[Opinion] The Saddest Sound: Goodbye to RiSe of Ladies’ Code


It was the news that I had been dreading, hoping against hope would never happen. Ever since the road accident that almost instantly took the life of Ladies’ Code member EunB, I (like thousands of others, I imagine) had all but buried my head in the sand. I didn’t want to read any more news about Ladies’ Code. I consider myself fairly emotionally tough, but since that brutal, unforgiving crash, I have become a bag of nerves.

I can pinpoint the exact time when I tried to tune out. It was just after reading about the ordeal of RiSe‘s brain surgery. Doctors spent around eleven hours trying to save her, but despite their efforts, she was beyond help. Eleven horrific hours. What she suffered, what her family suffered during this time is something nobody should have to live through. One can only hope that she felt no pain. Eleven horrific hours.

That was enough for me. Perhaps if I just didn’t think about it, if I didn’t look at the news, maybe one day in a month or two, I would hear somewhere about RiSe being discharged from hospital. EunB’s passing was already too much.

But it wasn’t to be. RiSe is gone. And, to quote the poet Charles Bukowski, “Now something so sad has hold of us that the breath leaves and we can’t even cry.”

RiSe had it all. She was the full package. Enchanting good looks, graceful dance skills, and a powerful voice. Above all, she was blessed with a positivity that was almost disarming.  Can you recall an interview, a music video, a promotional event that RiSe attended without a big, infectious smile on her face? I can’t, and that makes thinking of her now all the more difficult.

I think this “Show Champion” appearance was the last time I saw Ladies’ Code perform. RiSe seems to radiate happiness from the first time she appears on camera, the smile doesn’t leave her face for the whole song — perhaps she is still smiling when the group disappears backstage.

But this dance practice video for “Pretty Pretty” (by far my favorite Ladies’ Code song) is the one that haunts me. It has the power to haunt because the group looks so joyful and so harmonious, that to think that two of these talented women are no longer alive chokes you up a bit, no matter how hard your heart may be. RiSe’s smile is genuine and almost ever-present. At one point, when the group is trying to look serious, she even has to suppress it. Like everything connected to Ladies’ Code now, it is suddenly so hard to watch.

Some idol group stars, despite all the circus that surrounds them, are actually just pleased to be out there, making music. Perhaps, as fans, we should learn to appreciate the likes of RiSe a little more, because, unfortunately, they are quite hard to come by.

Ladies’ Code never really took the K-pop world by storm, as hard as they tried, but the loss of two of the group’s members has unexpectedly shaken it to its very foundations.

Virginia Woolf wrote, in the novel “Orlando,” “Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.” I don’t know if we realized what a joyful and talented group Ladies’ Code truly were until now. I don’t know if we realized how much RiSe made us happy until she was gone. I don’t think we realized how sad the world sounds without RiSe until she breathed her last.


RiSe (Kwon Ri Se) August 16 1991 – September 7 2014

Related: [Opinion] Appreciation Post: A Farewell to EunB of Ladies’ Code