• FlipMango

    Such a sad story, but unfortunately true. I know this is about Korea, but this applies globally. Every comment you make online, will be seen by someone else. So watch what you say, cuz while it might not matter to you, it’s selfish to think it doesn’t matter to the people who will see it. 

  • khai vu

    Well when I hear about the work loads of idols, it’s not hard to imagine why suicide rates are so high. You pretty much have to work your ass off to even make the cut as a trainee. And if they get nothing for their efforts of course they would be depressed. On the other hand if they are successful they’re expected to work even harder to earn back the investment the agency made into them. It’s seems like a grueling life.

  • YourYG Bias

    To be honest, I watched the episode with Sunye confessing that she contemplated suicide. I’m ashamed to say that I forgot about her ordeal soon after.

    The entertainment industry, in any country, has got to be the most condemning and draining career that a person can enter in. You don’t have privacy, every little thing you do is criticized, you physical exterior is of utmost importance and sometimes you have to do a little ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶o̶n̶e̶ something extra. 

    Either the treatment of artists everywhere is conducted properly or we’ll get suicides. Simple as that. I don’t how many more dead people I have to read about before companies get the message. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507824553 ICassie Gaemgyu

    It really is a serious problem that should be addressed as soon as possible. Those who are depressed should be counseled to tell them not to take things too hard. There will be critics everywhere, you can’t please everyone! and there is always a way out.
    They are so young there will be lots of opportunities to come and its not the end of the world. And no job is worth selling (or being forced to sell) your body. If they believe in their own talents they should walk away from abuse and wait another day.
    There should also be no shame attached to working a low paying job with no glamor. As long as its an honest job and there is food on the table. I got bad grades in school, I couldn’t get into my local universities, but I am absolutely fine now with an ok paying job. I get to travel and I can afford little luxuries with my less than industry standard pay.

    Most importantly they should realise that they are loved by a lot of people. Their immediate contacts may not offer them support, but there are those who are their family and ardent fans that are very much willing to listen to them. By taking their own lives, they plunge these people who do love them into deepest helpless sorrow. Its a lifetime of pain for us.

    • black_rose45000

      “By taking their own lives, they plunge these people who do love them
      into deepest helpless sorrow. Its a lifetime of pain for us.”
      This, exactly.

  • Haugro

    In a country such as South Korea where mental illness is a taboo, it’s even harder to suffer from depression to begin with. Whose shoulder should they cry on when your life stoops downhill and you find yourself in a suffocating situation with no green signs of ‘exit here’? People are more likely to turn the back on you or give you the ‘work harder’ mentality. That all they should do is put on a forced smile and move on with their lives, because society that strives for perfection has rooms for unwanted “crybabies”. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507824553 ICassie Gaemgyu

      If this is true and there is no way out for the depressed, I would dearly like all those who are suffering to get out of SK as soon as possible. These society views are completely wrong and it must change. We are all humans who hurt and failure is absolutely ok and very much expected in life.
      The people who turn there noses up to the depressed and those needing comfort should be committed into counseling also for being rotten arseholes and trampled on themselves!

      • Haugro

        There’s many level of depression, and how one deals with – or manage to deal with it is very individual, but those who gets suicidal has unfortunately hit the rock bottom of it all.

    • asianromance

      I think this is a huge part of the problem.  There are tons of people all over the world going through hardships and yes, the celeb/idol life is rife with physical exhaustion and sleeplessness, which doesn’t help one think straight (being sleep-deprived is equivalent to being inebriated). However, in the face of all of this, there is a lack of support from Korean society.  If only more people around then can say it’s okay to complain a little bit, it’s okay to cry on my shoulder, and it’s okay to seek professional help – then there wouldn’t be so many suicides.  I’m continually shocked that despite the high suicide rate and the amount of celeb profiles that the country isn’t trying to find a way to really fix this.     
      I remember watching the drama, 49 days, where one of the female leads was suicidal.  The drama was really a story about making the most of life and valuing being alive.  The suicidal character was even seeing a psychiatrist!  After its airing, that drama was penalized by the government for an attempted suicide scene, because it was…you know..an attempted suicide scene and I guess they were afraid that people will feel encouraged to die, instead of talking about why the character was feeling suicidal and what the hopeful message that permeated each episode was. 

      Obviously, SK thinks the best way to lower suicide rates is to squash all talk about it.  SK’s high suicide rate’s been talked about for years.  Since avoiding the subject isn’t working, you’d think they would think of alternatives…

      • ggoma

        It’s not only idols in Korea who get no sleep. High school students sleep on average 3-5 hours a night their last couple of years or last year. Most workers have to wait til their boss leaves in order for them to go home or they have to stay even after and then some are forced to go drinking as well.

