If you have not heard, (which you should have by now), Jonghyun Kim, from the K-Pop boy group SHINee, passed away on December 18, due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is said through his close friends, and himself, that he has been going through depression for a while now, struggling to overcome the thought that he is not good enough. He left a letter to his friend, to share to the world if it came to a point where he could not handle the pain anymore, and little did his friend now that he was on the very edge of his battle.
I wanted to write a post on South Korea's idea and understanding of depression. In Korea, depression is just something that everyone goes through. It is something that everyone will eventually overcome. Many people believe depression as a "taboo", responding to those who struggle with depression that it is just a 'phase' and to not worry about it. This leads to those who struggle with depression that something is wrong with them.
And let me tell you that I am mad. I am upset and I am unhappy.
People of South Korea need to realize that depression is an illness. It is not a 'growing phase'. It is not their fault. Jonghyun wrote in his letter that his doctor told him that the problem was his personality and that he needs to fix himself to overcome his depression. Again, I am mad. I am upset and I am unhappy.
I am saying this loud and clear as a fellow Korean, who knows the Korean culture. Korea does not accept depression as a struggle, a mental illness. And it's extremely upsetting to see many students, idols, elders, adults choose suicide because they think something is wrong with them. Many K-Pop idols struggle with the idol industry, feeling alone and not good enough compared to the other idols.
We need to recognize that depression is not a 'phase'. There is no problem with our personality nor is depression our choice.
Join me in spreading awareness about mental health in Korea. As suicide rates are continuously rising, I cannot just sit here anymore. I hope that one day, people of South Korea will not think lightly about depression.
Jonghyun Kim, you did well. 수고했다는 그 한말... 고마웠다는 그 한말... 아프지 말자하는 그 한말... 혼자가 아니라는 그 한말... 너무 고마웠고. 수고했어. Rest in Peace.