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Jang is a common Korean surname. For others who share the name, see Jang.

Jang Ja-yeon (Hangul: 장자연, January 25, 1980 – March 7, 2009) was an actress best known for her supporting role as Park Sun-ja on the hit drama, Boys Over Flowers. After suffering from depression, she committed suicide in early 2009. Jang's death was and remains a major scandal for South Korea's entertainment industry


Early life[]

Jang Ja-yeon was born on January 25, 1980 in Jeongeup, North Jeolla, South Korea. Her parents died in a car accident in 1999. Jang had an older sister and younger brother, both of whom she lived with at the time of her death.[1][2]

She received her education from Harksan High School, Gwangju University, where she earned her bachelor's in Journalism, and Chosun University.


In 2006, Jang made her show business debut in a television commercial.[3] Jang's first major role was in the hit drama, Boys Over Flowers (2009) as "Sunny" / Park Sun-ja. Her final roles were in the films, The Weird Missing Case of Mr. J and Searching for the Elephant, which were released posthumously in 2009.[4]



Jang's photo displayed at the mourning hall

Jang suffered from clinical depression and had received medical treatment for her illness. On March 7, 2009 at 3:30 PM, she spoke over the phone to her sister about the "overwhelming stress" she felt and that she "want[ed] to die".[3] Her sister was later unable to reach her and, upon entering their shared home, found her body hanging from the stairway banister around 7:30 PM. Jang's death was ruled a suicide by police.[5]

On March 8, 2009, the cast of Boys Over Flowers paid their last respects to Jang at the mourning hall set up at Seoul National University's Bundang hospital.[5] Her funeral was held there the following day. It was attended by family, close friends, and fellow actors, including Ku Hye-sun, Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-joong, Kim Bum, and Kim Joon. She was cremated and buried next to her parents in Jeongeup.[4]


In an alleged suicide note left by Jang, she describes the physical and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of several program directors, CEOs and media executives.[6][7] In alleged letters written to friends, Jang identified thirty-one men whom she was forced to "serve." The letters also state that the CEO of her management agency threatened to sue her if she refused.[8][9] Her manager, who was arrested in Tokyo for overstaying his visa in June 2009, was extradited by the Korean police.[10] He was sentenced to one year in jail, two years of probation and community service. Police investigated some twenty others and seven were prosecuted.[9] Ultimately, only Jang's manager and the CEO of her agency were brought to charges.[11]

Jang's case was reopened in April 2018.[12] In March 2019, an emergency order by President Moon Jae-in extended the investigation deadline by two months,[13] following the Burning Sun scandal. An investigation team submitted a 250-page report which was reviewed by a panel. The panel concluded that the original investigation was flawed, though the veracity of Jang's alleged list could not be confirmed. A re-investigation of the chief of Jang's agency, regarding whether he perjured himself, was the only action recommended by the panel.[14]


Television dramas

Year Title Role Notes
2009 Boys Over Flowers Park Sun-ja


Year Title Role Notes
2009 The Weird Missing Case of Mr. J Min-a
Searching for the Elephant Hye-mi


  • The original broadcast of episode eighteen of Boys Over Flowers included a message of condolence for Jang.[15]
  • On March 17, 2019, Ku Hye-sun posted a still from Boys Over Flowers, featuring her and Jang. In the caption, she wrote that it was the only picture she had of them together.[16]

  • Her suicide and the ensuing scandal are believed to have inspired the 2013 film, Norigae.[17][18]

  • References[]

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