|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
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, both of whom she lived with at the time of her death.
In 2006, Jang made her show business debut in a television commercial. 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.
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". 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. Her manager, who was arrested in Tokyo for overstaying his visa in June 2009, was extradited by the Korean police. He was sentenced to one year in jail, two years of probation and community service. Police investigated some twenty others and seven were prosecuted. Ultimately, only Jang's manager and the CEO of her agency were brought to charges.
Jang's case was reopened in April 2018. In March 2019, an emergency order by President Moon Jae-in extended the investigation deadline by two months, 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.
|2009||Boys Over Flowers||Park Sun-ja|
|2009||The Weird Missing Case of Mr. J||Min-a|
|Searching for the Elephant||Hye-mi|