[OP-ED] The K-Pop Industry has Suffered the Loss of Three Idols Within Two Months, What is the Issue Here?

Jay Yim, Dec. 4, 2019, 2:55 p.m.

As many of you know, in recent months, fans of K-pop around the world have been left in devastation and shock, as the industry has suffered the loss of not one, but three K-pop idols within just two months time.

In October, on the 14th, friends, family, and fans mourned the death of singer/actress Sulli. Police ruled out any foul play or a break in after performing an autopsy, and from the evidence found at her house, thus leading them to believe she had killed herself. Prior to her death, Sulli had been the victim of many malicious comments. She was known for her sexy and outspoken image. However, many people did not appreciate that. In my opinion, Korean society tends to look down on women, even in the K-pop industry. The women are subject to a certain image, and if they break it, then they are heavily criticized for it.

Initially, after her death, her close friend Goo Hara took to her social media to express her grief and mourning for Sulli, promising she would live well. However, after receiving a lot of backlash regarding her personal life, and going through an intense legal battle with her ex-boyfriend, Goo Hara also took her own life (which she attempted to do back on May 26, 2019) on November 24, as she was found dead in her home by her housekeeper.

Goo Hara and her ex-boyfriend, hairdresser Choi Jong Bum, were in a slew of legal battles. Goo Hara had accused her ex of filming them whilst having sex without her knowledge. Furthermore, her ex threatened to have the video spread over the internet. Then, in August, the court found Choi guilty of assault and threatening to blackmail Goo with the sex video. However, the court made no mention of the filming without her consent, and Choi has denied the allegations and filed an appeal.

Then, less than two weeks after Goo Hara's death, Surprise U singer/actor Cha In Ha was found dead by his manager in his home in Seoul on December 3, 2019. Although police are investigating his cause and time of death, and no suicide note was found, I think it's most likely that he took his own life. He most recently appeared in MBC's Wed-Thurs drama Love with Flaws, but it was reported that his family requested that his scenes be aired as is, without any cuts or edits.

It is clear that there is a major issue in the K-pop and entertainment industries, for three of their celebrities to have died/killed themselves. I can't say for sure what the issue is, but I know that there are intense restrictions for their employees, such as a no-dating policy, forcing them to keep an image which is not true to their own, etc. I think that many of these company's are too caught up in making a perfect idol/celebrity, that they forget that these people are just that, people.

In my opinion, many of the companies are nothing more than tyrant dictators who love the taste of control over their employees. If you didn't know, Sulli actually personally reached out to her label, SM Entertainment, to take proper actions against the malicious commentors, but were very passive in their responses. Had they been more aggresive and cooperative, Sulli would still be here with us.

Another problem is the society and norms of South Korea. A good portion of the country is still very conservative, so to them, people like Sulli and Goo Hara, and their actions and lifestyles, are a disgrace. As a result, they feel the need to call them out, and belittle them for it. Why does Sulli's or Goo Hara's life, much less anyone they don't personally know, bother them so much? Why does them living differently then what the society thinks is right so wrong.

God did not make us to be the same, he gave us all distinct characters and lives, so why the hell should you care about what they do with their life? Furthermore, the fan culture in K-pop is also outlandish at times. Like why should your "favorite" idol have to consult you about every decision they make especially when it comes to dating. You, as fans, are not their close friend, or mother or father, or sister, or brother, you're just what you are, a fan. Don't get me wrong, I know many idols sincerely love their fans, but in my opinion, if you truly are someone's fan, then shouldn't them being happy make you happy, instead of "how dare they get a boyfriend or girlfriend without my opinion, even though that person makes my "favorite" idol happy?!" It just doesn't make sense to me.

All things considered, Korea as a society, and K-pop as an industry is far from being perfect, or even ideal. Many changes need to be made in both areas. The people of Korea need to learn to respect and accept differences. The K-pop industry needs to learn how to love and nurture their idols, instead of being manipulative, controlling, and passive when asked for serious help like malicious comments.

All things aside, I truly express my condolences to Sulli and the loved ones around her, Goo Hara and her loved ones, and Cha In Ha and the loved ones around him. I pray and hope that they will no longer suffer in the new places they are in right now, and I encourage fans to continue to show support to Cha who recently died, by watching his drama and sending condolences to his friends and family.

What do you think about the deaths of these three idols? What do you think is the issue is that is causing all this madness and tragedy? Let us know in the comments down below.

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