      • black_rose45000

        This is infuriating. I read just now a user’s comment on this article that gave as an example the kid in Boys Over Flowers that was ready to jump off the building after receiving the red card (which stands for future ostracizing and bullying if I remember the story well). How about that scene? doesn’t it pass on the wrong message? like, Idk “if you’re bullied/threatened in any way, go jump off a building”?

  • ggoma

    Honestly this is merely a reflection of the overall trend in South Korea. Yes, celebs in Korea do live a hard life – but there are sites all over that do the critical comments just the same for all global celebs and there is not the same trend.

    This is a psychology problem. South Korea has a high pressured lifestyle that has existed since the start of the ceasefire of the Korean War. South Korea has few natural resources and many people, especially in Seoul the competition is fierce. It is eat or be eaten there and that results in a lot of negative behavior. Education is the worst and while the older generations were able to use education in order to have a better life and therefore are somewhat obsessed with their children becoming well educated and having good grades because they came from an era when they had literally nothing and built it up only due to studying and working hard. Now younger generation children grow up with everything and the pressure to get good grades doesn’t make sense to them. It creates a ton of pressure. The competition is on a very superficial level. The proof of success – money, bags, things you have. Because South Koreans of that era grew up with nothing. People are judged on “specs” or what looks good on paper. If they don’t measure up, it can be painful. They are then considered abject and are pecked at and bullied relentlessly. (Survival of the Fittest). On top of this, Korean youth with genuine mental illness don’t get the help they need – they are either locked up in mental hospitals and not spoken of or they end up dead. Few people seek counseling and treatment due to stigma.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507824553 ICassie Gaemgyu

      The older generation must change their views. Do they really love their own children?
      The younger generation must remember and learn NOT to follow this blind abuse or else it would be a vicious cycle.
      And having paper qualifications do not necessarily mean you can do the job. There are complete idiots out there that are counted in the highly educated.
      And there are those certified idiots who are in fact true geniuses.
      South Korea please change!!!

      • black_rose45000

        “The younger generation must remember and learn NOT to follow this blind abuse or else it would be a vicious cycle.”
        But how will they learn? I’m thinking they need someone or something from outside to teach them that something is wrong in the way they view and treat things. If the mentality is passed on like the rest of the values they are taught since kids…it is just a vicious circle like you said. Maybe it’s also due to the homogeneity of the nation, an aspect that’s been discussed on previously on Seoulbeats. Hmmm…

    • black_rose45000

      This is very interesting. Without any meaning to offend you, how did you come up with all that? Did you study/read something? The way you explain the difference between older and younger generations is very interesting and is exactly what I wanted to know more about. Thank you!

      • ggoma

         Korean history and literature class basically.

        • black_rose45000

           Thank you for passing on the knowledge then! I wish I studied like you too :3

  • http://www.michelle-chin.com/ Michelle Chin

    It is not surprising that our favorite idols, as well as trainees, have once contemplated suicide or even attempted it. They have to train hours after hours. Sleep is sometimes not an option. They have schedules that can break any person apart (music banks, showcases, variety shows, CFs etc…). They are subjected to strict diets. They have to behave according to the “idol” norm and fulfil their fan’s expectations (fanservice, good conduct etc…), and doing so, they risk losing the part of themselves that they know so well. If you are not from Korea, you have to be away from home and you sometimes cannot make phone calls. Your time spent on the Net and phone is very limited. Meeting up with your friends can be really difficult. Sometimes, you get bullied by other trainees too! Furthermore, you can basically say goodbye to privacy. People are going to dig up pre-debut information and people who have known you before will want to dish out the juiciest gossip about you just to be in the spotlight.

    All of this can be really overwhelming for a young adult or a teenager, as the path to idoldom must start at a young age. With the stress, it is easy to forget your hopes and dreams. You will just feel like you are being thrown into this huge idol factory and you have to shed your “old” self that you are comfortable with. 

    Personally, I feel that those who are stuck in the “yet to debut” limbo, always wondering when they are going to debut after training for so many years, suffer more. After watching countless EXO interviews, in which few members expressed their worries, I started to wonder about the hundreds of trainees who are yet to debut. Also, there’s those who are really desperate to debut to the extent that they will sacrifice their integrity for it (i.e. performing sexual favours). I am not how many would go to such an extent but I am sure it is more than what we can observe at the moment. 

    Then, there are rookies who have already debuted but are not successful enough because of the lack of money invested of them. In this year, there are so many groups that debuted that it can be a very daunting and intimidating process. It can really wreck your self-esteem when you look at other idol groups that are clearly doing better (song, dance, costume, stage…) and have a larger fandom than your group has. 

