Asian celebs we said goodbye to in 2017

Gone but not forgotten: get ready the tissues as we pay tribute to stars we lost over the past year

Asian celebs we said goodbye to in 2017
Asian celebs we said goodbye to in 2017
30 Dec 2017

Asian celebs we said goodbye to in 2017

2017 was a year of many exciting happenings and highlights, but sadly, it was also a year when we lost a number of beloved figures in showbiz. Before we get ready to ring in a brand new year, we pay tribute to a few Asian stars who left this world this year (some of them way, way too soon). You might want to grab a box of tissues.

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Kim Jonghyun
Kim Jonghyun
30 Dec 2017

Kim Jonghyun

Passed away on: December 18 (age 27)

We were most definitely not expecting to be adding the SHINee lead singer into this list.

A little under two weeks ago, Jonghyun was found in a room filled with toxic smoke from a burning coal briquette on a frying pan, in an apparent – and sadly, successful – attempt to end his own life. His death was linked to his battle with depression, which he touched on in his final note to Dear Cloud’s Nine9.

It was an utterly devastating time for the Hallyu world. His name and various related hashtags trended on social media. His friends and fellow idols paid their respects to him online and in person. Fans all over the world, including Singapore, organised vigils in honour of the beloved idol.

Jonghyun leaves behind not just a string of great tunes (the talented songwriter penned hits such as IU’s ‘A Gloomy Clock’, EXO’s ‘Playboy’ and numerous others for himself and his group), but also a legacy as a champion of controversial issues most other Koreans would dare not touch, such as mental health and minority rights.

Oh, how we wish it was not too late to say this, but #YouDidWellJonghyun. So very well.

Photos: S.M. Entertainment

Lee Ui Soo
Lee Ui Soo
30 Dec 2017

Lee Ui Soo

Passed away on: October 6 (age 22)

Another tragic suicide is that of up-and-coming Korean model and DJ Lee Ui Soo, who was under S.M. Entertainment’s sub-label ESteem Models and was known to be long-time friends with BTS’s V (pictured with him in the above left image, on the far left).

On October 7, the day after his passing, Ui Soo’s older brother announced the heart-breaking news on his personal social media account. “He must have been going through a lot of difficulties for him to have made such a decision,” he wrote. “Please pray that he has gone to a better place.”

ESteem Models also released their statement the next day, which confirmed reports that Ui Soo had taken his own life. They added that investigations were still ongoing and relayed his family’s wish for the funeral to be carried out as quietly as possible.

Photos: Esteem Entertainment/Instagram, Lee Ui Soo/Twitter

Kim Joo Hyuk
Kim Joo Hyuk
31 Dec 2017

Kim Joo Hyuk

Passed away on: October 30 (age 45)

A car accident claimed the life of the actor and 2 Days & 1 Night star barely a month after his 45th birthday, sending shockwaves through the industry. Early reports speculated that he had died from a heart attack, but an autopsy determined that it was actually a cranial fracture from the crash that did him in.

Joo Hyuk’s wake was held the next day and was a heart-wrenching sight, to say the least: his actress girlfriend Lee Yoo Young – whom he had spoken about wanting to marry just a month before his death (sobs) – appeared to be in a state of shock and disbelief, and his close friend Defconn was spotted crying heavily.

Besides them, many other big names in Korean entertainment showed up to pay their last respects. Even Song Joong Ki, who married Song Hye Kyo the day before, was there – a surprising and significant gesture given the Asian superstition against newlyweds attending a funeral. We guess that just goes to show how beloved Joo Hyuk was among both his seniors and juniors.

Kim Young Ae
Kim Young Ae
30 Dec 2017

Kim Young Ae

Passed away on: April 9 (age 65)

K-drama fans would recognise the late veteran actress from popular shows like Moon Embracing The Sun (where she played the grandmother of Kim Soo Hyun, pictured with her in the above left image, far left) and Kill Me, Heal Me, but her illustrious career stretches all the way back to the early 70s. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the midst of filming her most recent series The Gentlemen Of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop, but continued working while undergoing chemotherapy (which makes us ashamed about all the times we grumbled about being tired at the office).

According to reports, Young Ae meticulously made plans for her death by preparing her own funeral – she took a lovely portrait photo and even picked which hanbok she would be buried in – before succumbing to her illness. Her memorial was attended by throngs of top stars, and she was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Baeksang Arts Awards.

Photos: MBC, TPG/CLICKPHOTOS

Willie Chan
Willie Chan
30 Dec 2017

Willie Chan

Passed away on: October 24 (age 76)

Hotshots like Jackie Chan (pictured above, left) and Jacky Cheung have this legendary “golden manager” to thank for helping to propel their careers into super-duper-stardom. In a touching Facebook post following Willie’s death, Jackie acknowledged his former manager’s role in building his success and referred to him as “my teacher, my brother, my ‘Dai Lo’”.

Willie was reported to have passed away peacefully in his sleep before being found unresponsive in the morning and sent to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Malaysian-born producer’s funeral, which was held a month later, was an unsurprisingly star-studded affair. Besides the martial arts and music megastars, Willie has also represented pretty much every Asian A-lister you can think of, from Maggie Cheung to Edison Chen to Carina Lau to Tony Leung Ka Fai. What a résumé.

Photos: PBE Media, TPG/CLICKPHOTOS

Wang Xiu Yun
Wang Xiu Yun
30 Dec 2017

Wang Xiu Yun

Passed away on: August 9 (age 72)

This year’s National Day was not a completely joyous occasion as it was also the day that the former actress, best-known for her role in Channel 8 classic A Mother’s Love, breathed her last after rejecting dialysis to treat her kidney failure.

Xiang Yun is the one who broke the sad news on her Instagram account. In her post, she remembered Xiu Yun Jie’s “sweet smile, big round eyes and delicate, pretty voice” and how the latter loved joking around with people. She also revealed that Xiu Yun worked as a department store saleswoman after she left acting, and that Xiang Yun would sometimes buy items from her to show her support. Awww…

Photos: Toggle, Xiang Yun/Instagram

Raymond Tsang
Raymond Tsang
30 Dec 2017

Raymond Tsang

Passed away on: April 23 (age 58)

The veteran TVB actor, who has a history of heart problems, was performing Tony Leung’s ‘So Hard To Forget You’ at a show in Guangzhou when he suddenly fainted – and never woke up.

His wife, who immediately flew over with their son upon hearing the news, revealed that he passed away at around two in the morning (three hours before she got there), and that it’s likely that his death was caused by cardiovascular disease, which he previously had surgery for in 2015.

Word of his demise spread quickly, and tributes began pouring in from fellow Hong Kong artistes such as Bosco Wong, Linda Chung and Myolie Wu, most of whom remembered him for the kindness he showed them while working together in the past.

Photos: PBE Media

Chu Keliang
Chu Keliang
30 Dec 2017

Chu Keliang

Passed away on: May 15 (age 70)

After living with colorectal cancer for three years, the legendary Taiwanese entertainer succumbed to liver failure early in the morning while in his sleep.

His final farewell was nothing like your typical funeral – there were lion dancers, a marching band, luxury cars and even a huge shiny gold sign bearing the words “Chu Keliang’s Farewell Show”. And let’s not forget the “invitation cards” his family had sent out prior to the S$360,000 event. This definitely took “celebrating one’s life” to an epic new level.

Photos: TPG/CLICKPHOTOS

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