Latest in cases victimizing aspiring entertainers
An entertainment agent was arrested Monday for coercing prostitution among aspiring celebrities to achieve sponsorship, the police said.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, a man identified as the family name of Lee was arrested for having raped two aspiring actresses and one singer several times between September 2007 and September last year. Lee, who ran an entertainment agency, forced them to exchange sex for a meeting with a powerful figure.
Lee has reportedly taken photos of them having sex in case the victims reported the crime to the police.
The investigators said there seem to be more than 10 victims and they are tracking their identities. Lee has reportedly stated that the sex and photographs were all voluntary.
The case is the latest in a string of incidents involving wealthy and powerful males buying sex from young women seeking career opportunities.
In a nation where there are more than 1 million people seeking the media limelight, there is always enough “supply” to meet this demand, industry insiders said. From “rather light-hearted” seating next to a “VIP” and filling their glasses with liquor to providing sex, the celebrity hopefuls are always exposed to risk, they said.
A groundbreaking revelation took place in March 2009, when aspiring actress Jang Ja-yeon, who appeared in the TV drama “Boys Over Flowers,” killed herself and left a seven-page suicide note claiming that she was coerced into having sex with directors and media executives.
“I am a powerless actress. I want to get out of this agony,” she said.
Though the case wrapped up without identifying any of those listed as having received favors from her, Jang’s death “confirmed” decades-long rumors about the “prostitution ring” inside showbiz.
Female celebrities stood up to testify of the irregularities.
Singer Ivy wrote on her website that she was offered 300 million won ($250,000) for a sponsorship. Yu In-na, a prominent actress on the small screen, said on a TV show that she had been sexually harassed by her agent.
The National Human Rights Commission last year conducted a survey of 351 women engaged or hoping to enter into showbiz and found that 60.2 percent have been offered a sexual contract of some kind. About half of these said they have faced disadvantages in casting once they turned down an offer. The rest said they fear this possibility.
“We need to implement laws and guidelines to protect them from such violence. Also, industry insiders and actresses themselves should be aware of the danger and its possible outcome,” the report concluded.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)