Today, I finally listened to Jonghyun’s “Shinin” — the title track for his 2nd (and final) album, Poet|Artist.
Poet|Artist was released on January 23, 2018, over a month after Jonghyun passed away. The album was announced by SM Entertainment back in December 2017, with the music video for “Shinin” having already been completed, but…well…
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it – Jonghyun died by suicide on December 18, 2017, having struggled with severe depression for years. This is something that I – and a lot of Jonghyun’s fans – avoid mentioning. Every time you type Jonghyun’s name in Google, it always pulls results related to his death or funeral. The articles you get are all about his suicide and nothing about his music, the songs he wrote for his group SHINee and other artists, his radio show Jonghyun’s Blue Night. What’s makes really infuriates me is that his death was the first time anybody who isn’t a K-pop fan ever heard of him, so internationally it’s all they know him for.
We want Jonghyun to be remembered for his accomplishments, not how he left this world.
But at the same time, it feels wrong to ignore it. To acknowledge his death, but avoid addressing how he died, even if it could help other idols that are in his shoes from going down the same road he did.
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about all of this, so I’m going to go back to the point of the opening sentence. I didn’t listen to “Shinin”, Poet|Artist when it first came out because it was too painful, too soon after Jonghyun’s death. I’m glad I waited because now I can appreciate this final gift he left behind. “Shinin” is a fun track with elements of house music, disco, pop and the music video reminds me of the things I liked about him — his love for music, his radio show, his dancing.
I’m going to end this post with a simple message to Jonghyun.
You did well.
You suffered enough and you’ve been through a lot.
Even though I wasn’t able to send you off with a smile, I can listen to the wonderful songs you’d created without feeling any pain.
I hope you’re finally at peace.