2019 was a bleak year and in the eyes of many the worst year the Kpop industry had ever seen.
This year in Kpop so many scandals occurred that attracted attention from various news outlets from around the world. Some of the biggest controversies ever hit Kpop in 2019.
On top of the many controversies that exposed the true faces of some of the biggest Kpop idols, we had to deal with the loss of many notable actors, personalities and idols in 2019.
Today we’re taking a look at Korean celebrities we lost in 2019.
- This is a comprehensive list. If I missed someone please let me know in the comment section so I can add them.
- We’re not addressing the death of Kpop idols parents/grandparents or close family members, only celebrities who work directly in the Kpop and Kdrama industry.
1. Trot Singer Jin Hyoung
Trot singer Jin Hyoung untimely death shocked many, it was also one of the first celebrity death news of 2019.
On January 8, 2019 news outlet OSEN reported that the trot singer Jin Hyoung suddenly passed away in the early hours of January 7 morning due to a sudden heart attack, he was 33 years old.
His wife has also personally shared the news to the singer Instagram through a post, she wrote,
“My beloved husband.
I miss you so much. Yoo, Kun and Momo, who loved you so much. What was so urgent that you had to leave so soon?
I miss you so much, honey.
Please say your last goodbye to my husband one last time so he doesn’t feel lonely. I’m sure he’ll be waiting. Seoul Adventist Hospital Funeral Home No. 101.”
The singer debuted back in 2006 with “Announcing the Breakup” and released many tracks throughout the years to come. He only married his wife last year.
May his soul rest in peace.
2. Maeng Yuna
Maeng Yuna is the only celebrity on this list to have had their death reported much later. While she technically didn’t pass away in 2019, her death was reported in 2019.
On January 8, Singer-songwriter Maeng Yuna’s agency released an official statement in which they explained the indie singer has passed away; they belatedly revealed she passed away on December 26.
She was found deceased at her home from a heart attack, she was 29 years old. The agency explained why they revealed the news so late, it was due to the date coming so close with the end of 2018, they expressed their shock at her sudden passing and revealed she had been preparing for a comeback with her third studio album.
Her funeral was held in attendance of her closest friends, and her agency also added that the singer didn’t suffer from any particular disease.
The indie singer debuted back in 2007 with an OST she sang for the drama “Spring Walt’s,” throughout her career she earned the title of “Suzanne Vega of South Korea,” her sudden passing has taken South Korea by surprise.
3. Actor Song Young Hak
On September 26, various Korean news outlets reported that the beloved actor passed away on September 24, only nine days before his 43rd birthday. Depending on the Korean source, its either stated that the cause of his death has not been revealed or is unknown.
His mother and two sisters were present for his funeral procession which took place on the morning of September 26.
Song Young Hak has appeared in many kdramas over the years, most notably in “Life on Mars,” “Lovely Horribly,” “The Fiery Priest,” and “My Fellow Citizens.”
4. Woo Hye Mi
The rising singer made it to the quarterfinals in 2012’s ‘Voice Korea.’ She debuted in 2015, and only recently released her first mini-album back in August.
On September 22, it was reported that Woo Hye Mi acquaintances were unable to reach her for the past two days. Police arrived at her home on the night of September 21 to find that she had already passed away. The exact cause of death is still unknown.
Her label issued a statement to the press expressing their shock at her sudden passing,
“We’re in shock that she’s no longer with us.”
The label also added that she didn’t attend the meeting for her new single music video yesterday and that they tried to contact her to no avail.
Singer Woo Hye Mi promoted under the name Miwoo. She was 31 years old in Korean reckoning at the time of her passing.
Her funeral was held at the Seoul Sacred Heart Hospital.
May her soul rest in peace.
5. Jeon Mi Sun
On June 29 it was revealed that the 49-year-old actress Jeon Mi Sun died. Police initially suspected suicide, however, in a statement to the press, they expressed that an investigation was underway to determine the exact cause.
Netizens began to speculate the possibility of foul play, however, police later released a statement that confirms they believe she took her own life.
The police told the press that the actress checked into the hotel around 1 am in the morning and stayed by herself. CCTV evidence shows no one coming in after her or coming out of her room. They add,
“There was no evidence of invasion or homicide, and no final letter was discovered.”
On the same day, her agency released an official statement explaining that the actress was being treated for depression [that was before police confirmed it was suicide].
Police also touched on the possible reason on why she made this decision, they explain a family member recently passed away and her mother was ill. They added,
“She called her father at 1:40 a.m and it seems that she died two hours later. We estimate that period of time because many tried calling her to no avail.”
6. Han Ji Seong
On May 8, various Korean news outlets reported that an actress in her late 20s passed away after being hit by two cars in succession on the Incheon International Airport Expressway.
