[Opinion] Two Sides of the Same Coin

The current investigation involving Burning Sun, Seungri, Jung Joon-young and their associates are one side of a coin. On the other side being Jang Ja-yeon’s life, death, and legacy.

Jung Joon-young (left), Jang Ja-yeon, Lee Seung-hyun – OSEN News database

Police have been having a busy 2019. For the past few weeks, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has taken on multiple cases revolving around former BIGBANG member Lee Seung-hyun, popularly known as Seungri, and singer and TV celebrity Jung Joon-young that involves sex trafficking, creating and sharing illegal sexual footage, using and distributing drugs, rape, and collusion with corrupt police.

As the investigation of the two moves forward, several other K-pop idols including Highlight’s Yong Jun-hyung and F.T. Island’s Choi Jong-hoon become implicated in these allegations, their cases have started to expose the seedy underbelly of the K-pop world.

Past reports exposing unfair “slave” contracts, abusive and intense rehearsal and training sessions, and agencies’ tendency to overwork their talent for profit have painted the mechanisms fueling the K-pop machine in a negative light. However, adding in the factor that the stars themselves can be equally unethical adds another profound layer of grime to the picture. It illustrates that the issues exposed in these investigations and the actions that these stars engaged in are a result of larger societal factors.

These factors include but are not limited what Crystal Tai, a writer for South China Morning Post argues is “South Korea’s culture of toxic masculinity” and what Haeryun Kang, a freelance journalist and editor, says it is the “pervasive power inequality between men and women in countless, unseen sectors of Korean society.”

Indeed it is clear that Lee, Jung, and other men who were empowered in their masculinity, fame, and wealth, took advantage of several women wrongfully and illegally for their benefit, entertainment, and pleasure. While Lee and Jung’s victims have not publically identified themselves out of fear, they do have a voice in the form of the late Jang Ja-yeon and her advocate Yoon Ji-oh.

Like these unknown women, the talented, pretty, and well-liked Jang Ja-yeon was victimized by men in positions of considerable power including show producers, journalists, media and entertainment executives at the behest of her agent Kim Sung-hoon who pimped her out for preferential treatment.

Pallbearers carry a picture of Jang Ja-yeon during her funeral procession – OSEN News database

Jang revealed this information in a seven-page letter with a list of 31 names she left behind after taking her life just five months after her debut movie role as Sunny in 2009’s film Boys Over Flowers. Notably, while her case was hastily closed in trials following her death, it was reopened in the midst of the 2018 #MeToo movement after prosecutors discovered ack of conduct on behalf of the investigators at the time.

Currently, her case is ongoing with details unfolding alongside Lee Seung-hyun’s and Jung Joon-young’s, acting as a ying to their yang. The interesting juxtaposition of these investigations plays like two sides of the same coin.

On one side are the salacious details of powerful men uninterested in the rule of law as they drugged, raped, filmed, and trafficked women for their own means. On the other, is the heartbreaking tale of a woman who was on the receiving end of their dehumanization and is an example of the real-life consequence to their actions.

MBC “News Desk” anchor interviews Yoon Ji-oh – MBC

Unfortunately, I may have painted Jang as too much of victim. Jang’s side of the coin shouldn’t be viewed as a sad and powerless story, but also as a woman who sought change. Her friend and advocate Yoon Ji-oh who witnessed some of the abuse Jang endured said that she doesn’t believe (link in Korean) that the seven-page letter Jang wrote was a suicide note. Instead, Jang intended those pages of papers were to act as legal documents to enact justice.

But how that coin will land? Will it heads where justice is served a movement to rejects the actions of these men and to expose and punish those like them? Or will it be tails, where only the surface is cleaned but the scum beneath remains?

 

 

 

By O.C

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Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates

President Moon Presses for Thorough Investigation of Celebrity Cases

As the investigations involving K-pop celebrities — namely the Burning Sun and Jung Joon-young cases — have exploded internationally due to their seemingly infinite layers of intrigue, corruption, and collusion, President Moon Jae-In has called for a thorough investigation of the cases.

President Moon Jae-in says that the current ongoing investigation involving celebrities needs to be investigated in a televised statement – SBS

On Monday, President Moon Jae-In released a public order for the Burning Sun, Jung Joon-young, and Jang Ja-yeon cases to be thoroughly investigated. In a powerful televised statement, the president laid bare some of the most challenging aspects of the ongoing cases including corruption and public sentiment:

Even though there is a lot of public suspicions, there are cases where the truth has not been revealed for many years or has even been concealed. The common characteristic [of these cases] is that they have occurred in the privileged class of society and the prosecution and police have shown signs of intentional mismanagement […] actively obstructed the search for the truth and concealed it from the people […] If we don’t find out the truth of these cases, which took place in the socially privileged class, we won’t be able to speak of a just society,” said the president.”

Jang Ja-yeon – OSEN News

Notably, as a result of him including and speaking of Jang’s case, which was to close at the end of March, it has officially been extended by two months to May. Even so, a decade has passed since the case first started in 2009 and the 15-year statute of limitation regarding sexual crimes may still be upheld.

The renewed momentum into the Jang case seems to have little effect on Yoon Ji-oh, an actress and friend of the late Jang. In particular, Yoon is one of the only people to come forward as a witness to abuse that her friend endured at the hands of powerful men.

Furthermore, since revealing her identity in the process of this reopened case, she has continued to pursue justice with unwavering passion and purpose aided by those seeking a  just end to the investigation as well.

Actress Yoon Ji-oh speaks to a group of reporters – OSEN News

On the same day as President Moon’s announcement, Yoon took to social media where she expressed her gratitude. Today for the first time in a long time, since my past 15 testimonies, I see the light,” said Yoon. “I have so much gratitude and respect for all of you. Although I am lacking and weak you all have protected and supported me” and “I will continue to testify in good faith,” she said, thanking the president and her advocates.

The attention brought to the matter by President Moon, the country’s most public political figure, is an answer to concerns that Yoon voiced last week. After attending a session with investigators where she provided her 14th testimony on the Jang case, Yoon expressed consternation over the lack of media and public attention.  “Each time Jang’s case comes up it is overlooked, but please pay more attention to it,” she said.

As Yoon continues her public campaign for truth, it is yet to be seen whether the same energy will be transferred to prosecutors and the court where justice will ultimately be tested.

 

 

 

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By Olempia Castillo

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Gains Made in the Late Jang Ja-Yeon Case Gets Buried Under Celebrity Scandals

The case of the late Jang Ja-yeon, a promising actress who took her life and set the entertainment industry ablaze, is finally making gains. But in the turmoil of several consecutive celebrity scandals, the news has failed to capture public attention.

Jang Ja-Yeon – OSEN News

When actress Jang Ja-yeon took her life in 2009, she left behind a letter detailing the abuse, mostly of a sexual nature at the hands of powerful men. Sadly this included people in her agency who were supposed to take care of her such as her manager Kim Sung-hoon. In addition to those details, she also left an extensive list of 31 perpetrators.

During the trials that followed, 20 people were investigated leading to seven indictments, which included Kim and the CEO of her previous agency. Conversely, the court acquitted more than ten influential figures, leaving room for suspicion.

In 2018, the case was reopened after SBS’ “News Room” reported that a key witnessed has her testimonies suppressed by investigators. The witness, at that time, only referred to by her surname “Yoon,” claimed to have provided crucial information including the identities of those she knows to be involved.

This week, this witness came forward revealing herself to be fellow actress Yoon Ji-oh.

Yoon Ji-Oh (right) – Korea Daily

On Tuesday, actress Yoon Ji-oh, one fo the only witnesses to the abuse the late Jang Ja-Yeon suffered, officially met with Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s investigation team. With them, she provided a full statement as part of the ongoing investigation that started in 2018. According to reports, Yoon mentioned one politician and three journalists who are known to be included in Jang’s infamous list.

