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Jonghyun’s suicide reveals the violence of K-pop

The February 2018 concerts in Osaka and Tokyo still appeared on Tuesday, December 19, on the Japanese page of the South Korean group SHINee. Will they take place? Nothing is less certain as the emotion is strong since the announcement of the death of Kim Jong-hyun, alias Jonghyun, singer of this boy band, one of the most popular in K-pop, the pop music of the south of the peninsula.

In a note, Jonghyun expresses his dismay. “I’m broken inside,” he wrote.

The 27-year-old star was found unconscious on December 18 at the end of the day in her apartment in the chic and trendy district of Cheongdam-dong, in Seoul, by firefighters alerted by her sister. She got worried after receiving a message from Jonghyun saying: “Please let me go. Tell me I did well”and concluded by “last farewell”. His death was officially declared shortly after his arrival at the hospital. In a note made public on December 19, Jonghyun expressed his dismay. “I’m broken insidehe wrote. The depression that gnaws at me little by little finally devoured me and I couldn’t overcome it. »

The news of his death, eight days after his last public appearance for a solo concert in Seoul, titled “Inspired”, has devastated the group’s fans around the world. Fans who called themselves “Shawolfs”, a contraction of SHINee and World. The K-pop world seems affected and many concerts have been canceled. “The other members of SHINee as well as various artists of our company are in mourning, in shock and in deep despair”reacted SM Entertainment, the group’s production house.

Innovative and original tracks

Born on April 8, 1990, in the Hyehwa district of northern Seoul, Jonghyun was spotted while in high school by agents of the powerful agency SM Entertainment, which was established in 1995 by popular singer Lee Soo-man. 1970s turned entrepreneur. “We all dreamed of becoming singers”explained Jonghyun to the World (of June 10, 2011) during an interview with the entire group.

Formed from 2005 by SM Entertainment, the singer joined the other four members of SHINee in 2007, and the group debuted the following year. “The training we followed allowed everyone to develop their own color, their own style”, he added to deny the accusations of standardization and adaptation to ephemeral fashion trends, often addressed to K-pop.

Korean singer Jonghyun performing in Hong Kong in October 2012.

Very quickly, the boy band stood out for its songs deemed innovative and original in an often sanitized universe, where the bands resembled real products. “A band usually lasts no more than three to five yearsexplained in 2011 Kim Young-min, then CEO of SM Entertainment. Their survival depends on the members, if they know how to respond to the rapid developments of the times. »

Recruited as teenagers

SHINee seems to have managed to overcome this pitfall. They remain one of the few K-pop groups that did not break out or fade into oblivion. It was popular in Japan from its beginnings, before enjoying growing success in Europe and more recently in the United States. The group gave its first American concerts in March, in Dallas (Texas) and Los Angeles (California). On the sidelines of this success, Jonghyun, very invested in the composition of the songs and their production, also led a successful solo career from 2015. His death could spark debates on the functioning of K-pop, a ruthless universe, the scene of fierce competition to which actors and singers, often recruited as teenagers, find it difficult to adapt.

Suicides are not uncommon in this violent industry that goes beyond K-pop. In 2015, singer Ahn Sojin ended her life at the age of 22 after failing to join popular girl group Kara. Singer Park Yong-ha did the same in 2010 at age 32 due to work issues. In 2009, actress Jang Ja-yeon also committed suicide, leaving behind a diary in which she detailed the ” services “ that she had to give back to influential men in the industry to advance her career.

A portrait of Korean singer Jonghyun surrounded by flowers in Seoul on December 19, 2017.

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