Like the First Day

In Memory of Actor-Singer, Park Yong Ha (On Air, Story of Man)

 August 12, 1977 – June 30, 2010


June 30, 2010
Actor Park Yong-ha found dead in apparent suicide

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) — Park Yong-ha, a Korean actor and singer whose co-starring role in “Winter Sonata” catapulted him to Asia-wide fame, was found dead at his home in Seoul on Wednesday in what appeared to be a suicide. Police said the 33-year-old’s body was found at his home in Nonhyun-dong, southern Seoul, by his mother at around 5:30 a.m. He appeared to have hanged himself. No suicide note has been found yet, they said.

According to his family, Park said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” last night while giving his father, who is terminally ill with stomach cancer, a massage. He was last seen going to his room after midnight, his mother was quoted by police as saying. His family and acquaintances said Park had been deeply worried about his sick father. He was also taking sleeping pills.

Since his debut in the television drama “Theme Park” in 1997, Park was loved for his schoolboy image until “Winter Sonata” provided a turning point for his acting career in 2002. The popular melodrama series, also starring Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo, opened doors for Park to lead roles, including one in “Loving You” in 2002.

The following year, he debuted as a singer as well and made it big with his title song on the hit drama series “All In” that was broadcast across Asia. His musical career blossomed more in Japan than his home country with his albums making it into the Oricon charts and winning four consecutive Japan Golden Disc Awards.

Last month, Park was cast as the lead for a Korean television drama, which is a remake of the popular 1996 Hong Kong film, “Comrades, Almost a Love Story.” The shooting was set to begin in July. Fans were shocked by the news and have been grieving. “We lost a man with so much talent. It’s so sad,” an Internet user wrote on Korea’s Naver.com. Park’s official Japanese site (www.summerface.jp) was temporarily down due to overwhelming traffic.

South Korea ranks first in the suicide rate among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with 24.3 people out of every 100,000 having taken their own lives in 2008. The figure was much higher than Hungary (21 people) and Japan (19.4 people).

Park was the second Korean celebrity this year to end his life. Three months earlier, actor and singer Choi Jin-young killed himself after long suffering depression from his sister Choi Jin-sil’s suicide in 2008.

Celebrity suicides have become a major concern in recent years, often setting off copycat deaths. In 2008, actor Ahn Jae-hwan, reportedly mired in debt, took his own life, and less than a month later Choi Jin-sil committed suicide, distressed by rumors linking her to Ahn’s death. Last year, actress Jang Ja-yeon killed herself. She left a note describing how she was forced to have sex with powerful men.

Source: ejkim@yna.co.kr hkim@yna.co.kr yonhapnews.co.kr

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