UPDATE: Feb 05 2007
Korea’s Dangerous Tolerance of Suicide;By Tom Pauken II;Associate Editor / Columnist;
KOREA FEB 04 07
Suicide is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Those who take their lives leave a path of destruction. Families despair and feel responsible. Children of suicide victims are scarred and risk poverty if that person financially supported them. Friends lose a companion who could make their lives easier. Businesses must cope with the disappearance of an employer or employee and if debts were unpaid then the economy is adversely affected.
Some cultures believe suicide signifies selfishness. Buddhists state it is morally wrong and will result in negative karma. It might mean being reborn in one of the hells or as an animal or hungry ghost. Christians claim those who kill themselves might be thrown into hell. Hence suicide must be discouraged not encouraged. Nonetheless, some Koreans ignore the potential consequences. South Korea has the highest suicide rate among OECD (Organization for Economic cooperation and Development) countries. In 2005 there were 26.1 suicides for every 100,000 people.
This was higher than Japan at 20.3 and the U.S. at 10.2. For the 246,000 deaths in S. Korea, suicide accounted for 12,047 so about 33 people snuffed out their lives each day. Even the rich and famous assume suicide provides the answer to their problems. Some politicians and business people jump off bridges or out of buildings due to public criticisms of them or an imminent arrest. Some entertainers choose death over a successful career, which seems incomprehensible. Singer U-nee, whose real name is Hur Youn and stage name Lee Hye-ryeon, committed such a deed. On Sunday January 21, 2007 her grandmother found her hanging from a door in her apartment when she returned from a church service. Her fans were surprised because her third album "Honey" was soon to be released. Some of her associates claimed she suffered from depression over online criticisms and attacks. Ironically, Koreans reacted oddly when they learned of her death. U-Nee might have killed her because she was upset over negative comments she read on her web site. But within an hour after the announcement of her death, over 3,000 Koreans flooded her web site with words of praise.
The site shut down due to an overload. Fans can be fickle so changing attitudes shouldn't surprise one. But some comments and reactions could cause more harms than good to Korean society. The incident revealed that if a person commits suicide then society would love the person they shunned in the past. Therefore, some people will view suicide as beneficial to regain their shattered reputations. Apparently, one netizen blogged a comment on U-Nee's web site claiming her suicide was the best solution. This person wrote, "May she rest in peace in Heaven." This should come as a surprise because 46 percent of S. Koreans think spirituality doesn't exist. S. Korea has the ninth highest rate of atheists in the world.
Theologically, Christians and Buddhists admit that suicide doesn't guarantee a trip to hell because of extenuating circumstances, since Christians God decides the fate of a soul after death. But Christians don't say one should commit suicide assuming they will enter heaven. Yes, people shouldn't denounce anyone who commits suicide, but preventative measures are necessary to lower the suicide rate in Korea. Korean culture denigrates the psychiatric profession. Many people suffer from depression but they fear the stigma from their friends and family if they go to a psychologist. Koreans frown upon people who reveal inner sadness and are told to portray an image of normalcy under all circumstances. A depressed person lacks a support group. Family members shame a relative who is different than everyone else. So they are trapped in their tormented mind without anybody to talk to. Medication could clear their minds but it's unavailable to them since they are told to stay away from psychiatrists. Children must endure stress from their parents because they are pressured into making perfect grades and anything less is a disgrace.
People in debt have few financial counselors to help them escape their plight. Worst of all, Koreans are more likely to kill themselves rather than swallow their pride and seek help. Government could take some steps to deter suicide. They could place guardrails on bridges and high apartment buildings. They could fund public service announcements in schools and the media to help people with depression. Of course a suicide hot line would be necessary. Most importantly Koreans should be more positive as they are quick to criticize but slow to compliment. They should accept someone for who they are not for what they should be. They should listen to lonely people because maybe no one cares about them. Instead of showing anger they should show love whenever possible. Koreans can always help a living person but never a dead person. These same rules should apply to people all over the world.= = == = = ==
On Nov 11 2006, the STAR highlighted this Korean Singer/Actress as the murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu; (details h e r e ) followed by the Sunday Times (12th Nov 06, Below)
Born out of wedlock and raised by the granny, she missed the fatherly love that was denied her and found emptiness in her life when she cannot relate to someone else; ended her life on 21st Jan 2007 at home, apparently due to depression. The entire complex social world rests however on strong probable relationships, and the power behind civilizations rests upon a great unconscious rapport, and is built upon, in any given present, future and past, personal and social relationships.
