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‘ASTRO’ Member, Moonbin Dies At 25: K-pop Industry and Mental Health

K-pop star Moonbin, a member of the boyband ASTRO has died aged 25. According to the police and local media, Moonbin was discovered unconscious on Wednesday night at his flat in Seoul's upscale Gangnam district. His death has since sparked an outpouring of grief on social media.

“On April 19, Astro member Moon Bin unexpectedly left our world and became a star in the sky,” said a statement posted early Thursday morning on Fantagio’s official Twitter page.

The cause of the artist's passing is being investigated. There was no proof of wrongdoing, with the police suggesting he may have taken an "extreme step."

Moonbin started his career in show business in the 2000s as a young actor and model. In 2009, at the age of 11, he made his acting debut in the well-known Korean drama series Boys Over Flowers. He joined Astro at the age of 18.

Moonbin made the announcement that he would be taking a break due to health concerns on November 12, 2019. He finished his break by making his first appearance with the group since the aforementioned announcement on February 14, 2020.

The deceased star's sister Moon Sua, who is a member of the Billie group addressed her brother's unexpected passing on social media by posting a picture of herself and Moonbin when they were younger, along with a caption that expressed the intense anguish she is currently experiencing.

The late idol's funeral took place in South Korea on April 22 at Asan Medical Centre’s Hall in Seoul. Astro member, Cha Eunwoo returned to Korea from the United States for the funeral, while the other bandmate, MJ requested leave from military service and attended his colleague’s burial.


The company issued a statement requesting privacy so that his family, friends, coworkers, and other close relatives, can grieve peacefully. The whole Korean entertainment industry came together to pay their final respects to Moonbin. Following this unfortunate tragedy, they have also announced the suspension of their current operations.


2020 Data On Suicide Rates In South Korea

Being a K-pop Idol in South Korea

In South Korea, where social media connections have flourished, the bond between pop idols and followers is particularly strong and personal. Individuals that choose to become K-pop stars are expected to grow through an intensive training period, which may require losing contact with their friends and families for some time.

Only a few trainees make it to the stage after several difficult rounds of selection. After making their public debut, celebrities are keenly followed not just by their fans but also by the entire population of Korea. Being a public person entails meeting the high expectations from the public in a nation where unfairness has long been a topic of discussion.

There is no doubt that the strain these superstars face from a young age, especially the responsibility of promoting Korean culture to the rest of the globe, is a significant contributing element to their stress. Furthermore, the industry itself pressures artists to expand their range of skills and talents too.


Like millions of other South Koreans, K-pop singers are prevented from seeking treatment for depression because it is still perceived as a moral failing. Many people are reluctant to seek help because of stigmas around mental illness.


K-Pop artists that took their own life

K-Pop Stars and Suicide

With the highest youth suicide rate among developed countries, South Korea is notorious for its hyper-competitive culture, high personal debt, concern with upholding beauty standards, and shame associated with discussing mental health.

Each suicide exposes the seedy underside of the affluent Korean entertainment industry. It is no accident that a decade in which numerous K-pop stars committed suicide, notably the male singer Kim Jong-hyun, also saw an increase in mental illness and suicides in South Korean culture.

The suicide note that SHINEE's Jonghyun left described how depression overcame him. Before his passing, he had already opened up to the world about his issues with mental health. Additionally, Jonghyun seemed to be referring to the strains of working in the K-Pop sector and his desire for validation of his final performance.

Sulli, the South Korean actress and singer, 25, committed suicide in October after receiving years of abuse online. Sulli was the focus of online harassment for a number of reasons, including not wearing a bra, live-streaming an innocent night out drinking with a friend, using the first names of older male co-workers, and — what seems to be her most grievous "crime" — identifying as a feminist.

When her body was discovered at her home in Seoul along with a message, authorities suggested she had been feeling "pessimistic." Her close friend Goo, who was the same age, had just returned from a solo tour of Japan.

Six weeks after Sulli’s death, Goo was found dead in her apartment in November. Goo came under fire online and was accused of getting plastic surgery, which she subsequently confirmed in front of the public.

Goo sued her ex-boyfriend Choi Jong-bum in court a year before her passing for threatening to make a video of them having sex public. Choi was exonerated of illegal filming but found guilty of assault and extortion, receiving a suspended 18-month prison sentence.


Their demises, coupled with a recent sexual abuse scandal, have brought the industry's treatment of women under unprecedented scrutiny. Many of these women are discovered when they are still in their teens and are put through a punishing training program for song and dance that leaves no time for ordinary pleasures.


Artists that talked about Mental Health

Combating Mental Health Concerns

Following Goo's passing, a petition was started on Moon Jae-in's website asking for harsher penalties for offensive online remarks. In less than a day, it gathered more than 20,000 signatures. In Korea, there is little discussion of mental health. However, as more and more K-pop stars are open and honest about needing breaks to focus on their mental well-being, things are beginning to change.

Several K-pop idols have been taking extended breaks for their physical and mental welfare. Several organizations have also started offering counseling sessions to celebrities and trainees.

In recognition of how potentially toxic the climate had become, Naver, the largest search engine in South Korea, shut down the comment section under their entertainment news in 2020.

The former member of the 4Minute group needed a year to accept her depression and panic medical conditions. It was first discovered after she was admitted to the hospital in 2016. HyunA explained in a letter that she had initially hoped to conceal her mental health issue but was now at a loss for how to do so. "I'm going to keep bravely trying to be well, but I think people can't be perfect," she said in a statement.

In order to address her mental health concerns and a neck ailment, TWICE member Jeongyeon has taken four rounds of pauses since 2020. In the past month, she made a comeback.

BTS has not shied away from addressing challenging issues that today's youngsters may deal with. Suga compared his mental health to "cold weather" where "negative emotions come and go" in a Rolling Stone interview, published in May 2021. Suga has also addressed his anxiety and despair through his music, releasing songs like "The Last". He continued by saying people should be encouraged to talk about their mental health difficulties with others rather than keeping them to themselves.

Mental health problems will persist if the people of South Korea refuse to talk about them. It is about time we start addressing mental health and consider it as important as our physical health.


Being kind is important as we are never sure what goes behind the shut doors of human minds. Respecting mental breaks and keeping space between idol-fan relationships should also be kept in mind as one decides to follow their path.


Edited by Yasmin Hailes 

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Tags: #MentalHealth #Asia #SouthKorea #Moonbin #ASTRO #Idol #KPop #Suicide


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