By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |
South Korean singer-songwriter Sulli died a week ago in Seoul. Sulli, who started her career through the girl group f(x), remains largely recognizable through her work in K-pop and the Korean entertainment industry at large. Her untimely death reminds us that the strenuous music industry needs to care more about mental health and self-care among both producers and consumers of music.
She started her career in f(x). Being the second youngest member and the visual in the group, cementing herself as an easily-recognizable icon in f(x) and in the K-pop industry in general. During her time in f(x), she dwelled into the world of electropop-fueled music an worked on several hits with her fellow members, including “Hot Summer,” “Pinocchio (Danger),” and “Electric Shock.” She left f(x) in 2013 during the promotional tour for Red Light in order to focus more on her acting career.
After her involvement with f(x), Sulli ventured on to solo projects. She ventured in acting—something she had done since she was 11—and scored a leading role in the 2017 film Real, alongside other noteworthy projects such as The Pirates and Fashion King. She also extended her musical work to not only with f(x), but also through solo projects. In 2015, she worked with alt R&B singer-songwriter Dean to sing in his single “Dayfly.” She finished her solo album “Goblin” in June 2019, four months before her untimely death.
Throughout her career, she had been open about her mental states and her lifestyle through social media, which most Korean media has deemed her “controversial.” She was involved in television shows addressing her backlash and responded to negative comments addressed to her by Korean media and listeners in general. She remained resilient—speaking out against cyberbullying—and was also involved in multiple forms of activism.
The news of Sulli’s death comes really sudden, and with her constant openness towards her mental health in a society that disregards calls for help, it is time for us to provide a space for mental health in the music industry that could often be strenuous and demanding. If you are affected by the news of Sulli in any way, reach out to available mental health resources in your area (while Indonesia might not provide reliable help in a governmental level, there are some organizations in Indonesia combating this, and it is helpful to refer to national suicide prevention lifelines in different countries). Reach out to friends and family and do not forget to practice self-care. For others—whether it be workers in the music industry or music listeners in general—let’s foster a culture of care and hope in the perplexing world of music and its industry.