Suicides and would-be suicides often have such a great literal lust for life that they constantly put it into jeopardy, so that they can experience what it is in heightened form. What is important is that each soul understands its OWN choices and actions, and the consequences of their actions. Nothing ever dies - it just changes form. There is always a reason. To realize that each soul is making these decisions is a beautiful, healing and freeing experience.
U;Nee, whether you die today or tomorrow, you have lived before, and will again, and your new life, in your terms, springs out of the old, and is growing in the old and contained within it as the seed is already contained within the flower. A death is just a night to your soul. RIP
= = = = = = == = == = == = =Pop Singer U;Nee Dies in Apparent Suicide
Actress and pop singer U;Nee was found hanged to death in her home in Seo-gu, Incheon, Sunday. U;Nee's grandmother Lee (71) found the woman's body in her 22nd-floor apartment Sunday afternoon, dead of an apparent suicide. Lee said she had come home from a church service to find the singer hanging from a door frame.
The death came as a surprise to fans who were awaiting the singer's latest album "Honey", her third. U;Nee, whose real name was Hur Youn, also performed under the stage name Lee Hye-ryeon.
Police investigating the death said that people close to her testified that U;Nee seemed to have been suffering from depression. There is speculation that U;Nee was upset by online criticisms and attacks. Police told reporters that U;Nee had been able to hide her stress well, saying that even her own family didn't know she was depressed. U;Nee left no suicide note or will, police said. Her wake is being held at Onnuri Hospital in Majeon-dong, Incheon.
U;Nee came to public attention under the name Lee Hye-ryeon with her debut in the KBS TV drama "Grown-ups Just Don't Understand" in 1996. She appeared in the movie "Seventeen" in 1998 and later in TV dramas "Theme Game" and "Tears of the Dragon".
Her debut album "Go" was released in 2003 and she gained even greater popularity with the 2005 release of her second album "Call Call Call." Her sexy dance moves and revealing fashions made her the favorite of teenagers across Asia.
In happier times
U;Nee, born to an un-wed mother, suffered a difficult childhood, she said in a KBS talk show in 2005. "I lived with just my grandmother when I was a child. It was really hard to live without a father," she said. The experience, she said, led to a vow to help the needy.
Singer and actress U;Nee, was found dead of an apparent suicide in her Incheon apartment Sunday.
Reports of U;Nee's death caused a stir with online fans Sunday, as visitors flocking to a web site to leave condolences caused the computer server to overload. Within an hour of her death being made known, nearly 3,000 messages were posted on her homepage. Most posters expressed shock that the singer would kill herself before her next album could come out. Many expressed condolences such as, "May she rest in peace in Heaven."
U;Nee's feelings were also allegedly on display at her Web site in a posting that pre-dated her death. "I feel everything is empty. I am again walking down a path to reach a destination that I don't know," the posting said.
= = = = = == = = = == = == = = = = =
Singer’s Death Highlights Malicious Online Slander
Reactions to the recent suicide of the singer U;Nee once again highlighted one of the more unsavory aspects of Korea’s Internet culture, which is dominated by so-called “cyber warriors” who produce malicious comment professionally. "This is the first news that made me smile in a long time,” one comment read after the singer took her own life on Jan. 21, apparently after being depressed due to malicious online comment for some time. A batch of malicious messages were posted immediately to mock her death.
Last year, the Cyber Crime Investigation Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Police investigated a man who had posted hundreds of messages a month against a political party online. A police officer said the man spent all his time, except when he was asleep, at the keyboard. “We were surprised to find him more timid than ordinary people despite the aggressive nature of his postings,” he said.
It is difficult to generalize about keyboard warriors because their Internet ID reveals nothing about their jobs, ages or demographic characteristics. But cyber crime investigators say those who have been caught are typically timid and softly spoken, and are either still at school or jobless. Many live alone in studio apartments. They are not in principle against certain political parties or certain celebrities. Rather, they tend to post malicious comment on any news item that attracts their attention, and regardless whether it is political, economic or entertainment news. They believe they are targeting people in the news, with no intention to cause personal harm. Prof. Namkoong Kee, a psychiatrist at Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital, said, "Passive-aggressive people are easily tempted to take pleasure in posting malicious online messages. People who can’t express their anger in the real world tend to become abnormally aggressive in a space where they believe they can hide behind anonymity and from a safe distance."
