Fans worry as Super Junior star Kim Hee-chul makes Instagram account private after Goo Hara's death

Super Junior's Kim Hee-chul had set his Instagram account to private shortly after Goo Hara was found dead in her Seoul apartment on Nov 24, 2019.
Super Junior's Kim Hee-chul had set his Instagram account to private shortly after Goo Hara was found dead in her Seoul apartment on Nov 24, 2019.PHOTO: SUPERJUNIOR/INSTAGRAM

Following the deaths of South Korean celebrities Goo Hara and Sulli, K-pop fans have expressed concern over the unusual online activity of Super Junior's Kim Hee-chul, a close friend of the two celebrities.

Kim, 36, had set his Instagram account to private shortly after Goo Hara, 28, was found dead in her Seoul apartment on Sunday (Nov 24), and also unfollowed everyone on the platform.

This means that all the posts on Kim's account cannot be seen by the public and that anyone who wishes to follow Kim on Instagram will only be able to do so if and after he accepts the follow request.

As of 9.30am on Monday, Kim's account has 4.8 million followers.

Reaction from many fans were supportive, reported the allkpop portal, which cited an online comment that read: "I can't even imagine how devastated he must feel right now seeing both of his close friends pass in less than two months. With everything that's happened to him in the past and even now, I really hope that he will come back strong."

It is as yet unclear how Goo, a singer and actress, died. Seoul police said they are still investigating her death, after they found her motionless in her Seoul apartment at around 6pm on Sunday.

She had attempted suicide in May, following a public row with her former boyfriend Choi Jong-bum in which each accused the other of assault. A court in August found Choi guilty of assault and of threatening to circulate a sex video of the couple, although Choi has filed an appeal.

Sulli, a 25-year-old former member of K-pop girl group f(x) and another friend of Kim, was found dead at home in October, in what is now largely believed to be a case of suicide.

Her death sparked scrutiny on the pressures facing K-pop artistes, and prompted debate over further measures to curb the behaviour of abusive netizens, who often post anonymously.

 
 
 

Male K-pop stars have been affected as well. In 2017, singer Kim Jong-hyun, better known as Jonghyun from boy band Shinee, took his own life at the age of 27.

A note he left behind said he had been "consumed" by depression.

The Korean Government has sought to introduce bills to tackle cyberbullying, with The Korea Herald reporting earlier this month that some bills have already been submitted to the National Assembly.

One calls for users to reveal their online user name and IP addresses when posting comments on online portals such as Naver and Daum, while another wants these portals to filter out malicious comments and block people from posting them.