A South Korean actor has died at age 27, becoming the third young Korean celebrity to die unexpectedly in the last three months.
The actor, Cha In-ha, was known for his “bright, cheerful image,” Forbes reports, highlighting his key role in the recently-premiered drama “Love With Flaws.” The circumstances of his passing have not been reported at this time.
Cha’s passing marks the third death in as many months of a young South Korean celebrity: Sulli, a well-known pop singer and actress, died by an alleged suicide at 25 years old in October 2019, according to local reports. More recently, fellow K-pop star Goo Hara died at 28 last week, and police have ruled out foul play.
Cha had only recently begun to see his career blossom as he landed several starring roles in major Korean dramas. In a report about his death, Variety notes the “grim reality of the South Korean entertainment industry,” writing that the system is “pressurized and dispiriting … Pressure appears to come both from demanding management and from fans who use social media to viciously criticize perceived flaws in behavior and image.”
Forbes points to these issues as well: “Entertainers are not only criticized online for serious offenses such as drug use, but may face censure for dating, gaining weight, or expressing an unpopular opinion.”
Although public information is limited, both of the two female pop stars who died in recent weeks were relatively upfront about their personal mental health difficulties. Earlier this year, Goo publicly apologized to her fans for worrying them after a suicide attempt.
At the time of the incident, Goo was in the midst of dealing with a lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend, who sexually assaulted her and threatened to release a sex video to derail her career. Possibly in response to the turmoil, her agency ended her contract. The ex-boyfriend was sentenced to one year and six months in prison.
Both Goo and Sulli were subjected to intense cyber bullying, according to media reports. South Korea’s web portals, Kakao Corp. and Navar, are considering making changes to their opinion sharing systems, according to Forbes.
It’s unknown whether Cha faced similar online issues. The actor had posted a selfie on Instagram just hours before his death.
His agency has asked that fans not speculate or spread rumors about his passing.