Popular South Korean Boyband Singer Jonghyun Dies in Possible Suicide
The lead singer for South Korea’s top boy band SHINee, Kim Jong-hyun, better known by the stage name Jonghyun, died on Monday after being found unconscious at a residence hotel in Seoul and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, Seoul police said.
The singer’s sister made the initial call to emergency services at 4:42pm, saying she believed her brother was committing suicide. She told the police that her brother sent her text messages such as “Final farewell” and “I’ve had difficulties” before his death.
Yonhap news agency said authorities found burned coal briquettes, which produce carbon monoxide, in a frying pan in Kim’s hotel room.
It is rumoured that Jonghyun had faced a barrage of vicious tweets and social media messages from ultra-conservative trolls for his support LGBT rights. He first came under attack in 2013 after publicly supporting a transgender student.
He exchanged direct messages with the student, who posted them online to share: “I support you. As an entertainer, as a minority in a different definition who deals with the public, I feel a great sense of loss in this world where we don’t admit differences. Of course, this can’t be comparable to your feeling,” wrote Jonghyun.
Jonghyun debuted in 2008 as the main singer of SHINee, and cultivated a career as both a group member and a solo singer-songwriter. His last public appearance was at a solo concert titled Inspired on Dec. 9-10 in Seoul, and he was scheduled to hold concerts with SHINee members in Tokyo and Osaka in February.
LGBT people in South Korea face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Marriage or other forms of legal partnership are not available to same-sex partners.
South Korea has also one of the highest suicide rates among developed countries. A string of high-profile figures, including a former president and business executives, have killed themselves in recent years.
He was 27.