In less than a month, two well-known young actress and singer committed suicide. Articles about the causes leading to their deaths abound. The two most striking articles for me were the ones that discussed depression and cyber bullying.
In the Feb. 13 article on the Korea Times by Kim Sue-yong, he (or she) wrote about the growing trend of cyber bullies. Pop singer Yuni killed herself less than a month ago. Her agency said that she got depressed due to pressures from the upcoming album and the apparent abundance of younger, sexier singers these days. Anti-fans (yeah, they have those people here, equivalent to celebrity stalkers abroad) posted negative comments about her sexy clothes, called her artificial lady (in reference to her plastic surgery). After her death, meaner comments surfaced such as “I am so happy that she is dead, now I don’t have to see her on TV anymore”.
In light of the recent events and growing complaints from affected citizens (families of actors/singers), the government plans to introduce an identification system that would require netizens to reveal their real names if they want to post comments. In actuality, most Korean sites already have that in place. In order to be a member or to post anything on the web, netizens are required to submit their name and ID number. Korea has an enforced ID checker where your number and name must match. Some are not too thrilled about the whole thing. They worry that this would increase identity theft. Others worry about their right to free speech.
The suicide of another young actress (Jeong Da-bin) just a few days ago was surrounded by mystery at first. She was found hanging in the boyfriend’s house. Her family didn’t accept the suicide story told by the bf (he said she tried to kill herself before) since they said there is no reason for her to be depressed. Reports said that her depression was due to a slump in her career. She used to star in various TV and movie drama but in recent months (or year), she couldn’t land a job. She also suffered negative comments on some websites same as Yuni.
According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea has the highest suicide rate among its member nations. This now growing epidemic, which I think the government is still ignoring, needs to be addressed quickly. In order to do so, depression and mental illness’ stigma needs to go away. People who suffer from depression should be able to get the help they need without them being labeled as underclass and hopeless. The government is doing nothing (I think) to erase or at least ease the strain on this issue. But then again, just like all the other issues here in this land, society needs to change so there can be a chance of changing the government and their policies.