    The stress from factors makes it not peculiar for an idol or a trainee to feel depressed or have contemplated suicide before. That’s why, as fans, we should understand this and admire them for even managing to put up a smile despite the possible hardships they may face. We should be more considerate and offer them some form of support, instead of stalking their houses and making their lives more difficult than it already is. I think that entertainment companies should also provide additional support because when the entertainment company is literally your second home. 

    I apologize for the pessimism but I think that apart from the glitz and glamour, fans should be aware for the possible hardships faced by a trainee or an idol.

    • AcadiasFire

      I agree 100% Very good post :)

      • http://www.michelle-chin.com/ Michelle Chin

        Thanks. :)

    • crv2

      So true, but idols seem closer with internet than their family. They are hurt by netizen comments. I mean artist like Gaga, Bieber get more hate comments than whole kpop idol but they can just enjoy their live and choose NOT to look at the internet. But in Kpop, the idols look concern about it too much, it is a ‘Korean culture’ but I find this is a little bit…weird.

      • http://www.michelle-chin.com/ Michelle Chin

        I think it really depends on the individual. For me, seeing hate comments break my heart…

      • black_rose45000

        I think it is indeed part of their culture. They just live off the idol-fans/public relationship, they give everything they have to fans, while at the same time strive to have the perfect image for the general public as well. Whenever something goes off, hell breaks loose. They’re bound to get public shaming and critiques, however unfounded they may be, or however un-entitled those people might be to give them.

    • black_rose45000

      “We should be more considerate and offer them some form of support,
      instead of stalking their houses and making their lives more difficult
      than it already is”
      I am so heartbroken that not all fans (esp Korean ones since they’re more prone to stalking and committing delinquency act) think like you :(

      Also, you wrote a great, great comment.

  • goldengluvsk2

    its a sad reality… every year I sincerely think and wish for no more suicides… as Jung Ah yool’s friend said everything would be different if someone gave people like Ah yool encouragement words… knowing how saturated the industry is and how hard idols/actors work its not hard to understand the battle that happens behind the curtains. and to think that this is not a “trend” but a situation affecting Sk’s population is even more upsetting. everyone from kids bullied on school to middle aged people with financial problems have nowhere to go for advice or someone to simply listen to them…
    I cant say I live in a place where people fully understand that looking for help regarding mental issues doesnt mean “you’re crazy” BUT the topic is not a taboo like its in SK… there should be more commitment from the government’s side to erradicate this mindset that people with illness like depression are only making them up or are not working hard enough…

    • black_rose45000

      “have nowhere to go for advice or someone to simply listen to them…”
      I think the first thing they need is acceptance of the problem and of themselves. They need professional help, but the thought of that is like you said, taboo. They have to handle a whole bunch of societal expectations and raise to high standards, and if they fail at that, they consider themselves lower – which in worse cases will lead to severe depression – but even admitting to depression will make them seem “weak”, thus their worth drops even more in their eyes and other people’s eyes. This article linked by conanblue portrays how therapists are seen there http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/world/asia/07iht-psych07.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all
      “[…]talk over a problem for 40 minutes and then be shocked when they’re presented with a bill.
      “They’ll say, ‘I have to pay? Just for talking? I can do that for free with my friend or my pastor,”’ said Dr. Park.

      Patients also balk, he said, at the idea of spending more than a couple
      sessions on talk therapy. Instead, most patients simply ask for, and
      expect, medication, said Dr. Park, whose Web site advises that “nearly
      all of the medications used in the U.S. are available here, too. So
      don’t worry about getting those medications in Korea.”

      About a third of his patients come for counseling, Dr. Park said, and the rest rely on medication.”

      I agree with what you said though, and I’m touched to see someone caring so much about these people.

  • AcadiasFire

    This is such a coincidence because today I learned that one of the actresses from boys over flowers (the one who played sunny right?) committed suicide from one of the forums on the drama and I was very sad to hear it.  That should really be something thats looked into. I also learned from things that I read or saw that daesung from Big Bang was thinking of committing suicide because of the car accident he was in a few years ago. Also kiseoup from u-kiss was thinking about committing suicide too because he wasn’t being picked up by any of the companies and he became depressed. Thats all I know of but its sad all the same.

  • haiitsvi

    The first thing that came to mind when starting to read this article is a documentary film on South Korean high school life that is in the process of being made. I’m sure at least some you here on SB have heard about it. I watched the trailer a while back and you can watch it here: 

    The isn’t complete yet but it aims to focus on the academic, plastic surgery, and suicide issue.The extremely high suicide rate in South Korea is just heartbreaking, especially when you consider the reasons why it occurs – academics, beauty (or self-image), being in the entertainment industry. I feel like this could all be helped if Korean society didn’t put so much pressure on perfection. Everything seems so calculated sometimes, like if you do one thing wrong, people in real life and on the internet are going to criticize you left and right. This only makes it worse for people who are living with depression, who like previous comments mentioned, have this stigma about them.

