Jo Jae Hyun Accused Of Sexual Assault By Former Actress, Actor Denies
Actor Jo Jae Hyun has been hit with a sexual assault claim by a former actress. It comes months after he was first accused of sexual harassment in February this year by actress Choi Yul, after which the actor admitted his wrongdoing and resigned from his professorship at Kyungsung University. He was also removed from the drama “Cross,” which he had been headlining at the time.
In this latest allegation, a Korean-Japanese actress (hereafter referred to as “A”), currently 42, is claiming that 16 years ago, Jo Jae Hyun sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a broadcasting station. She said, “I was sexually assaulted by Jo Jae Hyun 16 years ago, and I’m still suffering from severe trauma.”
Jo Jae Hyun has since denied the allegations, claiming that it was consensual.
See SBS’s interview with the actress and Jo Jae Hyun’s statement below:
Q: At the time, were you close to Jo Jae Hyun outside of work?
“I wasn’t. We never met outside of work. Why would someone who was married with two children see me?”
Q: If that’s the case, how did the sexual assault occur?
“Jo Jae Hyun used to initiate conversation with me a lot on set. There were times when I was uncomfortable because he would get too physically close, but in Japanese culture, it’s difficult to directly tell someone to stop. Moreover, Jo Jae Hyun occasionally did the same to his coordinator, so I thought, ‘Oh, that must be how they express closeness in Korea.’
“It was a day when the actors and staff were taking photos together in the hallway where the dressing rooms were. I remember it was around May 2002. I was taking photos with close sunbae (senior) actors, putting our arms around each other’s shoulders, and he approached me, asking to take a photo together. That’s why we had taken the photo together that day. I didn’t know that [the sexual assault] would happen after we took that photo.”
Q: It must be difficult, but can you describe what happened?
“I remember it was around two in the afternoon. He said that there were several people in the dressing rooms, so he would teach me acting elsewhere. Thankful, I followed him. We walked down the hallway and I think we went up and down some stairs. There was a men’s bathroom that was under construction. I was thinking, ‘Is he saying we should practice acting here’ and that’s when he sexually assaulted me.”
Q: Is that possible in a bathroom of a broadcasting station?
“It was under construction, so there were no people. Jo Jae Hyun said, ‘It’s okay, right?’ and pressed his hand to my body. I said ‘No’ and tried to leave.”
Q: Did you not yell or resist?
“Of course I screamed. Jo Jae Hyun covered my mouth. What I remember is that after it was over, he asked me, ‘It was good, right?’ I don’t even know how we got back to the dressing rooms. I was completely numb.”
Q: Were there no witnesses?
“When we got back to the dressing room, my coordinator said, ‘Where’d you go? I was looking for you. But why are you so pale?’ I couldn’t respond, and I just sat on a sofa. Jo Jae Hyun came in a little later and lied down with his head in my lap.”
Q: The coordinator may remember what happened.
“It’s been a long time since I moved to Japan, so I don’t have the coordinator’s contact information. I have a photo of her, and I know her name. If she sees this article, I would like it if she’d contact me.”
Q: Were you unable to ask anyone around you for help?
“I was young, in my early 20s, and I was scared and embarrassed. After it happened, I just stayed in my room, laying down. There was a time when I swallowed an entire bottle of pills, and a time when I tried to hang myself, but came to my senses. If I told my father, I felt he wouldn’t leave Jo Jae Hyun alone, and I also thought he would be disappointed in me and not see me anymore. Afterward, on set, Jo Jae Hyun would sneak touches here and there, and it was horrible. Whenever that happened, I tried to not be alone, purposefully staying close to other, older actors. One time, my coordinator stepped in and told Jo Jae Hyun to stop. Seeing that happen, another actor even told me to be careful.”
Q: What made you come forward with this?
“The first thing I looked into was the Japanese boyfriend I was seeing at the time. I had been seeing him for a long time since I was in Japan, and he had come to see me in Korea. I didn’t want to go on set anymore. I had a bright personality before, but after it happened, I wasn’t the same at work. I made scenes, saying I didn’t want to go to set, and that I would jump from our villa. I only told the truth about what happened to my boyfriend. I hadn’t wanted to admit that I had been raped, but my boyfriend told me. That it’s true that I was raped, and that I couldn’t forgive him.”
Q: Was it your boyfriend that told your mother?
“My mother was working in Japan and came to visit me in Korea. When I said I was going to quit acting, my mother felt that something was wrong, and asked my boyfriend. He told her that I had been ‘subjected to something serious’ by Jo Jae Hyun, and from what I know, she immediately called Jo Jae Hyun and confronted him.”
