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2008/10/03 14:50 KST
Actress committed suicide on momentary impulse: police

   SEOUL, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- The suicide of South Korean actress Choi Jin-sil appears to have been committed on a momentary impulse sparked by long-term depression over the stress of being a public figure, police said Friday.

   At a police station in southern Seoul, where the actress lived and where her body was discovered, authorities held a press conference to announce the tentative results of their investigation.

   "We concluded (Choi's death) was the result of an impulsive decision to commit suicide, after reviewing the statements of family members... Choi's memo, and a conversation she had in her last phone call," officials at the Seocho police station said.

   Choi, 40, was a fixture of Korean prime-time television dramas spanning more than two decades. She was found dead on Thursday hanging from a shower stall with an elastic band tied around her neck in her home in southern Seoul.

   Choi, a mother of two, was lately dogged by rumors circulating on the Web that she may have played a role in the suicide of actor Ahn Jung-hwan, who took his own life last month after reportedly being pressured by loan sharks to pay off his large debt.

   Police have been investigating the rumors, at the request of Choi, leading to the arrest of a securities company employee this week on allegations of spreading claims that Choi lent 2.5 billion won (US$2 million) to Ahn.

   The National Institute of Scientific Investigation said in its preliminary autopsy report that Choi's death was caused by hanging, police said. They plan to conclude the investigation in the near future after conducting tests with the institute into whether the actress might have been under the influence of drugs.

   Choi frequently described her life to friends as being gloomy, and used to request that her manager cremate her body and spread the ashes on a mountain if she ever died, police said citing testimony from Choi's manager.

   The late actress also made a request to her manager, on the eve of her suicide, to "take care of the children."
Since her debut in 1988 Choi swiftly became a household name, winning awards and clinching main roles in soap operas, movies and commercials. Her cheerful demeanor and versatile talents earned her the nickname "The People's Star."
But her life took a tumultuous turn when her outwardly impeccable marriage to pro baseball player Cho Sung-min ended in an ugly divorce in 2004. The actress had reportedly taken medication for depression since.

   odissy@yna.co.kr
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