5) Choi Jin-Shil (1968-2009)
Jin-Shil was considered South Korea’s best actress, she was known as “the nation’s actress”. Kind of like our Judie Dench or something. She played the female lead in 18 movies, 20 TV dramas and 140 commercials.
Her parents split when she was young and she had a very poor upbringing. Jin-Shil has a real rags to riches type tale. Even once she’d been garnished with the riches of fame she was renowned for being frugal.
She married and had a couple of kids and managed to keep herself out of the limelight for the majority of the time. However, her husband became physically abusive and their split in 2004 became very public.
Jin-Shil did a brave thing: she came out to the world as being an abused woman. South Korea’s old and decrepid facets suddenly became flood-lit. The company she was working for at the time – Shinhan Engineering and Construction – claimed she had not kept her contractual obligation to “maintain dignity” because she disclosed to the public her bruised and swollen face. They went to court and the ruling was initially in Choi’s favour, and rightly so. But then the Supreme Court waded in and overturned the decision saying that declaring herself a victim of domestic violence constituted a failure to maintain proper “social and moral honour”.
How dark is that? Punished for coming forward about abuse.
She hung herself on 2nd December 2008. Her younger brother commited suicide a year and a half later and the suicide rate across the whole of South Korea reportedly rose for a month or so after her death.
In a country where 80% of the population are online but ancient culture and history still rule the hearts and minds of many, nothing is certain. Maybe they’ve grown too fast too quickly?
People don’t seem to be coping with the change.
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