Song Yoo-jung, a South Korean Actress, Has Died at 26

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Credit…Dong-a Ilbo, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A 26-year-old actress was found dead on Saturday in Seoul, South Korea, the latest loss of a young performer in the country’s entertainment industry, which has faced a reckoning over the mental health burden on its glamorous stars.

The death of the actress, Song Yoo-jung, who appeared in several television dramas, was confirmed in a statement by the company that represented her, Sublime Artist Agency. The agency did not disclose the cause, but the suddenness of Ms. Song’s death brought to mind the series of suicides that has plagued Korean pop music in recent years.

Alarms have long been raised over the pressures imposed by South Korean management companies on young entertainers, many of whom are groomed starting as teenagers to be pop idols. Their looks are closely scrutinized, and their tightly choreographed lives are often broadcast on social media platforms that expose them to both adulatory fan mail and hateful comments.

For many, their time in the limelight is limited, if they ever reach star status. By their late 20s, some are considered replaceable.

A number of the K-pop stars who have taken their own lives spoke of struggles with their mental health and the toll of cyberbullying. Ms. Song, an up-and-coming actress, had not mentioned publicly any such issues.

Ms. Song began her acting career at 20 and appeared in commercials for Estée Lauder skin care products and for the ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins. In her breakout role in 2019, Ms. Song played a fresh-faced architecture student with a pixie cut, searching for her soul mate, in a web series called “Dear My Name.” She also acted in music videos.

She was an advocate for people with disabilities, serving as ambassador for a South Korean group called Warm Accompaniment.

Ms. Song’s agency called her “a great actress who performed with passion.” It did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The problem of suicide in South Korea is not restricted to the entertainment industry. The country has the highest suicide rate among the 37 developed nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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