The body of former girl group girl f (x) was discovered by her manager at her home in Sujeong-gu, Seongnam, south of the capital Seoul, on Monday afternoon local time, police said CNN. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Sulli's agency told SM Entertainment that the star's family was planning a private funeral, adding that the relatives were "saddened by this unexpected sad news."
However, her opinion has often made her a target of online trolls, especially anti-feminists, said CedarBough Saeji, an expert in Korean culture and society at the University of British Columbia.
"She was brave," Saeji said Tuesday. "The fact that Sulli has repeatedly done things that women misogynists did not like and did not apologize for is the reason why she really stood out."
Saeji said that K-pop stars in South Korea are expected to publicly apologize for failing to meet the high – and sometimes unrealistic – standards expected of the industry. But Sulli refused to change and even appeared on a TV show where K-pop stars discussed the challenges of negative online commentary.
"This society would criticize them so much just because it showed individuality in a way that did not exactly match Korean social norms, that's just so incredibly sad," Saeji said.
"I am so sorry that she was not so supported by people as she – in her own bizarre way – gender equality in Korea a voice and a proponent of major problems in Korean society. "
By Tuesday, three petitions had been submitted to the Blue House petition page calling for stricter rules on cyberbullying.
South Korea's entertainment industry has become one of the country's largest exports in the last decade. But K-pop stars – who often train for years before they debut – are under intense pressure linked to a mental health crisis in the industry.
The singer had announced the word "goodbye" to her Instagram account, triggering a torrent of comments from worried fans.