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Police: Actress Committed Suicide on Impulse

Posted October. 04, 2008 09:34,   


Seoul police yesterday tentatively concluded that leading actress Choi Jin-shil committed suicide on an impulse.

“We believe Choi, who was suffering from depression, made a radical decision while undergoing an ordeal,” a police officer said. The conclusion came after police questioned her family and friends, reviewed her memos, and examined her cell phone records.

The investigation into her death will wrap up soon after the results of yesterday’s autopsy come out.

Police found that Choi spoke on the phone Tuesday with a securities company employee “Baek,” who faces indictment for spreading rumors about the actress’s alleged money lending.

Choi asked police Sept. 22 to “punish the one who spread rumors,” and Baek was charged a week later after an investigation was conducted.

The actress was reportedly stern when she filed her complaint, saying “You must punish this person. Do not forgive her even if she begs for mercy.” Choi also submitted articles Baek wrote about the actress.

An officer said, “We found that the two talked to each other on the phone Friday last week. We presume Baek called Choi after being indicted without detention to beg for leniency.”

Baek, however, reportedly got into a big argument with Choi over their phone, causing a great deal of distress to the actress.

“Though Baek apologized at first and asked for mercy, we believe they yelled at each other after Choi said it was too late,” police said.

Choi is known to have stayed up all night after the phone call.

“As they raised their voices, she threw her cell phone in a fit of anger,” a member of Choi’s management agency told police. “We had to suspend a commercial shoot Wednesday because Choi’s face was swollen after crying all night.”

After canceling the shoot, the head of Choi’s management agency had dinner with her in the hope of consoling the distressed actress at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“This is too much for me to handle. It’s killing me,” Choi said while drinking alcohol over the two-hour dinner. The two went to a karaoke bar around 7 p.m. for another round of drinks.

Choi kept drinking until 11 p.m. Her manager, who accompanied her that night, took her home as seen from surveillance camera footage showing him leaving her apartment at 11:38 p.m.

After returning home, Choi talked to her mother for half an hour and sent two text messages on her cell phone at 12:42 a.m. and 12:45 a.m. Thursday to her long-time beauty stylist.

At 12:47 a.m., she called one of her close friends, the chief editor of a women’s magazine, and said, “Keep your eyes on my children while they grow up… I will die.” The seven-minute phone conversation proved to be Choi’s last.

○ Wish to be cremated

Based on memos found in her room and testimonies from her acquaintances and relatives, police say Choi took her own life because she suffered from depression and extreme psychological distress.

“When she headed home in the car after drinking Wednesday, she said she would quit the entertainment business and felt like dying,” a police officer said. “We found that Choi frequently told people around her, including her manager, to spread her ashes in a mountain if she died rather than putting them in a charnel house.”

Police will also probe rumors that she was involved in money lending. “Baek has been indicted on the charge of violating the law on information networks and protection,” the officer said. “We are still questioning the person who sent the rumor about Choi’s money lending by e-mail.”

Choi’s funeral will be held at 7:30 a.m. today at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul. Her body will be cremated after the funeral.

alwaysj@donga.com niceshin@donga.com