According to the South Korean police, actor Cha In-ha was found dead in his home by his manager on Dec. 3. The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
The 27-year-old actor, known for his bright, cheerful image, played a pivotal supporting role in the current MBC TV drama Love With Flaws, which co-stars Ahn Jae-hyun and Oh Yeon-seo. The drama premiered on Nov. 27.
Cha In-ha’s passing marks the third time a young Korean entertainment industry star has died, possibly of suicide, in the last two months.
Singer-actress Sulli, born Choi Jin-ri, died in October, her alleged suicide connected to the considerable online harassment she faced for views that were considered by some netizens to be controversial. Sulli was 25 when she died.
As a result of the role cyberbullying may have played in Sulli’s death, South Korea’s web portals, Kakao Corp. and Naver, have been considering changes to their opinion sharing systems. However, cyberbullying may be only a symptom of a system that encourages fans to idolize actors and singers and then not allow the same entertainers to make any mistakes. Entertainers are not only criticized online for serious offenses such as drug use, but may face censure for dating, gaining weight, or expressing an unpopular opinion.
Sulli’s close friend, fellow singer-actress Goo Hara died six weeks later, after a protracted public battle with a former boyfriend who threatened and abused her. Ironically, the crime, for which he received a suspended sentence, resulted in her being victimized by cyberbullies. Goo Hara was 28 when she died. She had been rescued from a suicide attempt only months before.
It is not known whether Cha In-ha committed suicide or, if he did, what might have prompted it.
His career has proceeded smoothly for the last few years. The actor has worked consistently since 2017, appearing in the TV dramas Temperature of Love, Queen of Mystery 2, Wok of Love, Are You Human? Clean With Passion For Now and The Banker.
MBC has not yet released a statement about how Love With Flaws will proceed without Cha In-ha.