Sulli, Goo Hara, and Cha In-Ha: tragic losses in the K-Pop universe

Three tragic deaths in the world of K-Pop and K-drama
Sulli
Goo Hara
Cha In-Ha
Behind the happy faces of Sulli and her friends
Polished K-Pop images: Goo Hara, 'Secret Love'
Cha In-Ha, K-Drama superstar
Sulli: cyberbullied
Sulli: her life story
f(x): the group that boosted Sulli's stardom
Sulli experienced the flipside of fame
Sulli's solo career
Sulli: panic attacks
Last Instagram messages
Goo Hara: pressure to perform
Goo Hara in Kara
Goo Hara: acting, singing, studying
Goo Hara: Alohara
Goo Hara: Cosmetic surgery
Solitary selfies
Goo Hara: attempt tp end her life
Goo Hara's last post on Instagram
Cha In-Ha
Cha In-Ha in Surprise U
Cha In-Ha: interview
Cha In-Ha: a rising star in K-Drama
Cha In-Ha: the final images
Three deaths in two months
Three tragic deaths in the world of K-Pop and K-drama

In one year, we witnessed the sudden passing of three great K-Pop stars who were still in their twenties. The deaths of singers/actresses Sulli and Goo Hara, as well as that of actor Cha In-Ha, raised concerns about the stars' wellbeing in the K-Pop universe.

 

Warning: this gallery contains sensitive content about depression and self-harm

Sulli

Sulli was born on March 29, 1994, and died on October 14, 2019. She was 25 years old. It was ruled that she'd taken her own life.

Goo Hara

Goo Hara was born on January 13, 1991, and died on November 24, 2019. She was 28 years old. As with Sulli, it was ruled that she'd taken her own life.

Cha In-Ha

Cha In-Ha was born on July 15, 1992, and died on December 3, 2019. He was 27 years old. The cause of his death was not revealed.

Behind the happy faces of Sulli and her friends

These are tragic events in the Korean industry of pop and drama, where music, dance, and film usually portray colourful, happy people in the prime of their lives. What is going on behind the screens of the K-Pop industry?

Polished K-Pop images: Goo Hara, 'Secret Love'

According to K-Pop artists cited in Insider, their industry is incredibly tough. From a very young age, they have to work long hours and train to perfect their looks, moves, and voices. Their record labels put them on strict diets and gym regimes while also prohibiting them from dating. "Being single makes them appear more accessible to their fans," Insider reports.

Cha In-Ha, K-Drama superstar

In return for their fame, K-Pop stars experience immense pressure from their employers as well as the negative sides of fandom. According to the Korea Times and the Strait Times, superstars in K-Pop can be lonely and suffer from anxieties and depression.

Sulli: cyberbullied

Sulli, singer and actress, was 25 years old when she took her own life. In the years before her death, she had reported cyberbullying and harassment through social media. Anonymous followers criticized her looks and insulted her.

Sulli: her life story

Choi Jin-ri, better known as Sulli, was born in Yangsan, South Korea, in 1994. She loved acting and got a part in the series 'The ballad of Seo-dong' when she was only 11 years old. She played Princess Sun Hwa.

f(x): the group that boosted Sulli's stardom

Her biggest fame arrived in 2009 when she joined f(x), a female group of five. Sulli was only 15 years old. The group was one of the most successful in the K-Pop universe. Critics especially praised Sulli's work: they gave her the New Star Award in 2012.

Sulli experienced the flipside of fame

Coinciding with f(x)'s release of the hit 'Red Light' in 2014, Sulli announced that she needed to take a break. The 20-year-old star felt "physically and mentally exhausted" by alleged negative comments and "false rumours" about her person in the (social) media.

Sulli's solo career

At the end of 2014, Sulli left the group f(x) to begin a solo career. She was controversial, because she did not follow all the K-Pop rules. For example, she publicly had a boyfriend and dressed the way she wanted. Still, she continued to have success. Her last album 'Goblin' quickly rose to the top in June 2019.

