Yesterday morning it was snowing. The snow was lying heavily on the window frames and bare trees. I walked to school under the shade of my red umbrella. As ever class was fun, and as ever I came home with huge amounts of homework to do.
I got my student ID last week, so I decided yesterday that it was time to use my student card and try the study hall at the Ewha Campus Complex. A study hall I have missed a lot. It was nice to be back there.
I don't have any photos of the big ensemble, because this is a place where female students come to study and focus and not having to worry about anything so it is not something I can really take a photo of, but it's a huge hall with hundreds of spots (400 I believe), and in the evening, when I went, it's nearly full. In order to use the study hall, one needs to log into a machine outside by scanning one's student card, and then select a seat and get a receipt. I studied until the evening and then walked home again.
I was worrying about whether I could write about this or not, but it has shaped these past two days, so I guess I have to. Nine years ago I had already fallen deep into the rabbit hole known as K-pop. I loved korean hip hop like Epik High, which led me to Big Bang, which in turn made me discover Super Junior, and nine years ago a new idol group debuted under the name SHINee (pronounced: shiny).
They shone bright and I immediately became a fan. For nine years I listened to their music. In 2011, when I first came to Korea, I had the immense pleasure of seeing them perform live, and see them again at a sports even called ISAC. They left me with very special memories. Over the years as my interest for pop music faded, I didn't follow them as diligently, although I always listened to their new songs, and there was one member whose individual shows and activities I followed with more interest.
His name was Jonghyun and over the years he progressed from being a skilled vocalist to a soloist and a skilled writer, producer and composer. He shared his convictions and campaigned for social change through his radio program and use of social media and I enjoyed reading and listening to his discussions about politics and social norms with fans and non-fans alike.
Yesterday evening, an hour or two after I came home from the study hall, news broke that Jonghyun had committed suicide.
My phone was buzzing with crying people all night.
I wonder: if I had stayed in that study hall for two hours longer, what would I have seen? The girls studying here are at the age where SHINee was likely the group that they grew up with and remember loving throughout their middle school and high school days. Would their phones be ringing as quickly as mine? Would they get messages upon messages from fans? Would their shock show? Would they even check their phones right there and then? I wonder. But I didn't stay, and it was probably lucky that I didn't get the news while sitting in a room with hundreds of other people.
I was sitting staring into space for a good hour. Perhaps longer. I sat there until I heard my roommate's stomach rumble and I told her that we needed to eat, and do something else. In an effort to do something good and have fun as we usually do, we ended up going to sleep late (again), and for my part I still had the concert blog to write and work to do, so I ended up not being able to go to sleep until 4am.
It is safe to say that I've been a little tired today, and my phone was still buzzing from nine corners of the world, and everywhere I went I heard people at school talking about last night's news and the internet was plastered with photos from his funeral today.
Thankfully, my homework was done quickly, and I'm hoping to be able to go to sleep before 1am tonight! That will make this a successful day.
To end with, before I'm off to work some more, I shall share a song that Jonghyun wrote and composed.
As I walked the streets earlier today, a lot of stores were playing SHINee songs and Jonghyun composed songs.
This one is a song that I really love and that changed a lot in the K-pop world because it's a song that Jonghyun, an artist from the huge company SME, composed for Lee Hi, a singer from the rivalling company YGE. It's a collaboration between two huge rivalling companies.
The existence alone of this collaboration speaks to a possible end to the segregation seen in the K-pop industry, and for that I love this song with all my heart.