With their polished makeup, glitzy outfits, well-curated social media feeds and millions of adoring fans, it is difficult to see K-pop celebrities as one of us, regular human beings.
Behind the curtains, however, these idols have to deal with societal pressures, personal struggles and problems that accompany fame and the public eye. Above, we take a look at some who struggled with depression, anxiety and other mental health illness.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental issues, please reach out to these hotlines below for help. Remember, you’re not alone and help is within reach.
• Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours)
• Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
• Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
• Tinkle Friend (for primary school-aged children): 1800-274-4788
• Care Corner Counselling Hotline (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Cha In-ha was a young rookie actor aged 27 who passed earlier this month. He had debuted in 2017 in the TV drama Temperature of Love and at the time of his death, he was starring in Love with Flaws.
As his death followed Sulli’s and Goo’s, many raised the concerns of copycat suicides. He did not leave a message nor a will and his family did not request for an autopsy.
A month after Sulli’s death, news broke of her close friend Goo Hara’s departure. Goo, a former member of Kara, had suffered heavy bouts of online criticism (read about how you can keep cyber bullying out of your life) following her sex video scandal with her former boyfriend Choi Jong-bum (read also about these influencer scandals that rocked Singapore).
Choi, a hairdresser, had assaulted Goo and threatened to release a sex video of the two. While Choi was eventually jailed, Goo was harassed on social media.
Goo’s death also came as a surprise as she had released a musical single weeks prior.
Famously known as being a former member of South Korean pop girl group f(x), Sulli had struggled with panic disorder, social phobia and depression before her death in October.
Her outspoken persona, which often had overt sexual tones, caught disfavour amongst many Koreans, who cyberbullied her and left many negative comments on her social media.
The former member of hit boy band Wanna One, Daniel Kang recently made news after it was announced that he was suspending the promotion of his new single, Touchin’, to focus on his mental health.
His agency, Konnect Entertainment, revealed that he had been diagnosed with depression (also read about tell-tale signs you are depressed), panic disorder and recently, severe anxiety. Kang was previously embroiled in a legal tussle over his contract with former agency LM Entertainment.
During an Instagram question-and-answer session in June this year, Taeyeon had revealed that she is suffering from depression.
Following the death of her close friends Sulli and Jonghyun, many fans were concerned over her mental health, which the singer had been an advocate for. Taeyeon has not spoken much about her mental health condition since and had released her second solo album and was the voice of the Korean iteration of Frozen 2’s Into the Unknown.
He might be known for his hilarious and outspoken persona on variety shows such as Knowing Bros (2015-present), but Heechul has struggled with depression.
Heechul had privatised his Instagram account since Goo’s passing and was a close friend of Sulli and Jonghyun. When Hankyung, a former Super Junior member, left the group, Heechul had reported shut himself in for three months.
Another Super Junior member known for his outspoken variety abilities, Leeteuk has revealed numerous times that he suffered from depression.
He had also shared about his painful family background, where his father had murdered his ailing grandparents before committing suicide, leaving Leeteuk with a five billion won (S$5,835) debt that he had to work off.
Yeonwoo had previously taken a hiatus from Momoland’s promotions and it sparked rumours that she was departing the group. The agency, however, denied the rumours and claimed that Yeonwoo was receiving treatment for panic disorder.
On November 30, it was announced that Yeonwoo had left the group.
One-fifth of boy band Shinee, Jonghyun’s departure in December 2017 by carbon monoxide poisoning came at a surprise.
Prior to his suicide, Jonghyun had a concert in Seoul, was working on a music album (now released, titled Poet | Artist) for January 2018 and had left a suicide note with his close friend and fellow musician Nine9. His death sparked the discussion on mental health issues in South Korea.