A South Korean dating show called Jjak has been canceled after a contestant committed suicide on the show’s set. According to reports, the contestant, a 29-year-old female identified only as “Jeon” to this point, hanged herself in a bathroom in one of the guesthouses in which the show is filmed.
Here’s some background and additional details, via The Hollywood Reporter:
Modeled loosely after Big Brother, Jjak features seven men and five women living together and competing for dates. The house is equipped with cameras in every room but the bathroom. The contestants are compelled to wear matching uniforms and face off at various games and physical challenges to win a partner.
According to local reports, Jeon told her mother by phone that she felt ashamed of the way she was going to appear on the program and “wouldn’t be able to live in South Korea” if it aired. Fellow contestants have said Jeon was favored by several men on the show near the start of the shoot, before a collective change of heart led them to pursue another contestant. She reportedly complained to friends that the show’s producers were trying to portray her as an unpopular “tragic type.”
The easy thing to do here is condemn reality shows that manipulate contestants and/or footage to craft identifiable stories from fiction out of real human lives, which a sizable chunk of the press is already doing. The harder thing to do is have an open and frank discussion about mental health and the way societies around the world continue to fail people who need help. Both are worthwhile discussions to have. Hopefully next time we can have them without requiring a tragedy to get us started.
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