The most interesting thing about this Edison Chen scandal — besides the pornographic pictures of celebrities traded around in the name of journalism — is the open discussion of how the Triads may dole out extralegal punishment upon Mr. Chen for bringing such disgrace upon their Hong Kong Entertainment world. This is not idle banter: the president of Emperor Entertainment Group (EEG) and Edison’s former boss Albert Yeung apparently has well-known ties to Chinese organized crime. Even the New York Times today made a note of organized crime involvement within the Hong Kong industry.
Although the Japanese industry is equally rumored to be funded by organized crime, I wonder why there is less open discussion of this fact in either the Western or Japanese press. Mainstream Japanese magazines rarely ever openly talks about the most conspicuously mob-linked “Don of the Japanese Entertainment World” Mr. S*** (ex-chauffeur to mob-linked LDP politician Hamada Kouichi) in the same way as Albert Yeung. Perhaps the international range of the Triads’ financial dealings, especially now since they are investing in Canada, have put them more on the radar than yakuza-backed entertainment companies in Japan, which intentionally stay small in size and scope to avoid being conspicuous. The Mr. S noted above barely appears from a Google Image search, whereas Albert Yeung comes up pretty quickly since he seems to be a public figure. The Japanese guys behind the curtain keep a low profile. They don’t want to be household names.
Interesting parallel though: both Hong Kong and Japan have mob-backed entertainment industries focused on artists within “management companies.” In the past, I have tried to show through data that this industrial organization leads to much more stable artistic standards than markets with “free agents” artists like in the United States (artists directly make deals with labels rather than become employees of middle-men management companies). Historically, “entertainment” in Asia (and elsewhere for that matter) was a risky and low-class venture best funded by organized crime, so I understand why there are still links today. However, is there something about management companies in particular that make them a good opportunity for money laundering and illegal racketeering?