Celebrity News
Rookie actress Woo Seung-yeon commits suicide
by | April 27, 2009 | 60 Comments

It’s a sad day when news like this is no longer shocking. There have been way too many celebrity suicides in the past six months.

Woo Seung-yeon, a 24-year-old rookie actress, was found dead on the morning of April 27 at home from an apparent suicide. She had hanged herself in her closet. The suicide is believed to have been triggered by depression.

A family member said on the 28th that she had recently received treatment at a hospital for her depression, but “she couldn’t handle the pain and made an extreme decision.” The relative requested that the deceased be allowed to rest in peace, given the current turmoil of scandals and accidents within the entertainment industry.

Woo Seung-yeon got her start as an internet uljjang, after which she began to model, and then branched out into acting in the movie Herb and the mobile sitcom Yap. Her most recent role was in the Hwang Jung-min film Private Eye [그림자 살인], which was released earlier this month.

(I know someone’s going to ask, so no, there are no indicators that this is related to the current drug scandal.)

Via DongA

60 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Jasmin

    Wow, one thing after another.

    When I fist saw the picture I thought it was Lee Bo Young.

    Reading K entertainment news the the last few days has been sad.

  2. jessi

    you’re right it is a sad day when this kind of news no longer shocks anyone…

  3. flygirl

    This is terrible. I’m beginning to feel like these suicides are a trend now for celebrities. Don’t they have help? How can they say that the pain is too unbearable? Don’t they think of the pain they will inflict on their love ones. This is madness. I think the industry needs to do something because this is getting out of hands.

  4. Biscuit

    Sigh. I’m no longer getting shocked anymore. It seems like a normal thing in K-Ent. Which is actually quite sad to think of it as a normal thing :/

    Now what will next year be with the rise of suicides?

  5. saharial

    so sad to hear of another tragic death 🙁

  6. xoxo13

    OMG, what’s up with these Korean Celebrities? Commiting suicide is like a habit for them..

  7. Jasmin

    Just had a general question regarding depression and mental illness, especially in the Korean society. This may have been discussed in previous threads before, sorry if I’m bringing up old discussions.

    I was wondering what the general consensus was about depression or mental illness in Asian society, in this case Korean society. Within the past year I have read over a handful of articles about celebrities committing suicide and I am sure the numbers are greater within the general public. Is depression or mental illness something that is general not discussed and maybe pushed aside and not taken too seriously?

    I’m Asian but have grown up in America most of my life but I have noticed that even within the Asian communities here depression can be considered something as a false condition. I’ve even heard people saying that people who suffer from depression just have to bare with life and push forward. Maybe it’s just the older generations thinking and I’m sure we have all heard of our grandparents stories of struggles when they were younger (i.e – living through World War 1&2, oppression…etc.).

    But with all these suicides, is it considered shameful to the public or ones family to admit your suffering from depression (or in some cases, other mental illnesses)?

  8. Tippy


    Such very sad news. Sincerest condolences to her family and friends.

  9. Jill

    Why are these folks killing themselves ?? Mental issues…Very depressive kind.

  10. 10 sippycup

    @ flygirl (3)

    One cannot definitely say whats going on in the mind of another but for someone suffering from a severe depression there often feelings of guilt as well as loneliness. A person who commits suicide, may truly feel that their family will be better off without them or that they won’t be missed.

  11. 11 Anonymous

    sigh… why why?

  12. 12 CK

    I think depression can be triggered by the perception of failing to live up to lofty expectations. When the culture adds even more pressure by applauding “over-achievers” and looking down on “losers”, then those who don’t succeed per society’s definitions could fall in depression. Perhaps this is one means to escape the expectations of a demanding culture. This is one cause; there can be others.

  13. 13 Kender

    Oh wow.. These have been a bad few months for Korean entertainment, haven’t they? :/

    I’ve never heard of her, but I’m sad to see this. I hope her family is doing alright.

  14. 14 emeldy

    I REALLY THINK THE K ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY THINK ABOUT THE NEED FOR COUNSELING AGENCY OR WHATEVER, there outta be lots of sick person out there… They need help !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. 15 Karinamaq

    Something should be done…
    this trend is scary and sad.

