Family of late SHINee star Jonghyun sets up foundation to support young artists

The family of late K-pop star Kim Jong-hyun, who died after he committed suicide in December 2017, have set up a foundation to help young artists and people struggling with mental health stress.

Magazine Esquire Korea uploaded on their Instagram a preview of their interview with Kim's mother Lee Eun-kyung on the Shinin foundation, which was launched on Thursday (Sept 6).

The K-pop singer from boy band SHINee, who went by the name Jonghyun, was 27 when he died in a Seoul apartment. He left behind a suicide note which suggested that he was suffering from severe depression when he took his own life.

Mrs Lee is the director of the foundation named after Kim's song Shinin', which was released in his posthumous album Poet | Artist.

She told Esquire that the foundation plans to help young artists who struggle due to a lack of management and work with performing arts high schools to create scholarship opportunities. It will also set up a psychological consultation centre which will help to support young artists who might be scarred by working in the entertainment industry.

She said: "In my pained eyes, I can see so many youths who are in so much pain right now."

The pressures of being in the limelight was believed to be one of the reasons Kim killed himself. He wrote in his suicide note: "I guess I was not meant to lead a life in the public eye. That's why it was hard. Confronting the world, and being in the public eye. Why did I make those decisions? It's ridiculous."

Kim's death prompted an outpouring of grief from fans and celebrities alike in South Korea and launched a national conversation about mental health issues in the Asian country, where mental health still carries a stigma.

A black and white memorial for SHINee's Jonghyun by Singaporean fans at Hong Lim Park

  • Thousands of Singaporean fans of South Korean pop group SHINee turned up in a sea of black and white at Hong Lim Park on Wednesday (Dec 20) night to pay their respects to the band's lead singer Kim Jong Hyun .
  • A young female fan who looked to be in her early teens sobbed and repeatedly said: "I just cannot believe it."
  • The mood was sombre as many fans were spotted hugging and crying.
  • Some took balloons to the event, others offered flowers and stuffed toys.
  • Post-it notes were also passed around for fans to write on as they left behind heartfelt farewell messages for their beloved idol.
  • At one point, the fans waved their light sticks and smartphones in the air as they sang the SHINee song Replay.
  • Despite the large crowd at the event, the fans, made up mostly of young teenage girls, were quiet and orderly. They queued up patiently to get into the park despite the detailed identity checks against pre-registration forms.
  • According to a list of rules posted on @majidarou's Twitter feed, only 1,000 fans could be within the park compound at any one time, which meant that fans could only enter in batches.
  • The memorial service here was organised by a group of local SHINee fans led by a Twitter user who goes by the handle @majidarou.
  • Six of K-pop's biggest stars carried the coffin of fellow singer Kim Jong-Hyun to a hearse .
  • Despite harsh winter weather, weeping fans in jackets, hats, scarves and masks waited outside for the vehicle to leave. They cried even harder as the hearse passed them by.
  • Hundreds of fans from across the country were present while the casket of Jonghyun -- whose real name is Kim Jong-hyun -- was carried out.
  • Onew, Key, Taemin and members of Super Junior were pallbearers, while Minho and Jonghyun’s sister walked ahead of the procession holding his photo.
  • Members of SHINee and Super Junior carry Jonghyun’s coffin at Seoul Asan Hospital on Thursday.
  • The celebrities bowed their heads and prayed while waiting for the hearse, a black Lincoln limousine, to leave the building, as people at the back sang Christian hymns.
  • Super Junior's donghae
  • The private funeral started around 8 a.m. It was attended by Jonghyun’s family, as well as officials and artists of S.M. Entertainment, including Girls’ Generation and EXO.
  • Members of Girls Generation at the funeral
  • A top K-pop star bemoaned feeling "broken from inside" and "engulfed" by depression in a suicide note, it emerged Tuesday, as his death sent shockwaves among fans worldwide.
  • Kim Jong-Hyun, a 27-year-old lead singer of the massively popular K-pop boyband SHINee, was found in a Seoul hotel room on Monday in what police said was suicide.
  • Kim's close friend, musician Nain9, released a suicide note on Tuesday on her Instagram account, saying he had asked her to publish the message in the event of his death.
  • “I am broken from inside. The depression that gnawed on me slowly has finally engulfed me entirely," it said, adding he "couldn't defeat it anymore".
  • Five-member SHINee debuted in 2008 and went on to lead the "Korean Wave" that saw South Korean pop culture develop followings across Asia and beyond.
  • The band's agents SM Entertainment – which dominates K-pop and has several other top acts under its wings – said Kim's funeral would be held on Thursday.
  • "Other members of SHINee as well as other artists at our company are all mourning his death amid deep sorrow and shock," it said in a statement.
  • Many other K-pop stars at the firm cancelled public appearances to visit the mourning altar at a Seoul hospital where his body lies, with hundreds of tearful fans also in attendance.
  • "It looks certain that it was a suicide," police told a briefing. "So we plan to close the case without autopsy as requested by the family."

His mother told Esquire: "Till now, it still hurts when I go somewhere and I hear music playing that has my son's voice in it. But even though my son has gone, there are people who love and enjoy his music, and for that I am always grateful."

The Shinin foundation held a small opening ceremony on Thursday in Cheongdam-dong in Seoul. The foundation will be funded with the royalties collected from Kim's music. It also plans to hold an arts festival every December to commemorate and celebrate Kim.

Even as the world mourns Jonghyun, we celebrate his life. #RIPKimJongHyun #SHINee #StayStrongShawols

Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, December 18, 2017

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.


  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-2214444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-2837019
  • Sage Counselling Centre: 1800-5555555
  • Care Corner Mandarin Counselling: 1800-3535800