SEOUL, South Korea – A top K-pop star bemoaned feeling “broken from inside” and “engulfed” by depression in a suicide note, it emerged Tuesday, December 19, as his death sent shockwaves among fans worldwide.
Kim Jonghyun, the 27-year-old lead singer of the massively popular K-pop boyband SHINee, was found in a Seoul hotel room on Monday, December 18, in what police said was suicide.
Kim’s close friend, musician Nain9, released a suicide note on Tuesday on her Instagram account, saying he had asked her to publish the message in the event of his death.
“I am broken from inside. The depression that gnawed on me slowly has finally engulfed me entirely,” it said, adding he “couldn’t defeat it anymore”.
“I was so alone,” he went on. “The act of ending is difficult. I’ve lived until now because of that difficulty.”
“Please tell me I did a good job,” he implored, ending the note with: “You’ve worked hard. You’ve really gone through a lot. Goodbye.”
Five-member SHINee debuted in 2008 and went on to lead the “Korean Wave” that saw South Korean pop culture develop followings across Asia and beyond.
Known for peppy songs and carefully-choreographed dance numbers performed with military precision, SHINee have become one of the world’s best-known K-pop acts.
The band have released 5 albums that swept charts at home and abroad, with some topping the US Billboard World Albums chart.
The band’s agents SM Entertainment – which dominates K-pop and has several other top acts under its wings – said Kim’s funeral would be held on Thursday, December 21.
“Other members of SHINee as well as other artists at our company are all mourning his death amid deep sorrow and shock,” it said in a statement.
Many other K-pop stars at the firm cancelled public appearances to visit the mourning altar at a Seoul hospital where his body lies, with hundreds of tearful fans also in attendance.
“It looks certain that it was a suicide,” police told a briefing. “So we plan to close the case without autopsy as requested by the family.”
Social media was flooded by thousands of messages of mourning, with photos showing throngs of fans sobbing near a makeshift memorial set up outside the Korean embassy in Santiago, Chile.
Kim was pronounced dead shortly after being moved to a hospital. A coal briquette was found burning on a frying pan in the room where he was found – a common method of suicide in South Korea.
The country – known for its ultra-competitive society – has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with the deaths of public figures and celebrities often making headlines.
K-pop stars go through cutthroat competition and grueling, years-long training by their agents, who dictate everything from the artists’ music style to diet regimen and even mobile phone use.
Many are also pressed to maintain squeaky-clean and wholesome images at all times, smiling throughout their public appearances and staying away from “troubles” such as romantic relationships.
Kim earlier sent his sister several text messages saying “This is my last farewell” and “Please let me go and say I did a good job”, prompting her to make an emergency phone call to police. – Rappler.com