Tuesday, December 19, 2017

[ADMIN] SHINee's Jonghyun, our Jjong...

Couldn't bear thinking about this post, but I think I'll do it now while it's still raw... for my own process. I will not be posting music videos for a few days. I'll try to catch up at the end of the week and weekend. Thank you for your patience.

Kim Jonghyun of SHINee has passed away.

In the full post there is SM's official statement, some links, and my personal response to what has happened. Everything is after the jump-cut so it can easily be skipped for anyone having too difficult a time with all this. Please do not read further if frank discussion of this event would overwhelm you.

To Shawols, I love you.
To the greater Kpop community, hold each other tight.
Provide all the support you can and embrace support yourself if you need it.
To Jonghyun, thank you for sharing your voice and your music.
You've worked so hard.

SM Entertainment's official statement, translation courtesy of /u/heoldaebaksagun:
This is SM Entertainment.
We are sorry to deliver grievous news that makes everyone's heart ache.
On December 18, SHINee member Jonghyun suddenly left our side.
He was discovered unconscious at a residence in Cheongdam, Seoul and was transferred to a university hospital nearby, but was declared dead on the evening of the 18th.
Our sadness cannont compare to his immediate family's who lost a beloved son and dongsaeng, however, SHINee members who spent a long time with him and our SM Entertainment colleague artists and employees are mourning his death amidst huge shock and sadness.
Jonghyun was the ultimate artist, who loved music more than anyone and always put in his best efforts on stage.
Our heart aches even more delivering this sad news to fans who gave unconditional love to Jonghyun.
We earnestly ask everyone refrain from rumors and speculations as his immediate family, who have fallen into great sadness at the sudden sad news, are mourning the death of their loved one.
The plan is to have the quietest possible funeral with family and company colleagues, according to the wishes of his immediate family.
Once again, sending deep condolences on the final path of the deceased.

I'll link two reddit posts. First, a compilation of condolences and responses from fellow artists. Second, a translation of Jonghyun's last message. DO NOT READ THIS if you are in an emotionally fragile space. Take care of yourself first and foremost.

Deep breaths.

I watched SHINEE's debut performance on livestream. I was in a chat with fellow DBSK fans, all of us Cassiopeians curious to see SM's brand new boy group. Some were a bit salty about it. Heh. But SHINee showed their skill and confidence on stage right out of the gate and impressed us all. I thought they showed incredible potential. Replay remains my favorite Kpop debut of all time.

SHINee really did go on to be DBSK's successor, but they did it by forging their own path and always bringing their absolute best to the stage. They earned every ounce of respect they got. Over these nine years, I've never thought of myself as a Shawol, but only because it has always felt like everyone is a Shawol. They've been almost universally liked across fandoms and the industry during all this time.

The group moved in a musical direction that was less my personal taste than their early work, but it was ALWAYS interesting and they always had all my attention and praise for their performance level. I could always count on them to deliver. Like, 'Yep! SHINee performed their asses off again. No surprise there!'

Jonghyun's voice frequently left me gasping and cheering. What a cool voice. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know that distinctive vocal tone is my thing. He had it in spades. His contrast with Onew's own unique tone always gave me a thrill.

All of these are such obvious things though.

It's his extra-idol activities that wholly endeared me to Jonghyun. His openness about mental illness and depression. His total support of LGBT+ issues. Sharing deeply personal stories about his family situation and his mother and sister. His persistence to communicate directly with fans about issues of social prejudice or questioning his lyrics. He shirked all these taboos for idols, especially from top-tier companies that insist on perpetual polish. All signs point to Jonghyun being a true gentleman for this courage.

The loss of him is a terrible wound.

In the early days of my interest in Kpop, I learned how pressured the system is. How intense. I learned about the frighteningly high suicide rate in the general population.

I have dreaded these headlines since then. That worry has lingered with me for a decade. Losing EunB and RiSe of Ladies' Code in that car accident was part of that dread made reality. But accidents happen in life, as terrible as they are. Precautions can be taken. Better practices can be implemented. But in the end, it can't be helped.

By the illness of depression, though... the nature of Jonghyun's passing is the worst of my fears in this industry. And here it is. It happened. I still can hardly believe it.
My eyes landed on the headline in reddit and near popped out of my head. I have been a shaking, shuddering, sobbing mess since then.
I've been worried about TOP. I've been worried about Onew after the situation he was in this year. Suffering and depression manifest in self-destruction in a number of ways. Sometimes it bursts out and harms others, accidentally or not, as in Onew's case. Sometimes it bursts totally inward in the most brutal and final way.

It's the third time I've been through this in 2017.
Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington... Kim Jonghyun.

I am torn apart completely.

I've been suicidally depressed for twenty of my thirty-one years of life. It's personal on a visceral level when these artists I care about so much succumb to an illness I share. I'm relieved for them, knowing some of the pain they were experiencing. But there is terrible grief for the living and I feel all of that. I feel sick for his family, for his band members. My eyes are faucets. I wonder how I could possibly cry more and then I do.
(A few of you contacted me directly to check in. I appreciate it. Thank you. I'll be okay.)

The Kpop industry is so small and insulated. It's all concentrated there in Seoul. Every performer has rubbed shoulders and shared roads and lived in the same buildings and seen each other regularly backstage through promotions. And look at this impact. The entire industry is mourning collectively over this one wonderful man. No one is left unaffected. Every fan, even if they weren't interested in SHINee, knows their favorite artists worked in the same spaces as him and respected him.

The end-of-the-year Gayos will surely be heavily colored by this.
My heart goes out to every artist having to push through their schedules and duties.
Many companies are cancelling things and providing breaks, thankfully.

With very freshly renewed desperation, I hope the cultural stigma around mental illness can be alleviated somewhat. In the very least I'm hoping companies will make counseling/therapy as much a part of their system as vocal and dance coaches. And those practices need to be excellent. I know a number of celebrities who have gone out of the country to receive treatment, because the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality is too prevalent... even among doctors and professionals. It's heinous for a person to have the courage to seek treatment and instead receive a condescending pep-talk. No excuse for that.
The culture needs to change.
And it can start in Kpop.

Ah, Jonghyun.
I've had Y Si Fuera Ella stuck in my head for the entire day.

He'll be so missed. 

I've run out of words.
It has become a cliche, but it helps me personally, so I'll repeat it here.

Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Take care of yourselves out there. Look after one another.
Love. Love. Love.

My banners will be changed in solidarity with Shawols for the remainder of the year.

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