Q: I’ll have to ask your mother this question. How did Jo Jae Hyun react?
A’s mother: “In a basement of a building in Gangnam, we met in a drinking establishment with rooms. He was alone. When I said, ‘You know why I’m here, right?’ he kneeled. So I said, ‘Hey you ***, we’re going to go see your wife.’ And when I said that, he responded, ‘I’ve done a terrible thing. My wife is receiving psychiatric treatment, and our relationship isn’t good, to the point that she tracks me through GPS,’ and begged me.”
Q: Where did you meet after that?
A’s mother: “After he apologized, we met at the office of a famous movie director in Nonhyeon. I remember seeing the director there. Jo Jae Hyun, who had apologized to me, started to try to appease me. ‘Isn’t it such a waste for [A] to quit acting? [A] has no manager and only has a coordinator and a driver, so management will be hard. There are a lot of scammers in entertainment, so my manager will begin to manage [A], and if we find her a good acting coach, we can make her into a great actress.’”
Q: Was the deal made for Jo Jae Hyun’s manager to also manage A?
A’s mother: “Thinking of the future of my young daughter and my daughter’s relationship with her father, I thought that it would be the right thing to help her move forward with her dreams and return to a normal lifestyle as soon as possible. I couldn’t trust Jo Jae Hyun, but his manager seemed nice. That Jo Jae Hyun had sexually assaulted my daughter in the bathroom is something that I just learned recently. At the time, I had just wondered how this man had stepped over the line with my daughter. If I had known that it was sexual assault, I would not have made the same decision.”
Q: Did you agree to do as your mother decided?
“Yes. But I suffered from severe depression for five years. I was told I had to practice acting and was assigned an instructor, but the only audition I ever did was for the movie ‘Welcome to Dongmakgol.’ I said I was okay with small theater productions too, but I never saw the stage.”
Q: Did the depression ever get better?
“I was told to get plastic surgery and to diet, and I did, but nothing changed. While that was going on, my father learned that I was planning on [attempting suicide]. He became very angry at me, and told me that I had disappointed him. I couldn’t take it anymore, so in 2007, I sold my villa in Bangbae and moved to Japan.”
Q: You’ve [attempted suicide] recently as well.
“I checked the records before this interview, and there are tens of records for hospital treatments alone. Those are all for attempts I’ve made. Moving to Japan and having a hard time there, I kept thinking I had been duped, and was so upset. My father passed away four years ago, but no one told me and I just found out recently. My past weighs so heavily on me.”
Q: What is it that you really want?
“I just want to reveal the truth. I can’t get married, and I’ve ingested so much medication that I can’t have children. I don’t want money. I just want Jo Jae Hyun to sincerely acknowledge what he has done to me and others, and to apologize.”
Q: Jo Jae Hyun’s side has revealed that they are going to sue.
“I’m not scared at all. I heard that in Korea, there is a crime of false accusation. That’s what I’m putting my faith in. I’ve told the complete truth, so I’m not worried. There may be people that say I’m just blaming others [for the way my life turned out]. But I’m certain. If nothing had happened with Jo Jae Hyun, even if I didn’t continue acting, I would have been happy.”
Here is the response from Jo Jae Hyun’s legal representative:
“Jo Jae Hyun never sexually assaulted A in the bathroom of a broadcasting station in 2002. It wasn’t sexual assault, but consensual intercourse. A even once invited Jo Jae Hyun to her home when it would just be the two of them.”
Jo Jae Hyun’s side is also claiming that A’s mother is doing this for the money. They said, “The money that [Jo Jae Hyun] has transferred to A amounts to roughly 70-80 million won (approximately $63-72,000). A’s mother has continued to threaten us, and recently, a lawyer close to A even contacted us requesting a settlement in the amount of 300 million won (approximately $270,000).”
A released a rebuttal to Jo Jae Hyun’s response, saying, “At the time, my grandmother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, my grandmother’s nurse, our maid, and my driver were all living with us. I’ve never invited Jo Jae Hyun to my home to be together alone. It’s a lie.”
A’s mother also said, “Jo Jae Hyun’s manager, saying he would help my daughter in her career, gave us 40 million won for my daughter to get plastic surgery. I took my daughter to Japan, where we got face contouring surgery done, and then we came back. Later, [Jo Jae Hyun and the manager] came to our home to see how the procedure had turned out. The rest of the money we received was for acting lessons. If we had threatened them, why would they assign my daughter an acting instructor and offer to manage her?”
Top photo credit: Xportsnews