    I wish someone would step up in the Korean Showbiz Industry and create a program of “Hope” or something…

  16. 16 belleza


    Both Korea and Japan have high suicide rates. A lot of it has been attributed to generational shift (esp. in countries with Confucian values), but economic stress and debt are also contributing factors. Taiwan’s suicide rate is not as high, but overall it’s been climbing the past 10 years. China’s suicide rate very lately has taken off as well, and they account for 25% of all annual suicides in the world.

    Attempted suicide has also been showing up a lot of dramas lately. There’s the first scene in BBF. And in the 2nd episode of Shining Inheritance, upon losing her father and all her money, the lead female character attempts to jump onto a freeway.

    “I’m Asian but have grown up in America most of my life but I have noticed that even within the Asian communities here depression can be considered something as a false condition”

    Yup. It’s a serious problem in the Asian American community. Asian Americans have the highest suicide rate of all ethnicity in America. The suicide rate among Asian American women is alarmingly high, and it’s by far the highest of any demographic breakdown you can think of. Two of my classmates attempted suicide in my junior year.

  17. 17 travp16

    Wow..again. This is ridiculous.

  18. 18 Hannieoon

    Ughh…. another one?

    I’m don’t have any emotions about celebrity suicides anymore. I became indifferent to news like that. Well, I mean, it’s sad that she took her life. I am human after all. It does make me wonder about the Korean entertainment society. Is there really some kind of abuse going on? They can’t ALL be depressed. There has to be a reason for newbies to be committing suicide. I just wish there wasn’t news like this anymore!!

  19. 19 ed

    one report says woo just signed with her agency 2 months ago:(
    as a rookie it can be stressful dealing with the downtime between jobs. just saw kim hye-soo’s “essay” she’s been curled up reading books mostly since her last job in fall ’08. even she took a long time (into her 30s!) to find the confidence an actress needs, to stay for the long hull. they really could start a mentor program (but maybe competitive nature of the biz makes that “1st step” awkward, unless people already met on the job.) i think maggie cheung, michelle yeoh (once they got into their 40s) started such a program to mentor younger actresses following their path.

  20. 20 anonymous

    i read that Kim Kyung Rok from V.O.S was her ex-boyfriend.

  21. 21 Jasmin

    @ belleza #16
    Thanks for the info! I was pretty aware of the rates of suicide in Korea and Japan and even in Asian-American communities. Maybe it was experiences with my family that depression or mental illness was always taken seriously and collectively as a whole family we supported other family members, whether they were cousins, aunts, uncles. I think I’m just trying to grasp on the fact that so many other people (in Asian societies) don’t take it as serious or maybe even taboo and don’t try to reach out more often. I can understand how some people may find it hard to support friends or family with this disease as it’s something that’s suffered internally.

  22. 22 marcel

    this is disturbing news as always…my cousin who is more familiar with the korean entertainment industry once told me that newbies or less famous celebrities tend to feel an enormous amount of pressure from their careers..they fall into depression due to the insecurity they feel about their potential fame or success or lack thereof…it’s a sad and tragic cycle for anyone trying to make it in the korean entertainment industry…

    as a second generation korean american female…my take is that korean society is high pressure and high stakes to begin with…e.g. unless you score 1600 on the SATs, go to harvard, and end up a lawyer with a double six-figure income you are considered a failure…triple the intensity of the economic situation in korea, add the pressures of the entertainment industry to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster…

    i’ve been struggling with depression on and off my whole life..but recently have been going through a period of about five years where i never thought i would see the light of day..it’s a difficult thing to go through, and without supportive family, friends and a community network that is able to help you through the hard times, i can see how it would be difficult to survive…i definitely think there is a stigma associated with depression for asians..it’s unfortunate because compassion, knowledge and understanding of the condition are needed but so lacking…

  23. 23 Asarako

    I wonder why?…..

    Do their society do something to prevent it or after the news they just push the issue aside…..as if nothing happen… this is bullshit , Its like your depress go and kill yourself.

    And the other person in here Wang Jaji: “Most likely, this girl needed dick. Badly.”
    WOW! what an advice? Bravo! is that what you do all the time if you have a problem? i like the way you talk but your also remind me of a person who like to talk a lot, readily accept what happen in your surrounding but no idea how to help or make an ACTion…..

