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Prosecutors to review 2009 suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon

The suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon in 2009 is drawing fresh media attention after President Moon Jae-in ordered prosecutors to conduct a thorough fact-finding into the case.

Jang, then a 30-year-old rookie actress, committed suicide in March 2009 after leaving a suicide note that accused her agent of forcing her to attend drinking parties and to provide sexual favors to 31 high-profile entertainment figures and journalists. She hanged herself at her house in Bundang, south of Seoul.


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. He drew a one-year jail term.

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

According to more than 50 letters allegedly written by Jang before her death and sent to her acquaintances, she claimed to have been forced to attend roughly 100 drinking parties for and offer sexual favors to 31 individuals, including heads of private enterprises and officials of news organizations.

In those letters, Jang expressed frustration and resentment over her circumstances, calling the 31 people "demons."

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.

A petition calling for a reinvestigation of the Jang Ja-yeon case, which was posted on the website of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on March 12, has gathered more than 600,000 signatures.

Following Moon's emergency order, the justice ministry's special commission on past misconduct by the prosecution has extended the deadline of its operation, slated for the end of March, by two months and is planning to review the case.

Actress Yoon Ji-oh, who claimed to have seen a suicide letter left by Jang, told the special commission on March 12 that she saw names of three journalists and one politician in the letter.

Yoon also held a news conference, together with civic activists in Seoul, last Friday, saying Jang's death is not a simple suicide and a reinvestigation will eventually lead to the extension of the statutes of limitations for the case to a maximum 25 years. (Yonhap)
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