Kim Jong-hyun's Death

Kim Jong-hyun's Death

Updated Jan 28, 2021 at 02:22PM EST by Matt.

Added Dec 20, 2017 at 09:31PM EST by 3kole5.

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Content Warning: Portions of this entry make mention of suicide, which some may find difficult or upsetting. If you need support or are dealing with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website or call 1-800-273-8255.

종현은 그 누구보다 음악을 사랑하고, 무대를 즐기며 음악을 통해 팬들과 소통하는 것을 좋아하는 최고의 아티스트입니다. 영원히 기억하겠습니다.
Translation: "Jonghyun, who loved music more than anyone, who enjoyed the stage, who communicated with fans through music, the best artist. Forever, he will be remembered."


Kim Jong-hyun's Death refers to the death of Kim "Jonghyun" Jong-hyun, a K-pop artist and member of K-pop boy band SHINee. Jonghyun died on December 18th, 2017 at the age of 27 from an apparent suicide through toxic fumes. The death lead to an outpouring of online support from his fans.


Jonghyun made his debut as part of K-pop boy band SHINee, alongside band members Lee "Onew" Jin-ki, Kim "Key" Ki-bum, Choi "Minho" Min-ho, and Lee "Taemin" Tae-min. Signed to management company and record label SM Entertainment, the group put out their first EP, Replay on May 22nd, 2008 (music video shown below). Since their formation they would release six Korean language albums and five Japanese language albums.

Jonghyun would make his solo debut on January 12th, 2015 with the release of his debut EP Base. He would also release a debut album, She Is, on May 26th, 2016 (music video shown below), and two compilation albums both titled The Collection: Story, with one released in 2015 and the other in 2017.

Jonghyun had also branched out into other endeavors, such as releasing a book, Skeleton Flower in 2015,[47] and being a radio host for the Korean radio show Blue Night from July 2014 to March 2017.


Around 8:10 PM local time on December 18th, 2017, Jonghyun was found unconscious by Korean police in a rented apartment in Seoul's Gangnam district. Beforehand, his older sister contacted authorities a few hours prior after she received texts from him mentioning phrases such as "last goodbye."[1] He was rushed to Konkuk University Hospital where he received CPR treatment. He would later be pronounced dead after he failed to regain consciousness, and died at the age of 27.[2] Authorities suspected the suicide was caused by the consumption of toxic fumes created by burnt coal briquettes found on a frying pan in the apartment. The police would also say that there would be no post-mortem done on the body.[23] Later, close friend and fellow singer Jang Hee-yeon, also known as Nine9 of Korean band Dear Cloud, would post an undated suicide note sent to her from Jonghyun to Instagram.[3] (unofficial English translation shown below)

"I was broken from the inside. The depression slowly chipped me away, finally devouring me. I could not beat the negativity. I hated myself. Even though I tried so hard demanding my memories that kept getting cut off to ‘wake up,’ all I got in return was silence. I‘d rather stop if I cannot breathe. I asked who could be responsible for me. You’re the only one. I felt utterly alone. It is easy to say “I‘m going to end it.” It is very difficult to actually go through with it. I’ve been struggling through the difficulty. I told myself that it‘s just me wanting to run away from everything. It’s true. I really did want to run away. From me. From you. I asked, “Who‘s there?” It’s me. It‘s me again. And it’s me the third time. I asked, “Why do I keep on losing my memory?” They said it‘s due to my personality. I see. It’s all my fault. I wanted someone to notice, but no one knew. Of course, they wouldn‘t. They never met me before. I asked why people live. Just. Just. They live “just because.” If I ask why people died, they would probably say they couldn’t bear it any longer. Troubling thoughts flooded my head. I never got the chance to learn how to change dull pain into pure joy. Pain is just pain. I kept reprimanding myself not to do so. Why? Why can‘t I even end my life with my own will? I tried figuring out the reasons for my pain and suffering. I already had the answer. I was in pain because of me. It’s all my fault that I carry so many imperfections. Teacher, is this what you wanted to hear? No. I didn‘t do anything wrong. I used to think that it’s so easy for doctors to blame your personality for the suffering in their calm voice. It surprises me how I am feeling this much pain. Those people, who have suffered worse than I, seem to go on living perfectly fine. Those weaker than I am live on as well. I guess not. Among the living, there is no one who is suffering worse and no one who is weaker. The only answer I got back was “just live nevertheless.” Asking the purpose of life more than one hundred times is not for me. It‘s for you. I wanted to do it for me. Please don’t say things you don’t know. How could you ask me to still look for reasons behind my pain? I told you multiple times why I‘m suffering. Do I need more reasons to be in pain? More dramatic details in my stories? More stories even? I told you already. Were you absent-minded when I told you? Things you can bear and even come above do not leave scars. It wasn’t my responsibility to go against the world. It wasn‘t my path to become world-famous. That’s why they say it‘s hard to go against the world and to become famous. Why did I choose this path? It’s quite funny now that I think about it. It‘s a miracle that I endured through it all this time. What more can I say. Just tell me “good job.” You did great. Tell me I suffered enough. Even though you can’t laugh right now, just don‘t send me off blaming me. Good job. You suffered a great deal. Good-bye."[4]

Major news sources, such as the BBC[19], Global News[20], the Huffington Post[21], the New York Times[32], and ABC News[24] reported on the death.

