Legends of the Kpop Industry: Shinee

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Let me preface this by saying that pictures are circulating of Jonghyun’s funeral procession and PLEASE do not circulate these pictures. It is disrespectful to those mourning. I sought them out on Twitter because I thought I wanted some sort of closure, some acceptance of some kind that it had really happened and I was not ready. It brought up a lot of difficult emotions and it was incredibly harmful to my healing process; I don’t wish the same for you, so tread lightly.

Moving on, however: today, I think I have put myself together well enough to make a coherent post. However, I am not well enough to move forward. I know others have already returned to their everyday lives and I’m happy for them, but I’m still struggling. I think I will be for quite some time.

That said, I didn’t just want to wallow in that sadness because that’s neither productive nor particularly healthy. So, I wanted instead to talk about Shinee. This post will be a touch more selfish than normal. Instead of being informative, I’ll talk about why I love them, why I think they matter, and what I wish for them.

The first legends I ever loved

I remember my first Shinee video. My best friend had sat me down to show off her copy of Odd. She told me about each member, she displayed her photocard, and she let me flip through the photobook. I was intrigued enough to be curious and I asked her to show me a music video. It was View and I was instantly transfixed. While it had actually taken me a little bit to get into BTS, it had taken me no time at all to love Shinee.

Like any sane Kpop fan, she eased me into it, going from View–a universally accepted masterpiece–to Ring Ding Dong–probably the strangest song you’ll ever love. But by the end of it I was in love. Shinee had a new devoted Shawol.

More than just idols

Shinee paved the way musically. They were innovative and unique and each comeback somehow managed to top and simultaneously pay tribute to the one before it. It was magic except that it wasn’t, because it was the hard work of five young men who each had their own incredible talent and brought it together to create something that only occurred once in a lifetime.

But beyond that, they were inspirations. They made us feel comfortable in our own skins. Jonghyun, especially, advocated for the LGBTQ community and spoke out openly about mental health. They were a group you could come to with your problems and they would give you something to be joyful about.

I keep using the past tense. That’s purposeful. Even if Shinee choose to continue–and I’ll support them regardless of their decision–it won’t be the same.

In the future

I know things can’t be the same now. I know that. Whatever Shinee chooses to do, it’ll be in the wake of a great loss and a terrible tragedy. However they decide to move forward, I’ll be there for them. Not because they’ve asked me to be, not because I feel obligated, but because I want to. I want to be there to support them however they need me to. I want to be a pillar for the other Shawols who are mourning. And I am so thankful to Shinee for all they’ve given me. I am so thankful to Jonghyun for all he gave.

Jonghyun, you did well. I hope you’re at peace now.

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