K-pop idol and former f(x) member Choi Jin-ri – best known by her stage name Sulli – has died according to authorities. It is reported (via Dispatch) that the 25-year-old wasn’t responding to calls from her manager, who subsequently found her dead at her home on October 14. The Seongnam Fire Station later confirmed the reports.
Following the confirmation of Sulli’s death, her company SM Entertainment issued out a statement regarding her passing:
“This is SM Entertainment.
We apologize for conveying such sad and unfortunate news.
Sulli has left our side.
We cannot believe the situation now and we are just filled with grief.
For her family who is grieving after the sudden news of her passing, we earnestly request that you refrain from writing speculative articles or spreading rumors. We express our deep condolences.”
There has since been an outpouring of grief for Sulli from the K-pop community, and several idols whom she was close to have put their promotional activities on hold, including her former f(x) group member Amber Liu.
But while K-pop community are sharing their support for each other and Sulli, one can’t help but feel the the hypocrisy from fans that’s on display.
Ever since Sulli made her debut with f(x) in 2009, she quickly garnered a controversial reputation (and wild popularity) within the K-pop world for her outspoken and feminist views. She was dogged with harsh criticism from the conservative Korean public almost on a daily basis for the most ridiculous things, such as her appearance and for not wearing a bra in public.
The constant scrutiny caused Sulli to leave f(x) in 2015 to pursue a solo career, but the flak was unrelenting. Korean forums continued to bash her and her social media posts were flooded with trolls, even as she continued to be outspoken with her views and troubles.
Upon the confirmation of Sulli’s death however, all that negative scrutiny from the Korean media, public and anti-Sulli K-pop fans has suddenly been replaced with either silence or shows of support.
This begs the question: why didn’t people give a damn when she was alive?
She was constantly speaking out about her personal problems yet people continued to ignore and/or bash her, even as she was clearly in need of help, and people only took notice upon her death.
That’s not to say there aren’t genuine messages of support for Sulli from her fans, but it’s hard to not feel the insincerity and hypocrisy that’s tainting the waves of sympathy due to the bandwagon hopping nature that’s prevalent in K-pop.
And if past incidents and K-pop deaths are any indication, the cries of support will slowly stop and no one in the industry or fandom will learn a damn thing.
There’s a wider conversation to be had on the toxicity of K-pop, the problematic fandoms, the lack of growth from fans and the industry itself, and the need for mental health support for idols, but that’s a story for another day.
For now, we’re left with a young woman who experienced the worst of the K-pop machine just for being herself and it ultimately led to her tragic, untimely death.
Here’s hoping you’ve finally found some peace, Sulli, you deserved far better.
If you or someone you care about needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.