Feeling Less than Shinee

Posted by Stephanie on December 18, 2017


It’s a sad, sad day in Kpop. We woke up to the news that Kim Jonghyun, the lead vocalist of Shinee was found dead of an apparent suicide. Generally, I try to avoid the bad news, the scandals here, as this seems to be a place to get away from all that, but I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around the news, the situation, how hard this must have been for him, how hard this will continue to be for his family, his bandmates, his fans.

Like me, there are many of us out there who were lucky enough to see Shinee, and therefore Jonghyun in person. For many of us, Shinee was one of the first kpop bands we listened to. One of the band’s that when we hear their music, we get sucked into memories of the newness of kpop fandom.

I didn’t know Jonghyun as well as I know the other members, but he seemed like a nice guy, a good performer, dancer, and writer. Alexis was just saying that her friend actually saw him, just a couple of weeks ago, preparing for a solo concert. He waved.

This just cements the realization we don’t know these people, we know the personas they put forward, the faces they put in place to show the world. Though it seems like fun, the life of a kpop star is hard. It’s a hard tiring life to choose and even when your band has made it, when you have made it, there are so many demands, so many expectations. The shape you are expected to fill, being exactly what your society demands of you in order to make it to the top, always being on, even when you are off the stage, it’s hard.

South Korea has the biggest suicide rate in the world and our idols, as much as we love and admire them, are not immune.

It’s a sad day in kpop. It’s a sadder day for those who knew and loved Jonghyun.


  • Reply Rebekah Roberts December 19, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Well said. We never really know what others are facing.
    This is such sad news… I hope that in the coming days the other members and his family and friends can find comfort in their mourning.

  • Reply Molly in Kdramaland December 19, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    I saw SHINee at the Korea Times Music Festival two years ago. I was in the pit, and I remember Jonghyun in particular. At one point, he grabbed Taemin’s hand, a huge smile on his face, and pulled his shyer band mate closer to us in the crowd. He wanted to connect with us. He was in his element. His face was shining. My memory of him is at the forefront of my memories of that concert. He was beautiful, talented and charismatic. I never – in a million years – would’ve guessed he was suffering as he clearly was.

    It’s just another reminder that each person – no matter how seemingly unlikely – is fighting battles that can’t be seen. The best we can do is to be kind to one another.

    My heart goes out to the remaining members of SHINee and Jonghyun’s loved ones. I pray they’ll be surrounded by love and support during this difficult time.

  • Reply Rebecca A December 20, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Thank you for this. I was (and still am) quite saddened and shocked by this. I don’t have friends who are into k-pop or k-dramas like I am so it was hard to be so heartbroken with no-one to really talk with who understood who Jonghyun was. So it was comforting to come to your site and know that there were others who were sad and feeling “less than Shinee” as you so aptly put it.

    I am very grateful that I got to see all five of the Memebers perform in Dallas this past March. I will always remember how much of himself he put into his performances, his smiles for his members, and the passion for music.

    My heart breaks for his family and the other members. I hope they can be a comfort to each other and are surrounded by support and love.

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