Tuesday, July 13, 2010

R.I.P. Park Yong-Ha (박용하)


This is so wrong! What is going on in the world?? I don't like to vacate my blog for quite some time, only to return with dour news, yet here I am.

Park Yong-Ha (박용하) passed away on June 30.

What is truly depressing is that when I read about his death, I immediately assumed it was suicide. I don't know why I didn't assume it was a botched burglary or a car-jacking or a crazed stalker, but I didn't. I immediately went to suicide.

And I was right, which is the real bummer.

It seems like there are a very large amount of Korean celebrities committing suicide- at least in proportion to their American counterparts. I rarely read about American celebrities committing suicide. Americans go to rehab, flash their private bits, drunkenly yell racial slurs, and seem to go shopping all the time, but they rarely commit suicide. Why is that?

Well, what I originally ranted about a year and a half ago seems to hold true. Depression is still not taken seriously enough in Korea, at least from where I sit and watch, half a world away. People are still ashamed to tell others they are depressed and to seek help. This is so, so sad.

I remember Park Yong-Ha from two dramas that he did: "Winter Sonata," which was really about Bae Yong-Joon (배용준) and Choi Ji-Woo (최지우), probably the two biggest and earliest Hallyu behemoths ever, and "On Air," which I recall as being about two of the cattiest, most obnoxious women ever written.

He's a singer, as well, and achieved great popularity in Japan. On his Twitter, the homepage that he's listed is his official Japanese fan site. Here's a song from "On Air":

Admittedly, not the best singer. Not by a long stretch. But he seemed like a sweet guy, charming and self-effacing. It's hard to imagine that this guy, at 32, was so depressed that he hung himself with the cable from his camcorder.

I really hope that depression (and other mental health issues) starts to get treated like a disease rather than a death sentence in Korea. People need to speak out, speak up, and get help. It's better to be mocked and teased but happy than to be admired and loved but depressed, isn't it?

I certainly think so.


Diana E.S. July 13, 2010 at 3:52 PM  

When I come back to Korea in 3-5 years, I really, really, really want to start a suicide hotline. I think the whole anonymity of the help aspect will appeal to Koreans and with some training, those who want to help, can. Because right now my students say they would respond to a friend who expressed a desire to kill themselves with "Cheer up! (힘내, I'm guessing)" Which, while a lovely sentiment in itself, is not particularly helpful to a suicidal person.

I've heard there are some web chatrooms that kind of serve this purpose, but I think there are more web chats where people help each other figure out how to die than how to live. It makes me sad and angry.

jeanny July 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

I've heard of those suicide chatrooms- it's so wrong.

The hotline sounds like a really good idea. If I am in Korea in 3 - 5 years, I'm volunteering to help, Kleenex and chocolates in hand.