Reader: I’m still getting over the shock of U;nee’s death.
We all are, dear reader.
Just recently, Shinee’s lead singer Kim Jong Hyun took his own life, an actuality that shook the entire K-pop industry, singers and fans alike.
In a personally written note to Nine (a musician for modern rock band Dear Cloud), he described how he was unable to shake off his depression, and how he felt that “I wasn’t supposed to be known to the world”.
However, what you might not know is that Kim’s case isn’t the first.
In fact, it’s just one of many.
Here are 5 other Korean Entertainment stars who couldn’t take the pressure of the industry, and subsequently took their own lives.
1. Charles Park
This Korean-American singer, whose stage name was Seo Ji Won, was one of the first K-pop celebrities to commit suicide, which he did on 1 Jan, 1996.
In a personally written note, he expressed concern about the unexpected success of his debut album, and whether its sequel, which he had finished recording before his death, would be as successful.
He was 19.
His record company decided to release the singer’s second album even after his death, and ironically, it became a huge hit, even dominating various K-pop music charts at that time.
2. Jang Ja-yeon
Probably the most high-profile celebrity suicide to have transpired in South Korea, this incident sent the entire Korean Entertainment industry into a brief period of turmoil, during which several key figures were questioned, and Jang’s own agent was brought into custody.
The actress, who starred in 2009 hit Korean drama ‘Boys over Flowers’, had written in her suicide note that she had been forced to “perform sexual favors to so-called sponsors who help talent get roles in popular TV series or films”.
In a 230-page document that she was believed to have penned herself, she revealed how she “entertained a total of 31 people, 100 times – being forced to give sexual favors.”
3. Jeong Da-bin
Jeong Da-bin, who committed suicide at her boyfriend’s home on 10 February 2007, was believed to have taken her own life because of a myriad of reasons that include: depression over her lack of work, imprisonment of her previous manager and online assaults about her appearance.
She was 27, and was best known for the popular television series Rooftop Room Cat.
Actress-turned-singer U;Nee hanged herself in 2007, the same year Jeong Da-bin took her life.
According to the police report, people close to U;Nee revealed that U;Nee became “depressed by online criticism, especially attacks over U;Nee’s sexy style.”
5. Lee Eun-ju
This popular Korean actress was found dead in her apartment on 22 February, 2005, a few days after her graduation from Dankook University. She apparently slit her wrists before hanging herself.
According to her family, Lee had suffered from extreme bouts of depression and mental illness, as well as insomnia because of her nude scenes in her last featured film, The Scarlet Letter.
Just to clarify, these aren’t the only stars that succumbed to the numbing pressure of the Korean Entertainment industry. There are many out there who are as deserving, if not more, of a place on this article.
Which makes me wonder.
Is being a Korean star really as glamorous as it looks?