SEOUL - A smiley photo of popular K-pop star Jonghyun, his eyes twinkling as his pearlies shine, stood framed by flowers in a memorial hall, a stark contrast to the sombre mood around the room.
Tears overflowed as fans and fellow artists turned up at Seoul's Asan Medical Centre on Tuesday (Dec 19) morning to pay their last respects to the lead singer of pop group SHINee.
The 27-year-old star, whose full name is Kim Jong Hyun, died on Monday, leaving behind a final note that revealed his fight with depression and how he could not overcome "the sadness swallowing me up".
He was found by police in a rented studio apartment in the upscale Gangnam district, after his older sister received a suicidal message from him. Police have ruled the case as suicide.
Kim's sudden death sent shockwaves throughout the K-pop world, with fans from all across the globe taking to social media to pay tribute to the singer, who had just staged two successful solo concerts in Seoul last week.
SHINee posted a black and white photo of him on Twitter, with the message: "Jonghyun was the best artiste, loving music more than anyone else, enjoying the stage and communicating with fans through music. He will be remembered forever."
The same photo and message were also seen on the Instagram page of the group's talent agency SM Entertainment.
SM founder Lee Soo Mun was spotted at Kim's memorial service, together with his artists, including singer BoA and members of pop groups Girls Generation, EXO and NCT.
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SHINee members Minho, Taemin, Onew and Key were named as part of the mourning family and the first three were seen receiving visitors at the door. Key was reportedly overseas and said to be flying back after receiving the news.
Hundreds of fans made their way to the memorial hall to say goodbye to their beloved idol. Some of them were seen wailing uncontrollably as others tried to console them.
Meanwhile, tributes to Kim continued to flood social media on Tuesday.
His close friend, vocalist Nine9 of pop group Dear Cloud, shared his last letter on Instagram. She said Kim confided in her "his deep and dark stories" some time ago, and she tried but failed to stop him from taking his own life.
He sent her his final note with instructions to disclose it after he was gone, and she did so after consulting with his family. "I'm concerned about the possible controversies, but... I decided this was the last thing I could do for him."
Kim's funeral will be held on Thursday morning. It will be a private affair for close friends and family, according to SM.