K-pop star Goo Hara was found dead on Sunday at her home in Seoul, South Korea. She was 28.
Goo, real name Goo Ha-ra, and also known under the single name Hara, was a former member of the five-part girl group Kara from 2008 to 2015. After that she launched a solo music career, and also accumulated a number of film and TV roles.
The cause of her death is currently unclear. The police have not yet made official report about her death, nor have they confirmed if Goo died by suicide.
But it is known that she attempted suicide in March this year after an ex-boyfriend attempted to blackmail her with threats of assault and the release of a sex video. Amid the dispute, Goo’s agency terminated her contract.
In June, she signed a new contract with leading talent management agency Production Ogi in Japan, where Kara had enjoyed huge popularity. Under Ogi, Goo appeared on TV shows and major fashion events in Japan. She also released a solo Japanese single “Midnight Queen” on Nov. 13.
It is also known that she was one of the closest friends of the singer-actress Sulli, who died by suicide in October. At the time, Goo said in tears that she was okay and would keep working even harder during her Instagram live session.
Since the late 1990s, there has been a succession of deaths among young K-pop talent. Many have complained of depression, while others have indicated more concrete signs of a highly toxic industry that, behind the glamorous and shiny exterior, tramples on human dignity.
In 2009, actress Jang Ja-yeon died by suicide, leaving a note claiming that she had been sexually abused by powerful figures in the entertainment industry. Others suffered depression due to online criticism about their appearances, personality and their private lifestyles. The most recent case was Sulli, who died by suicide in October The outspoken star had often found herself the target of cyber-bullying.