    Oh well just ignore the person who have a dick on their head……. whew!

  24. 24 briddd

    whoot dramabeans, time to exert your mod powers and zap that troll outta here.

    @marcel: please ignore that brainless idiot. guy sounds like he’s got some pretty serious issues himself. i’m so sorry to hear about your depression, but you’ve been extremely brave to confront it head-on despite the stigma you’ve mentioned that’s associated with the condition. you’re also very lucky to have such supportive friends and family, and just remember that no matter how long it takes, all problems will be solved somehow.

  25. 25 k-lover

    I’m with bridd, Jasmin, and Asarako, with this sensitive issue at hand, Sarah please block all the stupid comments the fool has said.
    R.I.P Woo Seung-Yoon.

  26. 26 Peeps

    Depression is scary. It’s scary not knowing what you live for. It scary not wanting to wake up tomorrow. It’s scary to think that you’re not important or have no purpose in life. In short, depression really is a scary thing. It totally ‘removes your soul’, doesn’t it?
    Then one would become a zombie. A crying sad zombie.
    Seung-Yeon unnie, you’re so young. Why’d you do something like this? *Sigh*
    My own uncle commited suicide. So, I’m really interested in this topic. What makes one so sad and see no hope in the future that one is willing to end one’s own life? Yes, granted that the world is a cruel place to live in, but does it mean that there’s no happiness here at all?

  27. 27 Peeps

    @Javabeans: PLease do remove the (!@#$%^)’s comments. It’s really disrespectful to both Woo Seung-yeon and her family.

    To add on: I guess her family had a part in her suicide too, huh? Depressed people should never be left alone at all times.

  28. 28 sippycup

    Javabeans, can you to delete troll comments?

    @ the troll in question. You may not care but there are people reading these comments affected by depression personally or know someone who has. I hope none of your friends or family will experience it, since you would probably only make it worse for them.

    I think the more celebrities suicides featured in the Korean news, the more suicides will follow. Due to the suicide copycat effect.

  29. 29 CyNurse

    This type of news still shocks me each time 🙁

  30. 30 amktsy

    from last year until this now,(about 1 and a 1/2 year)
    there is 7 celebrities commit suicide…
    i’m getting sick of all this…

    (no offence.i’m just keep knowing it until sick of it…)

    Really hope they can stop it. :angry:

    After Joo Ji Hoon take drugs,a rookie actress commit suicide…what the…

  31. 31 anna


    She was so young and beautiful.
    I know it’s shallow, but how can someone so beautiful be so depressed?

  32. 32 Jin-Ah

    Regardless of whether she is an actress, an office worker, or a student the amount of suicides in Asia (also in Lithuania, Russia, and other countries in what is considered the former soviet union) always stun and sadden me. I feel sorry for her family as they are now left to pick of the pieces and question themselves about what they did or did not do to help her. I hope she found the peace she was looking for……but the atheist in me thinks she’ll never find or experience anything again…It really is such a waste.

  33. 33 omo

    I pride myself on being a contented person until mr. depression himself stepped in.

    Depression is a manifestation of some other issues not straightened out.

    @ 23 marcel:
    You are a good person from the sound of your post. Don’t let other people tell you otherwise. Just remember that you are a billion times better than those people whose thinking tool is just way too small and narrow.

  34. 34 selva

    I feel really sorry about her 🙁 with all of these suicides in the industry lately, all of them are due to depression! then their life isn’t that glamorous as we all think! maybe we (the netizens) should stop criticising them all the time and give them some space cause they are humans just like us!!
    Depression is a really serious issue! and for people who didn’t suffer from depression before, then they should stop talking about what they do not know! depression can be caused by several reasons, and not just because you’re poor and eat crap everyday and then die!
    YES I’m talking to you Wang Jaji!!! your comment seriously made my day lol I can’t believe there are people like you who still exist in this world LMAO

  35. 35 fizzle



  36. 36 Sly

    Darn!!! Another human end her life… and the list associated with these “kceleb suicides” could go on and on & on…… haaaaaist!!!

  37. 37 Lucille

    This is indeed sad news. It also brought back to my mind, the girl from BBF. Behind her death there was a lot of talk about sex scandals in the entertainment industry. Can someone please tell me, what was the outcome of that? I know there was an investigation but did it go anywhere?