Online Reactions

After news of his death came out, tributes to him were posted by fans on numerous social networks.[14] Twitter hashtags, such as #YouDidWellJonghyun,[29] a reference to the last few sentences in Jonghyun's suicide note, reached the worldwide trending section on Twitter with over 137,000 tweets as of writing, while SHINee fans, also known as Shawols, changed their profile pictures on various social networking platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr to roses, posting under the hashtag #RosesforJonghyun,[30] as Jonghyun's favorite colour was red. Jonghyun also became a trending topic on Tumblr,[33] reaching as high as number 5 on Tumblr's Fandometrics blog.[48] The event also made it to Twitter Moments.[38][39][40] On Reddit, the K-pop subreddit changed its banner in tribute of Jonghyun,[45] while a post made to /r/Music by redditor PandaSwears received over 12,000 upvotes.[46]

SHINee's official Twitter account posted a picture in remembrance of Jonghyun which received over 479,000 retweets and 609,000 likes since posting.[5] SHINee member Key would post a hand-written letter to Instagram meant for Jonghyun which received over 1 million likes and over 100,000 replies. (shown below with translation)[34] Other people who were closely associated with Jonghyun and other K-pop acts gave their condolences such as former EXO member Huang Zitao, Park Jaehyun of Day6, FT Island's Lee Hongki, Jo Kwon of 2AM,[7] Taeyeon of Girls' Generation,[37] and Amber Liu of girl group f(x).[36] SHINee and Jonghyun's management company and record label SM Entertainment would also release a statement[22] regarding his death.

bumkeyk k29는 증원,-닝에메 .. 위팀과阽당导 I 뒝망 洲-2싶현. 꼭 궈야叱c1, 급고싶어 다 쿼보고 마지막도 01补팔것도 하. 우1화 먼저 간。고 너우걱혀지 말고 뉘는 ung허릴 내가 HI 종경 한동안廿1 개거야. 피삐 내편돼줄쏀! 향pg 4랑한 실궜 아미 교9ele y 이저 헝없는 4도 내들어 워 다시 ptu께 될때 수 To Jonghyunnie hyung who I love.. Hyung. It's Kibum Today, we let hyung go and I saw your face yesterday but I still can't believe it. I'm sorry I was late to see hyung because I was doing other work and as a dongsaeng, I'm sorry I couldn't be your strength, when you must have been lonely all this time. The two top people responsible for stubbornness on our team is hyung and me, so we have to do what we want to do, we do everything we want to do and even to the end, hyung decided for yourself and hyung left first... It was too hard in the beginning but for three days, I had time just between hyung and me and I think I can understand hyung's heart. Don't worry too much that you left before us, and I will take care of and respect your mom and noona like they're my own family. I will miss you a lot for a while. I'm really worried that the person who would take my side during discussions has left. While we were in discussions, if I snapped out of it while chatting, it was hyung and me talking to our hearts' content... Now I have to get used to time without hyung and I will live even better than I am now. When I'm old and when it's time for us to meet again, tell me l worked hard too! The best artist of my life, friend, hyung and colleague, Jonghyunnie hyung, you worked hard, I love you so much! 2017.12.2

The death of Jonghyun would also start a conversation regarding the pressures, the dark side of fame, and struggles K-pop acts experience due to the multi-billion dollar industry's highly competitive nature, as well as South Korea's high suicide rate among OECD countries, especially among those in the range of ages 10-30.[8] Articles discussing this issue came from places such as The Guardian,[15][42] the Washington Post,[16] The Straits Times,[17] the LA Times,[41] and the South China Morning Post.[18] The event also sparked a conversation regarding mental health in South Korea.[43][44]


A three-day funeral began on the 19th. On the first day of the funeral. Jonghyun's funeral hall was reportedly attended by over 10,000 fans when it opened.[25] In Singapore, Shawols held a black and white memorial in Hong Lim Park.[26] In Chile, a vigil was held by fans as they sang to some of SHINee's songs (video shown below, left). Another vigil was held in the Philippines in Quezon City.[31] K-pop acts, such as EXO and TWICE, would delay releases whereas others would suspend activities, such as Girls' Generation's Taeyeon cancelling a fan meeting.[6] Korean pop acts such as BTS, Girls’ Generation, NCT, and BoA came alongside the other members of SHINee to mourn and give their condolences.[27] A private funeral service was held on the 21st.[28] (funeral procession shown below, right)

After the funeral took place, Shawols posted pictures saying how the moon turned pearl aqua, a color considered by Shawols as SHINee's signature color. Some thought of it as a sign that Jonghyun "made it safely up", though the BBC reports it could potentially be a glitch in the cameras taking the picture in question.[35]

