November 08, 2019
The Grief Caused by a KPop Idol’s Passing

The sudden death of an idol can have a big impact to their loyal followers.

by Andina M Hawa
Culture
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If you don’t treat people you know with such mean spirit, why then so much hatred to the stars whom you don’t even know.

One Monday evening, I had just gotten home from an afternoon stroll with my friend and was scrolling down my social media’s timeline when I found this tweet:

The user screenshot an Instagram post of KPop star Sulli posing with one of her BFFs, the famous KPop musician and actress Lee Ji Eun a.k.a IU. The translated caption said: “I’m going to have a good time.” The replies show that Sulli had been a cameo in Hotel del Luna, a recent popular series that IU stars in.

At first, I didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. I scrolled down further and found a headline that says Sulli was found dead at her home. I clicked on the news and I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I hoped it to be false but when I checked on Google, the news had already spread: Sulli had taken her own life – another tragic story in the Korean entertainment industry.

I screamed because it felt as if my heart had dropped to my knees. I felt dizzy, like my world was turning upside down and my soul has been taken away from me. I was once a big time KPopper and had always liked Sulli, even following her on Instagram. What happened to her was tragic and she truly deserved a better story.

Similarly, on a Monday in December 2017, I was awakened in the middle of the night. While up, I started looking at my friends’ Instagram stories and my eyes was stopped at an Instastory posted by a friend. It said that Kim Jonghyun, a member of the band SHINee, was dead.

I thought it was hoax at first, but a quick check showed that he had been found unconscious at his home at 6 p.m. that day due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Jonghyun was immediately brought to the hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival. His sister said she had been suspicious that Jonghyun was in the act of suicide about two hours earlier, but would it have made any difference if he had been found earlier?

I met my friend the next day to have breakfast together. We talked about the news and I thought that at this hour, a day before, he was still alive. In his suicide note he wrote, “Tell me I did well.” Many of his fellow idol friends expressed their grief and loss by saying “You did well, Jonghyun” on their social media.

The following Thursday marked the last day for everyone who loved him to pay their last tribute, which also meant it was the last time for SHINee being together as five. On screen the four SHINee members carried his coffin while holding back their tears.

For those who idolized or looked up to Sulli and Jonghyun, it can feel surreal to think that they had already gone. Their pictures and videos are still everywhere on the Internet and their footprints are all over social media.

Fame can guarantee money, good looks and other artificial things, but it doesn’t seem to bring happiness and peace of mind. Sulli and Jonghyun were two examples of people who have worked hard to reach an idol status in showbiz. They sacrificed their normal lives and their families to earn their fame.

The media often treat idols as if they should be perfect human being. They should have no flaws nor make mistakes. Korean netizens also value them based on their physical appearance or performance. Negative comments from netizens can ruin an idol’s career, if she or he fails to fulfill their expectations. We hear how much pressure KPop artists face, often pushing them to depression. It is hard enough for an idol to maintain a certain image, much less endure the pain that they keep bottled up inside.

Also read: The Extreme Pressure Behind the Glamourous K-Pop Industry

For netizen who has ever made a rude comment about a certain celebrity, please stop typing those toxic words. Celebrities are human too. While they can be a role model to some, they make mistakes and one rude comment can weigh them down. If you don’t treat people you know with such mean spirit, why then so much hatred to the stars whom you don’t even know. Let’s be kind to others because we can never really know other people’s battles.

My heart is with those grieved by Sulli’s death. Let us all mourn together. I hope we can start to create a room where we can talk about mental illness the way we talk about food. I hope we can start holding each other’s hand and helping others by being kind, so the world will be the nicer place to live in. #RestInPeaceChoiJinRi  

Andina M Hawa is a 20’s something girl who likes coffee and watches Friends religiously.