It's no longer news that the K-pop group SHINee's leader Jonghyun has passed. An apparent suicide, fans of the group and Jonghyun had known of the struggles he faced for years. He was open about his deteriorating mental health in interviews, but the news still shocked and saddened fans.
Some news outlets have turned to shining a light on South Korea's mental health problems, and it's certainly a conversation worth having. Jonghyun's death didn't just impact South Korea. SHINee had fans and followers all over the world, and K-pop is more popular now than ever before.
But I'm sitting here trying to parse through my thoughts and figure out how to approach this article that hits close to home, and I don't exactly know which direction it should go.
For those of you who don't know Jonghyun or SHINee, the group debuted in 2008 under SM Entertainment, a massive music label known for many other artists including Girl's Generation, Super Junior, BoA, Exo and many more.
They were one of the most popular and influential K-pop groups, with a long list of accolades and awards under their belts over the course of their near-10-year-long career. They've even earned the nickname, "Princes of K-pop." Their powerful vocals, unique aesthetic and impressive dance routines cemented them as favorites in the hearts of K-pop fans everywhere.
And when we consider a group like BTS taking the world by storm, it was musicians like those in SHINee that busted open that door and helped spread K-pop across the globe. Their massive popularity in Korea and abroad was highlighted by five world tours, with "SHINee World V" landing two performances in the United States.
SHINee was one of the first K-pop groups I ever enjoyed. Songs like "Ayo" and "Replay" revealed to me a world of music I had never fully appreciated.
It was Jonghyun's voice that had me hooked. With so many artists and singers in the K-pop realm, many voices ended up sounding the same and every new group would start to blend together. SHINee was different and it was thanks to Jonghyun.
His voice stood out among the rest and was always recognizable. His passion on stage during the group's live performances was inspiring. Just watch this video of the boys performing "Replay" at one of their stops on their fourth world tour. Jonghyun is the blonde one crying at the end as the crowd sings along.
It's hard not to admire a group so talented and so in love with their fans and art.
SHINee will remain one of the best and most influential K-pop groups in my heart for years to come. They were one of the first groups that brought me in to the world of Korean pop culture and showed me a side of Korea I didn't know existed.
Rest in peace, Jonghyun.