The controversial singer who rose to fame after taking second place in Korea’s Got Talent in 2011 has died of suicide, Seoul police said on Wednesday. He was 33.
Choi Sung-bong wowed the judges and the public with his operatic performance of Ennio Morricone’s Nella Fantasia on tvN’s reality talent show in 2011. He came from an underprivileged background and dropped out of music school because he couldn’t afford tuition fees. He worked as a laborer for several years, and his story touched many people.
He also received much attention from K-Pop stars and even Justin Bieber, who posted a video of him to his millions of followers. However, his career quickly turned for the worse in 2021 after he launched a public fundraising campaign saying that he was diagnosed with multiple cancers and needed money for treatment. The whole episode was a hoax, and Choi apologized to those who donated their hard-earned money, vowing to return it all.
But he fell into even deeper trouble after local reporter Lee Jin-ho started investigating the case. He found evidence of him wearing a fake hospital gown, falsifying his hospital records, and other suspicious activities. Eventually, the singer was found guilty of fraud and was fined one billion won. He also lost his job in the entertainment industry and began working at a restaurant.
Choi Sung-bong’s death is the latest of several high-profile cases in South Korea that have involved young people and celebrities committing suicide. K-Pop singer Haesoo committed suicide in May at 29, and actor Moonbin committed suicide in April this year.
The investigation into Choi’s death is ongoing. Still, police believe that he killed himself because of the circumstances at his home and the note he uploaded to his YouTube channel earlier this week.
The crooner’s life was full of highs and lows, but he never gave up on his dream of becoming a singer. His story of resilience resonated with many, and he was hailed as Korea’s version of Susan Boyle. Despite his tragic end, he will always be remembered for his passion and perseverance.