Police said on Monday they had found no evidence that a female contestant on a matchmaking show had been put under intense pressure by the TV crew before committing suicide.
The 29-year-old woman, only identified by her family name Chun, was found dead in a guesthouse on Jejudo Island last Wednesday during shooting of a popular reality show titled “Jjak.” Chun’s body was found by the show’s producer in a bathroom of the guesthouse with a note saying she did not want to live anymore, the police said.
“So far, we have found no evidence that could bring the broadcaster to account (for her death). We will go through the recorded files and check if the contestant was subjected to any pressure, threats or humiliation,” said Kang Gyeong-nam, senior investigator at Seogwipo Police Station, in his interim report.
The reality show features about 10 to 12 men and women who go through various challenges to win the heart of someone they like.
The program has sparked controversy over media ethics as it puts participants under intense emotional pressure, with some of them abruptly walking out from the shooting or revealing behind-the-scenes details about being pressured to participate more actively.
According to the broadcaster SBS, all participants are required to sign an agreement that says they “cannot retract their participation nor refuse the staffs orders.”
The female contestant’s family members have raised suspicions that the tough shooting environment was a factor in her suicide.
“In her will, she does not mention any grievances about the shooting of the program. But judging from her online posts and messages, we noticed that she felt great pressure from the camera focusing on her when she couldn’t find her match,” the investigator said.
Police said they would obtain the week’s complete recordings from the broadcaster for further investigation.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)