The identity of the actress was later revealed, she was idol-turned-actress Han Ji Seong. She was 28 years old.
According to the Gyeonggi Kimpo Police Station, the accident occurred on the Incheon International Airport Expressway on May 6 at approximately 3:50 am KST.
It is believed that she turned the hazard lights on and stopped her car on the second lane of the three-lane expressway when her husband had to urgently use the restroom. When he came out of the restroom, he found out that his wife had passed away.
A taxi driver B (56) on the third lane saw her husband quickly come out of the car and he tried to change lanes quickly but unfortunately, he drove into Han Ji Seong, who was standing outside her car.
She then fell into the first lane and an SUV driver C (73) drove into her for the second time. Police investigated all the responsible personals in the accident. An autopsy was conducted to figure out the exact cause of death. It turned out that she was driving drunk with a blood alcohol content high enough to result in a canceled driver’s license.
Later, the police booked her husband without detention under the suspicion of aiding and abetting his wife Han Ji Seong’s drunk driving,
Han Ji Seong debuted as a part of Kpop girl group B Dolls in 2010 and later shifted her focus onto acting. She appeared in many dramas such as “Second to Last Love” and “Happy Sisters” and the film “One Punch.”
7. Koo Bon Im
Actress Koo Bon Im passed away on April 21 at 4:50 a.m. KST. Her family revealed that she was sick and thought it was rhinitis but it turned out to be nasopharyngeal cancer, she was treated for a year but it didn’t work out. After struggling with her cancer she passed away.
The burial site was set up at Incheon Shillakwon Funeral Home, and her funeral was held on April 23.
Koo Bon Im appeared in many popular dramas and movies such as “I Am the King,” “A Werewolf Boy,” and “My Lovely Family,” “Warm and Cozy” and “Bring It On, Ghost.”
8. Lee Il Jae
Lee Il Jae has passed away at the age of 58 from lung cancer on April 5.
According to a source from the entertainment industry, the actor spent his last moments surrounded by his family at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital in the hospice ward in the early morning of April 5.
Lee Il Jae had previously made an appearance on a variety show last year where he announced that he diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
The actor was born in 1960 and graduated from Hanyang University with a degree in Theater and Film. He made his debut as a theater actor in 1981, and became known after appearing in the 1990 film “The General’s Son,” with his role Kim Dong Hwe.
He married his wife back in 2000 and left behind two daughters.
9. Actor And Fashion Designer Ha Yong Soo
According to Ha Yong Soo’s family, he passed away on January 5 at 2:45 a.m. KST after suffering from liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, and cerebral infarction.
The famous actor and fashion designer won the best costume award at the Chunsa Film Festival in 1991 and the Grand Bell Awards in 1992.“Heavenly Homecoming to Stars” and “The Rules of the Game.”
One of the most shocking deaths on this list has to be that of Sulli. She is also the youngest celebrity on this list as well. Sulli was 25 years old when she passed away.
On October 14, police received a report that Sulli has been found dead. She was found at her home in Sujeong-gu, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. Her manager found her around 3:21 pm KST. He went to her house because he couldn’t reach her and found her body. Later, SM Entertainment confirmed those reports.
Various colleagues and celebrities delayed their schedules or canceled them altogether following the shocking news of Sulli’s sudden tragic passing.
f(x) members attended the funeral and flew from various locations to Seoul upon hearing the news. Press cameras weren’t allowed at the funeral as well. The whole industry was in mourning following her tragic passing.
In a follow-up statement, it was revealed that Sulli’s funeral procession was carried out on October 17 at Sinchon Severance Hospital.
As per to SM statement in response to the family wishes, the funeral was carried out quietly behind closed doors. Family, close friends and colleagues attended the funeral to pay their respects to Sulli.
Prior to laying her to rest, an autopsy was held on October 16 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. KST. The Seongnam Sujeong Police Station announced the initial findings of the autopsy,
“No suspicions of homicide, such as external forces or pressure, were discovered as a result of the preliminary autopsy.”
Later, on December 10, news outlet NewDaily published an exclusive report; they spoke to a representative from the Gyeonggi Sungnam District Police Office and they revealed the final results of the late singer-actress Sulli autopsy which was conducted shortly after her death.
The representative stated the autopsy showed no traces of any harmful drugs or poison or substance consumption. The police will be closing the case soon with the results of the autopsy in mind.
On October 21, “Night Of Hate Comments” which had Sulli as one of its hosts released an official statement in which they announced the show has been terminated, announcing the show’s last episode aired on October 11 (its 16th episode).
As a result, Daum abolished comments on articles following her death after k-netizens demanded stricter action to be taken in relation to those who leave defamatory hate comments.
In the midst of all of this, it was reported that two firefighters leaked private information regarding Sulli’s time and location of passing. The documents spread on social media and were subsequently shared by blogs and news sites. They were later punished.
