South Korean singer and actress Sulli, whose real name is Choi Jin-ri, has died at the age of 25. She was found dead at home by her manager on Monday Oct 14.
The former member of girl group f(x) had in the past been subject to malicious comments and rumours online.
The police had ruled out foul play as a cause of death. It was suspected that she may have committed suicide.
According to JTBC’s News Room, the police have found a notepad filled with Sulli’s handwritten comments about her life, at her home.
It is believed that Sulli was working up to the day before her death, according to The Straits Times, as she was scheduled to shoot an advertisement for bag brand Stretch Angels.
Netizens suggested that her death is yet another example of a K-pop artist succumbing to the intense pressures of the industry.
As fans and celebrities mourn Sulli’s death, we take a look at 8 things you might not have know about her.
Known for being forthcoming and speaking her mind, Sulli was not one to conform to the strict and conservative social norms that were imposed on South Korean celebrities.
In June 2019, the actress addressed her haters on a Night of Hate Comments, a JTBC2 variety programme where celebrities address the cyberbullying and malicious comments they had encountered online. She had this to say to her haters: “I don’t do anything illegal… I act freely within the limits of the law.”
She was also a big advocate of equal rights. “Sexism and racism are the things I hate the most,” she once announced on her Instagram.
Her outspokenness resonated with many young South Korean women who have been leading a new wave of feminists fighting a patriarchal society obsessed with looks. “Being one of the first female artists in K-pop to talk about mental health and feminism is amazing. I love you so much Sulli – I hope in heaven you are finally free,” a fan wrote in a tweet.
Choiza, the rapper from hip-hop outfit Dynamic Duo split with Sulli in 2017, three years after they admitted their relationship. Choiza, 39, managed by the Amoeba Culture agency, and Sulli from SM Entertainment received a fair bit of negative attention as a couple because he was 14 years older.
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On occasion, Sulli would go braless, a stance that won her both approval and opprobrium. She was involved in the so-called “no bra” movement in South Korea in 2019 – where women went braless to make a statement about expectations and judgement of the female body. “Going braless is one’s freedom,” she said on Night of Hate Comments show.
Music journalist Taylor Glasby once referred to Sulli as a free spirit. “She was one of the idols who decided to live her life in the way she wanted to and that didn’t always sit well with the general public,” she said.
She caused a further uproar by revealing her nipples on her Instagram account – they first appeared on her Instagram account in May 2016. There was a huge backlash from the public, and she received many hateful and abusive comments calling her a “whore” and “an attention seeker”.
The star who was born on March 29, 1994, in Busan, Korea, was first cast into the spotlight as a child actress, playing the young Princess Seonhwa of Silla in the 2005 SBS drama Ballad of Seodong. The period drama tells the story of how Seodong, a commoner, meets and falls for Princess Seonhwa of the rival kingdom Silla and his life dramatically changes.
After her debut in 2005, she landed some minor roles in television dramas and movies such as Vacation (2006), Punch Lady (2007), The Flower Girl is Here (2007) and BABO (2008).
In August 2012, Sulli finally had the chance to take the lead role in To the Beautiful You, based on the famous Japanese shojo manga series Hanazakari no Kimitachie. She won the New Star Award at the SBS Drama Awards 2012 for her performance in the drama.
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In October 2018, Sulli revealed in her reality show Jinri Store that she had suffered from panic disorder and social phobia since she was a child. Sulli had repeatedly asked her agency, SM Entertainment, to take strong measures against malicious comments and cyberbullying she was facing. Seven petitions were posted at the South Korean presidential office website demanding tougher punishment for cyberbullying just months before her death.
Sulli went from acting to singing, and she debuted as a member of the group f(x), with the single LA chA TA in 2009. She later, made her solo debut in June 2019 with the song and album “Goblin” and held a special stage Peaches Go!blin on the same day at SM Town Theatre.
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In 2012, IU’s released the sweet ballad Peach, which was inspired by her close friend Sulli.
According to IU, the lyrics were written to convey the emotion one feels when looking at their lover; she wrote it from the perspective of a male thinking about a pretty girl, using Sulli as reference. The single clinched the number one spot on many South Korean music websites in 2012.
Sulli later said of the song: “My fans call me Peach, so when her new song came out, I called to ask her about it, and she confirmed that the song was for me.” The song has now re-entered music charts and fans are listening to it as a way to remember the late Sulli.
If you, or someone you know, are having suicidal thoughts, help is available.
Who to call:
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Touch Counselling & Social Support: 6709-8400
Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-3535-800
Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222