On October 15th, the 25 year-old Korean star Sulli was found dead at her home in Seoul. She committed suicide because of cyber bullying given she fought for women’s rights. It seems that Sulli had a past of mental instability: suffered from anxiety and depression.
“Celebrities are working under extreme pressure and the level of stress they face is increasing as competition becomes heavier. Young K-pop idols particularly do not eat or sleep properly because of their tight schedules, yet they are asked to hide their emotions and smile and show positive attitudes for their fans in public. They have to be sexy but must not have sex, and be tough but must not fight for anything,” Kim Hi Sol wrote in the newspaper Korea Exposé after the tragedy.
Following her death, it was revealed that Sulli had repeatedly asked her agency, SM Entertainment, to take strong measures against the malicious comments and cyber bullying, in vain.
Seven petitions in total were posted at the South Korean presidential office website demanding tougher punishment for cyber bullying and a policy to secure the use of profiles under a false name.
Was The government too occupied at the time the petitions went out or is this a too sensitive matter? Economic and technological industries on the Internet must have remained government priorities. The laws concerning the web stay blurry in court.
Cyber bullying is a serious matter, as well as extreme worshipping of idols, international stars taking on the burde of role models who have face angels, innocent looks and perfectly pretty styles. Enduring such hard pressure is a challenge while living in the public sphere.
It is true that especially in South Korea, powerful feelings and emotions are expressed towards idols, which are positive and negative. And social networks are the best way to say what you think openly, without being censored. Hiding behind a screen to bully someone is harassment and should be taken seriously because it is a crime. The bullies are called « haters » and they would never have been capable of insulting a woman as publicized as Sulli was in front of her.
It is not a coincidence that she addressed sensitive issues to defend women’s rights and independence in society: her positions mattered and had a direct impact on her fame and success, but they also lead to her death.
She also had a fragile state of mind, Sulli even made a pause in her career for a while because she suffered from depression. But the violence and extreme comments spreading on Twitter, Instagram and all the other social networks shouldn’t have been underestimated because the damage can be irreversible.
Kenza, a K-Pop fan studying at the University of Montreal in Canada expresses herself after Sulli’s suicide with an ounce of dark humor: « Sadly, we are starting to get used to these kinds of events… »
Indeed, K-Pop stars are subject to intense pressure, which has been linked to a mental health crisis in the industry: they are the main targets for weirs of hostility and hatred. Protection and justice should have the power to censure some comments and report them.
Celebrities under pressure can be shown as happy and joyful on stage, but they could be completely mentally lost, which is the direct cause of famous young figures’ suicides.