One of South Korea’s most famous singers, Kim Jong-hyun, died in an apparent suicide on Monday, prompting an outpouring of grief on social media by fans of his popular boy band, Shinee.
Kim, 27, known simply as “Jonghyun”, was found unconscious in an apartment in a southern suburb of the capital, Seoul, after his sister alerted the authorities at 4.42pm that he may be trying to take his own life.
She had been alarmed by a series of text messages that included “Please let me go. Tell me I did well,” and “Final farewell.”
Shinee, a five-member band who have been hailed as “the princes of the K-pop scene”, have gained millions of fans around the world and enjoyed a string of number one albums in South Korea since being formed by entertainment company, SM Entertainment, in 2008.
The band have headlined a number of tours in Asia and Japan, and last year embarked on a world tour which included gigs in the US and Canada.
Shinee’s official music videos have racked up tens of millions of views on YouTube and Jonghyun, also a successful solo singer-songwriter, was feted for having penned the lyrics to some of the bands biggest hits.
I refuse to believe it… I'm in tears…but just why💔💔😭😭😭 #JONGHYUN #SHINee I'M IN DISBELIEF😭😭😭💔💔 RIP Jonghyun, you'll be missed badly pic.twitter.com/SBZJSMm1Hf
— Maya✨(Shin Ji Woo) (@maya_nafeeza) December 18, 2017
I will always love you. #Jonghyun #Shinee #Shawols #StayStrongShawols
— Mint_Yoongs (@syhdh_nrdn) December 18, 2017
In a statement, SM Entertainment said that staff were “in deep mourning and shock” at the “heartbreaking” news.
“Our sadness cannot compare to the pain of his family, who had to say goodbye to a son and a brother,” it continued. “Jonghyun loved music more than anybody else and he was an artist who did the best to perform his absolute best on stage.”
Fans reacted in shock on social media, posting videos of their favourite performances.
“Today is a day of mourn and grief. Lets respect that. Love each other and comfort each other. The pain is unbearable,” said one K-pop fan, under the Twitter name LocalJimin.
#사람목숨 #SHINee #jonghyun #StayStrongShawols I am really sorry for your loss. I am weeping so bad right now💔💔 R.I.P jonghyun 😭😭
— Pornesian Parapio (@SUGArettes_weed) December 18, 2017
It's not true….. I will not say it…… I refuse to say it… I refuse to believe it.. It can't be true #SHINee
— Remo Daniels B. (@DanielsRemo) December 18, 2017
Despite his popularity, Jonghyun was reportedly badly trolled online in 2013 when he publicly spoke out in favour of LBGT rights, a cause which still faces considerable resistance in South Korea’s conservative society.
Koreaboo, a website dedicated to breaking K-pop news, speculated that Jonghyun’s last Instagram post may have been a “cry for help”.
His last photo appeared next to screenshot of the song called “Beside You” and contained the lyrics “I pray only that you aren’t hurting. I hope only that you will be happy. Please don’t try to be alone in the darkness. Don’t torture yourself.”
Koreaboo also published a series of local and international suicide prevention numbers.
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