By Kwon Mee-yoo
Popular actor and singer Park Yong-ha
, 33, was found dead at home in southern Seoul Wednesday morning after apparently killing himself, the latest in a series of suicides by top celebrities.
Park, one of the top "hallyu" (Korean wave) stars, was found by his mother hanging from a camcorder charger cable in his room early Wednesday morning, police and family members said. His brother-in-law told reporters that he left no suicide note.
"He was found dead at around 5:30 a.m. There was no suicide note. Please pray for him to rest in peace", he said in a press briefing at St. Mary's Hospital in southern Seoul where Park's body was taken.
The previous night Park had repeatedly said "sorry" to his family while giving a massage to his father who is battling stomach cancer, according to police.
His fellow actors said that he had been agonizing over his father's illness.
Police suspected that Park hung himself on the spur of the moment at around 4 a.m. after drinking, though the reason for the suicide was unclear. "He seemed to be under stress because of his father's cancer and keeping pace with both business and entertainment work", an officer said during a press conference. "He did not have any financial or health problems such as depression".
He added that Park's call history on his cell phone had been deleted but text messages remained, but declined to provide details.
The officer said that as he obviously committed suicide, an autopsy - opposed by the family - would not be performed.
Park made his debut in 1994 in MBC's Theme Theater and appeared in several dramas and movies. He rose to stardom in Korea and Japan after starring in the megahit "Winter Sonata
" with Bae Yong-joon
and Choi Ji-woo
He was also a popular singer in Japan where fans reacted with shock to his death. Tokyo Broadcasting System aired a one-hour special program on Park Wednesday.
Park made his debut as a singer there in 2003 and released several hit albums including "Once in a Summer
" in 2009 which ranked sixth on the Oricon daily chart and 14th on the weekly version.
He won Japan Gold Disc Awards for "Best Asian Artist" in 2007 and 2008.
In 2008, Park established his own agency titled Yona Entertainment and made a successful comeback to Korea through the drama "On Air"
, playing the role of a television producer. He also starred in the movie "The Scam
" and the drama "The Slingshot
" in 2009.
Park had been cast as a main character in the new drama "Love Song - Drama"
with Yoon Eun-hye
, which would have started filming soon. He had also scheduled a concert tour of Japan from June 24 to September and had played one gig in Saitama last Saturday.
A number of entertainers have killed themselves one after another in the late 2000s.
On Feb. 22, 2005, actress Lee Eun-joo
committed suicide over her family's financial problems. Actress Jeong Da-bin
and singer Yuni took their own lives in 2007, as did actor Ahn Jae-hwan
Also in 2008, iconic actress Choi Jin-sil
's suicide shocked the nation as she was famous for portraying a bright image.
These suicides of entertainers prompted copycats in what is known as the "Werther Effect".
한류스타 박용하 자살
가수겸 배우 박용하(33)씨가 30일 아침 서울 자택에 전선줄로 목을 매 자살했다.
박용하씨의 매형은 시신이 안치된 서울 강남성모병원에서 "고인이 오늘 오전 5시 30분 숨진 채 발견됐다. 유서는 없었다. 좋은 곳으로 갈 수 있도록 기도해 주시길 바란다"는 공식입장을 밝혔다.
경찰에 따르면 박씨는 암 투병중인 아버지에 대해 힘들어했고, 자살 전날 부친의 다리를 주무르며 "미안합니다"라고 말했다.
박씨는 1994년 MBC 테마극장으로 데뷔한 뒤 2002년 한류 열풍을 일으킨 '겨울연가'로 일본에서 인기를 얻었고, 올해에는 드라마 '러브송'촬영이 예정되어있었다.
2005년 배우 이은주, 2007년 배우 정다빈과 가수 유니 등 많은 연예인의 잇단 자살로 충격을 주며 모방 자살을 이끄는 '베르테르 효과'에 대한 우려의 목소리가 높아지고 있다.