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“Alive among the Dead”
By Antonina Veljanovska
EU Correspondent
SNSD Taeyeon
Depression and anxiety can occur from an early age. According to the latest research, the brain structure of newborn babies can predict the likelihood of the child developing early symptoms of some milder mental illnesses such as sadness, excessive shyness, nervousness and anxiety.

These early symptoms are closely related to clinical depression and anxiety in older children and adults.

Namely, depression is a deeply repressed anger that the person failed to express, so that person did not consciously turn it against himself. That is why depression is also called auto-aggression.

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among countries. However, the prevalence of depression in South Korea has been reported to be much lower than in other countries. The prevalence of depression in a sampled population of one million individuals increased from 2.8% in 2012 to 5.3% in 2021.

A Cox’s proportional hazard model showed that suicide risk was significantly higher in people with depression (hazard ratio [HR] 3.79, 95% CI 3.14–4.58) than those without depression.

Furthermore, higher income groups were at lower suicide risk as compared to lower income groups (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.80–0.95).

Considering the fact that South Korea has the highest suicide rate among all of the OECD member countries (31.7 per 100,000 individuals for the total population, 43.3 per 100,000 males, and 20.1 per 100,000 females), the concurrent increase in anxiety disorders might explain the extremely high incidence of suicide.

South Korea has the highest suicide rate among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, about 2.4 times higher than the average suicide rate of other OECD countries.

According to Statistics Korea, 25.2 percent of middle and high school students aged between 13 and 18 experienced the depression, under which they were unable to continue everyday life for at least two weeks, in 2020. It was higher for female students with 30.7 percent than the male with 20.1 percent.

The biggest concern among 46.5 percent of the teenagers was school record, followed by appearance dissatisfaction for 12.5 percent, future job for 12.2 percent, and physical and mental health problems for 6.6 percent each. About 36 percent of them consulted with friends on their troubles, with 32.5 percent taking counsel with parents.

Men have a higher suicide rate than women. Because South Korean women are much more successful than men. In a strange distorted reality, one would assume that suicide is "fashionable" when looking at the numbers.

Among the total 129,120 individuals, 4,790 were below 20 years old and 24,487 individuals had a history of psychological diseases.

Depression is currently the most talked about topic in South Korea, with most suicides being committed by K-pop idols.

K-Pop is currently at the peak of its popularity, idols' work schedules also play a role in their mental health. In addition to stress, overeating can cause people to forget or not have time to sleep, eat or drink properly, resulting in poor mental and physical health.

In South Korea, there has been a sharp rise in suicide by K-pop idols in recent years.

From an early age, they live a mechanical life, going through a spartan training regime. They rarely have the chance to develop a normal school life or normal social relation.

Although many of the big companies, the media, the fans, the family still can not accept that one of their loved ones or their idols has depression or anxiety, so for fear of disappointing many of the K-pop idols keep silent about their condition.

And that is why it is thought that the biggest culprit for their suicides is depression.

Many Koreans remain reluctant to visit a psychiatrist because of fear of the shame and stigma associated with mental illness.

Shinee Jonghyun was found dead after sending texts about “self-loathing, depression” and “disappearing from this world.”

Soloist Tany died in a reckless driving accident. But he was taking time off to stay with his parents after “personal problems” became too much for him.

Ahn So-Jin was supposed to debut with KARA. When she didn't, she mysteriously left the company and jumped from her 10th floor apartment.

UNee hung herself at 25 years old after suffering endless online attacks. She first wrote on her website: "I feel everything is empty. I am again walking down a path to reach a destination that I don't know."

But some of the idols have publicly spoken out about their battle with depression:

“Why do you say that of me? What have I done to you? I'm not a bad person” — Sulli - F(x)

"I am suffering from depression. I am working hard to get better through treatment with antidepressants, whether it's depression or bipolar disorder, please don't 'tsk' and treat people disrespectfully. They are all patients who are suffering." — SNSD Taeyeon

"At the time, I couldn't really breathe well. I had a slight panic disorder. There was a sense of suffocation that couldn't be explained through words."She continued, "I didn't realize I wasn't able to breathe well because I'm not sensitive (slow to react) to stuff like that. I went to the hospital after trying to breathe into a plastic bag and failing.“

Her condition prompted her to pick the song “Breathe” written by the late Jonghyun to be part of her album: “I wanted to help those individuals who are having difficult times breathing just like me and give them a moment to rest now." — Lee Hi

"How everything is really too difficult," and pleaded, "Someone.

Please save me." — Kang Daniel

"I have something like depression and I couldn't tell anyone for a while. I even began to think I couldn't last another day. One day I was chatting with my friend and laughing at a joke and all of a sudden I began crying." — Bae Suzy

“I know I used to have a low self-esteem, and that affects me sometimes, but thank you for saying to me that I'm the best” — San – ATEEZ

“I just want to be happy. Is that so much ambition?” — V – BTS

“I want to have a normal life, go to university, fall in love” — Chenle – NCT

“Sad people love rain because they don't cry alone” — RM – BTS

“Please, wait for the next comeback, don't let us, please wait for us” - Junkyu – TREASURE

“I'm scared that you be happy outside, but you feel empty and alone inside you, like me” – Beomgyu TXT
“Sometimes I think how different would have been only enjoying my school life” - Mark – NCT
“All the members are so beautiful, I don't feel that way” — Chaeryeong – ITZY

“What if I only disappear of TWICE?” - Mina – TWICE
“I'm accustomed to being ignored” — Renjun – NCT
“He pretends being fine outside, but deep down he is not, he suffers so much inwardly” –
Sejun — VICTON

“A little mistake here, is one bigger out there” – Jungkook — BTS

“I'm not happy” — JB - GOT7

“I'm the least loved member, but it's ok, I think” - Seungmin — Stray Kids

“I'm worried just being a bother for the group.”— Cha Eun Woo – ASTRO

“I don't have friends, except the members, I don't have” — Jaemin – NCT

“I am thankful with many people, who love me more than I love myself” - Jeongyeon – TWICE

“You only say I'm perfect because you are a Blink” — Jennie – BLACKPINK

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Antonina Veljanovska, based in North Macedonia, serves as EU correspondent for The Seoul Times. The Macedonian journalist has written for the local new media. She is interested in the Korean culture including K-Pop and fashion. Her hobbies include reading.






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