Her manager, who raised the alarm after Jeon had gone missing for two days, said that Jeon had been suffering from depression. Local media reported that she was found hanged in the bathroom of her hotel room.
Jeonju police confirmed Jeon’s death, but said that they had not completed their initial investigations or come to a conclusion about the cause. They confirmed that she checked in for two days, said that there were no signs of forced entry, but added that no suicide note had been found.
“The late Jeon Mi-sun had received treatments for her depression. We regret that we bring sad tidings,” said Jeon’s agency Boas Entertainment in a statement.
“It seems Jeon has been largely depressed as she recently lost a family member while her mother has been ill in bed,” the police reported.
Jeon had been the lead in “Love is a Crazy Thing” in 2005, but was best known for her supporting roles in films including “Mother,” Memories of Murder,” Hide and Seek,” and “Bungee Jumping of Their Own.”
One of Jeon’s most recent public appearances was Wednesday in Seoul, where she was on stage to promote “The King’s Letters.” In the film Jeon plays Soheon Hwanghu, Queen to King Sejong, the ruler who created Korean characters, known as Hangul. King Sejong is played by Song Kang-ho (“Parasite”). The film is to be released next month, though distributor Megabox has yet to confirm if it will go ahead as scheduled.
In addition to movies, Jeon had a lengthy career in TV shows and on stage. She had been in Jeonju for a performance in a stage play“2 Nights and Three Days with My Mother” and was scheduled for a performance at 2pm.
Many Korean stars have committed suicide or attempted to do so. Many have complained of depression or cyber bullying. Actress Park Jin-hee wrote in her 2009 research paper that 40% of Korean talents are considering suicide because of “unprotected privacy, malicious comments, unstable incomes, and anxiety about the future.” In 2017, K-pop idol band Shinee’s lead vocalist Jong-hyun killed himself after telling his sister that he had “suffered enough” in a text message. In May this year, K-pop idol-turned-actress Goo Hara attempted suicide after a legal battle with her ex-boyfriend who threatened her with revenge pornography.
One of the most politicized cases was that of actress Jang Ja-yeon, who killed herself in 2009 leaving a suicide note that listed powerful people in the entertainment industry with whom she had been forced to have sex in order to get TV and film roles. The Justice Ministry recently called on prosecutors to reexamine the case.
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