Ex-husband of Suicide Actress Found Dead

Choi Jin-sil kisses Cho Sung-min at a press conference to announce their marriage at a hotel in Seoul on July 19, 2000. Choi Jin-sil kisses Cho Sung-min at a press conference to announce their marriage at a hotel in Seoul on July 19, 2000.

Former baseball player Cho Sung-min was found dead in his girlfriend's apartment in southern Seoul on Sunday morning. An autopsy on Monday morning determined his death as suicide.

Cho (40), who played in the Japanese all-star tournament during his days with the Yomiuri Giants, was the ex-husband of the actress Choi Jin-sil, who killed herself in 2008.

Cho made headlines in 2000 when he tied the knot with Choi. They had two children but divorced four years later after a messy split, and another four years later Choi committed suicide.

After his divorce, Cho tried his hand at various businesses including a bakery chain but did not succeed. The ex-baseball star remarried but was apparently separated since 2010.

Last year, Cho coached a minor league team owned by Doosan but did not renew his contract. He apparently poured his money into a baseball management company he had set up back in 2008.

Before his death, Cho drank three bottles of soju with his girlfriend, identified only by her surname Park (41), according to police.

"To my knowledge, Park said something to Cho suggesting that they go their separate ways," a police officer said. "Investigators heard that Cho told Park he had grown weary of the tough life he has had," the officer added.

When Park left her house at around midnight on Sunday saying she had to meet a friend, Cho sent a text message to his mother saying, "It looks like there is no way for me to live in Korea any more. I am very sorry, but please think that you never had a son." Then at around 12:16 a.m., Cho sent Park a text message saying, "It pains that I was unable to spend the last moment of my life with you. Live well."

Park found Cho dead when she got back home at around 3:40 a.m. and called the police.

Cho's family set up a memorial altar at Korea University Anam Hospital.

After news of Cho's death spread, the Internet was flooded with messages criticizing those who post malicious comments on Internet threads under the protection of anonymity.

After his ex-wife's suicide back in 2008, Cho had been the target of an online witch hunt blaming his alleged infidelity and domestic violence for the divorce and Choi's eventual death. When he sought to reclaim custody of the children after her suicide, he was criticized for seeking to use his kids to get his hands on the actress' fortunes.

On a TV talk show, Cho insisted he was not interested in Choi's money and just wanted to be a father to his two children. He added that he felt people would only believe him if he killed himself.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 07, 2013 12:08 KST