In Depth

A Deeper Look at: Kpop Stars and Suicide

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KPop is a music genre full of glitzy, cheerful pop songs most of the time. Turning on one of your favorite songs can make the difference between a good and bad day. Almost every Kpop fan, if you give them a few minutes, will reveal to you which artist/group makes them “squee” with delight.

Others will reveal their “ships” to you. For many fans, it’s like being part of a secret club. It’s a genre full of smiles and energy, but it also has a darker side to it, one that we need to talk about.

It was reported that former MBLAQ member-turned-actor Lee Joon attempted suicide by cutting and showed his wrists to a military superior.

 

 

Following the news, Lee Joon’s family was quick to deny the allegations and were horrified that the allegations became news in the first place.

The problem is that this isn’t the first allegation of a Kpop star attempting or committing suicide. True or not, Lee Joon’s story raises the concern that has been on the minds of Kpop fans for a while: are Kpop artists being pushed too far?

Problem is it’s easy to forget that behind these adorable, smiling faces are human beings.

We have to look to further back than December with the suicide of Jonghyun of the group SHINee.

“I am broken from inside,” wrote Kim. “The depression that had been slowly eating me up finally devoured me and I couldn’t defeat it.”

He was found unconscious at a private hotel in Seoul on Monday and died in the hospital.

The police reported that his older sister got a text message from him the Monday before his death, and it suggested that he was going to kill himself. That following Tuesday, a longer suicide note was uploaded on the Instagram account of Nine, who is a part of the band Dear Cloud. The letter was apparently handed to her two weeks before Kim’s death.

 

*Warning, the following passage may be triggering. Skip until the warning has passed!*

 

“It’s a miracle I lasted this far.

What more can I say? Just tell me I worked hard.

That it was good of me to come this far. That I worked hard.

Even if you can’t smile as you let me go, please don’t blame me.

I worked hard.

I really did work hard.

Good bye.”

 

*End of warning!*

 

Kpop culture is glitzy but the industry that powers it is quite scary. There’s a reason why executives are constantly pumping out new songs, new singers, covering up dirty truths that make their way online.

It’s a very successful industry, one that arguably makes up a big portion of South Korea’s national budget. Like any successful business, they want to keep it booming, and they want to expand it.

Problem is it’s easy to forget that behind these adorable, smiling faces are human beings.

Many of the Kpop singers are recruited at young ages, the time in which you’re still developing. Your teen hood is a confusing place to be and the amount of work they do is enough that even a seasoned veteran in the workforce would have a difficult time handling.

On top of this, Korean culture, as is seen in Kpop and Kdramas, are chockful of an ideal way in which people act and appear in public. It’s even harder for teens who become famous because they’re thrusted into the public eye where everything from their body and all their actions are being judged by thousands.

 

Reported suicides in the Kpop world have been happening since the late 1990s according to various sources. Their letter’s like the Jonghyun’s are left behind like relics, giving us a grim insight into what pushed these people over the edge.

The dark history reportedly started with Kpop phenome Seo Ji-won who killed himself on January 1, 1996 at the age of 19. He was overcome with the pressure to follow up the major success of his first album.

The names have continued to pile up since then and have left many people wondering what will be done to try and prevent this in the future.

 

Hopefully the industry will address this matter with the seriousness it needs to be treated with. We hear about so many artists being hospitalized for exhaustion and then going back on stage a couple days later. These news bits are troubling.

Luckily, we as fans have power. We can spread awareness and pressure the industry to not pressure their stars to the point of suicide. We can call them out for turning a blind eye to the mental health of their artists.

 

We can be the difference between life and death.