The lead singer of popular Korean pop group SHINee, Kim Jong Hyun, was found dead yesterday in an apparent suicide, sending shock waves through the K-pop world.
Police found him unconscious at 6.10pm (5.10pm Singapore time) in an apartment in Cheongdam-dong, in the upscale Gangnam district, after his sister called them at 4.42pm to say he was trying to commit suicide. The 27-year-old star, better known as Jonghyun, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.
Local reports suggested he died of cardiac arrest from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found to have burned a coal briquette on a frying pan. Coal can cause carbon monoxide poisoning in closed rooms. Some reports said he checked into the serviced apartment for two nights.
Police are investigating the incident as a suspected suicide.
Jonghyun made his debut in 2008 as part of the five-member SHINee, which shot to fame for their catchy hit songs such as Ring Ding Dong, Sherlock and Juliette.
The singer-songwriter, who released his first solo album in 2015, had just wrapped up two successful solo concerts in Seoul last week. He performed at a concert in Singapore last month.
He was expected to appear on South Korean broadcaster JTBC's Night Goblin television show, which was to air on Sunday.
According to the reports, his final message to his sister was: "It's been too hard. Please send me off. Tell everyone I've had a hard time. This is my last goodbye."
On Nov 20, the idol had posted a dark photo of himself on Instagram, with lyrics from a song by K-pop indie group Dear Cloud. Part of it read: "Have the persistent scars and sighs of exhaustion stopped?... I pray that you're not hurting... don't torture yourself, please..."
The post led fans to wonder if the lyrics foretold his imminent death.
Many took to social media to express their disbelief and grief while others gathered at the hospital where he died.
"SHINee Jonghyun" was the most searched term on Korean search engine Naver, which was flooded with news reports of his death. On Twitter, many posted heartfelt tributes.
"My deepest condolences go to Jonghyun's family, friends, SHINee and Shawols (fans of SHINee). Please stay strong," user @dearbngtn wrote.
Saii Lopez @saiilopeeez, wrote: "Jonghyun, you've been through a lot of pain and it must have been hard but I do hope that you knew that a lot of people love you. You can rest now without any pain."