DAEJEON, SOUTH KOREA – Yohan, a member of K-pop group TST, died last week. He was 28 years old.
“We are sad to relay the most unfortunate, sorrowful news,” wrote TST’s record label, KJ Music Entertainment, in a June 17 release to Allkpop, a U.S.-based Korean pop website. “On June 16, TST member Yohan left this world.”
The cause of his death remains undisclosed. The label shared that they would not reveal the cause of his death to respect his family’s wishes.
“The late Yohan’s family is currently in deep mourning,” the statement read. “The family has pleaded that media articles about Yohan’s passing, such as those making speculations about the cause of his death, be refrained out of respect.”
Yohan’s death is the most recent in a string of young Korean celebrity deaths in the last year, which include singer and actress Sulli, 25, who died by suicide in October 2019, singer Goo Hara, 28, who died by suicide in November 2019, and actor Cha In-ha, 27, whose cause of death was not disclosed.
News reports say these cases shed light on the dark side of Korea’s entertainment industry, which includes cyberbullying and lack of mental health support.
Yohan’s sudden death came as a shock for many fans because until recently, he was actively interacting with his followers on social media.
Kim Jeong-hwan, Yohan’s real name, was seen interacting with fans last month on V LIVE, a South Korean video streaming service that allows stars to broadcast live videos and interact with fans.
In a V LIVE video published last month, Yohan introduced the novel Everyone Turns 30 by Chae-won Pyeon to his fans and read an excerpt from the epilogue:
“While I don’t desire to be a leading role, has the way I’ve been living my life for the past 30 years been so lousy that I don’t even get to be an extra? Everyone on this stage called life is worthy to get a spotlight, whether as a lead or as an extra.”
“To be honest,” Yohan explained, “this part touched me the most. I’ve always carried a similar thought in my mind. Honestly, I have been thinking a lot on this recently and have tried to look back on myself.”
Yohan communicated with his fans four times through V LIVE in May.
He also participated in TST’s fourth single “COUNTDOWN” which was released in January.
Fans have been expressing their deep condolences to the late singer online.
TST fan and twitter user @igotcaratinyzen paid respects by buying and naming a star after the late singer.
I bought & named a star after our precious #Yohan #TST. I made sure to find a big bright star that’s especially visible in Seoul in June, not that it can’t be seen any other time of the year. I wanted to make sure it was visible in June. #restinpeaceyohan #ripyohan @FS7_official pic.twitter.com/RJayh8AT4R
— 🖤💔Rest In Peace Yohan💔🖤 🐳Mr. Whale Out Soon🐳 (@igotcaratinyzen) June 17, 2020
TST fans, also known as “Hanas,” are also streaming their song “Paradise (2018),” noting that Yohan often expressed he wanted this song to become famous.
— summer ♡ bday girl!! (@oddsohn) June 18, 2020
Fans of other K-pop groups have also expressed their condolences through social media.
Twitter account @GlobalBlackPink, an international fan page for Korean girl group BLACKPINK, paid their respects by refraining from trending any BLACKPINK hashtags June 17.
We wont be trending any hashtags today for giving respect to Top Secret (TST) Yohan’s Death. Our deepest condolences to His family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace🙏
— GLOBAL BLACKPINK 💙⁰⁶²⁶ (@GlobalBlackPink) June 16, 2020
BTS fan account @btsallure on Twitter also encouraged its followers to stream Paradise.
Hello, if you have time please listen (stream) paradise by tst, Yohan said he always wanted for that song to be famous.
Someone so special will never be forgotten, deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans. May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/5crNXMHoW1
— arri⁷🍯 (@btsallure) June 17, 2020
Other Korean celebrities have been expressing their grief on social media.
Kiseop Lee, former member of K-pop group U-KISS, commented, “I love you a lot, Yohan … I miss you” on Yohan’s last Instagram post published May 31.
Yohan’s Instagram account has been memorialized.
Yohan debuted with the group NOM (No Other Man) in 2015 and joined TST (also known as Top Secret) in 2017 as a vocalist after NOM’s disbandment.
TST is most famous for their songs “Mind Control (2017),” “Paradise (2018),” and “Wake Up (2019).”
Surviving members of TST are Ain, Junghoon, K, Yonghyeon and Wooyoung.