It is becoming increasingly obvious to me, even as a distant overseas observer of the Korean entertainment industry, that something is going seriously wrong. This morning seemed to sum up far too many of the ills for, when I woke up, the news had broken that there had been yet another suicide, making 2008 an appalling year for the entertainment world in terms of personal tragedy and loss of talent. The victim this time was Choi Jin-shil, a well respected, versatile actress, a mother of two children and the target of false rumours and accusations which in the end proved too much to cope with.
Less than a month ago, Ahn Jae-hwan, a Korean TV show presenter and businessman was found dead in his car after going missing, an apparent suicide that left his wife Jung Sun-hee, also an entertainer, devastated and the industry shocked. Perhaps a more common reason at the heart of this was the bad debts he had accumulated, but one side effect was the rumour that Choi Jin-shil had been one of the money-lenders who had hounded him with demands for repayment. Choi, a best friend of Jung, denied this and threatened legal action but, the police still wanted to talk to her with regards to it. This was, perhaps, the final straw and it’s only in hindsight, as it always seems to be, that the hint of what she would do could be seen.
Korea has a high suicide rate, something the President has vowed to address, but there is no quick fix or solution when it is something that now seems so deeply ingrained in Korean society. In such a high pressured and close knit environment where the netizen seems to hold more power than politicians, this is not the first time nor, I fear, will it be the last that the rumours and petty hatred of anti-fans and over-opinionated netizens will hound someone to death. For sure, as a celebrity a certain degree of negative publicity will happen, and yes, it is a lifestyle not a job and one people choose willingly, but this treatment goes beyond all reasonable expectation.
Credits: Information sourced from http://d-addicts.com
- More coverage at Dramabeans
- Portals beef up measures against malicious postings, Joongang Ilbo, 23 October 2008