Iconic South Korean actress with Alzheimer's disease raises Chinese netizens' awareness of the illness
Published: Feb 08, 2021 09:53 PM

A photo of Yoon Jeong-hee in film Poetry. Photo: Weibo

Yoon Jeong-hee, a beloved South Korean actress, has recently become the heroine of the country as the 77 year-old lady has been abandoned by her spouse and children in France while fighting alone against Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. 

Yoon's difficult personal situation quickly became the focus of the nation after an anonymous petitioner posted on Cheong Wa Dae's public petition bulletin board on Friday requesting the rescue of someone called Mr. A, a code name referring to Yoon. 

The post said Yoon is now disconnected from the world and dying alone since her husband avoids her after they separated and that her daughter is unable to look after her because of busy work and family lives. 

Along with such details, the petition emphasized that although Yoon has lived in Paris for a long time, she still loves South Korean cinema deeply and hopes to return to her culture. Such words inspired the South Korean public to support the request even though the source's authenticity has not been confirmed by any official bodies or Yoon's family members.  

At the center of criticism, Yoon's husband Paik Kun-woo, a South Korean pianist, broke the silence after Yoon's news went viral, explaining that the petition's story was fabricated and without evidence. He had also disputed the petitioner's claim that he and his daughter had abandoned the elderly woman alone. 

"True or not, it is so sad to hear an elderly person suffering from such pain alone, especially in an unfamiliar place," a netizen posted on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. 

Yoon's sad situation ignited Chinese netizens' compassion on Sina Weibo. While some said they felt angry about how she has been treated by her family, some others said that the situation has made them realize how important it is to take care of people who have Alzheimer's disease.

"Not all of them know they are sick. Imagine how sad it is when you are sick but do not know it…we take care of them, but people, have some patience please," said a netizen on Weibo. 

"I want to volunteer to take care of people with such a condition, they clearly need people around," post another. 

"They [Alzheimer's disease sufferers] need emotional support, companionship sometimes more than people suffering from physical ailments. In addition to prevention methods such as trying to control the underlying disease, diabetes and high blood pressure and get them to do more exercise, the acceptance of society can also help them to maintain normal interactions with people, have opportunities to socialize, to receive and communicate are good practices for them to improve their condition," an organizer with the China Association for Alzheimer's Disease told the Global Times on Monday. 

Born in 1944, Yoon was a prolific actress who portrayed many memorable characters that reflect the distinctive sentimentality of contemporary South Korean cinema. One of Yoon's influential works was Poetry (2010), helmed by globally acclaimed director Lee Chang-dong. It tells the story of a woman who pursues her dreams of being a poet while suffering from Alzheimer's disease. 

"Lee's expression was poetic and gentle, but reality can be harsh. Life is like a film, I got it now," posted a netizen on Sina Weibo. 

Global Times

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