The late Ahn Jae-hwan
By Bae Ji-sook
Actor Ahn Jae-hwan, 36, was found dead Monday apparently from asphyxiation. His death comes less than a year after he tied the knot with famous comedienne Jung Sun-hee.
The actor, whose real name was Ahn Gwang-seong, was found in his sports utility vehicle parked in Hagye, northern Seoul, Nowon Police Station said. The time of death is assumed to have been several days before. According to interim reports, there were no signs of choking or medication but as briquette ash was found inside the vehicle, the actor is believed to have killed himself using toxic fumes.
``He is believed to have died from smoke inhalation, but we will have wait for a post mortem to find the exact cause,'' a police officer said.
Observers assume a recent string of business failures could have driven him to kill himself. He reportedly left an apparent suicide note in the car saying he loved his wife and asking people to show her compassion. The note also indicated that he wanted to be an organ donor, if his body was found in time.
Ahn, who owned several bars, restaurants and shoe stores, was reportedly heading for bankruptcy and he recently had to sell a lucrative bar he owned in Gangnam as a last resort. It was revealed that he owed about 4 billion won to private moneylenders. The loan sharks had threatened his wife, calling on her to repay the debt. She had planned to meet with them Monday to discuss the issue.
Some observers said Ahn had long showed signs of suffering problems. A couple of weeks ago, he was sacked from his job as a TV presenter on the entertainment news program ETU, allegedly because he had missed several live broadcasts. Some media reported that he hid himself since then, but his agent explained it was merely an attempt to go on diet.
Ahn gained popularity by appearing in numerous TV dramas such as ``Tears of Diamond,'' and ``My 29-year-old Stepfather.'' Along with his elite image as a Seoul National University graduate, he acquired a unique position in the entertainment world and branched out into other businesses. Ahn and his wife of 10 months ran a home-shopping cosmetics business.
He reportedly called Jung on Aug.21, which police believe could have been the last call he made. A resident nearby said he had seen Ahn's vehicle at the same spot for about a month.
His body was taken to Taenung Sacred Heart Hospital, eastern Seoul.