Study says casting couch still has role

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Study says casting couch still has role

Six out of 10 actresses have been pressured to have sex with producers, directors and politicians to advance their careers, according to a survey commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission following the suicide of a sexually abused actress last year.

According to the commission, the Korea Women’s Development Institute conducted a survey of 111 actresses and 240 aspiring artistes from September to December last year. Twelve working actresses and 11 entertainment industry insiders, including managers, participated in in-depth interviews to help the study, the commission said.

The human rights commission asked the institute to conduct the survey after actress Jang Ja-yeon, 27, committed suicide last year after allegedly being forced to act as an escort for VIPs by her manager.

According to the surveyed actresses, 60.2 percent said they have been asked to provide sexual services to high-profile figures, including producers, directors, businessmen, politicians and advertising executives. The actresses said coworkers, friends, agents and brokers pressured them.

More than 6 percent said they had been victims of sexual crimes including rape. Another 31.5 percent said they were molested when men touched their bodies, including breasts, hips and legs.

Of the actresses and aspiring actresses, 45.3 percent said they had been pressured to “entertain others at drinking parties.”

According to the survey, an actress in her mid 20s said she had been forcibly taken to a motel by her agent because he insisted, “You have to know men in order to work in the entertainment industry.”

Another actress was quoted saying she had been “forced to attend drinking parties by her agency” several times. “Although I was fortunate enough to save myself from physical harm, such demands were offensive,” she said.

A large number of the actresses and aspiring actresses said they have been sexually harassed by verbal comments about sex, their body types and appearances.

About 72 percent of the aspiring actresses had been pressured to go on diets to lose weight, and 58 percent of the actresses said their agents forced them to undergo plastic surgery.

“In order to protect the rights of actresses, it is important for the government to only allow qualified businesses to operate in the entertainment industry. Public auditions should also be encouraged to create a transparent culture,” the rights commission said. “Actresses are also urged to create labor unions or other representative bodies to improve their working conditions and protect their rights.”

By Ser Myo-ja []
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