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K-pop star Sulli found dead

October 14, 2019

K-pop star and actress Sulli has been found dead at her home south of Seoul, police say. There were no signs of foul play, and officers did not find a suicide note.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Yonhap News Agencys

Police have announced that Sulli, a former member of the South Korean girl group f(x), has died at her home. The star's manager had gone to the residence in Seongnam, just south of the capital, Seoul, on Monday after the 25-year-old stopped answering phone calls for several hours.

"The investigation is ongoing, and we won't make presumptions about the cause of death," said Kim Seong-tae, an official from the Sujeong district police department in Seongnam, who added that security camera footage at Sulli's home showed no signs of an intrusion.

Read more: Pop music gains a political conscience in Saudi Arabia

Born Choi Jin-ri, Sulli began singing with the five-piece f(x) — one of the most popular groups in South Korea and an act that helped take the K-pop movement global — in 2009.

She left the group in 2015 and launched a career as a solo singer and actress in numerous television dramas and movies. Known for a feminist voice and a rare outspokenness among female entertainers in male-dominated South Korea, Sulli had recently appeared on a TV show in which K-pop stars discussed their experiences with malevolent online comments.  

Read more: K-pop superstars BTS to take 'long-term break'

In a statement sent to reporters, SM Entertainment, Sulli's talent agency, called her death "very hard to believe and sorrowful."

If you are suffering from emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, seek professional help. You can find information on where to find help, no matter where you live in the world, at this website: www.befrienders.org.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AP)DW's editors send out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.

K-pop as a route to Japan-South Korea reconciliation?

Japanese teenagers are very attracted by South Korean K-pop and often travel to Seoul to learn the songs, dance moves and the language. Could this help end acrimonious relations between the two countries?

Image: Getty Images/K. Winter

It's time for K-pop

Yuuka Hasumi (17) is one of the Japanese youth who joined ACOPIA School in Seoul. It is a dance/vocal academy run under the ACOPIA Entertainment division. This division offers not only lessons on how to sing and dance like their favorite stars, but also on the Korean language and culture.

Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

K-pop dreams

As K-pop star wannabe, Yuka has long hours of vocal and dance training. That also means no privacy, no boyfriend and no phone, but she does not mind. She says, "It will be good if Japan and South Korea will get along through music."

Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

'Nuts about K-pop'

Hasumi and Ibuki Ito (17) are performing at an ACOPIA School party in Seoul on March 16, 2019. In an interview with Reuters Lee Soo-chul, a board member of Seoul-Tokyo Forum said, "They're nuts about BTS [a boy band from South Korea] over there in Japan."

Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

No enemies, only friends

Yuho Wakamatsu (15) is also from Japan. Each year there are about 500 young Japanese who enroll for training in ACOPIA School. For training and board each participant has to pay up to 3,000 dollar per month. Seeing the K-pop craze among Japanese youth, Lee Soo-chul stated, “There is no Korea-Japan animosity there.”

Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Auditions for wannabe stars

There are also auditions held in ACOPIA School, and they also provide support and information about auditions. Nao Niitsu (19) auditioned for 10 agencies during a visit to Seoul and was accepted by five. "I’ve heard stories about no free time or not being able to do what I want. But, I think all of K-pop stars who are now performing have gone down the same road," she said.

Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Bye bye, politics!

Miyu Takeuchi has been taken as a trainee by K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment in March 2019. She was already a singer in a band called AKB48 in Japan, but leaving her 10-year career was not a difficult decision, she said. The popularity of K-pop and Korean culture is on the rise. Fans and artist apparently do not let them selves be bothered by diplomatic tension.

Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

'TWICE' as fun

Three members of the South Korean girl band TWICE (picture), dubbed the second most popular in Japan after BTS, are from Japan. But officials of JYP Entertainment, the South Korean agency backing TWICE, are reluctant to give comments on their success in Japan and on the fact that three members of the band are from Japan.

Image: Getty Images/AFP/Ed Jones

Is K-pop the answer?

The popularity of K-pop has increased in thepast years with singers like BoA and top boy bands such as TVXQ and BTS (in the picture). Will K-pop be able to end the animosity between the two countries?

Image: Getty Images/K. Winter
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