  38. 38 Sere

    Guys? The best way to get rid of the troll is…to ignore him/her completely.

    JB, you said it yourself: it’s a sad day when news like this is no longer shocking!

  39. 39 lidge_fan

    May Woo Seung-Yeon rests in peace…..I think there’s something serious wrong with the Korean entertainment industry given the many suicides that have happened…….It’s feels like what all of us see on-screen and have fallen in love with are just smokes and mirrors and there’s a very dark, sinister secret behind the glamor and glitz
    @marcel: Yes, depression is horrible…..I’m glad you’re doing well……I’ve struggled with it too……..Living day to day is a struggle but I just think of it as challenges I have to overcome………I encourage myself by lying in my bed at night going over all the things I’ve handled in the day and feel proud that I got through the day OK……Life is very precious and we should be grateful we have it…….I always try not to take it for granted
    @Wang Jaji: I’m all for joking and goofing around, but this topic is serious……..Pls respect WSY and keep all the sarcastic comments to yourself……..This isn’t an appropriate topic to be cracking jokes at……You’re not being funny, just disrepectful

  40. 40 yogini

    since i am new to the whole korean and asian cultural aspect, especially with their entertainment industry, it does amaze me that the first label they put onto a suicide is depression. although depression is real, but it seems like it’s the most excusable reason for an entertainer to take their life. even when the girl from BOF died, the first reason was depression. it may have been there, but as things started to get revealed there ended up being other reasons. that was my first feeling when i read the headline. again i am not downplaying the idea of depression, because it is real, but i get a strong feeling it’s becoming the go to excuse.

    my second thought is, if depression is rampant amound the industry, especially in the young new stars, then their handlers really should include weekly counseling into their training to protect their investment. from what i have seen the industry takes in the young to mold them. seeing the insane schedule of BOF (and wondering if other shows may be similar) and how much they wring out of young stars, having that support net in place could help keep the entertainers alive and well.

  41. 41 [email protected]

    @ marcel

    I think you explained very well why a lot of Asians go through depression. There is a lot of pride in Asian communities. Excelling is not an option it’s something you have to do. With my parents, they never had the opportunity that I had so when it comes to my plate they expect me to take it and devour it. Sometimes it’s hard living your life for your parents. They don’t understand how hard it is and that it doesn’ t take overnight.

    I also had a point in my life where I was depressed and occassionally I get to that point sometimes. The thing that snaps me out of it is to be honest…not my friends, obviously not my family but my conscience. There are far worst things in life. I have food, shelter and my health..that’s more than what other people can say. I have contemplated suicide more than once…I’m not going to lie. It’s such an easy way out…going to sleep forever…no one to bother you, no pressure…just you in never-caring land. BUT…that’s giving up.

    For others that have depression, I’d suggest to take yourself out of the box. You are contained in a box of pressure and expectations that are not yours (even if you think they are)…Find the door, get out and explore. It will be hard at first but you will see something that will be worth your while.

  42. 42 Samsooki

    @3, flygirl –

    I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be a struggling actor or actress in Korea. There is no pride left even after first contact with an agency, no self-esteem left to be protected after the first rejection, and the financial expenses never go down and so the pressure to succeed goes ever higher and the burden on the family must be intense. After the initial brush with success because you were “discovered,” expectations by you, all of your family, your relatives, your friends and neighbors, have probably risen exponentially and every drama, every movie, and television commercial and every print-ad that DOESN’T feature you is another mark of failure and/or sign that you just don’t belong. Every day points to scores of comparisons with success that did not come to you. Everytime you turn on the TV, every time you open a magazine, you look out the window, you see signs of failure.

    Who can these actors and actresses talk to, who can understand what they are going through except other actors and actresses who would gladly see you fall if only they could stand on your back. Family support? Family is probably part of the problem, as entire families might end up mortgaging their future to help in the “team” effort for success, leaving no possibility for failure and nobody to lean on in case things don’t work out. There’s no balance in the lives of these would-be stars, as failure is not just failing themselves, but often a family failure as well. Many parents, too, live a second life through their children, and those expectations can be just as damaging and stressful as any that an individual can place on himself or herself.

