Thursday, January 10, 2013

Death Of Actress’ Ex-husband Highlights Suicide Problem In Korea

By JONATHAN HICAP, Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines – The body of former baseball player and coach Cho Sung Min, who was also the former husband of the late actress Choi Jin-sil, was cremated last Jan. 8 following his death last Jan. 6.
Family tragedy (from left): Cho Sung Min, Choi Jin-sil and Choi Jin-young (Photos by

Cho Sung Min was found dead in his girlfriend’s apartment which the Korean police said was a case of suicide. His girlfriend found him hanging inside the shower.
The news of his death shocked the public and highlighted the growing problem of suicide in Korea.
Suicide was also the cause of death of Choi Jin-sil and her brother, actor and singer Choi Jin-young.
Cho Sung Min and Choi Jin-sil got married in 2000 but divorced in 2004 after the actress became a victim of domestic violence. They have two children.
The tragedies that struck their family started five years ago. Choi Jin-sil, who was described as the “The Nation’s Actress,” committed suicide on Oct. 2, 2008, due to depression following the suicide of her friend Ahn Jae-hwan a month earlier.
Choi Jin-sil was a popular TV and movie actress who appeared in dramas such as “The Last Scandal Of My Life,” which was her last work before her death.
Two years later, her brother Choi Jin-young hanged himself in his apartment on March 29, 2010.
Their deaths highlight the increasing number of Koreans who commit suicide.
According to Statistics Korea, suicide is now the fourth leading cause of death in South Korea.
In a report, the agency said the number of deaths in Korea due to suicide totaled 15,906 in 2011 or 31.7 cases per 100,000 people and 44 deaths per day.
This is an increase from a suicide rate of 14.4 per 100,000 people in 2001 and 31.2 per 100,000 people in 2010. In 2001, suicide was the eight leading cause of death.
Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death followed by cerebrovascular diseases, heart diseases, suicides, diabetes mellitus, pneumonia, chronic respiratory diseases, liver diseases, transport accidents and hypertensive diseases.
Korea has the highest suicide rate among countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The death of Cho Sung Min has sparked calls for the Korean media to not glorify suicide stories as it can spur copycat deaths and for the Korean government to act.
“The way our media reports celebrity suicides has exceeded the permissible level and this was particularly so in their coverage of the suicide last Sunday of Cho Sung-min, a former Korean baseball star,” wrote the Korea JoongAng Daily.
It said a study showed that news reports of a star’s suicide can result in the suicide of 600 Koreans on average.
“To lower the suicide rate, Korea should become a more compassionate and caring society even at the expense of slower-growing economy,” said the Korea Times.
The Chosun Ilbo said the government and society should help people who are on the edge of committing suicide.
“Koreans must overcome the temptation to take the drastic way out. The government and society must offer hope and meaning to live for to people who are flirting with suicide. This can be done through welfare programs, innovative education or by creating more jobs. This country can no longer afford to treat suicide as a personal problem. If the trend continues, the whole society could find itself on the edge of a cliff,” it said.
Link to my original article on Manila Bulletin online:
Email me at sangchusan(at)

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