A Seoul appellate court has ruled that the late actress Jang Ja-yeon had been coerced by her management agency to entertain socially influential figures at drinking sessions against her will.
A recent verdict from the Seoul High Court ordered the agency’s chief to pay the family of Jang, who committed suicide, 24 million won ($22,600) for sexually exploiting her.
The initial revelation took place in March 2009, when then-aspiring actress Jang killed herself and left a seven-page suicide note claiming that she was pressured to have sexual relations with more than 20 prominent figures in the entertainment and media industries.
The prosecution earlier decided not to indict the agency chief, surnamed Kim, citing lack of evidence. In addition, in a civil suit filed by Jang’s family, a district court said there was little evidence to prove the alleged coercion.
While the district court only acknowledged Kim had beaten her, the appeals court ruled that Kim engaged in both violence and pressuring her to serve alcohol.
As a result, the legal compensation Kim will have to pay the family has climbed from the initial 7 million won to 24 million won.
The Seoul High Court’s verdict clarified that Kim frequently ordered Jang to participate in dinners or alcohol gatherings and pressured her her to sing and dance in front of the figures. “Though coercion was not cited due to lack of evidence during the criminal case, it is hard to say that Jang attended the alcohol gatherings at will,” it said.
The verdict also said that Kim conducted verbal abuse and physical assault during the alcohol parties, adding that it seems that “she was deeply humiliated.”
Her death caused a national scandal when it emerged that she had been sexually abused by a number of prominent entertainment executives during her career, and that this abuse had contributed to her depression.
Since the death of her parents in a traffic accident in 1999, Jang had been living with her older sister and younger brother. Jang made her acting debut in 2006 in a television commercial.
Meanwhile, conservative vernacular newspaper Chosun Ilbo lost lawsuits against two broadcasters ― KBS and MBC ― which reported that Chosun CEO Bang Sang-hoon was included on a list created by Jang.
Bang, after losing initial and appeals trials against the companies, dropped the litigations last year.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)