    @6 xoxo13-

    It’s not a habit. Each person can only do commit suicide once. The recent spate of suicides might be a string of completely independent events that rather randomly happened about at the same time, or it could point to larger issues that affect many actors and actresses in the Korean entertainment industry.

    One problem is that since suicides are usually surprising events for any one particular person, not much information is known as to the why (otherwise, the thinking would go, it could have been prevented). So, by nature, suicides tend to be unpredictable, shocking and hard to understand.


    I’m not sure if there will be a solution to be found in the short term, as the economic and financial environment in and around Korea is part of the package of stressors that are likely a tipping point.

    Look at this country, with the number of random people picking up automatic weapons, shooting a bunch of people, and then turning the guns on themselves. People point to a gun-culture, but really the stressors seem to be because of money (and/or lack of opportunity to get out of the hole that they find themselves in).

    We might be in for a very tragic year (and I mean, we have 8 months to go and I don’t see an end to this string) – I sincerely hope not, but with the economy the way it is, the pressure to succeed is just way too high, and thus the price of failure is equally too much to bear.


  43. 43 motosake

    wow, i’ve lost count of the many sucides this year… 🙁
    I agree that the K-Entertainment industry needs to have
    a better hand on these situations by checking up on their
    ppl and getting them help ASAP… this is very sad, she’s
    very beautiful… RIP

    @ everyone who’s annoyed by mr. wang jaji… the snob
    who obviously doesn’t understand the topic and is
    being a complete obsolete idiot… maybe it’s about
    time that U go get urself some…

  44. 44 Samsooki

    @23 marcel –

    An interesting take. i am also a 2nd gen kor-am, and I can tell you that for your example, even if you attain those benchmarks, nothing ends. the expectations don’t change, they just grow, and the fear of failure, and/or once you experience a failure, the fear of being discovered as a failure (after having achieved so much) is incredibly burdensome. And when something like that happens, there is literally NOBODY to talk to. There is no support for you, living as the model that everyone else tries to measure up to. I did go to Harvard. I did get 1580 on my SAT’s, I did graduate from law school with a high salary and all the trimmings, and I can’t imagine a worse life that I had to go through from highschool through after law school graduation and off to joining a high-powered law firm, and I wished my parents and all my relatives and all of the friends of my parents and family, all of my schoolmates and neighbors, I wished that they were all dead so that I could run away and just start over and have nobody know who I was so that I could just live my life without any expectations.

    My life has been a circus of expectations, both professionally and social-status-wise and everything else, and only recently have I been able to make peace with my family and my life. But if I weren’t so much of a coward, at the lowest points in my life (when everyone else thought that I was succeeding all expectations) I would have blown my head off as a “fk-off everyone, hey, and thanks for a miserable life” ending. I’m cool with my life now, but boy it took a while.


  45. 45 Lil

    Another tragic lost. The news is always saddening. It is unfortunate that these young people must resort to such action in order to escape. Just out of curiosity, how prevalent (or do they exist at all) psychological or counseling assistance available in Korea?

  46. 46 R

    This is getting so common that I’m not even feeling sad anymore.

  47. 47 LaFr4ise

    this is too tragic ..

  48. 48 Jessica

    @ Jasmin

    I don’t think it’s just general Asian society that takes depression too lightly but also European and South American society as well.

    From what I’ve seen, only America (and maybe Canada) seems to place that serious emphasis on mental health.

  49. 49 hjkomo

    @ Jasmin –
    Aside from the pressures associated with being Korean/Korean-American, depression is often viewed as something the person can snap out of if s/he puts her mind to it, and – “What do they have to be depressed about?”
    What many fail to realize is that depression is not just a mental illness (which carries its own huge stigma)…it’s a physical disease. A person cannot merely ‘will’ himself out of it.

    @ marcel – “i definitely think there is a stigma associated with depression for asians..it’s unfortunate because compassion, knowledge and understanding of the condition are needed but so lacking…”
    I completely agree. I’m glad that you have a support network of compassionate and understanding people in your life. Aja, aja!

  50. 50 Jo

    As a highschool student, I have to say that suicide has become very normal-and thought of as the best option for all that stress etc. People talk about it all the time and threaten to commit it as well….society has become on sad place people

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