Inside Jonghyun's heartbreaking memorial as SHINee bandmates are named chief mourners and devastated fans weep at the sight of his portrait
Korean superstar Jonghyun of SHINee fame is being remembered as part of a three-day funeral celebrating his short life and allowing devastated fans to pay their respects after he took his own life.
The lead singer, whose real name is Kim Jong-Hyun, was found unresponsive in rented apartment on December 18 by Gangnam police, who were called there by Jonghyun’s older sister.
She was said to be concerned for her little brother after receiving worrying texts from him begging her to ‘let him go’.
After he died en route to hospital, SHINee fans have been flocking to the Asan Medical Center in Seoul where the first part of Jonghyun’s funeral is being held.
As is Korean tradition, the first two days after a death is dedicated to allowing mourners to come and grieve in one location, where a portrait of the deceased stands.
All day today, hundreds of sobbing fans have been encouraged by SHINee’s management company SM Entertainment to say their final goodbyes to the singer in a room bedecked with flowers.
An enormous portrait stands in the centre of the room and is surrounded by colourful flowers, including a border of white chrysanthemums to symbolise death.
His four bandmates – Minho, Key and Onew – have been named as chief mourners at Jonghyun’s funeral, a role which is usually reserved for the brothers of the dead in Korean tradition.
It’s been reported by Korean media that Key was away in Portugal when news of his bandmate’s death reached him.
He flew home and made his way immediately to the memorial site, joining fans and photographers gathered there.
While the first two days are a public affair, Jonghyun’s actual funeral will be a private ceremony just for his family and closest friends.
There, his body will either be cremated or buried.
“According to the families’ wishes, the funeral will be held as quietly as possible by family members and colleagues,” a statement from SM Entertainment confirmed.
Fans are also planning their own memorial services on Christmas Eve where they’ll say goodbye to their idol with a candle-lit virgil.
Some are arranging for donations to be made to an orphanage in Kim’s name.
Shawols – as SHINee’s dedicated fandom are known – are also organising events to commemorate him around the world, including the UK, Italy, France, Poland and Singapore.
Some have already been gathering spontaneously to sing the band’s hit song Replay, and are reaching out to each other on social media in the midst of their grief.
Jonghyun’s celebrity friends have also joined fans at the memorial site, with many openly crying as they made their way to the special room set aside for tributes.
K-pop sensations Girls’ Generation, made up of singers Yoona, Yuri, Taeyeon, Seohyun and Hyoyeon, were seen all wearing black as they walked sombrely to the memorial service.
They were joined by an emotional BTS, one of Korea’s biggest pop bands comprising Jungkook, V, Jimin, Jin, J-Hope, RM and Suga, who wore black suits and ties as they walked past the media into the room, with one of the singers appearing to remove his earring to show respect.
EXO’s Chen and Xiumin, Red Velvet’s Irene, Seulgi, Yeri, Joy and Wendy, the boyband NCT and Super Junior’s Leeteuk, Eunhyuk, Shindong and Sungmin also turned up to say goodbye to their co-star.