K-pop Star Moonbin of Boy Band Astro Dies at 25

This picture taken on December 2, 2021 shows Moonbin, a member of K-pop boy band Astro attending a red carpet event of the Asia Artist Awards in Seoul.

K-pop star Moonbin, a member of the boy band Astro, has died, his music label and South Korean police said Thursday, prompting an outpouring of grief from fans.

The 25-year-old singer was found dead at his home in southern Seoul late Wednesday, a spokesperson for the National Police Agency told AFP, adding that there was no evidence of foul play.

Moonbin’s label Fantagio Music also released a statement on Thursday confirming his death but without disclosing the cause.

“On April 19, Astro member Moon Bin unexpectedly left our world and became a star in the sky,” it said on Twitter.

It asked that people “refrain from speculative and malicious reports” so that his family can pay their respects and honour him in peace.

The label’s announcement prompted thousands of comments from grieving fans, many expressing disbelief.

“Rest in peace, Moonbin. I hope the stars and the moon treat you well. I hope they give you all the comfort and love,” one wrote on Twitter.

“I can’t focus on work now. This really hurts,” wrote another.

Moon Bin — who performed as Moonbin — was a member of the group Astro and also performed with a sub-group called Moonbin & Sanha.

He joined Fantagio’s trainee programme at an early age and was an actor and child model before debuting with Astro in February 2016.

Prior to his passing, Moonbin & Sanha had been set to perform at the upcoming Dream Concert — one of the largest K-pop joint concerts in South Korea — in May.

The group had also been in the middle of their Diffusion Fan Con Tour across Asia, and had launched an official fan community page on Weverse — the global fandom platform from K-pop megastars BTS’s agency HYBE — on Sunday.

“While no passing from any artist is ever to be expected, Moonbin’s untimely passing was all the more shocking given how active the young star was, even the week of his death,” Jeff Benjamin, Billboard’s K-pop columnist, told AFP.

“No one around him saw this coming, but what we can keep is his undeniable smile,” he added.

“I’ve seen its brightness compared to the Cheshire Cat from ‘Alice and Wonderland’, and the wonderful music and performances he gave us.”

– Cut-throat business –

Beneath the glitz and glamour, the K-pop industry is also known for its cut-throat competition, a lack of privacy, online bullying and relentless public pressure to maintain a wholesome image at all times and at any cost.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing an unnamed police official, reported that authorities believe Moon’s death is a case of apparent suicide.

Several other young K-pop stars have died of suspected suicides in recent years, including Goo Hara who passed in 2019. She had been abused by an ex-boyfriend who, after they split, blackmailed her over their sex videos.

The suspected suicide occurred a month after her close friend, K-pop star Sulli, took her own life after a long struggle with online bullying, prompting demands in South Korea for stronger punishments for cybercrimes.

Sulli’s death echoed that of fellow K-pop star Jonghyun, who took his life in 2017 after battling depression.

“It’s always the people who smile the most who suffer the greatest,” one of Moon’s fans wrote.

“When the sky shines beautifully we’ll think of you and when the stars shine bright we will think of you.”

This picture shows members of K-pop boy band Astro attending a red carpet event of the Asia Artist Awards in Seoul in December 2, 2021.