However, the news of her statement was quickly buried under other reports. Instead, the evolving scandal involving Seungri, Jung Joon-young and their affiliates left little room for anything else. Seeing this lack of attention, Yoon spoke openly as she aired her frustrations and highlighted Jang’s case is equally important. “Each time Jang’s case comes up it is overlooked, but please pay more attention to it,” said Yoon to a group of reporters.

Seungri, real name Lee Seung-Hyun (left) and Jung Joon-Yoon – Ilgan Sports

The next day on the 13th, Yoon took to social media where she wrote that she feels “so upset each time Jang’s case comes up, it seems like there’s an unusual amount of provocative issues” that overshadows it. Unfortunately, this may be the reality for the remaining investigation of Jung’s case. The prosecution’s committee on the investigation of the case will end its activities on the 31st. It is likely that the Seungri and Jung situation will last for the same period.

On another note, the people who are paying attention to the case have worked to ensure Yoon’s safety. A petition on the Blue Houses official website calling for Yoon to be protected given the value of her testimony surpassed 200,000 signatures this week.

The number of signatures ensures that it will get a response from a government official. According to Yoon’s social media post on the 13th, she has been granted special witness protection and moved into a special residence.

 

 

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By Olempia Castillo

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[Opinion] 2018 in Review: A Year of Dismantlement

From music charts, the “Me Too” movement, to the reopening of old cases, 2018 was a year where established structures of the K-Pop industry began to crumble.

There were many things that happened over the course of 2018 like the “Me Too” movement and the ongoing uncovering of financial fraud by celebrity parents with many celebrities. Reviewing the year, there is a theme that runs through the year’s most impactful events and developments: dismantlement.

Those who have been lulled into a safe sense of security due to fame, wealth, social standing, professional position, or through their connections have had a rude awakening. Additionally, with changes to real-time charts, new, and more honest, result have emerged that hint at where the Korean music industry is heading.

#Me Too and Financial Fraud Hits K-Pop

During the early months of 2018, students and former costars to prominent actors like Oh Dal-su, Jo Min-ki, Cho Jae-hyun, Choi Il-hwa, and many more have accused them of sexual assault and harassment.

Many of the victim’s testimonies told that the actors would use their position as more experienced actors to lure their less experienced victims to secluded areas under the pretense of helping them before forcing themselves on the women. In Jo Min-ki‘s case, he would send inappropriate messages to his students and call them up to his officetel for meetings and lectures.

The movement brought more awareness to sexual misconduct and crimes in the entertainment industry. More importantly, it gave a platform for many victims to tell their stories and speak their truth.

While the movement resulted in the death of one of the accused, who buckled under the weight of his guilt and the inevitable consequences of his actions, it also brought attention to the case of Jang Ja-yeon, who also took her life — but because of sexual abuse. Further, it also helped to expose institutional concealment of such acts and companies are now including “Me Too” clauses in their contracts.

Jang Ja-Yeon – OSEN News

 

Meanwhile, during the last few months of the year, several stars like Tiffany, MAMAMOO Wheein, Dok2, Ma Dong-Seok and, most notably, Microdot found themselves wrapped up in the results of the shady schemes of their parents. The parents either borrowed money from acquaintances, had people co-sign a loan, presented fake business plans, or boldly took money from coffers before never being heard from again.

Perhaps they felt comfortable under the umbrella of their children’s fame, but they shouldn’t have. Some like Microdot, who stepped down from his shows, lost brand deals, and broke-up with Hong Soo-hyun, have found their careers and relationships on the rocks. Being famous or knowing famous or rich people is no longer protection in the face of the law.