    And as much as dramas have this “fairytale”-like quality to them, I can always see issues that I question about Korean society. For example, in the first episode of Boys of Flowers when that guy has gotten the red card and is targeted by F4 he is about to JUMP OF THE BUILDING and the rest of the students are just STANDING THERE RECORDING IT ON THEIR PHONES. Seriously? Is that the norm?

    But yes, this is an issue that really needs to be addressed. I have no idea if Korean education has any sort of counseling or guidance program but they definitely should and teach their students that there is no shame in needing to use it.

    • black_rose45000

      The thing you say about BOF is frightening. It just sets a bad example – it’s ok to bully someone into committing suicide. :|||

      “Everything seems so calculated sometimes, like if you do one thing wrong,
      people in real life and on the internet are going to criticize you left
      and right.”
      True. Also, this is something I came across http://spiritual-journal.blogspot.ro/2012/01/south-korean-society-korean-culture.html the first paragraph speaks clearly about this shaming and criticizing attitude that SKoreans have.

      The problem is, how can this civilization stop from self-destruct given these circumstances.

  • http://weeatlemon.blogspot.com conanblue

    I want to add another probable reason why the suicide rate is high in Korea. No one wants to be seen as sick, especially mentally. In the extremely competitive world they’re living right now, they can’t afford to seek mental help. And by afford I don’t necessarily mean financially, but more in the greater sense. You have to always be at your best all the time, but everyone knows this is impossible. This is more true in the world of entertainment where everyone is constantly scrutinized every tiny step of the way. If they experience hardship, which they will at one point, all they can do is suffer in silence. With more time this suffering just adds up and the feeling of helplessness creeps in. Seeing that they don’t have any other option, they decided to take the route of death.

    I want to know something though. Does Koreans have a similar concept as Japanese and harakiri? Japan and Korea are among the top two OECD countries with the highest suicide rate. Coincidentally they’re the only two Asian countries on that list. Perhaps there’s a cultural factor that dates back centuries or maybe because of the rapid growth the country has to go through.

    Commenting on the sample size Park Jin-hee took for her study, I think it should represent the actors in Korea as a whole as long as the sample she used represent the different types and levels of actors, from the rookies to the superstars. I’m happy she took this topic because there are people who recognizes the problem and are willing to change. Change is still far away, as there hasn’t been any major movement with visible impact to stop this phenomenon. But hopefully more and more people will recognize the importance of mental health as much as physical health itself.

    Here’s an NY Times article talking about this matter, mostly about the attitude towards psychotherapy http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/world/asia/07iht-psych07.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    • FallingSnow

      conanblue, though SK and Japan are the only OECD countries on the list right now, I have a feeling more East Asian countries will be joining in the ranks soon enough with their current rate of development. In particular, I’m looking at that economic giant, China. 

      Suicide rates and young adult depression are on an alarming uptick in the PRep. of China recently and has been noted by even its national newspapers. I feel that it’s an unfortunate effect of transitioning into “developed” country status. The burden of entering higher level education immediately followed by a well-paying job is particularly heavy for countries with an enormous population base. Compound this with a global economic recession AND the fact that tertiary level (ie. “white collar”) job growth is rarely large… and you get essentially livelihood competition in hyper-drive. Add on the stigma that mental illnesses hold in those countries and you have a big problem on your hands. 

      I’m particularly concerned with how affected the female population is compared to the male counterpart. It’s really a no-brainer to link it to the prevalent social equality problem of that country, isn’t it? *sigh*

      • http://weeatlemon.blogspot.com conanblue

        I know it’s really sad, isn’t it? Actually according to research, female are more prone to depression than male. And I believe young adults and the elderly are the most prone to depression.

        The abrupt rise of SK from being one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest in just five decades (can you believe it?) definitely gave added pressure to each and every one of their citizens. Add that with their values of saving face (apparently this is part of Confucianism which I’m not completely familiar of) just makes everything, or rather everyone, into a ticking time bomb.

    • black_rose45000

      I personally assume it’s more due to the rapid growth of the country, someone stated above that “Korea had one of the lowest suicide rates, but that was prior to mass
      industrialization/mass urbanization which has fostered a very, very
      competitive environment (same goes for Japan).”
      I’m not very familiar with Korean culture, but as far as I know they had no similar concept to harakiri. But as I sat down and googled before, it seems they are both shame-societies, so I guess we need to take a look at the cultural context too, since it’s all a conjuncture of factors that led to the situation of today.

