60% of Actresses 'Accosted for Sex by Bigwigs'

Six out of 10 actresses in Korea have been propositioned for sex by influential figures, according to a poll of 111 actresses by the Korean Women's Development Institute commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission.

In the survey published Tuesday, 60.2 percent of respondents said they had been accosted for sex by senior figures in the broadcast industry or other prominent people. The poll was conducted between September and December last year and involved detailed interviews. Top actresses accounted for around 10 percent of respondents.

Among the actresses surveyed, 58.3 percent said they had felt sexually harassed by people who "stared at certain parts of their bodies," while 64.5 percent said they had to listen to sexually explicit jokes and 67.3 percent said they were judged by their appearance. Some were directly asked to have sex, or even suffered sexual harassment or assault. Some 21.5 percent of respondents said they had received direct requests for sex and 31.5 percent that they had been groped. Some 6.5 percent said they were sexually assaulted.

Wealthy men were cited as the most common group of people seeking sex with the stars, cited by 43.9 percent of respondents, followed by TV producers and directors with 38.6 percent. Heads of TV production companies came next with 22.8 percent and senior businessmen with 15.8 percent. Multiple answers were possible. Almost 60 percent of respondents said they believed rejecting sexual advances would disadvantage their careers, and 48.4 percent said they had in fact lost out on appearances on shows because they refused.

Aspiring actresses also suffered other abuses. Among aspiring actresses surveyed, 72.3 percent were forced to go on a diet and 58.7 percent said they were told to have plastic surgery.

The NHRC said one of the main reasons for the abuses in the entertainment industry was the competition of a large number of actresses for a limited number of parts. "Each year, 48,000 aspiring actresses graduate from various acting schools in major cities, and there is no way of telling how many more women are hired by small talent agencies," a commission official said.

The NHRC called for improvements including a revision of regulations to mandate a financial background check of candidates who wish to open talent agencies and a review of contracts by the National Labor Relations Commission.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 28, 2010 10:58 KST