A year ago in early December, I was still at the beginning of my k-music journey. I was discovering groups left and right and one of the ones that stuck out to me was SHINee. I had watched them on a few variety shows and decided to check out their music. Color me shocked when they immediately became one of my top 10 groups. I started to say, if I was a k-pop fan 7 or 8 years ago, SHINee would be my ult group, that’s how amazing and affected I was.
But it was almost 2-3 weeks after I started listening to them, I heard the news that no one would have expected. On December 18th, Kim Jonghyun of SHINee had taken his own life at the age of 27.
I sat in shock. For some reason, this hit me harder than I would have thought. At the time, Jonghyun was just another idol, part of a group I kind of knew, and for the most part really liked. However, the moment I read the news, I was thrown into a deep dark hole of grieving for this man who I learned, had touched so many people. I cried at the mention of his name, any picture I saw had me needing to take a break. Every shawol in my orbit was hurting and it was something that couldn’t be ignored. I even became so obsessed with the whole funeral that I had to detox myself from anything related to Jonghyun or SHINee because of it. Eventually over time, I pulled myself out and became a stan of his and SHINee’s work. Even among the sadness that the thought of him gone brought me, his talents and legacy couldn’t be ignored.
At first, I didn’t know how to be a fan. I found myself sad every time his songs came on my playlists. Or I would find myself yearning to see him on a music show and then remembering the devastating truth. For months, dealing with the reality was the hardest. I questioned myself constantly, why did his death effect me this way? Ultimately, it came down to a combination of things. One, I myself was already going through the grieving process over my mother’s death. Two, I also suffer from depression and at the time, was really going through a down swing of things. Three, in that short period of time where I discovered the group, Jonghyun and his music really touched me in a way only a few other artist have. And finally, it was watching how this one person could have such a effect on every person who had come in contact with him. As I watched his friends and colleagues hurt and cry out for him, I knew that this one man was truly special. The last time I felt this hurt for someone I had never met, Heath Ledger had died.
Now here we are a year later. Jonghyun is nominated for an award, SHINee as a whole is moving forward musically, the members are having solo endeavors, Onew has just enlisted for his mandatory service. Life continued on for all. The guys don’t shy away from talking about their brother. They miss him as much as we do. And many have criticized them for continuing on, but I believe that isn’t what Jonghyun would want for them.
For some fans, this was the first time losing someone they looked up to or who had such an impact on their lives. the grieving process is one that is different for everyone and can’t be measured in time. As each day passes, we miss them a little more but hurt a little less. The best thing is to remember Jonghyun for how he lived and not for how he left. For how even now that he’s not physically with us, he will forever touch and inspire people to be their true artistic selves.
Each part of himself that Jonghyun had given us, will live on with every person who knows his name. So for every shawol or anyone that was touched by Jonghyun, prayers and love be with you.
You Did Well… Always Be With Us