      I had read that article before too, it’s very worrying and disheartening. “South Korean society has traditionally been underpinned by Buddhist and
      Confucian values, which emphasize diligence, stoicism and modesty.
      Individual concerns are secondary. Preserving dignity, or “face,”
      especially for the family, is paramount.”
      It just makes me wonder, is there any solution to all of this? The first step into treating a problem is admitting to it and confronting it, but if they cannot do it because of deeply ingrained values and principles over centuries….What is there to be done?

      • http://weeatlemon.blogspot.com conanblue

        It’s a combination of centuries old teachings and modern fighting spirit that ultimately becomes the death trap to so many Koreans, and perhaps Japanese too. Sadly because it’s become so ingrained in the culture, it’s going to be very difficult to change the current situation. The only hope is the new generation. They have to realize that this is a major problem and they might be the only ones who can revolutionize the mental state of the country.

        Sadly these young people are so caught up with school and getting into the perfect college. They can’t even take care of themselves, let alone other people. The current school system doesn’t allow the young people to explore themselves as human beings. Basically they leave school with only a handful of equations and almost zero life lessons, the things that actually matters. It’s going to take a lot of work and serious dedication if they want to completely erase this.

        Perhaps they need an idol – and no not those dancing, singing ones – that they can look up to. Someone that would say hey, this is dangerous and we need to do something about it. There needs to be a campaign about the dangers of depression and stress. According to the article, change is underway if only by so little. It’s okay, little change is change too. It’s just horrible to see so many people, especially young and talented people, took their own life because they’re too ashamed to go to a psychologist. The world will be missing out on their brilliance.

        • black_rose45000

          “The world will be missing out on their brilliance.”
          True that. And it always baffles me when I think of these people who commit suicide. How do they take their own human worth into consideration? Do they think of family and close ones (and fans who might look up to them, according to the respective case) and the incredible pain they will inflict upon them? Is the shame of not raising up to the standards and family losing “face” bigger triggers than the emotional injuries that will be caused?
          I agree with you – a good way to start something, to get things into motion, would be an idol (or rather, a group of idols) talking openly about it, doing some campaigns…Also, maybe those who have been raised overseas, and experienced a different lifestyle, can, as politely and not insulting to their precious country&culture, come forward and say “look, we have a problem, so let’s learn from how the others deal with these things”.
          Even idols who sing/dance have campaigned on blood donation or have engaged in charity projects, which influenced their followers. But I doubt they would have the courage or permission to get involved in this. But if they would, they could contribute to the change, too.

  • Mika_San123

    Celebrities seem to be stuck in a lose-lose situation because they go from one extreme to another. If you’re unpopular, then you’re poor, not famous, unloved, and seen as a failure. If you’re popular, then you’re under constant scrutiny, there are consequences if you want to have a personal life (i.e., dating), you can’t go out without being mobbed because you have crazy sasaeng fans, you have overwhelming schedules, and well, you probably have antifans too.

    • intheshort

      Well said. 

      And I think the saddest thing is, these celebrities are surrounded by people constantly, but it seems they are either too afraid to reach out for help, or the people around them don’t see the warning signs until it’s too late. 


  • seoulbeater

    R.I.P Jang Ah-yool

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2MYVCMGXUOHXNRTOBNWWBG4SXI Alice

    i wonder what sort of support the media provides when reporting these stories. i know that here in australia (and other countries, i’m sure) whenever a suicide is reported in the news or discussed on a chat show, they either show the phone number for Lifeline (a hotline you can call to talk to someone about your depression or thoughts of suicide, or even just a regular thing going wrong in your life) or the website for beyondblue (the national depression initiative) and most of the time the story will end with something along the lines of “if you are experiencing depression or know someone who you think may be, please call these numbers or seek professional help”. even online news will contain this kind of message.

    the media has a lot of power, and i think the repetition of the idea that not only is it ok to seek help, but also that it can be anonymous and cheap (at the cost of a phonecall) can be very powerful. im not saying that South Korea doesn’t do this, in fact my point is that i don’t know whether they do or not, but as a non-Korean speaking kpop fan, a lot of the news I get is directly translated by other people from Korean news sites, a none of them really seem to give much of an anti-depression message. and, as mentioned above, the details of the suicides are reported in extreme detail.

    i couldn’t find a copy of the video in which sunye talks about her suicide attempt, so i don’t know whether they did this or not, but even just flashing up a suicide hotline number while she’s talking or at the end of the show can be a lot of help. also, it can even imply to fans that she is in support of them getting help. also an interesting point is that when i searched “sunye strong heart suicide” and “sunye strong heart” all i got were results about her talking about her relationship. which i guess is indicative of the way different issues are prioritized by in terms of media coverage in Korea, and then how these reports are the ones that generate the most buzz and then get passed on to international fans.

    r.i.p jang ah yool

    • black_rose45000

      Someone correct me on this, but I think SK did try to take some preventive measures, I’m just not sure how effective they were.

