This was first written on the night of the 19th December 2017. I then finished this on 24th January.
The following will be an emotional mess but I’m not going to apologise and, as a devoted fan of SHINee for over five years now, I shouldn’t have to. I’m not expecting many people to read this, but even if you didn’t know who he was, I’d appreciate it if you could read just a little bit.
I understand that for some it’s still a sensitive topic, but I couldn’t just not post this, especially with SM releasing Poet | Artist posthumously. If you are a Shawol – or anyone for that matter – who needs to talk to someone, please don’t be afraid to message me.
I can’t believe you’re gone. None of us can. Today, the SHINee World is still quite emotional and yet I can only imagine that it’s the equivalent of just a fraction of your suffering. I hope you’re in a happier place now. You deserve to be in the happiest place – you brought a smile on a lot of people’s faces.
Call me, selfish, Jonghyun, but I just want to talk about you. I want to talk about you and your life achievements. Your voice was first heard on Zhang Liyin’s first Chinese album and it was just as wonderful then as it was on your last album. Two months after her album was released, you debuted with four other amazing young men as the boy group SHINee and you took the world by storm. The various awards that you and band mates received for your debut prove that.
It didn’t stop at your debut either – you continued to have so many successes. Juliette saw you and Minho writing lyrics for the first time. Ring Ding Dong charted so many charts all over Asia. Lucifer became one of the best-selling albums in Korea. You debuted in Japan, releasing three Japanese singles in one year, as well as a full-length album. You won “Artist of the Year” and this meant you secured not only the hearts of the Korean people, but the Japanese population too.
My own heart was captured by your music in 2012 when you had just finished promotions for Sherlock. It was incredible. I hadn’t seen anything like K-Pop before and I was just immersed in such a catchy song, starring at the choreography, the fashion… I then proceeded to watch your series of Hello Baby, using it as a way to get to know who was who, and I’m glad I did because it confirmed the fact that I wanted to be a Shawol.
Even though it’s only been five or six years, I feel like I’ve seen all five of you grow and mature into five incredible men. You all went from strength to strength, your music and fashion inspiring so many other K-Pop artists – you were always one step ahead.
If anything, your solo career proved this. Your first album Base has been one of my favourite K-Pop albums since it was released. Déjá-Boo remains to be a catchy track that I can never not sing along to. Story OP 1 just proved to everyone how truly talented you were – you took stories from your radio show’s listeners and turned them into songs. And although they were other people’s stories, all of the songs? They were all written by you. They were composed by you. You even did a second compilation that was just as amazing. It is quite the magnificent achievement in such a controlled industry. Your writing also meant that She Is – your debut full-length album – reached #4 on the Billboard World charts. We are so proud of you for doing this.
But you didn’t just stop at your own music, did you? You wrote so many amazing tracks for other artists. Taemin, EXO, Lee Hi, Lim Kim…. These are just a couple of examples, yet all of the tracks and albums that you contributed to have performed brilliantly. Lim Kim reached #16, EXO reached #1…. Your talent clearly shone through.
Stepping aside from your music, though, just for a second as it was a big part of you… You appeared to be one of the kindest people in the K-Pop industry. You were always smiling, laughing, being dorky… Sadly, though, you were suffering and none of us saw it, no-one saw quite how much you were suffering because you blinded us with your smile. I’m so sorry, Jonghyun. I’m so, so sorry. Whilst you cared for everyone around you, who was genuinely reaching their hand out to you? You said that your radio show – Blue Night – should be kept like a diary. You wanted to know people’s stories, you wanted to help them. You were so thoughtful and selfless.
Progressive. That’s what you was. You supported protests that shared the light on Korea’s social inequality. You critiqued your country’s social tightness, the social norms and the discrimination against those in the LGBTQ+ community. Although you received a lot of hate for that by people pretending to be in the SHINee fanclub, genuine fans were so proud of you for being brave and speaking up about these issues.
We won’t know what truly happened. Only you know that. But you taught us so many things about ourselves and the world around us.
We’ve been graced by the track Shinin’ that you produced before you passed and none of us could be prouder. Many may be over-analytical of it, but analysis doesn’t matter – this is the last gift you’ll give us and people should just be treasuring it. I know I am.
Sleep well, Jonghyun. You did well. You did so well. I’m proud of you. Thank you for everything.