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10 famous Korean celebrities that committed suicide (2020)

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Some Korean celebrities have faced it all and unfortunately, took their own lives due to the pressure. Some reasons included unprotected privacy, malicious comments, unstable incomes and anxiety about the future.

According to the World Population Review, South Korea has the 4th highest suicide rate in the world. Also, Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death among South Koreans.

The South Korean entertainment industry is known to be notoriously harsh on performers, who are often subject to years of tough training and strict grooming under long-term management contracts. Despite that, success is not certain and social media responses to entertainers who are perceived to have slipped up in any way can be instant and brutal.

It should be remembered that anyone, including celebrities can get affected over internet comments. So, think twice before you decide to say something nasty about someone.

Recently, another actress committed suicide. On September 14, 2020, Korean actress Oh In Hye was found unconscious in her apartment by authorities and later died in the hospital. The 36-year-old actress is believed to have died after a suspected suicide, according to police.

Here are 10 high profile suicide cases that have plagued Korean showbiz over the years.

1. Lee Eun Ju

In 2005, South Korean actress Lee Eun Ju committed suicide at the age of 24.

She was the star for hit films including “Taegukgi: The Brotherhood Of War” and “The Scarlet Letter”.

It’s believed that her life was at risk following her role in the latter movie. In the movie, she had to film nude scenes which in turn became a trauma for her.

According to her family, the actress allegedly suffered from mental illness after her nude role in The Scarlet Letter.

On the night of 22nd February 2005, a few days after her graduation from Dankook University, Eun Ju committed suicide by slitting her wrists and hanged herself at her apartment in Bundang, Seongnam. She was 24 at that time.

The news of her death prompted a massive outpouring of grief from fellow actors and filmmakers and fans. Lee Eun-ju was cremated and enshrined in a crypt at Goyang . Hundreds of her fellow actors and entertainers attended her funeral

2. U;Nee

Lee Hye Ryeon, better known by her stage name U;Nee, was a South Korean singer, rapper, dancer and actress who committed suicide in 2007 at the age of 25.

 U;Nee debuted in the KBS drama Grown-ups Just Don’t Understand in 1996 and gained great popularity after the release of her second album Call Call Call.

However, she had allegedly been suffering from depression as she was upset by attacks and rumours of plastic surgery from netizens.

There was no suicide note found, but she did write that she felt lonely on a website saying, “I feel everything is empty. I am again walking down a path to reach a destination that I don’t know.”

U;Nee’s management company released her third album as planned on January 26, 2007, five days after her death.

3. Jeong Da Bin

Jeong Da Bin was a South Korean actress who hanged herself in the bathroom of her boyfriend’s house in 2007.

There was speculation that she had killed herself because she could not handle the stress of her declining career and because of online attacks on her physical appearance.

Jeong had penned her comments about losing her identity and dying on her Cyworld blog the day before she killed herself, leading many to believe she was depressed.

Her death came only one month after U;Nee’s death.Jeong’s death sent shock waves throughout Korea and sparked concern over copycat suicides .

4. Choi Jin Sil

Choi Jin Sil was a South Korean actress who committed suicide by hanging in 2008.

She was considered one of the best actresses in South Korea, nicknamed “The Nation’s Actress”. She played leading roles in 18 films and 20 television dramas, appeared in 140 commercials and won the 33rd Grand Bell Award for Best Actress.

Up until the divorce from her husband in 2004, Choi was also a victim of domestic violence.

Her suicide has since been attributed to “incessant online gossip” and public pressure from living life as a “single, working, divorced mom”. She was found hanged at home at Seoul. Her suicide was confirmed by the police. She was survived by her two children, her mother and younger brother.

Choi’s suicide was linked in the media to a temporary 70% increase in suicide in South Korea for about a month after her death; police recorded 700 more suicides in that month than would have been typical statistically.