Going Solo

Screen grab from Dean’s song ‘Instagram’ – Universal Music Group

2018 was a good year for K-pop fans. The most prominent groups from the “big three,” (SM, JYPE, YG) all had comebacks — including BIGBANG right before three of its members enlisted in the army. Moreover, releases from Cube Entertainment, Big Hit Entertainment, FNC Entertainment and more filled the market with robust sound and good competition. However, through all of those big groups soloist shined the brightest.

Releases from Dean, Ben, Shaun, Paul Kim, IU, and so many more topped charts for days if not weeks. Solo debuts from the likes of BIGBANG Seungri, BLACKPINK Jennie, and Mino from WINNER became the talk of the town and proved their popularity by reaching the top spot on multiple charts.

Teaser for Jennie’s solo debut – YG Entertainment

For years, the K-pop industry has been a place where few soloists could hope to make it big. Unless you had an amazing voice or built your career over several years like IU, BoA, and Ailee, success was fleeting and inconsistent. K-pop groups, especially boy groups, dominated charts, with sometimes their whole album sometimes appearing on charts (a sure indicator of fans mass streaming).

However, while the perceived change in the reception of soloist does point to a change that may lead to smaller, rather than larger groups, in the future, their success is more visible because charts are fairer. This summer, the Goan Chart Police Committee decided to freeze real-time charts from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.

In doing so, the committee prevented fans from doing organized streams overnight and pushing certain songs to the top of charts, giving them a head start for when the general public woke up and started listening to songs. As a result, while there are still improvements to be made to ensure even more fairness, it has helped to show true trends in the industry.

Hopefully, these changes are only the beginning.

 

 

By O.C

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Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates

Police Probe Former CEO of TV Chosun in the Jang Ja-Yeon Case

Bang Jeong-oh, the former executive director of TV Chosun, refuted reported that he talked to late actress Jang Ja-yeon, using the threat of a lawsuit to silence her.

Jang Ja-yeon
Image source – Ilgan Sports

“It is not true that I met with Jang Ja-yeon several times and talked with her,” the former CEO of TV Chosun Bang Jeong-oh said on Wednesday. Adding, Bang said that he “plans to take legal action against related reports.

Earlier that day, a team dedicated to investing the allegations of sexual assault and more against the late Jang Ja-yeon summoned Bang. In a closed-door questioning, the team probed the former executive regarding a “Chosun Ilbo President Bang” mentioned in a letter that Jang wrote before she took her life.

When the case was initially investigated in 2009, Bang admitted having a drinking party with Jang but has stuck to his stance that he left after being there for just an hour. After that event, Bang has stated that he did not speak to or meet with Jang.

Image source – OSEN News

The CEO is the second executive director to be investigated in connection with Jang’s case. Before him, the president of the Koreana Hotel Bang Yong-hoon. On December 5, the investigation team called him and his younger brother for questioning.

According to reports, the two went through around a three-hour probe before being released. Like the former TV Chosun executive, the president of Koreana Hotel denies any suspicion surrounding him.

Meanwhile, police revived Jang’s case after JTBC’s “News Room” revealed new eye-witness details about the case in an interview with one of the actress’ friends. Jang is known for her role in the popular drama “Boys Over Flowers.”

 

 

Original article

Translated by O.C

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Former Journalist Indicted for Sexually Abusing the late Jang Ja-Yeon

According to authorities a journalist present at a party that the late actress Jang Ja-yeon was forced to attend, has been indicted for sexual abuse.

Image source – JTBC

OBS’ “Unique Entertainment News” investigated Jang Ja-yeon, an actress that took her life in 2009 after experiencing extensive sexual abuse and exploitation.

During their investigation, the show reported that the prosecution, which had re-opened the case, had indicted a former journalist without detention on June 26. Police booked Cho Jae-joon, the journalist, on charges of sexually abusing the late Jang Ja-yeon. According to reports, Cho, who attended a birthday party of Jang’s former agency CEO ten years ago, took advantage of the singer.

