His music label, Fantagio, confirmed Moon Bin’s death Thursday, and said he has “suddenly left us and became a star in the sky.”
“All Astro members, Fantagio colleagues, executives and employees who’ve been together for a long time are deeply mourning the deceased in such great sadness and shock,” the music label said, adding Moon Bin “always loved and thought of the fans more than anyone else.”
The star was found dead in his home in southern Seoul by his manager at around 8:10 p.m. Wednesday night, according to an official at Gangnam Police Station.
Gangnam police told CNN Thursday that authorities believe Moon Bin had taken his own life. “No signs of foul play have been found related to this case,” police added.
Social media filled with condolences as fans expressed their upset at the celebrity’s death, the latest to cast a spotlight on the often intense pressures celebrities face in the competitive and stressful Korean entertainment industry.
The hashtag #moonbin on Twitter was trending globally with over 2.6 million tweets, some posts written in English, Spanish, Indonesian, Tagalog and Thai.
Meanwhile, social media videos showed fans in Chile setting up a memorial for the late star, lining a wall with white and purple balloons, the theme colors of Astro.
A fan who commented on the video shared on Twitter said: “Rest in peace Moonbin… You had words of [comfort] for others. I wish you had talked about your pain… Rest sweet angel.”
“You’re a star in the sky now and watching over the people you love. Hearts and thoughts go out to his loved ones and all AROHAs,” MTV Asia tweeted, referring to name Astro’s fans call themselves.
“We lost a bright light, who was really contributing to the lives of his family and his friends and his fans and that bright light is gone,” said CedarBough Saeji, assistant professor of Korean and East Asian Studies at Pusan National University.
Saeji, a self-confessed Moon Bin fan, said amid the discussion on the pressures of Korean society and its celebrity industry, it was also important to remember the accomplishments of the young star.
“Moonbin was phenomenally talented dancer and singer. In recent years, he’d started writing some of the material for Astro as well. And he’d also been acting in a bunch of web dramas that had been quite popular. There’s really no limit to how far he could have gone if he continued his career and continue to mature as a performer,” Saeji said.
Many K-pop icons start training as young teens, honing their singing, dancing and acting skills for years before they are even allowed a chance to debut their first song.
K-pop idols are known to be subject to intense pressure from their strict management, which has been linked to a mental health crisis in the industry.
South Korea has the highest rate of youth suicide among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
In 2021, the suicide rate in South Korea was 26 out of every 100,000 people, and while the country’s overall suicide rate is falling, deaths of those in their twenties are rising, according to the country’s Health and Welfare Ministry.
Moon Bin debuted with Astro in 2016. The other members of the group are Jinjin, MJ, Cha Eun-woo and Yoon San-ha.
He also performed as part of a subgroup called Moon Bin & Sanha, which toured in Asia in recent months.
Prior to his death the duo had been expected to perform next month in Busan, as part of the port city’s bid to promote the 2030 World Expo, and in Jakarta on May 13.
Moon Bin entered the entertainment industry as a child actor, making his debut in 2009 in the Korean Broadcasting System TV drama “Boys Over Flowers.” The series was widely popular and its dubbed version aired globally, gaining lots of fans from Southeast Asia.
His sister, Moon Sua, is also a K-pop celebrity, performing as part of the girl group Billlie.