On December 18 of 2017, news of this beloved K-Pop star shocked many fans. At age 27, Kim Jong-hyun, a member of the K-Pop boy band SHINee, committed suicide due to depression. In his will, he wrote, "I'm broken from the inside. The depression which had slowly been eating me up finally consumed me and I could not overcome it."
Jonghyun is not the first to be affected by depression in South Korea. In recent years, many Korean celebrities have revealed that they are suffering from mental disorders, namely depression, panic disorder, and anxiety. While many celebrities receive praise for their hard work or talent, many more receive harsh, inhumane criticism and abuse from the public. Such harsh criticism lead to mental breakdown and anxiety for many. Yet for the longest time, stigma surrounding mental health in Korea prevented celebrities from requesting for help. With Jonghyun's suicide, awareness surrounding mental health among celebrities has been increasing — still, it isn't enough.
How do you think we can create a safer space for people struggling with mental conditions? Do you know of other celebrities in Korea or elsewhere in the world who are/were struggling with mental issues but are/were unable to speak out due to stigma?
This is a very interesting yet a reasonable post that outlines depression that South Korean celebrities, under certain influences, experience throughout their career. In fact, a very famous South Korean comedian, Jung Hyungdon's experience on panic disorder has made him to quit his successful career. Although this symptom isn't as major as the death of Jonghyun's, it is definitely a symptom or a pre-cursor to big events like death.
South Korea is currently being engulfed in some corrupt and complicated issues related to the entertainment industry. The first case is Burning Sun and the second case is Jang Ja-Yeon's suicide. Jang Ja-Yeon was a South Korean actress who appeared in a famous drama called Boys Over Flowers. She had committed suicide in 2009 and investigations have concluded that her death was caused by her own depression. However, many women in South Korea have urged for a reinvestigation for Jang Ja-Yeon's real reason for her death. After reinvestigation, media and news sources have revealed that Jang Ja-Yeon had taken her life due to the sexual abuse she had experienced throughout her acting career. Jang Ja-Yeon was ordered by her agency to participate in sexual activities with VIPs in order to get benefits. The actress was forced to do things that she did not confirm to do and had taken her life because she could not handle it anymore. Ja-Yeon's case has shown the dirty and corrupt system that Korean industries do in order to create rising stars. We cannot conclude that every single celebrity goes through this corrupt system, but we can see that the entertainment industry does not care about their celebrity's mental health as they only care about how much they raise with that celebrity. For Jang Ja-Yeon, she was being treated like an object causing her to lose her quality of life and commit suicide. It is sad that the public was not aware of such corruption for almost 7 to 8 years. However, Jang Ja-Yeon's case is being reinvestigated and spurring a strong Me Too Movement in South Korea.