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Jang Ja-yeon was found hanged at her home on March 7, 2009. She had been suffering from depression, and a police investigation concluded that her death was a suicide.
Jang Ja-yeon was born on January 25, 1980 in Jeongeup, North Jeolla, South Korea. Her parents died in a car accident in 1999. She had an older sister and younger brother. She graduated from Harksan High School, went to Gwangju University to receive her bachelor's in Journalism, and attended Chosun University for graduate school.
Jang made her debut in 2006 in a television commercial. Her big break came in Boys Over Flowers playing the role of Sunny, one of a trio of girls who antagonize the female lead played by Ku Hye-sun. At the time of her death, Jang was awaiting the release of her first two films, They Are Coming and Searching for the Elephant.
Since the death of her parents, Jang had been living with her older sister and younger brother. Prior to her own death, Jang had been suffering from clinical depression and had received medical treatment for her illness during the past year.
Jang Ja-yeon was found hanged at her home in the Bundang district of Seongnam, Gyeonggi province, on 7 March 2009. During a phone call at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, Jang had complained to her sister about the "overwhelming stress" she was under, saying that she "wanted to die". Having later been unable to reach her on the phone, Jang's sister returned to their shared home at 7:42 p.m. to find her body hanging from the stairway banister. A police investigation concluded that her death was a suicide, and found no evidence of foul play.
An alleged suicide note left by Jang describes how she was beaten and forced to entertain and have sex with several program directors, CEOs and media executives, causing considerable debate about relations in the entertainment industry, as well as a police probe into her management agency.
According to South Korean reports, Jang claimed that her agent Kim Sung-hoon had regularly beaten her and forced her to have sex with a string of VIPs, including directors, media executives and CEOs. Kim Sung-hoon, who was in Japan, denied the accusations. Kim Sung-hoon, was later arrested in Tokyo, Japan in June 2009 for overstaying his visa. Korean police requested Kim's extradition on a warrant related to Jang's death. Kim at the time of his arrest stated that he "committed a crime in South Korea and overstayed in Japan to avoid being arrested." Twenty figures were investigated by the police, resulting in seven prosecutions. Kim was sentenced to one year in jail, two years of probation and 160 hours of community service.
Approximately 250,000 fans visited Jang's website on the day of her death to express their condolences, with a further 700,000 the following day, while the entire cast of Boys Over Flowers paid their last respects at the mourning hall set up at the Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang. Jang's funeral was held there on March 9, and was attended by family, friends and fellow actors, including Boys Over Flowers lead Ku Hye-sun. Her cremated remains were buried next to her parents in Jeongeup, North Jeolla province.
|2006||My Lovely Fool|
|2009||Boys Over Flowers||Park Sun-ja|
|2009||They Are Coming||Min-a|
|Searching for the Elephant||Hye-mi|