Sulli: panic attacks

Underneath the professional success, there were shadows. According to some sources, Sulli suffered from anxiety. She admitted in 2018 in the TV show Jinri Store that she suffered from panic attacks.

Last Instagram messages

In her last Instagram video, Sulli directly addressed her cyberbullies: "Why are you saying bad things about me? What did I do to deserve this?" Not much later, Sulli was found lifeless in her home near Seoul. The police declared that she had been "severely depressed."

Goo Hara: pressure to perform

Like Sulli, Goo Hara trained from her childhood to become a successful singer and actress in the K-Pop universe. She passed away at the age of 28.

Goo Hara in Kara

Goo Hara was born in Gwangju, South Korea, in 1991. She competed in K-Pop casting events from an early age. In 2008, still an adolescent, she triumphed and joined the group Kara.

Goo Hara: acting, singing, studying

Goo Hara studied at Sungshin Women's University. She performed with Kara while she acted in series like 'City Hunter' (2011).

Goo Hara: Alohara

In 2015, Goo Hara began to release solo albums, starting with this EP: 'Alohara.' After Kara split up in 2017, she continued her solo career.

Goo Hara: Cosmetic surgery

Speculations about the appearance of K-Pop stars have dominated their media coverage. Goo Hara opened up to the media about her cosmetic surgery in 2015. She revealed that she had changed the shape of her eyelids and her teeth.

Solitary selfies

In spite of her professional success, Goo Hara appeared lonely. She never talked about it, but her social media accounts contain many selfies in which she smiled but always appeared alone.

Goo Hara: attempt tp end her life

As critics of K-Pop have noted (in media like the Korean Times or Strait Times), the threat of failure in an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars may lead to stress and depression for its young stars. In May 2019, the BBC reported, Goo Hara had attempted to end her life.

Goo Hara's last post on Instagram

On November 24, 2019, the police found Goo Hara's lifeless body at her home in Seoul. Her last publication on Instagram shows the young woman in a serene pose, showing her followers a relatively neutral facial expression. But tragedy was about to follow.

Cha In-Ha

Shortly after Goo Hara and Sulli's deaths, fans and artists of K-Pop got a third major shock. South Korean actor Cha In-Ha was found dead in his house on December 3, 2019.

Cha In-Ha in Surprise U

Born as Lee Jae-Ho in the South Korean town of Goyang on July 15, 1992, Cha In-Ha was destined to become an actor. In 2017, he joined the actor's group Surprise U.

Cha In-Ha: interview

The actor was not exactly an open book in the media. Perhaps this was part of his image. A few weeks before his death, Cha In-Ha's company released an interview in which he called himself "a person who can't be defined in one word." He wanted to be "someone who can constantly show a new side of himself and keep his audience guessing." (quoted in Allkpop)

Cha In-Ha: a rising star in K-Drama

Cha In-Ha had a major role in the series 'The Banker' (2019), based on a Japanese manga. Another part, which began airing just before his death, was in the series 'Love with Flaws.' Cha In-Ha was reaching a high point in his career.

"Next year, I will become an even better Cha In Ha"

Cha In-Ha, here on Instagram with Korean actors Shindo Hyunn and Ahn Woo Yeon, did not express any despair or fatalism at all in the interview: "2019 was a time when I kept running with the courage and hope to do better. Next year, I will become an even better Cha In Ha." (quoted in Allkpop)

Cha In-Ha: the final images

This was his last Instagram post, days before he died. Cha In-Ha looks pensive but not necessarily sad. The Korean caption reads: "Everybody, be careful not to catch a cold." No one expected he would pass away so soon.

Three deaths in two months

By the end of 2019, three young K-Pop stars had passed away within only two months time. Their tragic endings have forced the K-Pop industry to face its darker side.

 

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