The K-pop industry isn't always as shiny as it looks on screen. Its notorious rules became known much before K-pop went mainstream. Extreme diets, rigorous trainee practice, 24x7 attention, toxic (sasaeng) fans, the no-dating rule, cyberbullying and many other things are part and parcel of the K-pop idol life.
The road to stardom isn't easy, but some idols get through it with the support of their loved ones. Sometimes, however, it's not as easy to hold on.
Away from the shiny world of K-pop stars, here is a list of five K-pop idols who suffered tragic deaths. While some crumbled from the extreme negativity, others were met with the misfortune of terrible accidents.
The tragic deaths of K-pop idols
1) SHINee's Jonghyun
The famous 2nd generation five-member band SHINee suffered devastating news in 2017. The lead singer of the group, Jonghyun, died by suicide in his Seoul apartment on 18 December 2017. He suffered from severe depression, as stated by the group's agency, SM Entertainment, and even his family.
It was also revealed that, a couple of weeks prior to taking his life, Jonghyun sent a letter to his close friend Jang Hee Yeon. In his suicide letter, Jonghyun talked about the depression eating him away.
"The depression slowly chipped me away, finally devouring me. I could not beat the negativity."
2) f(x)'s Sulli
Choi Jin Ri, who went by her stage name, Sulli, suffered irreparably from her stardom. She was criticized heavily for being public about her opinions and her decision to leave the group, even after explaining that she was struggling both mentally and physically from malicious rumors.
She was criticized mainly because she was anything but the stereotypical female K-pop idol. She spoke up about mental health issues, personal relationships, posting a 'no bra' photo and more. She was heavily trolled online and it took a major toll on her.
Sulli was found dead in her home on 14 October 2019. The impact of her death was so severe that the Korean government ended up proposing the 'Sulli Act' as a means to fight cyberbullying.
3) Goo Hara
Just a month after her close friend Sulli's death, Goo Hara, member of the K-pop group Kara, was found dead in her home on 24 November 2019. She was the victim of a traumatic legal battle and online bullying, which involved her ex-boyfriend blackmailing her to spread their intimate videos in 2018.
Goo Hara attempted suicide in May 2019, after posting a 'goodbye' on her social media channels. At that time, she was rushed to the hospital and saved. However, she couldn't take being harassed online constantly.
Kim Jin Soo, also known as Tany, was a rising K-pop star who died due to a car accident at the mere age of 22. The young star was recognized and praised for his song Always Remember, which honors the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster, the largest South Korean maritime disaster.
His agency, HOM Company, revealed that the singer was driving when his car crashed into a structure and was completely destroyed. The singer died on 14 April 2018, leaving the legacy of Always Remember.
5) Ladies' Code's EunB and RiSe
Go Eun Bi and Kwon Ri Se of girl group Ladies' Code lost their lives in a tragic bus accident. The members were 21 and 23 years old, respectively, when they died in September 2014.
The group was traveling home after their performance and according to a report by Independent, police suspect the driver went over the speed limit due to their busy schedules. EunB died shortly after the crash while RiSe underwent emergency brain surgery. She succumbed after four days. What makes it more heartbreaking is that the accident occurred on their fellow member Lee So Jung's birthday.