Fame and celebrity

Six shocking deaths that shook the world of Asian pop

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 5:06pm

The tragic suicide of South Korean pop star Kim Jong-hyun has lead to an outpouring of grief and tributes on social media. But the 27-year-old - who was the lead singer of the country’s top boy band, SHINee - is only the latest Asian celebrity to meet a tragic and untimely end. Here are six more deaths that shocked the region’s pop fans.

Yao Beina (1981-2015)

Wuhan-born pop singer Yao Beina, best known for singing the pop version of Let It Go for the Mandarin dub of Disney’s Frozen, was diagnosed with breast cancer aged just 30. Despite undergoing a mastectomy and several sessions of chemotherapy, her condition worsened and she passed away in January 2015, at the age of just 33.

Kwon Ri-sae (1991-2014) and Go Eun-bi (1992-2014)

Fans of South Korean K-pop band Ladies’ Code were shocked when band members Kwon Ri-sae and Go Eun-bi were killed in a road accident in September 2014. The band, whose hit songs included Bad Girl, Hate You and Kiss Kiss, were travelling in a van when it crashed into a crash barrier on a rain-soaked highway near Seoul. Go, known as “EunB”, 21, died at the scene while Kwon, or “RiSe”, 23, passed away from her injuries in hospital.

Lee Hye-ryeon (1981-2007)

South Korean singer, rapper and actress Lee Hye-ryeon, also known as “U; Nee”, was made famous by her appearances in Korean TV dramas and the movie Seventeen. She won a large following across Asia after recording two hit albums, “ U; Nee Code” and “Call Call Call”. Fans were eagerly awaiting the release of U; Nee’s third album, “Habit”, when news broke in January 2007 that she had hanged herself at the age of 25. She left no note, but a message left on her website before her death read: “I feel everything is empty. I am again walking down a path to reach a destination that I don’t know.”

Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (1956-2003)

Successful actor and Canto-pop star Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing leapt to his death from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in April 2003. The openly gay star found fame as a teen pop icon and later as an acclaimed actor, starring in Oscar-nominated 1993 film Farewell My Concubine, in which he played a gay Chinese opera singer who commits suicide. The 46-year-old star went out to the balcony of the hotel’s health centre, where he ordered a drink and asked for a pen with which he wrote a suicide note. He then climbed over the balcony railing and jumped to his death.

Anita Mui Yim-fong (1963-2003)

Once dubbed “The Madonna of Asia”, Canto-pop queen Anita Mui devastated her fans in 2003 when she revealed she was battling cervical cancer. The singer and movie star found international fame over the course of her career, which began with 1982 album “Sum Chai” and went on to see her sell more than 10 million records and perform more than 300 concerts. She picked up awards for roles in films such as 1987’s Rouge and starred opposite Jackie Chan in The Legend of Drunken Master and Rumble in the Bronx. She had been set to star in 2004 martial arts blockbuster House of Flying Daggers, but her failing health forced her to drop out. Mui passed away in hospital in Hong Kong at the age of 40.

Wong Ka-kui (1962-1993)

Hong Kong punk band star Wong Ka-kui died from a head injury at the age of just 31 during an appearance on a Japanese game show. The lead singer of Beyond, which found fame with hits Truly Love You, Social Party and Like You, sustained a severe head injury after falling nearly nine feet off a slippery and narrow set. He fell into a coma and died six days later. Distraught fans lined up at the arrivals hall of Kai Tak Airport when Wong’s body was flown back to Hong Kong, and more than 3,000 mourners packed the streets of Quarry Bay as a hearse carried him to a funeral parlour.