The K-pop group SHINee has lost one of its five members: Kim Jong-hyun has died at age 27. According to BBC News Korean Service, the singer was found unconscious in an apartment in Seoul, and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Kim Jong-hyun, who was known simply by Jonghyun, was one of the founding members of SHINee in 2008. He debuted as the main singer of the group, and had a large role in the band's songwriting and production process. SHINee went on to become one of the most influential K-pop bands, having achieved significant success both in their home country of South Korea and abroad.
Jonghyun was a talented singer and dancer, and established a career as both a solo artist and part of the group. His last appearance was at a series of solo concerts titled Inspired in Seoul's Olympic Park. SHINee released their fifth album, Five, this year, and the group was scheduled to tour in Tokyo and Osaka in February. According to the Korean Herald, Jonghyun's sister alerted the police on Monday after receiving disturbing text messages. When he was found, the singer was rushed to the hospital in a state of cardiac arrest, but emergency care was unable to help. The police are investigating suicide as a potential cause of death.
SHINee was signed to S.M. Entertainment, and debuted with Replay in 2008. The entertainment company issued the following statement published on allkpop on Monday:
Hello, this is SM Entertainment. We're sorry to deliver such heart-aching, unfortunate news.
On December 18, SHINee member Jonghyun left our side unexpectedly. He was found unconscious at a residential hotel in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul and was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on the evening of the 18th.
The deep sorrow cannot be compared to ones of his family who had to let go of their loving son and brother but the employees and artists of SM Entertainment, also in deep shock and sorrow, are offering condolences.
Jonghyun was the best artist who loved music more than anyone and always worked hard for his performance. It is devastating to deliver such sad news to the fans who gave him great love. We ask you to refrain from making rumors or assumption based reports in respect of his family who are in deep sorrow from the sudden news.
As his family wished, his funeral will be carried out in the quietest manner with his family members and co-workers. Once again, we offer our deepest condolence.
In recent years, SHINee had broken into the international market and were one of the most successful K-pop bands. The Japanese-language versions of their albums were popular in the country, and they once sold out the Tokyo Dome, which seats 55,000. They also completed their first North American tour in early 2017.
On social media, fans from all over the world wrote about how much the star's music meant and sent their condolences.
Billboard's K-pop columnist, Jeff Benjamin, shared condolences, as well, as seen in the tweet above.
In addition to his musical talent, Jonghyun was known for taking stances on political and social issues. According to the BBC, he was vocal about the government's education policy and advocated for LGBT rights. He made headlines for speaking on these issues in South Korea. Over his career, Jonghyun pursued numerous other creative projects. In 2015, he published a book called Skeleton Flower, which detailed the stories behind his songs. He also had his own radio show on MBC, a Korean radio station.
Jonghyun will be remembered as a talented performer and creator. He was an accomplished artist as a member of SHINee and as a solo singer, and his presence will be missed in Korean music and beyond.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.