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South Korean singer Kim Jonghyun is the latest victim of the ruthless K-Pop industry

Monday - 25/12/2017 04:10
THE K-Pop industry is notorious for chewing up and spitting out its young stars. This week, it claimed yet another victim.
Kim Jonghyun, a member of South Korean K-pop group SHINee, took his own life. Picture: Lee Jin-man/APSource:AP
Kim Jonghyun, a member of South Korean K-pop group SHINee, took his own life. Picture: Lee Jin-man/APSource:AP

EARLIER this week, news broke that South Korean pop star Kim Jonghyun had taken his own life.

But sadly, Jonghyun is just the latest in a long line of victims of the ruthless South Korean entertainment industry which is notorious for chewing up and spitting out its young stars.

Jonghyun, 27, was a member of the hugely popular boy band SHINee.

A note, believed to be written by Jonghyun, was posted on Instagram by his friend and fellow pop star Nine after his death.

According to the BBC, Jonghyun asked Nine to publish the note if he “disappeared from the world”.

It described the entertainer’s declining mental health and the pressures of fame.

“I was broken from the inside. The depression that was slowly devouring me, at last consumed me ... the life of fame was never meant for me. What else can I say more. Just tell me I’ve done well. That this is enough. That I’ve worked hard. Even if you can’t smile don’t fault me on my way,” the note stated.

Fans have been left devastated by the death, however, it follows a string of other high-profile cases of suicides which have been linked to the industry in recent years.

In 1996, Korean-American singer Charles Park, also known as Seo Ji-won, took his life at the age of 19.

A tribute to Kim Jonghyun in Seoul, South Korea, after his death. Picture: Yonhap/AP
A tribute to Kim Jonghyun in Seoul, South Korea, after his death. Picture: Yonhap/APSource:AP

Folk rock singer Kim Kwang-seok also suicided in the same year, at the age of 31.

In 2005, actor Lee Eun-Joo committed suicide at the age of 25, followed by 26-year-old actor and singer Yuni in 2007, and actor Jeong Da-Bin in the same year.

Television star Choi Jin-sil took her life in 2008, followed by her brother and fellow actor Choi Jin-yeong in 2010.

Television actor Jang Ja-yeon committed suicide in 2009 after claiming her management company had forced her to have sex with high-profile businessmen. And singer Chae Dong-Ha, a former member of band SG Wannabe, took his life in 2011.

South Korea has the second-highest suicide rate in the world according to the World Health Organisation, and the highest rate among OECD countries. In 2015, the country reported 37 suicides per day.

The nation’s wider suicide problem has been attributed to cultural pressures to succeed — pressure which is amplified for those under the spotlight, such as actors and pop stars.

In addition to that general pressure to perform, K-Pop stars in particular also undergo years of training, with their management team controlling their entire lives, from their clothes, diet and appearance to their relationships and mobile phone use.

They often rise to fame at very young ages and are subjected to relentless scrutiny online.

Many of Kim Jonghyun’s fans have taken to social media to mourn his death and express their outrage at the brutal industry.

Anyone seeking support should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 and lifeline.org.auor Beyond Blue at beyondblue.org.au

alexis.carey@news.com.au

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