March 11, 2011 13:36
A cache of letters by the actress Jang Ja-yeon that has sparked calls for the investigation into her suicide to be reopened appears to have been tampered with.
The letters implicate her management agency in forcing her to provide sexual favors to 31 high-profile figures and were kept by a friend identified only as Jeon (31), who is in jail in Gwangju.
Broadcaster SBS made the letters public on Sunday and claimed they were proven to have been written by Jang. But police said Thursday that the photocopied envelopes they confiscated after searching Jeon's cell showed signs of tampering.
Police said among the photocopied envelopes that were seized from Jeon a part of the postmark showing where the letter came from was cut out. The postmark shows the name of the post office from where the letter was mailed, the date and the office's seven-digit identification number.
On the photocopies police seized, the postmark showed only the date -- Sept. 17, 2008 -- but the name and identification number of the post office were missing.
Police presented two photocopied envelopes that had been re-Xeroxed to make the deletion look less conspicuous. "If the letters had been mailed by Jang, there would be no reason for Jeon to erase the information about the post office that sent them," a police spokesman said. Kim Kap-shik, an investigator, said, "There are signs of tampering to hide where the letters came from."
Police said that among 2,439 letters Jeon sent or received in jail between November 2003 and March 7 this year, none contained the late actress's name or any of the nicknames or aliases the inmate claims to have used to call her, such as "Jang Seol-hwa" or "Noonkkot Seol-hwa" or snow flower.
Police Commissioner General Cho Hyun-oh appeared before lawmakers on Thursday and said in 2009 when the scandal erupted following the suicide, "we conducted a no-holds-barred investigation of 20 senior figures and cleared some of those at the center of the scandal, including media moguls, of suspicion." Cho added Jeon "suffers from mental problems and is not a credible source."
The authenticity of the letters will be determined when the National Forensic Service announces the results of a handwriting analysis. SBS reported that an expert has already concluded that the letters were written by Jang when it revealed them last Sunday.
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