnosis Out Of Fear Of Being Murdered And Having Her Death Disguised As Suicide
Yoon Ji Oh is, so far, the only witness in Jang Ja Yeon’s case who has been willing to come forward. Going public has put Yoon Ji Oh in a potentially dangerous situation that has her fearing for her life. This prompted her to post a psychological diagnosis she received, on her official Instagram account. She shared that in order to receive her medical record certificate, she received an examination from a clinical psychologist which will have strong legal power in case anything happens to her.
She feels it is necessary to take such measures because, in the past, 3 additional actors passed away due to suicide at The Contents Entertainment, the agency Yoon Ji Oh and Jang Ja Yeon were both signed to. Yoon Ji Oh claims that 2 of these people were ready to tell the truth about the case.
I received the medical examination certificate that I mentioned on a recent broadcast.
I received a 4-hour-long examination by a level one clinical psychologist and took a 3-hour-long questionnaire in order to receive the certificate which will hold strong legal power in case anything happens. The reason why I did that is that among the actors that were under the CEO and agency that late Jang Ja Yeon and I were signed with, 3 additional people passed away in a similar manner in their own homes without leaving a will.
In addition, 2 people who were ready to tell the truth also passed away due to suicide… and an investigator passed away from drowning in a fishing spot where the water wasn’t even as high as his chest.
– Yoon Ji Oh
Lee Mi Sook Makes First Official Statement About Jang Ja Yeon’s Case In 10 Years
Actress Lee Mi Sook had remained silent on this issue for the last 10 years, but in March she made a statement conveying her worries about speaking up and her willingness to take part in additional investigations.
Hello, this is Lee Mi Sook. First of all, I’d like to apologize to you for causing you to worry due to these unfortunate circumstances. I’d like to carefully share my statement regarding reports related to late Jang Ja Yeon.
I was careful about speaking up about late Jang Ja Yeon, who faced a tragic death at such an early age because I was worried that every word I say would be distorted into gossip rather than reveal the truth.
I am also saddened by the death of late Jang Ja Yeon. I am willing to participate in additional investigations if it is needed in the process of exposing the truth behind her death. However, I believe the investigation should be one that will recover the reputation of the late actress and is approved by the citizens of Korea.
I will do my best to make sure there isn’t any misunderstandings or suspicions left regarding late Jang Ja Yeon’s death. Thank you.
– Lee Mi Sook
Yoon Ji Oh Claims There Are Five More Actors Who Know What Happened To Jang Ja Yeon
On an episode of Every Detail, Yoon Ji Oh gave her thoughts about statements made by Lee Mi Sook, who Yoon Ji Oh claims knew about what was happening to Jang Ja Yeon. She also mentioned more people who hold vital information about the case, and encouraged them to privately take part in the re-investigation.
She is one of them. There are five more people I know, not including Lee Mi Sook, who worked in the entertainment industry who were possibly closer to Jang Ja Yeon than I was. There are five people in addition to Lee Mi Sook who know what happened.
– Yoon Ji Oh
Former TV Chosun CEO Revealed To Have Reportedly Contacted Jang Ja Yeon Frequently Before Her Death
Former TV Chosun CEO Bang Jung Oh reportedly called and met with Jang Ja Yeon frequently before her death, then had someone cover this connection up for him.
One of Jang’s good friends explained that Bang Jung Oh was mentioned numerous times in Jang Ja Yeon’s diary. Many suspect that he could be “President Bang’s son”, mentioned in Jang Ja Yeon’s document, whom Jang Ja Yeon was forced to serve alcohol to.
Bang Jung Oh stated that he only met Jang Ja Yeon for a brief period on one day and clarified that he did not call or see her privately.
On the night of October 28, 2008, I received a call from an acquaintance and attended a gathering. (As I found out later,) Jang Ja Yeon was apparently at this gathering. I left after about an hour and went back home. I did not call or meet Ms. Jang before or after that day.
ㅡ Bang Jung Oh
TV Chosun released a statement denying all accusations and threatening to take legal action against media outlets that report false information.
Reports claiming former CEO Bang Jung Oh frequently contacted and met the late Jang Ja Yeon and covered up the case is not at all true. H and O, who were also mentioned in the reports have claimed that they didn’t say such things. We plan to take legal action against media outlets that reported fals information based on inaccurate messages of a person who has been imprisoned on charges of fraud.
ㅡ TV Chosun
Madame Shim’s Possible Connection To Jang Ja Yeon’s Case Is Revealed
Shim Mi Young, who goes by the names Shim Min Ji or Madame Shim, is the founder and CEO of the luxury fashion brand L’inoui. She is considered one of the most powerful women in Korea, due to her connections with politicians, celebrities, news outlets, and CEO’s. She has reportedly has ties to Seungri’s scandal and to Jang Ja Yeon’s case.
Due to her connections, Madame Shim is linked to many deaths in the entertainment industry, suicides that some suspect to be murders. This includes Jang Ja Yeon and two other stars signed under The Contents Entertainment who committed suicide: U:NEE and Jeong Da Bin.