      The other day I watched a documentary and it spoke about the gaming addiction in South Korea and how it even led to deaths, so a rehab program consisting in professional assistance during a camping trip for about 12 days, with parental consulting and everything, was implemented and seemed to work well. Now it makes me think it would be great if they channeled their efforts into solving this issue of suicides and depression too.

      As for the Sunye thing…that’s just sad…But what do you expect from a country whose media focuses on looks and idols probably more than anything (I mean, just remember the incident with the woman sent into space and the “interview” she was taken…). :(

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/2MYVCMGXUOHXNRTOBNWWBG4SXI Alice

         i suppose they can focus more on dealing with gaming addiction issues because gaming, on the condition that the gamer is successful, is not a shameful pastime. what could be seen an excessive time spent gaming could also be seen as time invested in becoming a success, due to the idol-like status of high level pro-gamers. so of course it only becomes a problem to be treated when the addict in unsuccessful…. but the impact on the person’s life is really the same either way, all it depends on is how long it takes the glow of success to wear off, and how the person then deals with it……

        • black_rose45000

          True that, it’s not shameful. I was still surprised when I saw how dedicated and determined they were. Maybe since at least from where I come from, everyone deals with game/internet addiction in their own way, there are no such group programs.
          Oh but the deaths that I was talking about – there were no examples of suicides but only these two examples: a guy who spent about 50 hrs gaming constantly that he ignored his body functions and needs, and a couple who failed to take care of their baby due to their gaming, thus the baby died :(.

  • jesuis2

    Korea had one of the lowest suicide rates, but that was prior to mass industrialization/mass urbanization which has fostered a very, very competitive environment (same goes for Japan).

    Mix that with therapy/medical treatment for depression being seen as a sign of “weakness” and it’s a recipe for a high suicide rate.

    As China develops, we are seeing increased rates of suicide there as well (as competition intensifies).

    Other places with high rates of suicide are Russia and former Eastern bloc countries (where life can be hard).

  • JustMy2Cents2010

    Honestly I have not followed all of the celebrity suicides in South Korea but I did follow Park Yong Ha’s death and all that came to mind consistently when I read about it was that if that death had happened in the United States the police would have done a huge investigation and it would not have been left up to family if blood test were performed. I can think of several instances such as Whitney Houston, Micheal Jackson, Heath Ledger,Anna Nicole Smith, Brittany Murphy etc that complete investigations were conducted because frankly the police feel a need to answer to the public about top celebrities. If investigations and autopsy’s or blood test had not been conducted the police in Los Angeles would have ruled Whitney Houston’s death as a drowning and this is why they do complete investigations and not take it at face value.
     Questions like how much did the person drink and had they mixed alcohol with other drugs that caused mental confusion? Park Yong Ha’s death was ruled as an impulse suicide yet the police reported he had no depression problems, no financial problems but was distraught over his fathers illness. They would have you believe on one hand he loved his father so much he could not stand to see him ill  but on the other hand have you believe that this loving son would fly from Japan to South Korea to kill himself and leave his parents he loved so much to find him? Really? What sense does that make?
     Park Yong Ha was in the middle of an a tour and scheduled for 15 more concerts in Japan but apparently flew home to commit suicide? And according to his Mothers Memoir book on the days prior to his death he had played golf, held meetings about upcoming projects and even worked out at the gym on the night of his death. How many suicidal people care about working out? Not only was he to finish a tour in Japan but he also had signed onto a new drama just a few weeks before his death and I read the police report had him texting his manager about not driving drunk just prior to hanging himself?? 
    Maybe it’s just me and the fact that I am accustomed to how we do things in the USA but that death would have raised more questions than anything else and assuredly the investigators would have been looking into what and how much he drank or what he had taken that night that could explain irrational behavior from what seemed to be by all accounts a very rational and successful person. It also makes one wonder did they check the buildings cameras and did he come home alone? The police report was that he was so drunk that he hung himself on impulse but was he sober enough to drive his car home? His parents were in bed so did anyone come to the house after he came home? No suicide note, no will, no reasons but within hours it was ruled a suicide and they were having a wake? It just makes me really question how thorough the celebrity suicides are investigated in South Korea. The only complaint of park Yong Ha reported by friends and family that he had was a problem sleeping….it just doesn’t add up to me and I wonder how many other cases are similar?

