I’m sure that we all remember the headlines earlier this year concerning the CEO of Open World Entertainment and his charge of sexual assault against female employees.While the matter is still in court, there have been reports that Jang Seokwoo has been making threatening telephone calls to victims. Conflicting statements have also been given about some of the victims settling with Jang Seokwoo. It was alleged that US$10,000 was given out in exchange for the charges being dropped with Victim B receiving $2000 and Victims C & D receiving nothing. Upon hearing of this practice, the Judge ordered Jang Seokwoo to cease making threatening phone calls; although it is questionable how effective this direction may be.
“SAY IT AINT SO!”
When we hear cases like these, we tend to bow our heads and admit that the legal system is one which fails women. Particularly in sexual assault cases where it is a ‘her word against his’, the presumption seems to be that unless the victim fights or forcibly says ‘no’, then it isn’t rape. There are also views that the victim encouraged the attention it for advancement or even, that the way that she dresses means that she ‘had it coming’. Views like these overshadow the complex emotions that attaches to a crime of this nature. In this case, the girls were clearly under the authority of the CEO, who not only held financial power over them but clearly manipulated them emotionally with threats about ending their careers. Of course we are no stranger to the harsh realities of the legal system and the concept of ‘buying justice’. However, an idealistic part still hopes that in situations where the imbalance of power between the victims and the offender are so great that extra precautions would be taken to protect them and afford them justice.
If you haven’t been following the development of the scandal, below is a brief summary of what has occurred.
On 10th April 2012 the CEO of Open World Entertainment, Jang Seokwoo, was arrested on charges of rape and violation of child protection laws after it was alleged that he sexually assaulted female trainees between 2010 and 2012. Official of the police stated: “Since the end of 2010, the CEO sexually harrassed six trainees over 10 times. In the process, he had also ordered male idol groups members under his own agency to harrass them as well.”
An ex-trainee also shared her personal experience about being asked to get naked by the CEO (MBC “Good Day – Entertainment Plus”). The anonymous interviewee said, “At the audition, the CEO told me to do a seductive dance to him. I thought he wanted to see what kind of talent I had, but it was really weird. We were in a closed room and all. When I was done dancing, he told me to sit down. He made me put my legs on top of his and told me to express what I was feeling at the moment.” Following the incident, she said, “I got out of the room and was waiting for the elevator. Then the CEO came up to me and started touching me, and groped my butt, saying, ‘You think you can be a singer like this?’”
There were further allegations that Jang Seokwoo had forced male idols in the agency to participate in the sexual assault. However, this charge could not be pursued because of a limitation period. The Prosecutor’s Office stated that this act did not fall under rape, but instead, under the ‘use of authority and power to enter into sexual relations’. These cases must be reported within one year of the event occurring, which in this case, had already lapsed.
- In 2009, actress Jang JaYeon, committed suicide. There were unsubstantiated rumours that this was as a result of being coerced into ‘casting couch’ favours. Following this event, a survey of 183 idols was conducted and 19.1% admitted to personally participating in or knowing of someone who took part in the “couch casting” calls. 62.3 % revealed that they would face disadvantages if they refused.
- In 2010, Taiwanese singer Estrella Lin (right) asserted that in order to be a Korean celebrity, you had to be willing to be pimped out by your agency. According to Lin, if you want an opportunity in the industry, then you may need to ‘sexually entertain’ potential investors
- In 2010, charges were brought against the CEO of H-Line Entertainment for pimping out two girls in exchange for sponsorship.
- In 2011, reporter from KBS’s “VJ Special Forces” went undercover to explore the dark realities behind auditions. One trainee (who was in her 3rd year of Junior High School) hoping to become an actress gave her own account, revealing, “The agency said they were looking for a small role and wanted to meet me in person. They instead dragged me to their home and force fed me various drinks, claiming that they needed to check my limit. After a while, they taped my mouth shut so that I couldn’t scream, and further claimed that in order to become a celebrity, I needed to have sex with him.”
Sources: Allkpop, Korean Herald, Koreaboo, Chosun Ilbo, Soompi, Korea Times
Clearly there is a problem but what’s the solution? (other than castrating the offenders and then sending them to Azkaban)
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.