Winter Sonata Leading Male’s Death
The illustrious actor, Park Yong-ha has always been a household name as one of Korea’s leading actors after starring in the hit drama, Winter Sonata. His portrayal of the character Kim Sang-hyuk left everyone in awe and sympathizing over his tragic love story. This drama is even held at the highest standard by most as the drama that led the first wave of Hallyu, or Korean Wave, and being the man at the helmet for this project made him even more relevant than most top actors.
Unfortunately, in 2010, Park Yong-ha left the world after committing suicide due to various reasons that ultimately contributed to his death. His brilliant persona and soulful acting will definitely be missed by not only fans but loyal viewers alike. So are you curious as to what exactly caused his death? Or maybe his career and personal life prior to his death? What about friends and fellow celebrities that mourn the loss of such a great performer? Let’s dig deeper into the life and death of actor Park Yong-ha.
Park Yong-ha’s Career
Park Yong-ha jump-started his career in 1994 with his debut in the MBC drama, Theme Theatre. The role he was cast for was very minor and constituted for a cameo, thus it is not even credited at the end credits or any site citing the movie. His first official role came in the 1997 drama titled What A Tough Woman. This was also the role that helped him sign a contract with his first ever agency. Meanwhile, as a newly signed actor, he booked jobs for smaller roles, in both dramas and television drama projects.
His very first big break came in the form of the drama, Winter Sonata, which became his life’s work. This drama was a career-defining project for him as he stars as one of the leads stuck in a romantic conflict with the two main leads. The plot revolves around the main character who is separated with his long lost love as he was taken by his mother and had to change his identity due to the fact that they were trying to escape the dark past of his father. Park Yong-ha played the second male lead that stole everyone’s hearts.
The reception regarding Winter Sonata was way bigger than expected, sparking a mania like a craze around Asia. Its popularity expanded not only domestically but in countries such as Japan, The Philippines, and Vietnam with sales of DVDs reaching 330,000 copies and Novel adaptations reaching 1,200,000 copies sold. The drama also attracted tourist to spots where the drama was shot, especially Nami Island, which is iconic for its trees and scenic snow in the drama itself.
Regarding Park Yong-ha’s popularity in Japan, due to the success of Winter Sonata, he delved into the world of singing and debuted in Japan the year after, 2003 to be exact. He started off with an OST for the drama All In, titled 처음 그날처럼, or Like The First Day. Not only that, he continued on with another OST for the drama On Air in 2008, which helped him chart pretty high in Korean digital streaming sites. This proves that he was not only a talented actor but a multifaceted entertainer who is interested in growing himself.
Aside from OSTs, he has also released several singles and albums in both Korean and Japanese. As previously mentioned, he based off his singing career due to the fact that he blew up as one of the actors in Winter Sonata, so it was to no one’s surprise that his albums and singles managed to hit the Oricon charts in Japan. Furthermore, he even performed in Japan a couple of times, yet sadly, he was unable to do a full on tour.
His most recent projects leading up to his death were movies and dramas, having had focused on singing for a while, before his death.
Park Yong-ha’s Close Relationships
Prior to his death, Park Yong-ha was known to have a very tight circle of friends, some of whom were actors and actresses that he had gotten close to during filming.
One of Park Yong-ha’s closest friends was fellow actor So Ji-sub. Having been in the entertainment industry for a very long time, it is only natural that the two of them bump into each other in various events, but most importantly at the 1998 Andre Kim show where the two of them became models that walked the runway. The two actors met a lot backstage and got close to each other as the two actors who were not exclusively models and who are of the same age.
After they exchanged numbers backstage, they became even closer after met up with each other again, by accident, at the MBC lobby and then continued their meetings on an average of 3 to 4 times a week, growing to become each other’s closest confidante. Supposedly, their personalities were very contrasting to one another and they balanced each other out, thus it was easy for them to click and form a close bond. So Ji-sub is not the type to open up to people easily, and having such a bright friend in Park Yong-ha helped him to talk about his problems truthfully and open up his heart.
They became so close that they appeared as each other’s closest friend on KBS2TV’s Happy Together’s Close Friend Special. So Ji-sub appeared as he was invited by Park Yong-ha for the special episode and they referred to each other as best friends who are of the same age. On the show, they also talked about each other’s feelings prior to the friendship, in which So Ji-sub has always felt as if he is carrying all his burdens alone. After he met Park Yong-ha, the weight was lifted off his shoulders a bit as he was able to share it with a friend, receive the advice and support he needed.
Park Yong-ha’s Suicide
On the dawn of October 30th, 2010, Park Yong-ha was discovered dead in his room by his mother after he supposedly hung himself with the cords of his camcorder. The body was found likely a few hours after the accident had happened and his soul had long left his body and there were no traces of life left when emergency personnel arrived at his home. He was then moved to a nearby hospital for further examination and in preparation for his funeral.
The factors that contributed to his death come from several sources. It was said that Park Yong-ha had long suffered from depression and it had intensified in the past few months due to the stress of handling his own company and the fact that his father was diagnosed with cancer just a week earlier. It was said that his company, YONA Entertainment, that he managed himself, was not doing so well economically with profits nor reaching the target that he had set out for himself. Not only that, as he had just returned from promoting in Japan, many believed worries stemming from problems with his overseas activities might have also contributed to his premature death.
It was said that a few hours prior to his death, he had contacted some of his co-workers and in particular his previously mentioned father. Testimonies revealed that the phone call he had with his father contained endless apologies as if he felt guilty and unable to fulfill a certain standard that he had set with his father. Meanwhile, the phone call he had with his co-stars and juniors contained his rants about the worries and troubles he had been having as someone who promoted as both an actor and singer overseas.
Park Yong-ha’s friends were shocked when they heard the news, due to the fact that he had just returned from Japan, a few days earlier. He had even made plans with some of them as he returned to Korea, plans to meet up, have dinner, chat, and other activities. Some of them even testified, including co-star Park Shi-yeon, that when they had chatted a few days prior, he sounded ok with nothing odd in his voice or behavior on the phone. The same reaction could be seen from fans and the general public, alike.