    • black_rose45000

      “that complete investigations were conducted because frankly the police
      feel a need to answer to the public about top celebrities.”
      Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to exist in SK :(

      What you say about YongHa clearly makes it all very suspicious. At some point when I read things like “he had played golf, held meetings about upcoming projects” – I’m not an expert on this but I think some people suffering from depression or having suicidal thoughts/plans don’t give out any clues beforehand, yet act like nothing’s wrong. It depends on the case of course.
      But obviously that’s not the case here. The more facts you present, the worrying it gets.

      “It just makes me really question how thorough the celebrity suicides are investigated in South Korea.”
      That may be a question, yes. But if everything you said leads to something like murder accusation, the question is “who had reasons to kill him” and maybe, just maybe (and this is going to sound like an over-the-top plot from an action-thriller movie) what if it was somehow all covered up?

      • JustMy2Cents2010

        I don’t know what happened to Park Yong Ha but I find it troublesome that police can hold a press conference and report to media that according to those closest to him he had no depression issues and not even investigate why a young, talented, successful man at the prime of his life would suddenly hang himself in the midst of a national tour in Japan and even more strange to me is that he would leave Japan to come to SK to hang himself in his parents home…the same parents he was so distraught over and no one finds this odd? If he truly wanted to die why not die in Japan and save his family the devastation of finding him? I find it unbelievable and if this happened in America the media and his fans would not have let this rest until there was something more reasonable presented then what they did in this case. No toxicology report? No autopsy? No investigation what so ever? Why? Because his family said no toxicology or autopsy? That would never have been left up to anyone but law enforcement in America.  I feel so sad for Park Yong Ha because of the way this case was handled and the way they just jumped to suicide with no explanation they have left that as his legacy. 
        Here was a man that recorded 10? albums in 6 years and did a number of drama’s. He worked tirelessly. He recorded in a language that was not even his own and worried about losing his identity in his own country so he would come back and do the drama’s. He made two trips to Chad Africa working to build schools for African children. He rose to fame quickly and his career was so very short but he accomplished more than many do in a lifetime but that is not what his legacy holds. Just google his name and all the results are about his suicide and not about his life or his work or his talent. To me it is a tragedy that this is what is left of his life story. 
        If the authorities in SK want to deem all strange and unexplained deaths as an act of suicide in SK then I am not surprised the suicide rate is the one of the highest in the world. I can tell you if someone in my family was found dead in SK due to a ruled suicide from hanging or jumping off a building I would not sleep at night until it was proven to me that this was by their own hands. 

        • black_rose45000

           Wow, had really no idea about his work : (also, the Chad part was touching :( ). I didn’t google him particularly but googled on SK suicide situation and his case came up (the one who had a sick father, I remember).
          What you say in your last paragraph sounds even more worrying than my previous scenario, because that would mean a mass cover-up of murders. The question still stands: why would (or have) these people get killed.
          Thank you for providing me with all this information!

  • Black_Plague

    The crazy fuckers responsible for Jang Ja Yeon’s death in particular need their testicles bitten off and fed to hyenas.

    Oh fuck it, just kidnap them and send them off to the African wilderness. Let the carnivores there shred them to bits.

  • black_rose45000

    Tsk, poor girl. May she RIP. I can’t help but wonder what happened to her, and maybe if she was wronged or abused by someone, so that her depression escalated into something like this.

    That aside, I doubt society awareness to depression and celebrities’ tough life style will happen any time soon.

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    I feel like Korea as a country is very bad at recognizing their social problems. Just an observation I’ve had.

    • Lyn Prince

      That is because Korea is more concerned about it’s image and appearing perfect to others. Its about pride. So any issues they have…they sweep it under rug or pretend it doesn’t exist. When that Boys over Flowers actress committed suicide..I saw a statement from another well known actress who was more upset over the fact that this girls spoke up about her sexual abuse and rape and thus giving a bad image of Korea…than the act that sexual abuse and rape was common and going on in the entertainment business. So..if you have problems…hide it and keep it to yourself…because about Korea’s image.

      • black_rose45000


      • taestits

        You really ought to refrain from talking down to South Korea like that if you aren’t from there (and I doubt that you are). There are plenty of people in S.K. who are well aware of their societal flaws and are working to fix them, slowly but surely.

        • http://www.greenteagraffiti.com Jangta

          Hi Taestits,

          I currently live in the heart of Seoul right now, working in the Korean media for K-pop. So, in a sense, I get a firsthand view of what goes on in the industry. As sad as it is, I would have to agree with Lyn Prince and Michaela above.

          I don’t think Lyn Prince is trying to blatantly bash South Korea. And I know you want to get the full story of what’s really going on in Korea.

