[WRITER'S CHOICE] Kim Kwang Suk and Controversies Surrounding His Death

Jaewon Jung , Oct. 9, 2017, 1:03 p.m.


A recent documentary film by director and reporter, Lee Sang Ho, claims that the sudden passing of the late singer, Kim Kwang Seok, in 1996 was a homicide. Lately, there has been a lot of controversies surrounding the beloved late singer. Fans eagerly await a clear answer regarding this case. They want to know more about the wife and why she may have waited a decade to disclose the passing of their one and only daughter. Her recent interview at the JTBC Newsroom is disappointing to say the least; essentially giving extremely vague answers to nearly every question. She seems taken aback by the flood of questions by curious reporters and seemingly elusive to answering the questions.


A Bit About the Legendary Singer


Born in Daegu on January 22, 1964, Kim Kwang Seok showed a passion for music since his middle school days. He played multiple instruments including the violin, oboe, and flute. He even joined the school choir. When he entered college, he began with small singing gigs at cafes. His passion for student activism led him to join the club ‘Union of Echoes’ in 1984 and participate in the music album, ‘Gaedongi’.


In 1987, Kim and some other musicians caught the eye of singer, Kim Chang Wan. Kim Chang Wan became a huge figure and played a pivotal role in Kim Kwang Seok’s career, arranging a record production with the title, ‘Dongmulwon- The Zoo’. This record later sold an explosive number of copies and became the start of Kim’s successful career.


By 1989, Kim released a solo album and followed with two more in 1991 and 1992, respectively. He is noted for gaining popularity through concerts, doing almost no promotions on television. His 4th studio album in 1994 was the climax of his career. This monumental album led to concerts all over the country and even in the U.S.


His Death


On January 6th, 1996, Kim was found on the stairs at his home. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging of an electrical cord. The reason for his suicide was thought to be continuing disputes with his wife about studying abroad in the U.S.


Kim’s wife, Seo Hae Soon, was with Kim during his death but waited for fifty minutes to call 119 (same as 911 in the U.S.).


Lee Sang Ho’s Film


The film investigates all the reasons why Lee believes that Kim’s death was not a suicide. He says he is “100% certain” that Kim’s death was a homicide and says that just the confession of the murderer is needed.


Some of the reasons why his death is now being reinvestigated is because Kim left no will or suicide letter and was even planning to release a new album. The film follows the suspicious behavior of Seo Hae Soon, who is the widow of the late singer. She began by continuing statements that “it was a mistake” but then changed her response to “it was a suicide”.  Lee says, “The evidence for suicide was because of his severe depression from his relationship with his wife but there was no bodily evidence of depression drugs taken so it seems to be that the relationship was the only problem.” Additionally he added, “the electrical cord is way too short to have went around Kim’s neck from wear it was hung.”  




Daughter Seo Yeon’s Death


Kim Kwang Seok’s one and only daughter, Kim Seo Yeon, passed away nearly a decade ago but her passing has just recently been announced. Investigators are suspicious of Seo for not disclosing her daughter’s death for so long and wonder why she might have hidden this not only from the public but even her whole family. She just recently announced that her daughter’s death was due to pneumonia. She had been staying at numerous countries outside of Korea but why is it known now that she has passed. It has also long been known that the copyrights for Kim’s music would be passed down to his daughter triggering more controversy about Seo.


When Seo was asked about her daughter’s death she replied, “My father passed away April 2007. I had to work but I had to deal with the lawsuit and take care of the restaurant. I wasn’t on good terms with my family when my father passed away. I didn’t want to call my family about my disabled daughter passing away.”


Arising Questions


This recent issue regarding Kim Kwang Seok, Seo Hae Soon, and Kim Seo Yeon has been heating up the media industry. Especially because of the fact that Seo Hae Soon now owns all the rights to Kim Kwang Seok’s music, suspicions about Seo being the key conspirator to Kim’s death are growing bigger and bigger. After the release of this documentary film, family members of Kim are eager to reinvestigate the deaths of these two individuals. Did Seo really play a role in the deaths of her husband and daugther?


What is also getting controversy is the fact that Seo went to Hawaii with another man just two months after the death of her daughter. This man is also a former highschool classmate of Kim Kwang Seok. The two opened up a store together after they left the country.


Sort of like Nirvana?!


This incident is strangely similar to Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. Kurt Cobain is the main singer of the alternative rock band, Nirvana. Cobain’s death was ruled a suicide at first but a documentary by Courtney Love’s private investigator, Tom Grant, claimed that Love was a prepetrator in Cobain’s death. In the documentary, ‘Soaked in Bleach’, he confidently states that Cobain’s death was a homicide. The amount of heroine found in Cobain’s body was three times the lethal amount, which makes it questionable on how conscious he was to have put a shotgun to this head. Also, the gun was found with no fingerprints, suggesting that someone might have wiped it.



If these two deaths were both homicidal and not suicidal, what could have triggered these individuals to kill these human beings? It seems that monetary gains may have been the driving factor, if these deaths are ruled as murder. The fact that Seo Hae Soon owns copyrights to Kim Kwang Seok’s music and Courtney Love owns copyrights to Kurt Cobain’s is a very odd similarity. Additionally, both individuals coped with relationship issues with their current wife before their deaths. As skepticism continues to grow, citizens and former fans of the folk singing icon are eager to discover the truth about Kim Kwang Seok’s death.

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