A memorial service was held Monday in Onnuri Hospital, Incheon for U;Nee, a pop singer and actress who committed suicide Jan. 21.
In 2005, a 32-year-old man found his identity revealed on the Internet after his girlfriend committed suicide, and was harassed by malicious online comment. Everything about him -- school, names of family and friends -- was exposed. His homepage was inundated with messages that called him "shameless” and said he let his girlfriend die. He asked the police to investigate. "I met them to file a lawsuit,” the victim said. “I was perplexed to find most of the keyboard warriors were ordinary college students or office workers. They even said sorry."
He sued not only the perpetrators but also four portal sites including Korea’s biggest Naver and Daum, which disseminated the messages. The district court is expected to pass judgment on Feb. 2. The victim believes portal sites are responsible because they provide Netizens with a space to spread their slander. Byun Hee-jae, who heads a group of victims of malicious online comment, agrees. The victim “was virtually condemned to social death by Internet,” he says. “We sued the portal sites as well because they were responsible for allowing Netizens to post these messages."
= = = == = = = and the viscious of the internet, cyberworld
’Trial by Internet’ Casts Spotlight on Korean Cyber Mobs
The case of a woman who was thrown to a Korean cyber lynch mob for failing to clean up the mess her dog had left behind has put the international spotlight on the country’s sometimes vicious online community. "Subway Fracas Escalates into Test of the Internet's Power to Shame,” the Washington Post headlined a story on the "Dog Poop Girl" on Thursday. The paper said the incident revealed the power of the Internet and provided "a peek into an unsettling corner of the future" of the cyberworld, in turn sparking debate among experts and bloggers in the U.S.
ABOVE: The dog's poop left behind on the subway train by a woman was cleaned by someone else (BELOW) caused her to be cyber lynched - a virtual death sentence in S Korea
The young woman attracted mercilessly abusive comments
from Internet users in June when photos posted online showed her getting off the subway without cleaning up the mess her dog made
. Users publicized the woman’s personal information, one posting her picture on an online auction site with a caption that read, "I'm selling dog poop
." Ultimately, in the court of cyber-opinion, she received a virtual death sentence.
Legal expert Daniel Solove of George Washington University wrote the incident "involves a norm that most people would seemingly agree to -- clean up after your dog. But having a permanent record of one's norm violations is upping the sanction to a whole new level... allowing bloggers to act as a cyber-posse, tracking down norm violators and branding them with digital scarlet letters."
Howard Rheingold, an expert in group behavior, said the debate should begin with an understanding that the rules of privacy have changed. "The shadow side of the empowerment that comes with a billion and a half people being online is the surveillance aspect,” he said. “We used to worry about big brother -- the state -- but now of course it's our neighbors, or people on the subway."
Former journalist Dan Gillmor said, "Where the line is between doing what the media or the legal system won't do is a pretty interesting question, and I don't have the answer... People have to think about consequences." The author of the Washington Post piece, Jonathan Krim, said conversation about the incident and comments on blogs revealed a common thread. "The instinct of most was to accept using the Internet as a new social-enforcement tool, but to search for that point on the continuum where enough was too much."
Some said circulating pictures of the Dog Poop Girl was fine but calls for her personal information to be revealed were not. Others said the woman's face and other distinguishing features should have been obscured, while still others said she had no right to privacy at all.
Within Korea, views about the "Dog Poop Girl" incident are complex. Public opinion, at first unanimously critical of the young woman, took a step back when indiscriminate attacks from Netizens developed into a witch-hunt. In a recent program, EBS analyzed human rights abuses that occurred as a result of malicious online comments like those that characterized the "Dog Poop Girl" incident.
Hang Gyeong-shik, a professor of philosophy at Seoul National University, warned the “faceless” character of the Internet could encourage a space devoid of norms or ethics. Lawyer Chang Ji-won of the Group to Cultivate a Mature Society said, "We need more accurate analysis of the multitude of crimes that happen on the Internet and urgently study ways of dealing with such incidents to protect and compensate victims."
= = == =
See also the Latest posting on another Korean Actress
Actress Jeong Da-bin Dead in Suspected Suicide;
who killed herself 10th Feb 2007