Kim Jong-hyun, the Lead Singer of K-Pop Boyband SHINee, Has Died

Police and news reports suggest he died by suicide.

Lead singer of South Korean boyband Shinee dies
Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

Kim Jong-hyun, the lead singer of beloved K-pop boy band SHINee, has died at the age of 27 of an apparent suicide, Yonhap News Agency reported Monday, December 18. He was reportedly found unconscious at a studio apartment in northern Seoul on Monday evening, less than two hours after his sister called emergency responders saying she was afraid her brother was having suicidal ideations.

The singer, better known by stage-name Jonghyun, rose to prominence with SHINee, which released its debut album, The SHINee World, in 2008. According to The Guardian, SHINee was extremely popular both in South Korea and in Japan, topping the charts with every album but its debut in the band’s home country and becoming one of the most influential South Korean acts in Japan. Nicknamed “the princes of K-pop,” SHINee members are known for their skilled live performances and their flair for fashion risk taking, The Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, Jonghyun also branched out with a successful solo career. The singer-songwriter topped the Korean charts with his debut solo album She Is in 2016, released two compilations in 2015 and 2017, and also published a book called Skeleton Flower, about his songs’ backstories. Per Yonhap News Agency, he had been scheduled to perform two concerts in Japan with his fellow SHINee members and had pre-taped a segment for a cable variety show that was supposed to air on Christmas Eve.

According to the news report, Jonghyun was moved to a nearby hospital under cardiac arrest, but was pronounced dead despite receiving emergency CPR. Previously, his sister received texts saying, “Please let me go. Tell me I did well,” and “Final farewell.” Yonhap News Agency also reported that Jonghyun had contacted his sister on Saturday asking for advice because he was “depressed and going through a difficult time.” His final Instagram post, as translated by Yonhap News Agency, was captioned, “I pray for you to not be hurt.”

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.