Surgery complications caused singer’s death: State forensic experts

November 3, 2014
Shin Hae-chul  (Yonhap)

Shin Hae-chul (Yonhap)

SEOUL — Shin Hae-chul, a famous pop singer in South Korea, is believed to have died from complications following surgery for intestinal adhesion, state forensic experts said Monday.

The 46-year-old rock singer was pronounced dead at the Asan Medical Center in southern Seoul a week ago after being transferred from another hospital where he received the operation on Oct. 17. He had been in a coma for five days after the surgery.

After performing an autopsy on Shin’s body, the Seoul branch of the National Forensic Service said a 0.3-centimeter-long hole was found in his pericardium, which might have resulted from the abdominal surgery.

“Forensically, his death was caused by peritonitis, pericarditis, and blood poisoning resulting from them, rather than cerebral hypoxia as thought earlier,” Choi Young-shik, chief of the Seoul branch, told reporters. “The possibility of man-made damage should be first considered.”

Choi, however, said more tests and a CT scan are needed to determine whether the hospital, which conducted the abdominal surgery, is to blame for his death.

The autopsy was conducted as Shin’s colleagues and family raised suspicions that medical negligence might have led to his unexpected death.

Shin’s wife has filed a complaint with police against the hospital that performed the surgery on the singer to look into alleged medical negligence. The hospital has strongly denied the allegation.

On Saturday, police officers investigating the unexpected death of the pop star revealed, citing records from the Asan hospital, that a centimeter-long hole was found in his intestine when he was transported to the general hospital.

Shin’s wife, Yun Won-hee, recently told local media that the hospital performed an additional procedure in which part of Shin’s stomach was folded to reduce its capacity during the Oct. 17 surgery without permission from the patient or his family. Yun also said that Shin complained of frequent stomach pain after the surgery.

But Choi said he could not see the alleged hole in Shin’s intestine because the Asan hospital already cut part of his small intestine and stitched it during the emergency surgery.

After the autopsy, Shin’s body was moved back to the Asan hospital.

The body will be cremated at Seoul Memorial Park on Wednesday and be placed at a memorial in Anseong, just south of Seoul, according to his management agency.

Shin, an icon of the 1990s pop musical scene, released more than 30 studio albums and experimented with various genres ranging from modern rock to jazz and techno since his debut in 1988.

The singer had been actively campaigning on a wide range of social issues, including the legalization of marijuana and a ban on the adultery law.