Thilo Beck at WEF Roundtable - A Roadmap to Sustainable Health and Better Well-being in the Workforce and Society

Goals House Roundtable, World Economic Forum, Davos – Thilo Beck

A Roadmap to Sustainable Health and Better Well-being in the Workforce and Society: Elaborating on Key Points.   We are living through a historical period defined by uncertainty, which is having a profound impact on our mental health. Research shows that – on average, 15% of working-age adults live with a mental health condition globally,…

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Affluent Neglect

Society expresses great concern for poor, underserved children and the increased likelihood they may lack access to health care and education, or that they may turn to drugs or crime in adulthood. Less attention is paid to children of affluent parents who have their own set of problems. Emotional neglect often goes unnoticed or unreported, which may…

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What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph. in the 1980s, is a type of talk therapy originally designed for high-risk, suicidal people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Today, DBT is used to treat people struggling with a range of complex and intense emotions, including substance abuse and addiction, PTSD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders,…

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The Pandemic-Push: Why are so Many People Suddenly Buying Prescription Drugs Online?

Prescription-med sales skyrocket due to the pandemic, but when does use become abuse? Paracelsus Recovery’s experts weigh in. More and more people are illegally purchasing prescription medication such as anxiety or sleeping pills online as the pandemic takes its toll on our wellbeing. The pandemic has left a mental health crisis in its wake. Rates…

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The Underside of K-Pop: A Harrowing Example of the Toll Fame can Take on our Health

The rising number of K-pop stars committing suicide has left many wondering if toxic fandom and the industry’s pursuit of perfection has gone too far.


In October 2019, K-pop star and South Korean actress Sulli, born Choi Jin-rin, committed suicide aged only 25. A month later, fellow K-pop star Goo Hara, aged 28, also took her own life. Unfortunately, these tragic events can be added to a long list of mental-health-related deaths within the industry. Consequently, fans are becoming more and more aware of the toll K-pop stardom takes on an individual’s health. Specifically, K-pop, an abbreviation for Korean popular music, is a more rigorous version of the Japanese idol systemThis system aims to manufacture an image of perfection that enables the individual to act as a role model, thereby ensuring a dedicated consumer-fan base. To do so, Korean agencies train pre-teen children, often with no experience, to become stars. The training can be brutal, sometimes lasting 16 hours per day. The label controls their diets, mobile phone usage, and prohibits dating. The latter is to ensure what the Guardian poignantly defines as female K-pop stars “sexually desirable but inexperienced” image. What’s more, it is not infrequent for their contract to state that once they have acquired success, they must pay the label for their previous training. Thus, many of these stars must work for free for years. Consequently, the immense pressure, loss of both personal and financial autonomy, and public scrutiny are taking a drastic toll on these celebrities’ mental health.


Moreover, because of the impact of the 21st century’s globalization, K-pop has evolved into an increasingly sexualized global phenomenon (Lie, 2014). As a result, these stars have to deal with a new category of devoted fans. For instance, in South Korea, you can hire a taxi to chase your favorite K-pop stars at speeds of 125 mph. One can imagine the sheer terror this must invoke in an eighteen-year-old individual. On the other end of the spectrum, K-pop’s fandom has given rise to an actively aggressive form of ‘anti-fans’ who have taken cyberbullying to a terrifying new level. Paracelsus Recovery notes that stars can suffer from immense loneliness because “a lot of their interactions are based upon their public image rather than their private self.” K-pop stars have a heightened experience of this, which Sulli tried to articulate when she appeared on The Night with Hate Comments and said that “my life is actually empty, so I feel like I’m lying to everyone by pretending to be happy on the outside.” Additionally, a growing number of K-pop stars are beginning to speak out and acknowledge cases of severe sexual violence from individuals in managerial and executive positions. Sexual abuse results in profound emotional scars for many years to come, often in the form of PTSD, anxiety, or depression.

Some journalists (Kang, 2019Kretschmer; 2019) have argued that the issues which permeate K-pop culture reflect broader structural issues at work in South Korean society. In particular, authors suggest that the patriarchal values, the stigmatization of mental issues, and the immense pressures put on young people are hindering South Korea’s collective mental health. For example, South Korea has the highest suicide rate among all OECD countries, and there is a societal taboo towards seeking professional help. Both Sulli and Goo-Hara tried to open up on social media about their mental health battles. Yet, because of the prevailing stigma, both attracted hate as a result. Nonetheless, journalist Fabian Kretschmer notes that because of these tragedies, awareness is growing. The younger generation is now confronting both the prevailing mental health stigma and the pressures placed on young people. Kretschmer poignantly states that although change will take time, “it is unstoppable.”



Brierley, K. (2019). Suizide unter K-Pop-Stars: Wenn das Streben nach Perfektion tödlich ist. SRF: KULTUR. 10 December. Retrieved from:

Kang, H. (2019). How a K-pop star’s death reveals the truth about our society. The Washington Post: Global Opinions. 15 October. Retrieved from:

Lie, J. (2014). K pop: popular music, cultural amnesia, and economic innovation in South Korea. UP: California.

McCurry, J. (2019). K-pop under scrutiny over ‘toxic fandom’ after death of Sulli. The Guardian: Music. 18 October. 246. Retrieved from:

Nikysha. (2019). Success and suicide: The dark side of South Korea’s K-pop world. WTX News. 4 December. Retrieved from:

Omar, A. (2019). Showbiz: Depressed Sulli wanted to leave ‘Reply Night,’ SM slow to protect idol from malicious comments? New Straits Times: Lifestyle. 17 December. Retrieved from:

Paracelsus Recovery. (2017). How Sexual Violence May Alter the Female Brain. Paracelsus Recovery Blog. 19 April. Retrieved from:

Paracelsus Recovery. (2019). The Link Between Addiction, Mental Illness, and Fame. Paracelsus Recovery Blog. 11 December. Retrieved from:

Paracelsus Recovery. (2019). The World’s Most Exclusive and Discrete Treatment Center — In Switzerland. Retrieved from:

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. (2019). Suicide rates (indicator). Accessed: 17 December 2019. Doi:

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