Jeon Ji-hyun Scandal Turns Searchlight on Agencies

Sidus HQ, the agents for Jeon Ji-hyun, is suspected of copying the star's SIM card and checking her call history and text messages. The scandal has cast a fresh spotlight on entertainment agencies and their intrusion into every part of the stars' lives.

In 2000, an intimate videotape of a singer taped by her manager was leaked. There was a feeling that the formation of huge entertainment agencies in recent years has meant less intrusion into stars' privacy, but some managers say discreet "monitoring" of the private life of stars still goes on and is considered necessary supervision.

Stars are commonly obliged to report their whereabouts to their agencies, and tracking their location via mobile phone is often done by mutual consensus.

Some are followed and shadowed by road managers or private detectives, all in the name of "risk management." However, all managers contacted by the Chosun Ilbo said eavesdropping on cell phones is unheard of. "It is shocking that Sidus HQ, a big conglomerate in the industry that has many top stars under its roof, did this," said one executive in the drama department at SBS. "That shows how fierce the competition among management agencies is."

Jeon's contract with the agency is up next month.

In November last year, the Fair Trade Commission pointed to "excessive intrusion" into the privacy of stars and ordered a number of corrective measures to be taken to prevent unfair contracts between entertainers and agencies. It ordered the deletion of any clauses specifying stars' duty to constantly report their whereabouts to the agency and follow supervision of agency on study, nationality, military duty and romantic relationships.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 21, 2009 11:03 KST