NBC Chicago BTS Mixup

On December 18th, NBC Chicago ran a piece on Jonghyun's death.[9] However, the news station aired footage of Korean boy band BTS on the Ellen Show, with constant zoom ins to member RM. The reporter also erroneously stated that SHINee performed at the American Music Awards, when it was actually BTS as well that performed. (piece shown below)

An ensuing backlash against NBC Chicago began, with some fans calling the report disrespectful and ignorant.[10][11] An apology was given by the station and acknowledged the broadcast error.[12][13]

Search Interest

External References

[1] International Business Times – What Is Jonghyun's Cause Of Death? K-Pop Band SHINee’s Singer Dead

[2] The Korea Herald – [Update] SHINee’s Jonghyun dies in hospital

[3] Instagram – @run_withthewolf

[4] Star2 – The full text of Jonghyun’s suicide note

[5] Twitter – SHINee

[6] Billboard – EXO & Other K-pop Artists Delay Releases in Wake of Jonghyun of SHINee's Death

[7] Rappler – K-pop stars, fans mourn death of SHINee's Jonghyun

[8] Wikipedia – Suicide in South Korea

[9] NBC Chicago – Popular South Korean Boy Band Member Dies in Possible Suicide

[10] Mirror – Jonghyun fans hit out at NBC after they mistakenly use footage of band BTS when reporting SHINee singer's death

[11] Newsweek – NBC Station Confuses Jonghyun of SHINee for BTS Singer, Plays Video of Wrong Band While Reporting on Death

[12] Twitter – NBC Chicago

[13] AllKpop – NBC Chicago apologizes for mistaking BTS' RM for SHINee's Jonghyun in reports about his death

[14] Washington Post – K-pop fans ‘devastated’ after SHINee singer Jonghyun dies in possible suicide

[15] The Guardian – Kim Jong-hyun: SHINee star dies amid an unforgiving K-pop industry

[16] Washington Post – K-pop star’s suicide note reveals pressures of fame, depression that ‘consumed’ him

[17] The Straits Times – Jonghyun's death: The price of K-pop perfection?

[18] South China Morning Post – Death of SHINee singer Jonghyun shows the extreme pressures of South Korea’s celebrities

[19] BBC – Shinee singer Jonghyun: K-pop boy band superstar dies

[20] Global News – Jonghyun’s death confirmed suicide, friend posts his final message

[21] Huffington Post – K-Pop Singer Jonghyun Died After Attempting Suicide, Police Confirm

[22] Koreaboo – SM Entertainment Releases Official Statement Regarding The Death Of SHINee’s Jonghyun

[23] The Jakarta Post – SHINee member's death ruled suicide, no autopsy

[24] ABC News – K-pop boy band star Kim Jong-hyun dies at 27

[25] Metro UK – Jonghyun’s funeral hall attended by over 10,000 fans

[26] The Straits Times – A black and white memorial for SHINee's Jonghyun by Singaporean fans at Hong Lim Park

[27] Hollywood Life – BTS & More K-Pop Groups Pay Respects To Jonghyun At Funeral Hall 1 Day After His Death

[28] Hollywood Life – Jonghyun’s Heartbreaking Funeral: SHINee Carries His Coffin & More Tearful Moments

[29] Twitter – #YouDidWellJonghyun

[30] Twitter – #RosesForJonghyun

[31] Twitter – @jamaguilus

[32] New York Times – Fans Mourn Kim Jong-hyun, a K-Pop Singer Whose Style Was Instantly Recognizable

[33] Tumblr – Search results for jonghyun

[34] Instagram – @bumkeyk

[35] BBC – Jonghyun fans take comfort in 'pearl aqua Moon' images

[36] Instagram – @ajol_llama

[37] Soompi – Taeyeon Posts Heartfelt Message For SHINee’s Jonghyun

[38] Twitter Moments – Lead singer of South Korean boy band Shinee dies

[39] Twitter Moments – Memorials held around the world for Jonghyun

[40] Twitter Moments – Jonghyun's coffin carried by friends and bandmates

[41] LA Times – Death of K-pop star shines a spotlight on South Korea's suicide problem

[42] The Guardian – K-pop singer Jonghyun's death turns spotlight on pressures of stardom

[43] Metro UK – Apink’s Eunji urges K-pop industry to focus on mental health after Jonghyun’s death

[44] Quartzy – The Suicide of a K-Pop Star is Opening Up a Conversation on Mental Health in South Korea

[45] Reddit – /r/Kpop

[46] Reddit – /r/Music

[47] Kpop Herald – SHINee Jonghyun’s book to be released

[48] Tumblr – Fandometrics

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Top Comments


27..? Oof… There is no good age for suicide, but it always comes with an extra weight at such a young age.

Humanity seriously needs to invent some sort of "depression detector" someday in the future. As cheesy and stupid as the idea may sound, it would legitimately help society a lot, seeing how it is still hard to pick up even for popular people and best friends, who you would think to know enough and have enough people to talk to, but that is certainly not the case.

Huh, that game of the poems really nailed the whole concept very well, no..? Though I do not feel like joking about it for a real-life case.


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