Goo Hara Will Be Lovingly Remembered By Her Fans Always

Goo Hara, was a young singer who was the ‘face’ of her K-pop girl group KARA in the early 2010s.

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KARA broke into Korea’s saturated music scene with doe-eyed features, willowy figures and stunning smiles, easily capturing the hearts of a nation — dubbed Korea’s ‘younger sisters’ famed for their catchy tunes and coy ‘butt dance’ moves.

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But the glamour of the K-pop industry took its toll on young Hara, who passed away at 28 years old, just a month after her best friend and fellow singer, Sulli took her own life.

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We remember her as a brilliant and talented young star, who defined a generation of singers we know and love today — a midnight queen who has left a tragic but beautiful legacy in her wake.

1. Tenacious fighter who survived tough beginnings

Hara harboured dreams of becoming a K-pop star in her youth, fighting pushback from her family who was “against her dreams” of becoming a celebrity.

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The naturally beautiful Hara was a carefree girl, but beneath her charming smile lay countless struggles in attaining her K-pop debut.

Hara’s parents had divorced – she lived with other relatives – and she worked tirelessly as an online mall model, waiting in restaurants & washing dishes while promoting herself on the streets.

She shared in a heartfelt 2009 interview that her road to stardom was paved with blood, sweat, and tears. In her words,

I was so worn out at first that I often had nosebleeds…but I really really want this. I couldn’t feel confident if I didn’t attend a single day of dance practice.

Her dedication finally paid off when she was cast as the newest member of KARA in 2008.

2. Veteran performer who loved her fans immensely

So dedicated was Hara to her craft, that she returned to the stage in a concert in Osaka, Japan, even after fainting in the midst of a dance performance.

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Back in 2013, her sudden fall during one of their stages was captured in a viral fancam video. Hara was treated backstage for exhaustion immediately.

Ever the fighter, she later returned to complete the concert, as she feared “disappointing” her fans who had travelled there to see the group.

3. Fronted first K-pop girl group to break into Japan

KARA – whom Hara fronted in the early 2010s – was the very first girl group to prove that a crossover career was possible in Japan.

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Their first solo concert in the Tokyo Dome sold out in 5 minutes, thanks to a string of hits after she joined the group, like “Pretty Girl”, “Mister” and “Lupin”.

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4. Famous for her 20-inch ‘ant-waist’

Besides her talents, Hara once made headlines for her impossible waistline. Dubbed Korea’s “ant waist”, it was measured as 61cm or 24 inches over 2 layers of clothing on a variety show.

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Hosts estimated that if her natural measurements were taken, it would stand at a willowy 53cm or 20 inches.

When she gained some healthy weight in 2018 – while doing solo activities – her fans embraced the change, praising her sultry figure & happier demeanour.

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5. A fearless soloist who was a ‘Midnight Queen’

After KARA disbanded in 2015, gifting their fans with a final song named “Cupid”, Hara released her solo EP Alohara (Can You Feel It?), with the single “Choco Chip Cookies”.

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Her charming and sometimes self-deprecating humour also got her gigs on popular variety shows like Invincible Youth and City Hunter.

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Her latest single, “Midnight Queen“, was a darker and edgier J-Pop dance track that let her shed her ‘cutesy’ dance moves, for a more mature and sexy image.

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6. Stood up to cyberbullies amidst scandals

From plastic surgery rumours, to scandals emerging from her rocky relationship with an ex-boyfriend, Goo Hara was subjected to constant scrutiny from netizens and sasaeng fans.

After a suicide attempt in May, Hara took to social media to apologise for worrying her fans – she had posted a cryptic “Goodbye” caption on an Instagram picture post.

In her words,

I’ve been in agony over a number of overlapping issues. But from now on, I will steel my heart and try to show up healthy.

The young idol was due to testify in an ongoing trial involving her ex-boyfriend, a hairstylist named Choi Jong Bum.

7. Remained stoic amidst public dispute with ex over ‘revenge porn’ allegations

Hara had been embroiled in a public dispute which involved a “physical altercation” with Choi, who allegedly blackmailed her with “illegally-filmed sex videos”.

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Her ex-boyfriend was sentenced to prison for 1 year and 6 months – a verdict he was appealing – but the saga cost her a contract with her company due to the negative press it was generating.

Although Hara seemingly bounced back from the scandal, the emotional scars from the appeal process definitely took a toll on her well-being.

8. Found a kindred spirit & “true sister” in the late Sulli

But Hara found a kindred spirit in Sulli, member of K-pop girl group f(x), who had gone through a similar plight on social media.

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After Sulli’s tragic passing, Hara felt crushed that she wasn’t there by her side — Hara had to be based in Japan to promote her new single.

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In a emotional Insta-live, Hara shared the tragic story of how they viewed each other as “true sisters”, vowing to live out Sulli’s “share of life” after the young singer took her own life in October.

Sadly, that was not meant to be, as Hara passed away just a month later in her own home.

9. Goo Hara simply wished for a kinder, more accepting world

Hara was open about expressing her difficulties in talking about sexual assault, trauma and cyberbullying, in recent years.

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But although she’d accepted help and was on her way to recovery, tragedy soon stuck close to home.

10. A young starlet who was gone too soon

In news that sent shockwaves through the industry, the young singer was found motionless in her home in Seoul, declared a case of “unnatural death” pending a police investigation on 24 Nov.

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She’d survived an “alleged suicide attempt” in May, after a lawsuit with her ex-boyfriend reportedly took its toll on her public and personal life.

A tragic legacy we must uphold

Hara’s passing has left millions of K-pop fans around the world devastated, and it’s imperative that we no longer gloss over the stress that starlets are facing on a daily basis.

A trending Twitter petition for stricter punishments for sexual assault & cyberbullying perpetrators is the start of a legacy Hara now leaves in her wake.

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But we will remember her as a tenacious young star who was determined to live her dream, yet stay true to herself.

Like her, we continue to dream of a kinder, more empathetic, and accepting world.

Sleep well, Hara. You’ll always be remembered as our midnight queen.

Featured image adapted from KapanLagi via Cosmopolitan.