January 11, 2007 09:39
The comedienne and singer Kim Hyung-eun has died. She was 26. Kim died of a heart attack at 1 a.m. on Wednesday at the Asan Medical Center after being hospitalized due to a traffic accident since the end of last year, when her car crossed the median strip and ran into a breast wall on the opposite side of the road on the Yeongdong Expressway on Dec. 16. Kim, who was on her way to a performance, sustained serious whiplash injury. She underwent surgery to realign the third and fourth vertebrae and was showing signs of recovery when she had the heart attack. The hospital said Kim was unable to breathe unaided since she was taken to hospital and had to rely on a respirator. That led to increasing problems in her autonomic nervous system and eventually caused the heart attack.
Kim became popular thanks to the SBS comedy show “People Looking for Laughter” and recently started a new career as a singer by releasing a single, “Destiny.”
Celebrity friends say while Kim’s accident was not due to speeding, many entertainers and especially singers face the danger of traffic accidents due to so-called “manager driving” to meet their hectic schedule. “Manager driving” refers to speeding and aggressive driving showbiz managers are known for to get their charges to work on time. One staffer with an entertainment agency says some singers visit seven different places in the provinces in a day. "They have to sing at university festivals, on TV shows and in a variety of events held in the provinces, meaning they sometimes have to make it from Seoul to Busan in just two-and-a-half hours.”
Their cars are often armed with flashing lights and alarms that show where speeding cameras are located. Another entertainment agency staffer says each of the company’s cars gets about 10 speeding tickets a month. "That’s the price we have to pay not to ruin millions or tens of millions worth of schedules, and the company justifies them as ‘legitimate costs.'"
Celebrities are increasingly aware that their shelf life in the business is short and feel pressured to make a quick buck while they can, which makes their schedule very hectic. Similar traffic accidents both big and small are proliferating. The singer Kim Hee-chul, a member of Super Junior, broke his ankle in a traffic accident in August last year, and the singer Kang Won-lae sustained an injury that required three weeks to heal when his car skidded on the slippery road on his way to Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province in December. The singer Tei was injured when his car collided with a taxi. The singing groups Wanted and TVXQ or Tong Bang Shin Gi suffered traffic accidents on the same day in 2004, which killed one Wanted member, Seo Jae-ho. Kim Dong-wan, a member of the singing group Shinhwa was involved in a massive accident when his van ran into a truck ahead on the Seohae Expressway in September 2002. It killed his manager and heavily injured two others.
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