I know most of us are devastated to hear about the death of K-Pop superstar Jonghyun – a front man of Korean-pop sensation SHINee. His death is being investigated as suicide, and it is pointing in the direction of the mounting pressures he faced as a K-Pop superstar who was in the spotlight. Here is the post which we published here yesterday when the news of his death came to light. 

A day after his apparent suicide, a note written by Jonghyun was made public, and it detailed the pressures he felt was mounting on him being a star in the spotlight. Here are some of the things he wrote- it will definitely make you teary and really reflect on how depression and mental health impacts on us Asians:

“I am broken from inside,” 
“The depression that had been slowly eating me up finally devoured me and I couldn’t defeat it.”
“Maybe I wasn’t supposed to come up against the world; maybe I wasn’t supposed to be known to the world; I’ve learned that’s what [makes my life] difficult. How come I chose that,” 

He also stated that his doctor blamed his personality for not being able to recover from his depression. The letter didn’t reveal what directly caused the depression but all indications point to the fact that being a celebrity was a major cause of the pressure. There is no confirmed reason ruled for his death, but it is likely suicide. 

My 2 cents worth is that depression and mental health is a major issue within our Asian diaspora. I do not feel that as Asians our culture has fully accepted depression and mental illness as an actual issue plaguing our diaspora. Jonghyun is not the first K-Pop star to die due to the pressures of being a superstar. Korean-American singer Charles Park, known by his stage name Seo Ji-won, was one of the first K-pop celebrities to take his own life, on Jan. 1, 1996, and actress Jeong Da-bin who starred in KDrama “Boys Over Flowers” ended her life in 2007 with a close source stating that it was due to a lack of work and imprisonment by her manager. It is a major issue which we all need to reflect and act on, and I hope to see Asia really take a serious look at this issue. 

Jonghyun you will remain in all our hearts forever, may you RIP.

Image via Variety

To read the full article, please click on: Jonghyun Suicide Note Points to Brutal Pressure of Korean Spotlight


  1. Jeong Da-bin? I think she was in Attic Cat/Rooftop Room Cat/옥탑방 고양이, not Boys Over Flowers (but the rest of the point remains).

  2. Thanks for bringing AZN mental health issues to the forefront, but I want to point out some problematic assumptions in a lot of the concern trolling in recent coverage of Jonghyun’s suicide in the Western press. I wrote more about it here: https://beyondasiaphilia.com/2017/12/20/end-of-a-day-jonghyuns-suicide-and-orientalist-concern-trolling/