Korean courts found agency CEO Kim Sung Hoon guilty of forcing late Korean actress Jang Ja Yeon to serve at drinking sessions, and physically and verbally abusing her at these parties.
The Korea Herald reported last Sunday that Kim was ordered to pay Jang's family 24 million won (S$28,700) for sexually exploiting her.
When she killed herself five years ago, Jang was starring in the hit TV series, Boys Over Flowers, alongside Korean actors Lee Min Ho and Kim Hyun Joong.
Netizens ask why she did not just leave the company in the face of the abuse.
A Korean entertainment industry insider told The New Paper that Jang's career would probably have gone up in smoke if she had left her agency.
She said: "The industry is so competitive that 'forced' sex acts are even less common than 'unforced' ones.
"To get ahead, many aspiring actors offer themselves up to be intimate with anyone powerful.
"So if Jang had said 'no' and was blacklisted by her agency and if she had left, no other company would take her because of her 'bad' reputation.
"The way to steer clear of abuse is to do research and join an agency that has an honourable boss."
Another K-pop industry insider said that the casting couch culture in Korea is more prevalent in the acting scene than the music industry.
This is because what K-pop sells is "wholesome sexy".
He said: "Agencies that manage K-pop singers are terrified of scandals. Their marketing strategy is mass appeal, so their artists must never be linked to anything shameful.
"However, there can always be exceptions if an agency boss is desperate for a quick fix for fame."
Following Jang's death in 2009, a seven-page suicide note stated that she had been pressured to have sex with more than 20 entertainment industry big-wigs. But the prosecution decided not to press charges against Kim, citing a lack of evidence.
Jang's family members then filed a civil suit, but a district court said that there was little proof that she had attended these parties against her will.
But all changed with the recent appeals court verdict.
The verdict read: "Though coercion was not cited due to lack of evidence during the criminal case, it is hard to say that Jang attended the alcohol gatherings at will."
It also said that Jang, whose parents were killed in 1999 accident, was "deeply humiliated" by Kim at these drinking sessions as he would be violent and verbally abusive towards her.
The court ruled then these circumstances had caused her depression that eventually led to her losing control of herself.
This article was first published on Oct 17, 2014.
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