f(x)'s Amber Liu speaks out on dark side of K-pop and bandmate Sulli's death: 'I miss her a lot'

The new year is here, but while some of us are able to recover from the scars of the previous year, others aren't quite so lucky.

Within the short span of just two months, the last months of 2019 saw the untimely passing of two popular female K-pop stars, Sulli and Goo Hara.

Prior to their suicides, both had dealt with relentless bullying both online and offline: The former mainly due to her career choices and fashion preferences, the latter for her appearance and a controversial past relationship.

Sulli's former group-mate from the girl group f(x), Amber Liu, confessed to CBS This Morning in an interview uploaded on Thursday (Jan 2) that she was still processing her friend's death. 

"Sulli was great," Amber reminisced, adding: "I miss her a lot right now." 

She fondly recalled that Sulli was always a "ball of joy".

Back when they were still in the same unit, Amber recounted that she used to get bogged and beaten down by harsh comments. Sulli, on the other hand, always seemed to be able to quickly get over them after talking through it.

However, as the years passed, Amber witnessed firsthand how the toll of cyberbullying, coupled with expectations set upon K-pop entertainers by the industry, had on them.

Female idols, in particular, have it harder than their male counterparts.

The 27-year-old rattles off a mental checklist female idols have to measure up against, including and not limited to whether their legs were the right shape or if their hair were the right length.

"Okay, is your hair on point? Is your face on point? Is what you're wearing good?" she shared.

Amber herself is no exception. She recounted conversations between other female idols and how they always revolved around the topic of diets and weight loss, as well as her own struggles to fit the mould. 

"My skin was too tan and I had to brighten my skin. I lost a lot of weight. I developed a lot of really bad eating disorders," she revealed.

Despite the fact that South Korea experiences one of the highest suicide rates at 29.6 suicide deaths per 100,000, according to the World Health Organisation, mental health is still considered a taboo topic in the country.

"When (people) hear you're getting help they're like, 'What? Why are you getting help? That's weird," Amber elaborates. "That stigma against mental health is just so strong."

Following the stars' deaths, the Korean Entertainment Management Association announced plans to curb cyber violence, root out malicious commenters and have them punished. Though Amber feels it's a great starting point, she believes that everyone could do their own part simply by being kind.

"The easiest thing that we all can do, everybody can do, is try to be kind to one another."

HELPLINES
  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
  • Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
  • Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
  • Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

rainercheung@asiaone.com