K-Pop Colleagues Want Inquiry

Many in Korea’s pop music community have exerted pressure on the authorities to reopen the matter of fellow musician Shin Hae-chul’s death two weeks ago.  

Photo: AP Photo / Lee Jin-man
Chamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul, South Korea

The singer’s body was to be cremated on Oct. 31, but his family has consented to allow a post-mortem. Though the reason for Shin’s death was officially recorded as brain damage as the result of a heart attack, there have been suspicions that the hospital that treated him did not carry out proper protocols during abdominal surgery to treat obstructions.

It was following the surgery that Shin suffered the heart attack. He was in a prolonged coma before being pronounced dead. One of those who protested, world-famous rapper Psy, told media during a press conference at the cremation center that the requested autopsy is “irrelevant to whether or not the family decides to file charges. The family does not want this. It is so that we could know why he passed away, irrespective of possible legal disputes.” Nevertheless, Shin’s family and his agency, KCA Entertainment, filed a complaint for medical malpractice against Seoul Sky Hospital, where he underwent the surgery Oct. 17. In a statement, KCA said it had “decided to hold the hospital accountable for his death after discussing the matter with his family.”

The Korea Times has reported that Shin’s wife claims the doctor who operated on her husband also performed surgery to reduce the size of his stomach, a procedure not agreed upon before the operation.

She says that, after the operation, Shin “complained of severe pain” and even asked the hospital to restore his stomach to its original condition. The hospital did nothing. In 2009, Shin reportedly underwent a so-called adjustable gastric banding operation, which is normally carried out for purposes of weight loss.