K-pop Star Sulli Found Dead

The 25-year-old was found in her Seongnam residence.

Morgan Brown, Staff Writer

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South Korean singer and actress Sulli was found dead in her home in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on Monday, October 14, 2019, at approximately 3:20 PM Korean Standard Time (2:20 AM Eastern Time). An autopsy some days later confirmed her cause of death was suicide. Sulli’s manager reported to the police that she had been suffering from depression from cyberbullying. Her last post on Instagram only said, “Goodbye,”, causing worried fans asking if she was alright.

Born Choi Jin-Ri in Busan, South Korea, she began her career as a child actress in various dramas before joining the girl group f(x) in 2009, which would go on to become one of the most popular K-pop groups in the world. Sulli left in 2015 to concentrate on acting, later returning to the music scene as a solo artist, featuring in a single by Korean R&B singer Dean and releasing a single called “Goblin”. “Goblin” was her last musical project. 

Throughout her career, Sulli was subject to hateful online comments from trolls and conservative media outlets due to her eccentric persona and activism. An outspoken feminist, Sulli supported the no bra movement, which encouraged women to stop wearing bras due to health issues or societal pressure, as well as Comfort Women Day, a day to memorialize Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. She also publicly spoke about the negative effects of cyberbullying on celebrities. 

Following her death, a private funeral was held by family and friends, and a funeral hall at Severance Hospital in Seoul was open on October 15 and 16 for fans to pay their respects. Several media personalities canceled activities to mourn, including f(x) members Victoria Song and Amber Liu, rap group Dynamic Duo, and fellow solo artist IU. Song posted on Instagram, “Sulli~ The weather is so nice today. Goodbye~ I won’t forget you. I love you…”.

Her death reminds Koreans of the still-pervasive misogyny directed at ‘unconventional’ women, who are brave enough to be irreverent… and value their own minds above being liked.

Many fans began lodging petitions to the South Korean government calling for stricter anti-bullying laws. Some have begun to notice a trend of high-profile suicides in the country, such as those of actress Choi Jin-Sil in 2008 and fellow K-pop star Jonghyun in 2017, and believe the lack of sympathy from agencies plays a role in Sulli’s passing. Others feel her death showcases a much deeper problem in South Korean society: sexism against women. According to Haeryun Kang of The Washington Post, “[Sulli’s] death reminds Koreans of the still-pervasive misogyny [sexism against women] directed at ‘unconventional’ women, who are brave enough to be irreverent… and value their own minds above being liked.” 

Korea’s patriarchal society has enabled misogyny to flourish, leading to problems ranging from spy cameras in bathrooms to sexual violence.

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