KOREA: Guest on TV show kills herself

Producers of SBS reality show Star King put an article of mourning their website

The Korea Times
Friday, June 8, 2007

By Kim Rahn

The suicide of a high schoolgirl who appeared on a television entertainment program is heating the cyber world over the reason for the suicide.

According to police, the 16-year-old girl, Lee Eun-ji, hung herself in her room at her home in Daejeon early Tuesday morning. Her mother was the first to find her.

Early last month, the girl appeared on an SBS television show titled StarKing, where ordinary citizens with extraordinary abilities or stories compete for an award.

Lee drew public attention to her loss of 40 kilograms, bringing her weight from 87 to 47 kilograms in three months. She said she did so in order to please her late grandmother who used to worry about her being overweight.

Lee's mother told police that she had scolded her daughter the evening before her death for not eating to lose more weight. Then Lee went to her room and the next morning her mother found her dead, according to the police.

There was a written will on her desk. It read, "I'm sad to have been scolded. Father and mother, I'm sorry for having worried you. I'm sorry for having given you pain."

Although her mother said Lee had suffered from depression over the stress of weight control, many Internet users are blaming fans of boy band Super Junior for Lee's death -- Lee's friends testified she received malicious comments by Super Junior fans after a picture of her posing with one of the group members during the television show was spread on the Internet.

A friend of Lee said Lee had posted a note on a Web site last month saying she was distressed by the comments.

Another friend said not only the star's fans but also Lee's classmates posted hurtful comments on her blog, with one of the comments saying, "Are you happy to have lost that much weight and to be on TV? I bet you underwent liposuction."

Producers of StarKing put an article of mourning on the program's Web site, saying they were shocked at the news and were praying for her.

A fan of the pop group also posted a written apology on a portal site. She said she and other fans recognized their comments could have led to Lee's suicide and apologized, adding they were regretful for having been jealous of the picture.