11. Goo Hara
While the Kpop industry was slowly recovering following the death of Sulli, fans woke up to terrible news a month after Sulli’s death.
According to Seoul Gangnam Police Station, Goo Hara was found dead in her home in Cheongdam neighborhood of Seoul on November 24 at approximately 6 p.m. KST. Goo Hara was only 28 years old.
Goo Hara has had a difficult 2019, she was involved in the very public fight against her ex-boyfriend who attempted to spread their sex tape last year. After her contract with her Korean agency expired, she focused on promoting in Japan and signed with a Japanese agency in June.
Their trial ended a couple of months ago; Choi Jong Bum (ex-boyfriend) had received a prison sentence of one year and six months, suspended for three years of probation. The prosecution filed an appeal against the court’s sentence back in September advocating for a harsher sentence to serve as a lesson to those who would attempt to do what he did in the near future.
Choi Jong Bum was sentenced for crimes of property damages, physical assault, threatening, and unnecessary force, he received a prison sentence of one year and six months, suspended for three years of probation. He was acquitted of sexual assault in the form of illegal footage filming. He had previously threatened to spread their sex tap and even contacted media outlet Dispatch to negotiate a deal according to Dispatch themselves.
After he was handed his sentence, the prosecution filed an appeal against the court’s sentence back in September of 2019 advocating for a harsher sentence to serve as a lesson to those who would attempt to do what he did in the near future.
The police later made an official statement regarding the ongoing investigation into Goo Hara’s sudden tragic death.
Through a press conference that was held on November 25, Commissioner Lee Yong Pyo of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency stated that they found a hand-written note on a table in her living room; however, he declined to comment on the exact content of that note.
The commissioner also explained that based on on-site inspection and testimonies from her family members, they ruled out the suspicion of foul play. The police later revealed more details about the approximate time of death, according to CCTV footage, she arrived home around 12:35 a.m. on November 24, the commissioner concluded that it’s likely she passed away after that time.
Her housekeeper found her around 6 p.m., Commissioner Lee Yong Pyo stated that the housekeeper had a close relationship with Goo Hara, she came to her house to check up on her after her attempts of trying to contact her failed.
Following police initial statement that shed light on the circumstances surrounding Goo Hara’s sudden passing, they have returned with another statement to confirm there will be no autopsy conducted on Goo Hara. They had previously ruled out foul play.
A source from the Seoul Gangnam Police Station told news outlets that considering various factors such as testimonies from Goo Hara’s family and the situation at the scene, a decision has been made, there be no autopsy carried out since there are no suspicions of criminal activities. Because of how much her ex-boyfriend caused her pain, fans and k-netizens were furious after hearing the news, they trended multiple hashtags asking for the punishment of Choi Jong Bum, #Punish_Choi_Jong_Bum (written in Korean) topped Korea trends for a while, plus many other hashtags in relation to her death on the days following her passing.
12. Singer Ham Jung Ah
On November 1st, it was revealed that singer Ham Jung Ah who debuted in 1978, passed away at a hospital in Busan around 10:00 am.
It was reported that he struggled with lung cancer for six years, and during an appearance on TV Korea’s “Life Documentary My Way,” he revealed that he had liver cirrhosis due to drinking lots of alcohol.
13. Cha In Ha
The first report was revealed in the afternoon of December 3. Police initially stated that the actor was found dead at his home on December 3rd. The police stated that an investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of death.
Following the sudden shocking report, his agency, Fantagio, initially released a statement to let the press know they’re checking the facts, they later returned with an official statement confirming that Cha In Ha has passed away.
In their statement, they stated,
“We’re filled with grief at the news and it’s still hard to believe.
We would like to ask you to refrain from spreading speculative reports and rumors in order for his family, who is experience great sadness, not to experience even more sadness.”
Fantagio also added that his funeral will be held privately.
In a statement released on December 4, police explained that they won’t be requesting an autopsy out of respect for the family’s wishes.
An official from the Seoul Suseo Police Station stated,
“We cannot confirm the cause or the details of the death of Actor Cha In Ha.”
The police also stated that no suicide note was found after a search was conducted at his home. Cha In Ha’s agency told the press that his funeral will be held quietly as requested by his family and asked for fans and media outlets to refrain from making or spreading speculative reports that would hurt the bereaved family.
Cha In Ha was born in 1992 and made his debut in 2017’s short film “You, Deep Inside of Me.” He is one of the actor group SURPRISE U members. He appeared in many kdramas such as “Degree of Love,” “Wok of Love,” “Are You Human, Too?,” “Clean with Passion for Now,” and “The Banker.”
He was also appearing in the currently airing drama “Love with Flaws” which premiered in late November.
May their souls rest in peace.