Koreaboo & its Problematic Coverage of Mental Health


Koreaboo is one of a number of western Kpop news sites that utilises the ‘Buzzfeed style’ of reporting and often employs clickbait as a hit grabber, though this does not exclude them from the responsibilities associated with being an influencer of millions of people, many of them young. 

This is something that seems to have passed Koreaboo by, however, particularly in an article regarding ‘scandals’ yesterday.

Not everyone will recognise the left half of the header image Koreaboo chose to use, though as a fan of first generation group g.o.d I immediately recognised it as the heartbreaking photograph of Son Ho Young at his girlfriend’s funeral.

Knowing that this article was almost certainly going to cover the details surrounding this event, one can’t help but question why anyone at Koreaboo thought this a good idea – especially as the article would sit directly under a tribute to SHINee’s Jonghyun for some time.

In 2013, So Ho Young attempted to take his own life, following the suicide of his girlfriend. Once strong enough to talk about his experiences, Ho Young revealed a long struggle with his mental health that he lost control of during that time.

Ho Young was lucky, he was saved from the situation in which he placed himself and came out of the other side realising that the support he needed had been beside him all along. Most people don’t get this second chance after making this decision – and it is problematic to display a case of mental illness and suicide as one of the ‘worst scandals of the past 20 years’.

The dictionary defines ‘scandal’ as ‘an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage’, an event that is ‘scandalous’ is ‘disgracefully bad.’ With one in six adults suffering from a ‘common’ mental health issue, and three in four suicides are men (suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35), the world needs to encourage openness and conversation between those in need and those with the means to help – to do the opposite, especially in the case of a male sufferer who has spoken out, its irresponsible and discouraging to others whose mental state may be more susceptible to the idea that they too may have their struggle brushed aside as ‘drama’.

Koreaboo and all its contemporaries have a responsibility to be consistent in their reporting of mental health, always encouraging those struggling to seek help. This is particularly important given the general attitudes to mental health and illness in Korea – western media must not perpetuate the same discrimination. No one deserves to have their struggle trivialised or demonised, even if they live in the public eye.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Samaritans helplines are open 24/7. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

You can donate to Mental Health research and support through charities such as Mind.


About Author

Founder of BritROK. Graphic Designer and lover of all things Punk and Indie!