Kim Jong-hyun – K-Pop Star Who Couldn’t Overcome Depression

Kim Jong-hyun

Kim Jong-hyun was the lead singer of top South Korean boy band SHINee. After spending nearly a decade in the spotlight, the singer left the world in a suspected suicide. Although it has been almost two and a half years since his death, he is still loved by people from all over the world.

Kim Jong Hyun was known as one of the best vocalists in South Korea. He dropped out of high school when he was in 10th grade to pursue music. The young artist, more popularly known as Jonghyun, made his debut with the band SHINee in 2008. The band and its members quickly rose to fame. They were most known for their lively songs and carefully-choreographed dance numbers. The band released five albums that were well-received by the audience. Some of them even topped the US Billboard World Albums Chart. 

But that’s not it. The k-pop star was also a solo artist. He released his first solo album Base in 2015. Base peaked at number one on both the Billboard World Album Chart and the Gaon Album Chart. He remained an active artist until his death on December 18, 2017. It is often said that the kpop star suicide was a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is still one of the most common ways of self-killing in South Korea. Learn here how does carbon monoxide poisoning occur?

SHINee’s Jonghyun’s death came as a surprise for his fans, who thought he led a happy life. This was also somewhat evident from his performance a few days before his death. But in reality, Jonghyun was severely depressed. He couldn’t cope up with the pressure of being in the spotlight all the time. The South Korean singer left behind a suicide note. This was made public through an Instagram post by his best friend, Naine9, a day after he was found dead. She said that Jonghyun asked her to publish the note in the event of his death.

Jonghyun’s suicide note said that he felt “broken from inside” and that he “wished to run away from his pain.” The young star ended the message by asking people not to blame him. His exact words were, “What else is there to say? Just tell me I did well. Tell me that this is enough. Tell me I worked hard. Even if you can’t smile, please don’t blame me as you send me off. Well done. You’ve really worked hard. Goodbye.” Jonghyun’s funeral was attended by many of his fans. They paid tribute while his body laid at a mourning altar in a Seoul hospital.

The young star had been quite open about his mental health struggles over the years. One K-pop columnist notes that Jonghyun was aware of the mental struggles of his band members. He added that Jonghyun understood the concept of emotional space that everyone needs. 

Generally, k-pop stars go through cut-throat competition and rigorous training throughout their career. From their diet to screen time to relationships, much is controlled by their agents. Many of these stars are also under intense pressure to maintain a clean image. This pressure often leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. 

As a result, these people turn towards drugs and substance abuse for temporary relief. Jonghyun was praised by his fans for avoiding these hazards. The same was a source of destruction for some of his counterparts’ careers. The kpop star’s death wasn’t caused by substance abuse, and neither did he have a history of drug use. However, there are several other stars who are involved in these activities, unfortunately. 

Although drug use is not well-received in Korean society, it is becoming a pressing issue. Recently, a wave of celebrity-related drug abuse cases got many people worried. Many experts have attributed this drug abuse to the pressure of being in the spotlight 24/7. One psychiatrist notes that celebrities may seek drugs for ‘self-care.’ This can be due to their stressful careers. But whatever the reason may be, drug and substance abuse does not end well for anyone.