Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Recent Tragedies (and Why Death Sucks)

You're all probably well aware of the passing of EunB and Rise of Ladies' Code in a car accident. You all have also probably just heard that Steam Girls member Tsukimiya Karen passed away as well in an unspecified accident. I didn't want to say anything about Ladies' Code, since K-pop really isn't my area. I'd never even heard of Ladies' Code before the car accident. Similarly, I knew of Steam Girls and even watched one of their music videos, but I didn't know the names of the members. However, I do feel like I should at least say something since these deaths all occurred so quickly after each other.

My short version is I hope the families of EunB, Rise, and Karen are doing all right and may the girls rest in peace. The long, meandering version is below...

The deaths of EunB and Rise came as a huge shock for me... but not in the same way it would have been if someone from BiS or Perfume had died in a car crash. Am I a horrible person for thinking that? I'm sad for the girls' families and the fellow members of Ladies' Code, but it's a very detached sadness. The kind of sadness you'd have for someone you only knew by name. I keep thinking about the ramifications of the car crash. How will it impact the idol industry in South Korea? Will it have any effect at all, or will people just forget after awhile? Then I start thinking about parallels to J-pop idols. The only J-pop idol I can think of who died in a car crash was Yanagihara Hiromi, a member of Country Musume. But that was in 1999. There was a 16-year old girl at my school who also died in a car accident. I didn't know her very well, but a lot of the same thoughts I had during her death were the same ones that came up in light of this car accident. A car accident is such a brutal, messy way to go. There's no time to react. Nobody ever gets into a car thinking, "I'm going to die." But it happens, and I'm so sorry that this happened to EunB and Rise.

Then the Tsukimiya Karen news came out. Unlike EunB and Rise's deaths, the cause of Karen's is a little unspecified. She actually passed away in July; her father only recently made the news public. Karen had actually been on hiatus from Steam Girls to treat her anxiety and depression. Karen's father stated that she died, "in an accident." What kind of accident though? I almost wonder if it was suicide considering Karen's mental health. That makes me think once again of Okada Yukiko's suicide. Agh, there I go again being a horrible person. I know it isn't my place to pry into Karen's death. If her family wants it to be private, they have every right to keep it that way. I'd actually be okay with never knowing the specifics, because at the end of the day, they really don't matter. All that matters is that Steam Girls lost a member and a family lost a child. I may have never been a fan of Steam Girls, but I hope that the members are coping all right. I also hope that Karen's father and any other extended family are doing okay.

The biggest sadness I feel is for the families of these idols. I lost a relative this year, and it sucks. I can't properly emphasize enough how much it sucks; anyone who's lost a a relative understands how much it sucks. The worst part for me was this was the first time I'd lost someone I was very close to, my grandmother. I didn't lose her in a sudden accident though. I knew it was coming for at least a few weeks. I'm honestly not sure if that made things better or worse. Because for a good portion of that time, it's like you're balancing on this tightrope, waiting for someone to cut it and trying not to fall off until that happens. You also spend a lot of time thinking up shitty similes that sound much better in your head. The weird thing (and what no one bothered to tell me) is that... there are times when everything seems totally normal. I didn’t spend this wait in agonizing misery, just counting down the days. There were some days where I’d be completely okay. And then there were the days where I was a total wreck. Anything could set me off. Usually when I was alone or not doing anything; if I gave myself things to do, it was easier to put the inevitable at the back of my head. Ironically, the times I felt the worst were when I was driving in my car.

When death actually comes, it's almost a relief. Almost. You'd think all that time before lets you prepare for what's coming, but I almost feel like it's worse. Because you spend those weeks knowing that there's nothing you can do about it. Except maybe find a cure for cancer in two weeks. No biggie, right? You also think that maybe, just maybe, there's a chance things will magically turn themselves around. When my grandmother passed, it finally let us all start going through the process of coping and moving on. But when she died, it also felt like a door shut. It dawned on me then that this was really happening and that there really is nothing I can do to make things the way they were. Those first few days after her passing were the hardest; I kind of went through them in a fog. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I just sat in my car, somehow I didn't skip any of my classes. There was this dead space in the air, and it was suffocating my entire family. But life went on. Slowly at first, with each day feeling like a chore, but it went on. I still miss my grandmother, and it still hurts to think about her being gone. But the world didn't implode on itself, and I took advantage of that.

My experiences with death really have nothing to do with Rise or EunB or Karen. I guess what I'm trying to say is I feel for the families of these idols. Losing an older relative is hard enough; I can't even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. And to lose someone so suddenly, with no time to even grasp what is happening in EunB's case and only a few days for Rise, that's an experience I hope I never have to go through. My mind keeps drifting back to the ages of all three of these idols. Rise and EunB were only in their early twenties. Karen was seventeen. These girls all should have had decades left to live and grow. What kind of plans did they have for the future? What did they hope to accomplish in their lives? What kind of relationships did they have with their fellow groups members? Who were they close to? I'll probably never ever know the answers to any of those questions, and I don't need to. But just knowing that there were probably things these three idols wanted to do and knowing they'll never get to do them makes me feel so helplessly angry.

Long story short, losing someone you love sucks. Going through the healing process after that is just as suck-y. But life goes on. You can't let death get you down, especially when it's a natural part of life. But you can acknowledge that death sucks. And maybe punch a wall or something. Dealing with death really, really sucks. My heart goes out to the families of these three idols and all their fans. This isn't a fun time for anyone. So... yeah. That's all I have to say.


  1. I am actually not surprised by the accident, since I have temporarily lived in South Korea once and people do not take traffic safety too seriously.
    I recommend you to watch this video on youtube
    to know more about the car accident and how the korean entertainment industry works.

    1. I've heard that the roads in South Korea aren't very safe, nor is traffic safety a huge emphasis. Kind of weird, since in the US traffic safety is hammered so hard into young drivers' heads.

      Really interesting video you linked me. I wish there was some way to change the overworked environment in South Korea...