Korean actress Jeon Mi-seon has died, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed from local law enforcement in South Korea. She was 48.
Police have not yet confirmed a cause of death, though they are investigating the case under suspicion that Jeon committed suicide. There was no sign of a break in or homicide in her hotel room, where the incident occurred, and the actress was reportedly suffering from depression.
According to Yonhap News Agency, the police said in a recent statement, “We believe Jeon Mi-seon was very depressed because there was a death in the family and her mother had been very ill.”
The veteran performer was well known for her numerous roles in television shows such as Five Fingers and The Moon That Embraces the Sun. Most recently, Jeon was seen on the series Andante, and in the feature films After Spring and the upcoming drama The King’s Letters, directed by Jo Chul-Hyun. The film is set for release in late July.
Jeon was born in South Korea in 1970 and began her performance career in Sung-Hong Kim’s Geurae gaggeum haneueul boja in 1990. From there, the actress won roles in films including Memories of Murder and Bungee Jumping of Their Own, before landing a regular appearance on the TV series Hwang Jin Yi.
During her career that spanned almost 30 years, Jeon was the recipient of many awards in her home country, including several KDS Drama Awards and recognitions from the Golden Cinema Festival and Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards.
The local entertainment industry has reacted strongly to the news of Jeon’s death, as it follows several high-profile suicides and attempts in recent years. In May, K-pop star Goo Hara made headlines for trying to take her own life (she has since recovered). Last year, actor Jeon Tae-soo died in what is believed to be a suicide. This was not long after the tragic suicide of K-pop star Kim Jonghyun. Better known as Jonghyun of SHINee, a boy band with a broad fan base across Asia, Kim also reportedly suffered from depression before he ended his life in December 2017. He was only 27.
Celebrity deaths and suicide attempts have reignited nationwide concern over suicide in South Korea. Among OECD countries, the Asian country has had the highest suicide rate since 2003, with an average of one person taking his/her life every 40 seconds. The most recent statistic provided by local authorities showed that more than 13,000 Koreans committed suicide in 2016.
Last year, South Korea’s minister of health and welfare, Park Neunghoo, announced plans for a program to prevent and curb suicides, for which he has set aside a budget of 16.2 billion Korean won (about $15.2 million) for the initiative.
A funerary hall for Jeon has been set up at Asan Medical Center in Seoul.