25 year old Moonbin was found in his Gangnam apartment in Seoul on April 19 at 8 PM KST. His manager arrived at the residence after it was reported that Moonbin was not responding to contacts, and upon arrival the manager immediately contacted police. No official cause of death has been released, but the police have stated that they “suspect” suicide may be the cause. Astro’s agency Fantagio confirmed the death in a statement posted to Twitter and Instagram saying, “Astro member Moonbin suddenly left us and has now become a star in the sky.”
Debuting in February 2016 under Fantagio, Astro was composed of six members: MJ, Cha Eun-woo, Jinjin, Moonbin, Rocky, and Yoon Sanha. Almost immediately, Astro found success in South Korea and Japan, even getting praised by Billboard magazine for their “bright, synthpop sound that won over K-pop lovers from around the world.” Moon Bin, known mononymously as Moonbin was also a part of a subunit, composed of himself and another member, called Moonbin & Sanha. The duo had been experiencing great success and were even in the middle of their “Diffusion” tour, which began on March 18, and was supposed to take them to Bangkok, Macau, Taipei, Jakarta, Tokyo, and Osaka. On the date of his death, Moonbin & Sanha were also announced to be in the lineup for the 29th Dream Concert on May 27, along with other big Kpop names.
Before entering the Kpop industry, Moonbin had been in the public eye since his childhood. He had worked as a child model, then appeared in a 2006 music video titled, “Balloons,” and in 2009 he worked on the popular Korean drama “Boys Over Flowers.” He began training with Fantagio in elementary school, and then became a full-time trainee in middle school, dedicating his whole life to becoming an idol.
For many years now, the Kpop industry has been criticized for allowing such young people to enter it, due to its long, rigorous hours of training, strict dietary restrictions, abuse, and overall control of its idols’ lives.
Fans all over the world have been grieving the sudden passing, even laying flowers and notes around the world in memorial. But fans are also worried for Moonbin’s younger sister, Moon Sua, a member of the Kpop girl group Billlie. In early 2023, a video of the sibling’s lunch date was posted. In it, Moonbin tells his sister that he wouldn’t have advised her to join the entertainment industry because it “matures you,” and “makes you grow too quickly.” Sua replies, “I’m the youngest one at home, but I’m the oldest one on my team [Billlie]. I feel the need to behave well in front of the members. I feel the pressure. When I feel the pressure, I call you [Moonbin], but you don’t answer my call. Then I have no one to let myself out [to]. Just by you answering my call, I feel that there’s someone on my side.” In light of the recent circumstance, the video has been making its rounds across all social media platforms, and has provided an outpour of support for Sua.
The family has requested a quiet funeral set for April 22, with only family and a few other Fantagio employees in attendance. Despite a member of Astro being in the Korean army and another attending Coachella in Los Angeles, the members quickly came together to mourn the passing of their friend.
Moonbin’s death has once again shined light on the increasing number of suicides among South Korean stars within just the past few years. In South Korea, suicide is one of the top reasons for death among people under 40.