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Police may reopen probe into suicide of actress Jang

The police said Monday they will determine whether to reopen the investigation into the case of a rookie actress who committed suicide after confirming the authenticity of her posthumous letters disclosed by broadcaster SBS on Sunday.

According to the more than 50 diary-like letters allegedly written by Jang Ja-yeon, she had been forced to attend drinking parties and offer sexual favors to 31 individuals, including heads of private enterprises and officials of news organizations, about 100 times. The letters span over 230 pages and were sent to acquaintances of Jang before her death.

“We are currently examining the letters to determine their genuineness,” said a police official.

Jang committed suicide in March 2009.
Jang Ja-yeon
Jang Ja-yeon

The actress, who was 30 at the time of her death, hanged herself at her house in Bundang, south of Seoul, leaving a suicide note that accused her agent of forcing her to attend drinking parties and provide sexual favors to journalists, entertainment agency officials, and professionals in financial industries.

The agent, identified only as Kim, was arrested in July of the same year on charges of assaulting, threatening and coercing Jang to serve men at drinking parties and have sex with them. Kim served a one-year jail term last year.

In the letters disclosed by SBS, Jang expressed frustration and resentment over her circumstances, calling the 31 people “demons.”

Some of the 31 figures were investigated by police in 2009 but were all acquitted.

The case grew into a sensational scandal over who was on “Jang’s list” and prompted financial watchdogs to launch an investigation into contracts between celebrities and their agencies, long criticized as “enslaving” the fledgling stars.

According to police, Kim also forced other female entertainers, who were contracted with his agency, to serve at parties and even on an overseas golf tour.

By Robert Lee and news reports (rjmlee@heraldcorp.com)
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