In response to Choi’s death, the South Korean government tried to strengthen a legal push to regulate Internet postings. Politicians have reacted by proposing legislation that would impose a more rigorous real name registration requirement on the Internet and more heightened punishment for libelous statements.

A year and a half after her death, her younger brother, singer Choi Jin-Young, also killed himself. He reportedly had been depressed since his sister died and hanged himself in March 2010 at his apartment in Nonhyun-dong, southern Seoul.

In 2013, her ex husband,  Cho Sung-min also committed suicide. His body was discovered by his girlfriend, hanged in the bathroom of her apartment in Dogok-dong , southern Seoul.

5. Daul Kim 

Kim Daul was a South Korean model and blogger who committed suicide at the age of 20.

Daul Kim was one of the biggest names in the fashion industry around that time. She was regularly featured in magazines such as British Vogue, i-D and Dazed & Confused. In South Korea, she appeared on the covers of South Korean Vogue in August 2007 and May 2008 and in Harper’s Bazaar in July 2008.

Apart from that, this young and aspiring model had worked with other big names in fashion including Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel and Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane to name a few.

 She had apparently been suffering from loneliness, insomnia and depression and could not keep up with the demands of the fashion industry.

Shortly before her death she had appeared on the cover for the Australian Russh as well as video advertisements for Topshop , Richard Nicoll and Chanel.

She committed suicide by hanging herself at her apartment in Paris on 19th November 2009 and became the ninth South Korean celebrity to die by suicide in 2009.

6. Jang Ja Yeon 

Jang Jayeon’s death remains the talk of the town even until the present day. She’s known for her appearance in the hit TV drama “Boys Over Flowers” (2009) as the character named Sunny, one of the antagonists of the series.

Jang had apparently been suffering from depression and committed suicide in 2009, She committed suicide by hanging herself at her house in Bundang, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province when she was just 29.

Her death was widely publicised with allegations that she had been beaten and sexually assaulted by 31 people, some of whom were entertainment big shots during her career.

It was reported that in her 7-page unconfirmed suicide note, she revealed that she often got beaten by her agency and was forced to have sex with several VIPs – including directors, media executives and CEOs to name a few. Her scandal was adapted into a film called “Norigae” (2013).

The CEO of Jang’s former talent agency, The Contents Entertainment, Kim Sung-hoon, was found guilty of abuse by the Korean courts, specifically of forcing girls from his agency to come to his birthday party where he forced them to entertain the executives.

In 2019, President Moon Jae-in issued a thorough re-investigation into Jang’s case as well as a proper investigation into the Burning Sun scandal and the sex scandal of former high-ranking Ministry of Justice official, Kim Hak-eui.

Due to the controversy of Jang’s case and the rumors since Jang’s death, all the accusations from the media could not be used as evidence to press charges on any figures involved. Thus, Jang’s former manager, Kim Sung-hoon is the only person who has been arrested so far in this case.

7. Kim Jonghyun

Kim Jonghyun Jonghyun is no stranger among K-Pop fans worldwide. He debuted as the lead vocalist for award-winning boy band SHINee back in 2008, when he was just 19.

He was the main vocalist of the South Korean boy band, Shinee for nine years, releasing twelve albums with the group in both Korean and Japanese. He was regarded as one of the best vocalists in South Korea.

Throughout his time in showbiz, fans and industry people were aware of his fight against depression. However, he decided to end his life by committing suicide at a rented apartment in Chengdamdong in December 2017 .

Following Jonghyun’s death, fellow singer and friend Nine9, of the band Dear Cloud, posted on Instagram Jonghyun’s suicide note which he had sent to her two or three days before his December 9 concert. The note referred to a “devouring” depression and his struggles with fame.

According to SCMP, he was found unconscious in a hotel room is Seoul, with a coal briquette burning on a frying pan, a common method most South Koreans use to kill themselves. Police rushed him to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. He was age 27.

Jonghyun’s death opened discussions about the harsh and competitive nature of the entertainment business in South Korea, as well as mental health.

Current and former stars previously told Insider that they are held to extremely high beauty standards, forced to follow strict gym and rehearsal schedules, and forbidden to date to seem accessible to fans.

8. Jeon Mi Seon

Jeon Mi Seon was a South Korean actress who won numerous accolades in the Korean entertainment industry.

She was best known as a supporting actress in films and television series such as Memories of Murder, Moon Embracing the Sun, and Hide and Seek,Hwang Jini, The Return of Hwang Geum-bok among others. Jeon Mi-seon also played the leading role in Love Is a Crazy Thing ,The King’s Letters, he’s psychometric etc

 In June 2019, she was found dead in a likely suicide. Police investigations revealed that Jeon was emotionally affected by her mother’s illness and the passing of one of her relatives.

Jeon’s agency also confirmed that the actress had been suffering from depression.

9. Choi Sulli

Korean actress, Choi Sulli was found dead in her apartment on Oct. 14, 2019 in an apparent suicide at the age of 25 .

Sulli was a prominent member of the K-pop group f(x) who eventually became a soloist. She was recognised as a prominent figure in Korean popular culture for her outspoken persona, when it came to mental health issues, cyber-bullying and women’s rights, which is uncommon among K-pop stars. This led to her becoming the receiving end of intense scrutiny and online backlash. She was the most Googled person in South Korea in 2017, ahead of the current President of South Korea Moon Jae-in.

She’s been called ‘ugly’, ‘un-talented’, and more crude remarks. It seemed like whatever she did only drew in more hate from online netizens. In 2018, Sulli opened up about her struggles with social phobia and panic disorder in her reality show Jinri Store.

Sulli returned to acting by starring in the SBS romantic comedy series, To the Beautiful You, The Pirates and the coming-of-age drama Fashion King. Sulli garnered attention for her role in the experimental neo-noir thriller Real.

According to BBC, she was found dead in her home with no signs of foul play. Considering her openness regarding her depression (with her posting several tear-jerking videos of herself), her death has since been ruled a suicide.

Goo Hara , who was Sulli’s close friend, died by suicide a month after Sulli’s death.

According to “World Today”, lawmakers of South Korea are proposing an act called the “Sulli Act”. The bill was reportedly proposed by 9 members of the National Assembly. The act wishes to tackle ongoing issue on cyber-bullying

10. Goo Hara

She was a singer, actress, a former member of girl group KARA and was a close friend of Choi Sulli. She had also appeared in television dramas including City Hunter.

Goo Haha had her private life closely examined by the general public and faced barrages of online criticism.

She had survived one suicide attempt just 6 months before her death. Her ex-boyfriend allegedly threatened her with a sex cam that he had taken while they were together. After news of her sex video went public, Goo was harassed online on social media, despite being a victim of a crime. On May 26, 2019, Goo attempted suicide in her apartment and was immediately taken to hospital, after which she apologized for worrying her fans

On November 24, 2019, Goo was found dead at her home in Cheongdam-dong , Gangnam , with the cause of death ruled as a possible suicide. Police found a suicide note written by Hara,

Goo Hara died just 6 weeks after Sulli’s alleged suicide, posting the words ‘Goodbye’ on her Instagram. She was age 28.

Moreover, it was revealed that Goo hara had helped reporter Kang Kyung-yoon investigate Jung Joon-young ‘s chatroom case, where multiple celebrities and their friends shared illegal sex cams on the chatrooms and allegedly raped multiple women.

During the time Jung Joon Young’s case was full blown, Goo Hara was also facing a storm due to her legal case with her ex-boyfriend. Goo Hara was devoted to helping other victims.

Following her death, a petition was submitted to the Blue House with over 200,000 signatures demanding a more severe punishment for filming sexual acts without consent and distributing it.

Sources: Mothership, Wikipedia, World Population Review, Pinterest, asianwiki.

For more stories like this, check our What To Know page.

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