Top South Korean model Daul Kim found dead

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - November 20, 2009

Daul Kim, 20, was found dead Thursday by French police, a Foreign Ministry official in Seoul said. The official declined to provide further details and asked not to be named, citing ministry policy.

Media reports called it an apparent suicide, but officials have not confirmed the cause of death. Her Seoul agency, Esteem, said her family and agency officials were heading to Paris.

Raised in Seoul and Singapore, Kim modeled in Asia before making her fashion week debut in Paris in 2007, modeling for Chanel, Dries van Noten and Maison Martin Margiela, among others, her agency said.

She became a fashion week regular in New York, Milan, Paris and London and most recently appeared during Seoul fashion week in October, according to Esteem.

Known for her thick mane of hair - sometimes dyed blond - and her quirky sensibility, the 5-foot-10 (178-centimeter) model was celebrated for her sense of style. She was featured recently in a commercial for designer Christopher Kane's line of clothing for British retailer Topshop.

Kim also was an accomplished painter and video filmmaker who had a solo show of her artwork in Seoul. She often listed "collecting forks" as a hobby.

Bloggers in South Korea mourned her death, speculating she felt the pressure of high-fashion modeling and a loss of identity.

In an Oct. 30 entry on her blog, Kim wrote she was "mad depressed and overworked," and in another entry said "the more i gain the more lonely it is ... i know i'm like a ghost."

The last entry on her blog, dated Nov. 18, was titled "say hi to forever" and carried a video of the song "I Go Deep" by British singer Jim Rivers.

South Korea - which has the highest suicide rate among the 30 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - has had a string of high-profile suicides over the past year.

Former President Roh Moo-hyun jumped to his death in May while embroiled in a widening corruption scandal, and the ex-chairman of South Korea's oldest conglomerate killed himself earlier this month. In 2008, top actress Choi Jin-sil committed suicide, following in the footsteps of a fellow actor. A young actress in one of South Korea's popular soap operas also died by suicide.


Associated Press writers Kwang-tae Kim and Yewon Kang contributed to this report.

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