          The thing is, while I love Korea for many things, one of the major problems of the country is what Lyn Prince says. Namely, it’s about image and wearing a persona to be perfect to others. How do I know this? Talking to K-pop stars, friends, and co-workers all tell me the same thing. “It feels you have to be perfect, that you have to be really pretty and smart, especially if you’re a girl.” Many kids and teenagers here actually want to move and study in the US or Canada. Why? Because even the kids know that there’s so much social expectation in modern Korean society :(.

          Korea has promoted their country quite well over the past five years. Yes, it has K-pop, K-dramas, movies, beautiful people, awesome food, etc. But to most people here, if you mention the problems about the country, most people will quietly agree with you. The politicians and country leaders, on the other hand, will quietly keep those problems hush-hush. Instead of openly talking about the problems like in the US or other Western countries, they tend to ignore the problems. Why? So it makes Korea look squeaky-clean and pristine to the world.

          I think as the newer Korean generation takes over power in the government, they’ll be more open to fixing their societal flaws. But until then, with the old-school generation still there (from the 60s, 70s, and 80s), they refuse to admit Korea’s racism laws against foreigners, suicides, problems in the education sector, and how everyone must be perfect and beautiful. 

          Here’s hoping that Korea can fix their problems, one step at a time.

    • taestits

      There are people there who are well aware of their societal issues…the people are trying to fix them, my guess is that they have no government backing (as things often seem to go with any country’s government).

  • Chris Charles

    It’s a Korean “cultural phenomenon” that began over seven years with actress Lee Eun-joo’s suicide. It’s almost as if these celebs don’t realize that death is permanent.


    • taestits

      Well, obviously they do; that’s why they do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tunmi Turayo Tijani

    This is what frightens me about kpop and kdrama and the korean entertainment system. It scares the shizznit out of me. The long hours, the lack of sleep, I have gone days without enough sleep and I felt it, and that these kids (KIDS for crying out loud) are doing it for days on end terrifies me. I just feel so conflicted right now. Everytime I watch a music video or a drama or listen to a song I cannot help but think about how much they may have suffered. I can’t help but think someone else is going to commit suicide, I just can’t help but sympathize with them and it hurts. In America it’s not this bad, in Nigeria it’s not this bad. I am not used to such slave-like methods and I just wish something good can come out of this. 

    It’s like watching the idols teeter on the brink of mental breakdown and not being able to help. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/G4YEZ75723SO7262VEMHAJ4W4M nou

    It’s sad that someone would take his/her own life. I feel extremely sad and depressed when my favorite celeb commits suicide, but at the same time, we can’t blame it on anything/anyone else other than the person who took his/her own life, and we too shouldn’t be all that sad right? 

    If he/she can’t stand the stress of being in the showbiz then quit, simple as that. Life is hard, but they aren’t the only ones experiencing it. If they don’t appreciate living, then why should I feel sad for them? My point is, if celeb-want-to-be’s are able to take in the stress of living the celeb lifestyle then go for it; if not…life is too precious…so don’t use stress and depression as an excuse to take away a soul that should be deserving to live longer…that’s my honest opinion on celeb suicides.

  • grein

    Hello there! Hmmm… I feel sad about this. I think it really has a lot to do with how a person perceives acceptance. If he knows he can expect acceptance from his family and friends, then the chances that he is not going to do something crazy like wallow on a failure and commit an even crazier idea of resorting to suicide is low. Acceptance is the all-important factor for a person felled by a seemingly insurmountable failure. For those who are important to him to accept the FACT of him failing is, most often than not, already enough for the person to gather himself up again and start anew, no matter how.

    This is how we are in our poverty-stricken country in the Philippines. We may be very poor but we are said to be one of the happiest people on earth. This is because we put more premium on the person himself and not on his performance. I have seen so many contemporaries of mine getting pregnant at an early age. Parents would be shocked and grief stricken not so much by the shame that accompanies it but with the future that gets bashed by the early pregnancy. But later on, they would take back the erring child and accept his/her situation. Of course, we do care about how we appear before others. That, i think, is something universal and is true not just in South Korea but also in all the rest of the world. But if we cannot help it, we just think this way–who cares?

    Maybe it really has something to do with South Korea’s competitiveness. I am not celebrating my country’s poverty (I am wishing, and is taking part in my own little way for it to improve) but I am hoping that South Korea would finally know that failure is universal. Afterall, we are mere human beings without any hand at all about how we are going to look or how intelligent we will be. Knowing this would make us realize that it is okay to fail. Embrace it and don’t forget to make sense out of it. More often than not, when failure happens to a person who has worked hard to prevent it from happening, a lot of other factors, other than his performance, have made it possible.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YR33XUQF6SZGEKCAS3T5LBMBDY Tong Shi

    Too bad. She had such a sexy body that was then sliced open, had her brains and organs removed, and then stitched back together by pathologists performing an autopsy.