As if a part of a cruel joke, as the fireplaces grow warmer and the festive season came nearer, Korea seemed to be swept into a series of cold and unfortunate news. One of the happenings that perhaps most shook the nation was the death of a popular KPOP singer, Jonghyun of a popular boy group SHINee. According to Billboard, Jonghyun committed suicide on December 18th and was found unconscious in his house in Seoul.
Celebrities and fans from around the world made their visits to the funeral, paid their respect to the passed celebrity, and expressed their grief via social media. However, once again, online interaction caused controversy. As if paying one’s condolence is a compulsory deed, some fans attempted to dictate the ways in which even Jonghyun’s closes friends were “required” to act after the young artist’s death.
According to MBN, a prominent Korean news corporation, a well-known KPOP artist Zion-T received a rather derogatory message through his social networking account, allegedly criticizing the artist’s decision in “following another musician’s Instagram account during this period” as well as his “inattendance at Jonghyun’s funeral.”
Zion-T, however, did not let this critical sender feel the safety of anonymity for long. Disclosing the screenshot of the message to the public as well as replying to the messenger, Zion-T let his unknown critic know that he did in fact visit the funeral of Jonghyun and began to follow another musician’s Instagram account when they met at Jonghyun’s funeral. The intimidated critic quickly then made an apology and ironically wished Zion-T “good luck” in the future. “I am upset,” was the last comment that Zion-T made.
It is unfortunate and deeply regretful to hear that a beloved artist has passed away, but it is even more disheartening and shocking to witness the negative aura that is created from some fans responding to the death. Whether it was the fan’s exaggerated feeling of protection towards Jonghyun or overt and sharp rudeness, the fan’s comment showed reflected nothing of love and respect towards Jonghyun. Rather, the hatred that the fan portrayed through the criticism disrespected the death of Jonghyun by upsetting one of his close friends, as well as the family and friends around him.
The source of celebrities’ profit and fame is the attention and interest from a block of fans around the nation. Thus, perhaps it is natural for the celebrities, even upon their deaths, to be encountered with lots of comments, tears, and condolence from the fans. