Ministry Of Justice Makes Decision On Whether To Recommend Jang Ja Yeon’s Case For Further Reinvestigation

On May 20, the Ministry of Justice’s Committee of Past Affairs made their decision as to whether the Jang Ja Yeon case would be recommended for further investigation.

The committee held their final meeting at the Gwacheon Government Complex at 2 p.m. KST that day before revealing the results. Their decision whether to recommend the case for further investigation was based on reviewing the 250-page report submitted by the Investigative Team of Past Affairs on May 13.

Jang Ja Yeon was an actress who passed away in March 2009, and her death was ruled to be a suicide. She is said to have left behind a final document revealing that she had been forced to sexually entertain powerful figures in the business and media industries. During the investigation after her death, the police cleared about 10 names charged for sexual abuse that were mentioned in the actress’s list, and the case ended with only her agency CEO and manager being charged for assault and defamation. In April 2018, almost 10 years after her death, the Investigative Team of Past Affairs began a 13-month reinvestigation into her case.

The investigative team organized their report around 12 issues, including whether or not the “Jang Ja Yeon List” existed, whether the police investigation at the time had been incomplete, and whether Chosun Ilbo had influenced the investigation. Chosun Ilbo is a major newspaper, one of whose former reporters has been indicted for sexually assaulting Jang Ja Yeon. Questioning has also been conducted on the former CEO of a related company, TV Chosun, and his uncle.

The investigative team confirmed after questioning over 80 people that Jang Ja Yeon had had an unfair contract with her agency that had forced her to serve alcoholic drinks to various people. The team also found that the contents of Jang Ja Yeon’s phone calls had been left out of the investigation records at the time, and that there had been insufficient investigation of people who were suspected of being the figures to whom Jang Ja Yeon was forced to serve drinks.

The investigative team also concluded that it was difficult to find any particular details about the assailants since the victim had passed away 10 years ago and that the lack of evidence and the statute of limitations were serious obstacles in the case.

The investigative team was also internally divided on two issues in their report: whether Jang Ja Yeon had been sexually assaulted through the use of drugs and whether there was a handwritten list of men’s names known as the “Jang Ja Yeon List.” The team submitted their report to the committee while unable to come to an unanimous conclusion on these issues.

In their May 20 decision, the Ministry of Justice’s Committee of Past Affairs recommended that prosecutors reinvestigate the former CEO of Jang Ja Yeon’s agency, Kim Jong Seung, on suspicions of false testimony.

The committee also ruled that Chosun Ilbo had put pressure on the first investigation that took place after Jang Ja Yeon’s death. They confirmed that in 2009, Bang Yong Hoon, who was the president of the Koreana hotel at the time, and Bang Jung Oh, who was the CEO of TV Chosun at the time, and other Chosun Ilbo leaders had been lightly investigated by the police after Chosun Ilbo put pressure on the top management of the police department.

However, the Committee of Past Affairs did not recommend reinvestigation into the charges of sexual abuse and stated, “While the document that Jang Ja Yeon left behind has some credibility to it, not all of its contents meet the requirements to be constituted as a crime.”

The committee also stated that they could not confirm the existence of the so-called “Jang Ja Yeon List,” which reportedly contained the names of people that Jang Ja Yeon had been forced to sexually entertain. The committee stated, “Despite Yoon Ji Oh’s testimony to the contrary, all of the other witnesses who had seen the document Jang Ja Yeon left behind said that there wasn’t a list of names. It is difficult to ascertain the truth in this matter.”

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