A Letter to Kim Jong-hyun

Jonghyun’s situation was one of those worse case scenarios where someone struggling with depression or a mental illness sought help and was ignored by everyone around them. Hopefully, Jonghyun’s death will serve as a wake-up call to people who still think chronic depression is “just a phase”.


Warning: This post mentions suicide and depression and it may trigger some people. Jonghyun was in a really dark place and you feel you’re in a similar situation or are in a bad headspace, don’t read this. I found this post on Omona They Didn’t that listed various hotlines you can call in the US and aboard if you need help. 


Dear Jong-hyun,

I don’t even know where to start with this letter. We’ve never met, but my Mom and I were fans of you and your music. We have such fond memories of watching you perform and reading English translations of your radio show Blue Night and we were both devastated when we learned you had passed away.

There’s so much that I want to say but after reading your suicide note, the only thing I can think of is I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you were in so much pain, that you couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your depression was a part of you, eating away at your soul until you finally reached your breaking point.

I’m sorry that you always felt trapped whether it was in your profession as an idol or in the society you lived in. As an idol you had to pretend that everything was okay even when you were falling apart at the seams. Also, South Korea doesn’t take mental health seriously, many Koreans think depression is “just a phase” and that you should “just get over it”.

I’m sorry that when you sought medical help, your doctor was unsympathetic and incapable of understanding that mental illness is also a physical illness, and that when the brain malfunctions it needs treatment just like any other organ in your body. Instead, your doctor blamed your personality for your depression and that any pain you were experiencing was all your fault.

And I am so truly sorry that your story had to end the way that it did. You didn’t deserve to suffer the way you did.

I’m going to end this letter with the words I know you wanted to hear. You worked hard. You did well. The things you did while you were alive were more than enough. You stood up for people who were marginalized and oppressed. You gave hope and healing to so many people around the world. It’s a shame you never lived long enough to understand the impact you had, the countless lives you had saved just by being you. You were talented, kind, humble, sensitive, loving and the world will never be the same without you.

Rest now Kim Jong-hyun. You’re not in pain anymore. You’re finally at peace.