South Korea has been rocked by the third sudden death of a K-pop star in two months. Cha In Ha, a member of the boy band Surprise U who'd also appeared in a short film and TV drama, was found dead at his home on Tuesday at age 27, per Reuters. A cause of death was not immediately known. In a Monday post on Instagram, Cha—real name Lee Jae-ho—had written, "Everyone be careful not to catch the cold," Reuters reports, while Variety translates the message as "Everybody, watch out." The photo reportedly showed him "looking moodily at his phone." His death is the third of a K-pop star since October amid what some are calling a "toxic" fan culture fraught with online abuse, per the Guardian.
Singer Sulli, real name Choi Jin-ri, had been vocal about her mental health struggles and depression before she was found dead in a suspected suicide at age 25, per the Guardian. A few weeks later, her friend Goo Hara, 27, was found dead at her home. She'd suffered online abuse during a court battle with an ex-boyfriend who'd threatened to release explicit video filmed without her consent. Reuters found no reports suggesting Cha suffered similar abuse. However, a rep for talent agency Fantagio has asked "for rumours not to be spread, and for speculative reports not to be released" as his family grieves the death "that is still hard to believe." (Two K-pop stars were just imprisoned for rape.)