, Korea's long-beloved iconic actress, was found dead yesterday at her residence in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul, in an apparent suicide. Her death comes amid rumors accusing her of involvement in the alleged suicide last month of another actor.
Choi, 39, was found hanging in the shower stall in her room with a bandage tightened around her neck at around 6:15 a.m., said officials at the Seocho Police Station.
Police yesterday tentatively concluded that she took her own life, dismissing the possibility of murder.
"According to her make-up staffer, Choi had been persistently suffering from the rumors, and she received a text message from Choi, asking her to take care of her children if something happens to her", a police officer told reporters.
"Following her divorce, the staffer said, Choi had been agonizing over the custody issue with her husband and repeatedly said that she wanted to die". The official also said that no external wounds on her body were found, and that the statements from both the bereaved family and her close associates have led investigators to conclude that she killed herself.
Choi's mother first discovered her body and called in her brother, actor Choi Jin-young
, who reported to the police at around 7:34 a.m., police said.
Her family members stated that Choi had been suffering from depression, her symptoms recently becoming more apparent, according to the police.
The investigators presume that Choi became suicidal due in part to what Choi had claimed were baseless allegations. She is rumored to have lent about 2.5 billion won ($2.1 million) to and blackmailed Ahn Jae-hwan
, a renowned actor and husband of Choi's close friend, comedienne Jung Sun-hee
Ahn was found dead on Sept. 8 in his minivan in Seoul. He died from inhalation of toxic gases from charcoal briquettes he burnt inside his car.
Ahn was said to have seriously agonized over snowballing debts from his series of moribund businesses, which led him to desperately seek money even from extortionate lenders.
Late last month, police booked a securities firm employee on charges of spreading the false rumors on the internet.
In an unusual move, several prosecutorial investigators were posted to investigate her death in an apparent move to avert copycat suicides given her nationwide popularity.
Her funeral is planned to be held at KangNam
St. Mary's Hospital in southern Seoul.
Choi dominated TV dramas and commercials in the 1990s with her attractive girlish looks, and made a successful comeback following her high-profile divorce in 2004 with her husband, former pro baseball player Cho Sung-min.
By Song Sang-ho