K- Pop idol and actor Sulli reported dead- what’s with Korea’s hate culture?

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K-pop idol and actor Sulli, passed away this Tuesday. She was found unconscious in her apparent apartment. The report was reported by her manager who couldn’t reach her since last evening. Sulli was found dead at 3.20pm after her manager went to her house when he couldn’t contact her. Though no suicide note was found, the police suspected suicide through her personal journal.

According to police- “Choi seemed to have lived alone in the house.”

The unexpected death of the star has raised serious question on South Korea’s hate culture. Sulli has always been a part of controversy for her bold views and choice of clothing’s. After all, her “controversies” included wearing shirts without a bra, getting drunk on social media, calling older male actors by their first names and openly supporting South Korea’s recently revised abortion law. She was very bold about her sexuality and choices. She was also an ambassador of a “no bra” campaign for which she received huge criticism. Her feminist view was not a digesting stuff for many of the non- feminist of the society. 

Her tragic death sends a sobering signal to millions of young women hoping to break away from conservative norms and reveals a great deal about Korean society in the process. Where on one hand the world is fighting over women empowerment and on the other battling with mental health issues- few people seems stuck in between including the former star Sulli. Her quirky way to promote empowerment doesn’t seem to be settled with the haters and thus the celeb was slammed with hate comments on multiple incidence. The then 22 years old seems to be more invincible than today, as even a backlash after her “no bra” campaign she was strong enough to post braless pictures and pass off haters. Typically, that isn’t the same this time. Days before her suicide, she posted a video on Instagram saying “I am not the bad person”. Now this really seems a way too high that even after getting a hint of her mental condition- she received no help. 

Cyber bullying and hate culture is a heinous thing which still by many countries is not considered a crime. Even the social media hasn’t put a strict guidelines over cyber bulling. This has led to numerous death since past two years, let alone in South Korea. Cyber bullying today isn’t just bullying but a trigger coin for depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Before Sulli many other Korean stars too were noticed going down the same fate including Daul Kim in 2009, Kim Jonghyun in 2017 and Jeon Tae Soo in 2018- all ended up committing suicide. So what’s with this suicide culture? Basically, Suicide is the last stage for many of the mental disorders to which many of these celebrities seems suffering from. And this is not an issue in Korea alone but the whole world is at the urge of such epidemic. So rising hate culture and cyber bullying is just another factor igniting the condition. Coming back to Sulli, often named as “Kim Kardashian of South Korea” was somehow exactly not like the Kardashians as they enjoy freedom over their body and clothes, whereas here in Korea that wasn’t the case.

Almost 1 in 4 of 8 to 11-year-olds and 3 in 4 of 12 to 15-year-olds has a social media profile. Around 1 in 8 young people have been bullied on social media. Almost 1 in 4 young people have come across racist or hate messages online. In 2017, the Internet Watch Foundation identified over 78,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse images. A 2016 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center found 34 percent of teens have been victims of some type of cyberbullying. On the other hand 15% admitted bullying others. Research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting revealed the number of children admitted to hospitals for attempted suicide or expressing suicidal thoughts doubled between 2008 and 2015. Much of the rise is linked to an increase in cyberbullying.

The freedom we have to bully someone while maintaining our anonymity is what outraging the hate culture. The guidelines should be strict on demolishing anonymity and making sure that people uses their own name. People don’t even realize what damage their comments are causing to the person and how deadly they can prove to be. The ignorance is rising and rising while people continue making senseless allegations and spreading rumors. If you know someone being bullied, don’t just sit around and take action. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying. Also one thing is very important that when you encounter any such event respond thoughtfully, not fast. Always keep the record of each such event with all the proofs, so in the end it can make it easier for you to achieve justice. A little awareness and presence of mind is enough to eradicate online abuse completely from the world.  

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