South Korean police are investigating the deaths of the father and grandparents of one of the country’s most popular celebrities – Super Junior front man Leeteuk. Multiple media outlets are claiming that the relatives of the best-selling boy band’s leader died in an apparent murder-suicide.
Leeteuk, whose real name is Park Jeong-su, bade farewell to his loved ones at a funeral in Seoul on Wednesday. The 30-year-old K-pop singer, who is in the midst of his compulsory military conscription, was given emergency leave to attend the service. Fellow members of Super Junior carried one of the coffins in a showing of solidarity with their leader.
On Monday, SM Entertainment – Leeteuk’s talent agency – announced that the star’s relatives were involved in a fatal car accident. By Tuesday, however, reports were emerging that the three bodies had been discovered in a Seoul apartment that belonged to Leeteuk’s grandparents. A source from the Dongjak Fire Department told reporters that a suicide note was found, leading to speculation of a group suicide.
The tragedy took a darker turn when the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing an unidentified police officer, claimed that the note suggested a murder-suicide.
According to the officer, “I will go to heaven with my parents” was written on the note.
The Chosun Ilbo report added that Leeteuk’s father, surnamed Park, suffered from depression and had been experiencing financial difficulties. Park had acted as the primary caretaker for his elderly parents, who had been suffering from dementia. He was divorced in 1998.
“The 84-year-old grandfather and 79-year-old grandmother were lying in bed covered with a blanket and the father, aged 57, was found hanging from a wardrobe door in his room,” said GlobalPost. “Police said they were trying to determine the exact cause of the deaths but believe that Park killed himself after strangling his parents to death.”
SM Entertainment, a management company that prides itself on the squeaky clean image of K-pop groups like Super Junior and Girls Generation, left no indication as to why they reported the deaths as being caused by an automobile wreck. The firm did release a second statement, however, that called media coverage of the tragedy “sensationalist.”
“Leeteuk is in deep sorrow. The family of the deceased is in anguish over reports on the details or on assumptions going out without constraint, and they desire to send the deceased quietly,” it read. “We earnestly ask on behalf of the family of the deceased that there is restrain on sensationalist reports.”
Super Junior has been the best-selling K-pop artist for three consecutive years, solidifying their international reach with a November concert at Wembley Arena in the U.K. They were formed in 2005 as part of a talent search by SM Entertainment, described by The Independent as “the epitome of manufactured, commercialized pop.”
South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the world. Though the country’s suicide rate has fallen by 11 percent since 2011, more than 14,000 South Koreans took their own lives last year.