|Actress and model Yoon Ji-oh, center, and women's rights activists protest in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul last Friday, to urge the government to reinvestigate the death of fellow actress Jang Ja-yeon. / Yonhap|
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Two actresses, Lee Mi-sook and Song Seon-mi, are pressured to break their silence on Tuesday, a day after President Moon Jae-in singled out actress Jang Ja-yeon's death as one of three cases that need thorough reinvestigation to unearth the truth and bring justice.
"There are cases where the truth was buried as investigators intentionally covered them up or didn't do their job properly. The public believes suspicions remain and there are numerous questions unanswered," Moon said on Monday. "Those cases have two things in common ― influential people are involved and the prosecution and the police intentionally didn't dig out the truth."
Moon mentioned two cold cases ― actress Jang's death and the 2013 sex scandal involving former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui ― plus the scandal around K-pop star Seungri's Burning Sun nightclub, as three exemplary cases that have left the public wanting more information.
After President Moon directed a thorough reinvestigation of the three cases, Lee and Song became the most-searched names on Naver, the nation's largest internet portal.
The two stars are facing calls to share what they know about Jang's death.
Lee, 58, and Song, 44, once belonged to the same agency ― The Content Entertainment which was also a management agency for Jang before the actress committed suicide in 2009.
The two stars popped up on the internet after fellow actress Yoon Ji-oh put pressure on them to break their silence regarding the so-called "Jang Ja-yeon list."
Yoon, a Korean-Canadian model and actress who also once belonged to The Content Entertainment and was close to Jang, published her memoir "The 13th Testimony" about the late actress based on her memories on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of her death.
Jang was found dead at her home in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on March 7, 2009. The police concluded the actress committed suicide. Days after her death, a four-page note the actress allegedly wrote before she died was made public by the media.
According to the note, Jang was forced to provide sexual services to prominent politicians, business moguls, the publishers of major newspapers and influential figures in show business. She listed some 40 names in the note.
The police investigated the list and concluded that Jang listed those names upon request from her acquaintance known only by his initial Y who founded an entertainment agency. He asked Jang to make the list to assist two actors of his agency who were in a legal battle against their former agency, The Content Entertainment. The two stars are reportedly Lee and Song. They left the agency for a new one that was founded by Y and then faced legal suits filed by their former agency for alleged violations of their contracts.
In her book, Yoon criticized the police and the prosecution for allegedly covering up the sex scandals involving influential people.
Yoon gave her account to the police and the prosecution 13 times but said her words didn't lead to justice.
With the publication of the memoir, Yoon has had several media interviews and disclosed what she knew about Jang's death.
In a radio interview earlier this month, she named Lee and Song as two people who were in a position to know the truth regarding Jang's list and urged them to reveal what they know about it.
Lee and Song denied the allegations.
Song said she wasn't aware of Jang when they worked with the same agency. "If she had committed suicide for reasons that were not her own decision, I think the truth should be unveiled. But I don't know anything about her death and so feel extremely uncomfortable about a situation like this," she said in a media interview. She said she had nothing to do with the late actress.
Lee, meanwhile, remained silent about the report. Her agency Sidus HQ gave no statement regarding the allegation.
Their reactions, however, didn't stop Yoon from putting further pressure on the two.
In a YouTube video, Yoon said their names had popped up for a reason and urged them to come forward with what she claims they know about Jang's list and to cooperate with the investigation.
She renewed her pressure on the celebrities to break their silence.
"If what I know is not based on fact, I hope she (Lee) can tell me what the truth is," she said on Lee Sang-ho's News Analysis YouTube channel on March 14. "I didn't see her and didn't meet her in person, although we were in the same agency for a while. I was there briefly but she had been there longer than I was. I believe she knows something I don't know. If so, please tell me anything you know about it."