Nine years ago Ms. Yoon, a witness who recently made headlines after an interview on Jang with “News Room,” claimed that she had singled Cho out as one of the perpetrators who sexually assaulted Jang during police investigations. In turn, Cho had denied Yoon’s allegations and said that another man forced himself on Jang.

However, after an investigation, authorities discovered that the man Cho identifies was not present at the party. As a result, they sent his case was to the prosecution. The Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office took over but eventually cleared him due to a lack of credible evidence.

Reinvestigation Yields Shocking Results

Image source – MBC

Now, nine years later, after a month of close examination, the prosecution confirmed that the testimony of the witnesses was consistent. Further, after a two-month review of investigation records, they found they found a lack of conduct on behalf of the investigators at the time.

Reportedly, authorities on the case had checked Jang’s financial accounts for deposits from possible sexual exploiters. Cho’s name was linked to at least one of these deposits. However, the investigators at the time accepted his explanation that he “only gave Jang pocket change to help with a difficult situation.”

Subsequently, the prosecution recommended that authorities reopen the case of “Jang’s List,” a shocking list of entertainment and financial insiders that the late singer alleged sexually exploited her.

Moreover, according to multiple media outlets, the prosecution plans to focus on Jang’s allegations of coercion and external pressure to provide sexual service. The Committee said it needs to find out whether there was any form coercion, such as drinking alcohol, and whether there was any outside influence on the investigation.

The decision will allow prosecutors to investigate key figures suspected of prostitution and coercion, as well as the police and prosecutors who were in charge of the investigation. However, the statute of limitations on sex trafficking and forced sexual harassment is five years, which may hinder the truth of the matter from fully emerging.

 

 

Original article (1)(2)

Translated by O.C

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‘News Room’ Reveals More Details of the Sexual Exploitation of Late Actress Jang Ja-Yeon

“New Room” obtained and released additional details surrounding the events that lead to the death of actress Jang Ja-yeon.

Image source – JTBC

On the afternoon of June 29, JTBC’s “News Room,” introduced a second interview with Miss. Yoon, a person who witnessed the sexual harassment and exploitation of late actress Jang Ja-yeon.

In 2009, Jang took her life, but left behind and an extensive list containing 31 names of real people. Those included on the list were people in entertainment agencies, broadcasting and media outlets, and financial workers at large companies. According to Jang, these people, she was forced to engage in unwanted sexual acts with them and was subjected to violence.

In a telephone interview with “News Room,” Miss. Yoon recounted an event where she witnessed Jang being mistreated. According to Yoon, the incident took place at a birthday party for the company’s major shareholder that she had attended in 2008. Jang was there as well under the instruction of her agency’s CEO.

There the two had to dance with the party attendees but were able to confide in each other. When Yoon complained that some of the men there were older than her father, she hated it and felt disgusted.

In response, Jang reportedly said, “Sweety, you really are naive, you don’t know as much as I do.”At the time, Yoon says she did not understand what Jang meant at the time. Further, Yoon claimed that the late actress faced severe economic difficulties after refusing to accept “offers” from a representative from her company.

Suppression of Information

Along with her reiteration of this event, Yoon said that her testimony had consistently been suppressed during the investigation process following Jang’s death.

She claims to have testified 13 times in total where she asserted that Jang’s story of sexual exploitation was true, but says police investigators did not document her testimonies. Moreover, not only did she provide crucial evidence for the case, but she also willingly pointed out perpetrators that she knew were involved.

However, although Yoon provided evidence of different offenders, only the CEO of Jang’s agency and her manager were put on trial. Conversely, the court acquitted ten influential figures, leaving room for suspicion.

In light of this stunning interview, the Truth and Reconciliation Prosecution Committee has recommended a reinvestigation. As such, the committee has transferred the case to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. It has been nine years since the case was first closed.

 

 

Original articles (1)(2)(3)

Translated by O.C

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