While K-Pop has taken the world by storm, there's a darker component of the trend that is plaguing some of its biggest stars. Just months after singer Sulli committed suicide, one of her closest friends, Goo Hara, has also died.
The women were two of K-Pop's top female artists, and the details surrounding their untimely deaths have some calling out for changes. The pressures on K-Pop artists to deliver catchy new music frequently, and to compete with each other, are just two of the many struggles that artists like Goo Hara and Sulli dealt with.
The recent K-Pop deaths have rocked the niche industry, and they have fans concerned.
1. Goo Hara
Goo Hara became a member of the girl group Kara at the age of 17 in 2008 after another member left the band. After her success with the group, she embarked on a solo career, and she even had her own reality show, On & Off. She was often the subject of media criticism, especially after she admitted to getting cosmetic facial surgery in 2010. In the years after, she said that the online hate she received was difficult for her.
She dated hairstylist Choi Jong-bum until he assaulted her in her home in 2018. Her gruesome injuries included multiple internal and external sprains. He later threatened to release an intimate video of the pair that could threaten her career. He was sentenced to over a year in prison.
Goo attempted suicide in May of 2019, just a month after Choi Jong-bum's first trial. Afterward, she apologized to fans and said she was focused on new music. She died on Nov. 24, and while her death is still under investigation, she reportedly left a note behind in her apartment.
Goo Hara and Sulli were close friends, and Goo was reportedly very saddened by Sulli's Oct. 14 passing. Sulli began acting at the age of 11, and she eventually shifted toward music. Sulli was one of the members of the girl group f(x), which she joined in 2009. Like Goo, Sulli was also bullied online, which led to her ultimately taking a break from f(x) in 2015. She continued her acting career and only returned to music just a year before she died. Her last album, Goblin, was released in June of 2019.
Sulli was found dead in her home in South Korea, and there was also a suicide note nearby. In the months since, many believed that the severe bullying she received played a part in her depression and death.
3. Kim Jong-hyun
Kim Jong-hyun, who was known best as Jonghyun, was the lead singer of the boy band Shinee from 2008 until his 2017 passing. Shinee released 12 albums during their nine-year existence, and the band sang songs in both Korean and Japanese. While still part of the band, Jonghyun also released several albums as a soloist, and he was considered to be one of the top artists to ever come out of South Korea.
In 2013, he changed his Twitter profile picture to one in support of the LGBTQ+ community, that critiqued South Korea's stance. He received a lot of attention as a result, both positive and negative.
Jonghyun committed suicide in 2017, and a note revealed that he was struggling with the pressures of fame. His death opened up a dialogue about the pressures that South Korean artists face, and how competitive the singers are forced to be against one another.
These three K-Pop deaths, in particular, have sparked a dialogue on how much pressure these artists face to become global phenomenons.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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