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Former police chief says he felt pressure in actress Jang Ja-yeon death probe

Citing former police authorities and a lawmaker, the MBC investigative news show “PD’s Notepad” claimed that the investigation of a sexual abuse case involving the late actress Jang Ja-yeon was swayed by pressure.

Jang took her own life in 2009, leaving behind handwritten notes that allegedly revealed she had been coerced into providing sexual favors for high-profile figures. Figures with connections to Chosun Ilbo, a major local daily, were on the list, but the prosecution did not charge them, citing a lack of evidence. 

Late actress Jang Ja-yeon (Yonhap)
Late actress Jang Ja-yeon (Yonhap)

Tuesday’s episode showed the production team meeting with some of the police authorities who took part in the investigation at the time. Former chief of Gyeonggi police agency Cho Hyun-oh said he was contacted by Chosun Ilbo when directing the investigation.

“I personally felt insulted and also a great deal of shame. I remember Chosun Ilbo vigorously protesting. Mentioning political power, it threatened me. It requested not to mention Chosun Ilbo CEO Bang Sang-hoon’s name,” he said.

Another police officer involved in the investigation recounted that an editor from the newspaper visited him two or three times, saying that Bang is innocent and it would be adding insult to injury to have him investigated at a police station. Bang was questioned at his company’s meeting room for 35 minutes as a suspect.

Lawmaker Lee Jong-kul also said he was contacted by a reporter from the newspaper who asked not to mention the media outlet owner’s name publically. He ignored the request, to which Chosun Ilbo responded by informing the lawmaker that legal action would be taken.

The production team further claimed that a task force was formed in Chosun Ilbo to deal with the matter.

Figures from the media group all denied the allegations, saying that they did not have the power or any reason to exert pressure on the investigation. The prosecution is currently reinvestigating the case after a special independent panel at the Ministry of Justice looking into past rulings recommended a reinvestigation in May.

By Im Eun-byel (
Korea Herald Youtube