From The Straits Times    |

Korean singer Kim Jong Hyun, 27, better known as Jonghyun, took his own life on Monday (Dec 18), shocking fans around the world who mourned the young SHINee band member’s death.

Here is a look back at his life.


He was scouted by SM Entertainment when he was 15 


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Jonghyun was scouted by music company SM Entertainment when he was just 15, playing a show with his band at school.

The band SHINee debuted in 2008, and he has been noted for contributing to the band’s music, including writing lyrics.


He was close to his older sister 

Jonghyun was close to his older sister Kim Song Dam, also known as Seodam.

He posted a selfie of himself with her on Twitter in 2014, calling her “his breath”.

According to Korean media reports,  Jonghyun sent his sister a suicide note via text message on Monday. She then reported it to the police who rushed to his apartment.

“It’s been really hard for me until now. Please let me go, and tell me I’ve worked hard, last good bye.”


He had diverse musical and pop culture interests, from Prince to Haruki Murakami 


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He had listed as his musical influences American singer Prince and British band Jamiroquai. In May this year, Kim shared his iTunes playlist with Australian media site SBS.

On it were artists like Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Baek Yerin.

He told Berlin-based Seek Magazine in 2014 that he liked the anime Ghost In The Shell, and that his favourite film was American Psycho.

He listed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s magical realism book Kafka On The Shore as his favourite book.




In retrospect, there were signs of his unhappiness 


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After his death, fans and media outlets alike pointed out hints at his mental state in interviews and previous reports.

In a 2015 video for South Korean TV network Mnet’s 4 Things Show,  Jonghyun cried as he talked about his struggle with the public perception of him.

“I don’t think there are too many people to whom I’ve revealed everything like this. I would worry about what they would think if I were to talk to them in such a manner. No matter what I say, honestly, people would only judge me the way they want to,” he said.

“Before, I would want to show the real side of me because of the unfair things that people said about me, but I realised that it was impossible and tried to think why people thought of me in that manner.”

He added that “there aren’t that many people who would want to know the real me”.

He told online fan magazine i-D in an interview in June last year that his one and only goal was “staying in good shape both physically and mentally“.

“That way I can continue producing music I love and meet with the fans as long as possible,” he said.

He told Esquire (Korea) magazine in an interview in May that he was “fundamentally a pessimistic person”.

“Ever since I was little I showed a lot of depressive feelings, and it’s the same in the present,” he said. “But I don’t think I can keep living my life sustaining those depressive feelings forever. You might be able to go through the early-to-mid-part of your life with that kind of melancholy.”

He added that a person can grow only if  he puts aside those feelings.

“Unless you want to get trapped within yourself and die, you have to grow no matter how much it hurts – but if you stop because you’re afraid, in the end it’s inevitable that you’d remain in an immature state of mind,” he told interviewer Shin Ki Joo. “I chose the path to transform myself. To reveal myself to the public. To attempt to make my thoughts understood.”


He was in Singapore just last month 

Jonghyun was in Singapore just last month with his band and female band Red Velvet.

The groups were flown in as ambassadors of The Shilla Duty Free, the Korean duty free retailer which opened a new outlet at Changi’s Terminal 4.


He will be remembered by fans 

Photo: AFP 

His death came as a huge shock to his many fans. 

Already, there are tons of tributes to him online.

As of 9.30pm on Monday, Jonghyun was the top trending topic on Singapore’s edition of Twitter, with 2.26 million tweets.

@ItsJRE wrote: “This is just so heartbreaking… My condolences to his family and everyone around him. Rest In Peace Jonghyun. You will never be forgotten.”

@soukor wrote: “Today we lost an amazing and talented person. My deepest condolences to Jonghyun’s family, SHINee, shawols (fans of SHINee), and his friends. Thank you for sharing to the world how amazing you are.”


This article was first published on Straits Times