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South Korean singer Goo Hara’s death exposes pressures of K-pop stardom

Goo Hara was best known for being a former member of K-pop girl group Kara, that was at the height of its popularity between 2008-2013. In May, the singer’s manager found her unconscious at her home, after posting a message saying “Goodbye” on her Instagram account

Written by Neha Banka | Updated: November 25, 2019 6:34:46 pm
goo hara death, pop star death, sulli death, pop star suicide, goo hara suicide attempt, south korean pop star, indian express Goo Hara was a member of the South Korean idol group Kara. (AP: Wong Maye-E)

Korean pop singer and actress Goo Hara, 28, was found dead at her home yesterday in Seoul, local police said. According to local Korean news reports, the cause of death is still under investigation.

Goo Hara was best known for being a former member of K-pop girl group Kara, that was at the height of its popularity between 2008-2013. In May, the singer’s manager found her unconscious at her home, after posting a message saying “Goodbye” on her Instagram account. During that incident that was reported to be a suicide attempt, Goo Hara had to be hospitalised in Seoul. The singer later issued a public apology for her fans causing “concerns and a commotion” due to the incident. A month after her hospitalisation, she threatened to take legal action against malicious comments that were being directed against her and also revealed that had been suffering from depression. In her last Instagram post two days ago, Hara wished her followers “good night”. 

 

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잘자

A post shared by 구하라 (@koohara__) on

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted local police in the Gangnam district police station in Seoul, saying that the singer had been found dead at 6 p.m. local time in Seoul. Goo Hara was not only a talented singer, but had also made a mark in acting and had won several local entertainment awards for her performances in Korean dramas and variety shows. 

Kara was one of the few Korean pop music groups that witnessed immense popularity overseas, particularly in Japan, at a time when many other K-pop groups were aspiring for a breakthrough on the international stage. Goo Hara left DSP Media, the management company that the group was under, in 2016 after the expiration of her contract and the group went on an indefinite hiatus. 

Over the past two years, however, Goo Hara’s professional achievements were overshadowed by the legal dispute she was involved in concerning her former boyfriend Choi Jung-bum. In October 2018, reports surfaced that Hara had been subjected to physical and emotional abuse at the hands of Choi and that he had videotaped the two of them having sexual intercourse and was threatening to release those videos. Hara reported Choi to local police on grounds of blackmail and sexual assault and said that Choi had videotaped her without her knowledge or consent. Choi refuted the claims and claimed to have sent Goo the videos “as a keepsake”, according to a report by South Korean news publication JoongAng Daily. Choi was later found guilty of blackmail and assault and was given a suspended sentence earlier this year.

Despite the challenges that Goo Hara was facing in her personal life, the star had scheduled a music tour in Japan and a new single for the Japanese market. 

 

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HARA Zepp Tour 2018 ~HELLO~ D-2 🙏

A post shared by 구하라 (@koohara__) on

Goo Hara’s death comes weeks after the death of Sulli, former member of girl group f(x). According to local Korean news reports, Hara and Sulli had been good friends. In December 2017, singer Jonghyun from superstar K-pop boy group Shinee, was found unconscious by local police and later died due to a cardiac arrest possibly brought on due to carbon monoxide poisoning, leading to speculation that he had taken his own life. After news broke of Jonghyun’s death, local South Korean media outlets reported that Jonghyun had been struggling with depression, possibly caused due to challenging circumstances surrounding work as a K-pop artiste. 

Last month, after Sulli’s death, indianexpress.com reported on the pressures that Korean pop stars face and the impact those pressures have on their mental health. After news of her death surfaced, Hara’s friends, acquaintances and fans began sending in their tributes across social media platforms. According to Yonhap news agency, a memorial had been set up at St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul where Hara’s fans could pay tribute to the star. A private memorial has been set up at an undisclosed location for her family and friends. 

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