Kim, better known as Jonghyun, was a K-pop superstar, and fans around the world are in mourning. Kim was found unconscious after his sister phoned police; he had sent her ominous text messages just prior to his death and she was concerned for his well-being.
One text message read “Final farewell” while another said, “I’ve had a hard time. Please let me go and say that I did a good job. This is my last word.”
Kim was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on Monday evening (Korean time). He was 27 years old.
Yonhap news agency said authorities found burned coal briquettes, which produce carbon monoxide, in a frying pan in the Gangham district apartment. Kim’s death is not being treated as suspicious, and his family has not requested an autopsy.
SM Entertainment, Kim’s management company throughout his career, released a statement Monday following his death.
“Our sadness cannot compare to the pain of his family, who had to say goodbye to a son and a brother, but we have spent a long time with him, and the SHINee members along with the SM Entertainment staff are all in deep mourning and shock,” it read in part.
“Jonghyun loved music more than anybody else and he was an artist who did everything to perform his absolute best on stage. It breaks our heart to have to bring this news to fans who loved Jonghyun so much. Please refrain from reporting on rumours and guesswork so the family of the deceased can honour him in peace. As per the wish of the family, the funeral will be held quietly with his relatives and company colleagues. Once again we show our deepest condolences to Jonghyun on his last journey.”
Two weeks prior to his death, Kim sent a lengthy text message to his friend, Jang Hee-yeon, another K-pop star from the band Dear Cloud. Known by the moniker Nine9, Jang was told by Kim to post the text to social media “if he disappears from the world.”
Jang received permission from Kim’s family before posting the message. The translated version of Kim’s message is below (translation by Catherine Chung of The Korea Herald.)
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.
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 (my suffering), 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.
You suffered a great deal.
Fans paid respects at a makeshift memorial at the Asan Medical Center in Seoul, where Kim was pronounced dead. An altar, complete with a framed photo of the singer, was surrounded by colourful flowers.
SM Entertainment confirmed Kim’s funeral will take place on Thursday.
— With files from AFP