Dec. 18th was truly a terrible day for the Kpop community as a whole. I remember going on the internet that day and rumors were quickly spreading that SHINee‘s Jonghyun had passed on. I sat there thinking, “no way this can be true can it?” I fully expected articles to start coming out any moment talking about how this was all just a fake elaborate rumor. Probably started by some random Anti from some random place but that for whatever reason had caught on. However, sadly that correction never came…
Instead what did happen was that more and more articles came forth with even more details proving to be true. Then soon his own friends came out on record with similar statements. To say it was disheartening would be an understatement. Because whether he was your bias or not, whether you followed this group or not, there is no denying the far reach all the members have had on the industry. Like they’ve been relevant for 9+years already meaning if you know Kpop, odds by now are you probably know SHINee too. So to find out one of the group’s members had died was enough to put a stop to the entire community.
Things were only made more sad later though. When it was made official that the reason for his passing was due to suicide. Apparently over the years he had struggled with depression and he had decided he had had enough of it. And so he chose to end the battle. Leaving a letter with a friend to be released if he ever actually went through with it. The contents, well, they were as heartbreaking as one would expect. In it he explains in painstaking detail the struggles he faced. And while I ultimately don’t agree with his decision to take his own life, the letter shows he put a lot of thought to his actions. Which I think makes the end result all the more heartbreaking.
Now I didn’t know much about Jonghyun specifically prior to this I must admit. However I have gone on to retroactively learn about him. And in doing so recently one song really stuck out to me. It was called A Gloomy Clock. I had heard it once upon a time before without the lyrics and thought it was a nice song, but after going back to it I really appreciate it so much more today.
It’s sung by IU but has Jonghyun accompanying it and from what I’ve read was composed by him too. It was his debut as a composer in fact. After re-listening to it and understanding it’s meaning I have realized just how much more of a true artist Jonghyun was and also how much of his own emotions he wore on his sleeve. If you haven’t heard it before I really hope that you would and that you would specially pay attention to the lyrics. I think after the latest events they will hold even more meaning. It’s not everyday artists in S.Korea touch on the topic of Depression like this, particularly idols.
In addition here is a short snippet of the same song but with the main parts of it covered by him. It really showcases how smooth, soothing, and comforting his vocals were. It’s only sad that he couldn’t find the same kind of support that he himself was to so many of his fans over the years. Hopefully some good can come out of this terrible event by sparking a more open conversation/dialogue on what is still looked as a very taboo topic in S.Korea, that of mental illness overall.
In the meantime, Jonghyun you’ve worked hard. I truly hope that at the very least your soul may be at rest now and your mind at ease.
(April 8, 1990 – December 18, 2017)