Roh Moo-Hyun, and Suicide in Korea

I was deeply shocked and saddened to read of late South Korean President, Roh Moo-Hyun’s suicide, but my shock and sadness wasn’t due to my respect or affections for the former president. I like to keep up with my news about Korea – mostly their pop culture – and I feel like I’m reading about suicides a lot more than I’d like to. There have been numerous celebrities who have decided to take their own lives. The reasons for suicides range from criticisms from internet trolls (a.k.a. antis who write hate messages on websites and such), to lack of work, depression, financial trouble, and to expose a dirty secret about Korea’s entertainment industry.

Suicide isn’t just for those who are high-profile; I’ve been reading more news articles about everyday-citizens taking their own lives: one shocking news story featured a fourth grader who took his own life because of bad grades. A high school student hung himself after receiving harsh corporal punishment from his teacher. Korea has also been hit with a rise in not only suicides, but suicide pacts — people meeting others online to make a pact to kill themselves together.

It’s unnerving and worrisome that suicide is on the rise in Korea. It worries me that with so many high-profile Koreans using suicide as a way to “fix-it” and that we’re going to see even a bigger rise in young and older everyday citizens following suit. Why are so many more Koreans choosing suicide over other means to overcome harsh times?

When did taking one’s own life become an option when life handed you a truck load of lemons? Why is it an option to use suicide as an escape route? Suicide is so tragic not only for the person who took his/her life, but for the people who are left behind to pick up the pieces. No matter who we are or what position we are in, we’ve all faced the harshness of life here or there. Yet, even with hard times and suffering, there are so many survivors. Then why do so many choose to give up?

Regarding former South Korean President Roh: guilty or not, he should have been an exemplary leader and faced the consequences. He took a very cowardly approach by taking his own life instead of fighting through the scandal. And Roh truly left a big mess for South Korea’s current president to clean up, since the Korean public is now defending him and criticizing Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office as well as the current South Korean Presindent Lee Myung-Bak; President Lee and Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office are being targeted as having caused Roh’s suicide.

(Flickr photo credit: Jens-Olaf)

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About jee

[NEW: View my profile on My 8Asians!] Jee has been a happy resident of the often too sunny So Cal since her family emigrated here from S. Korea in 1986. She enjoys all things food related, especially the eating part. She is a borderline introvert who loves adventures and spontaneity.
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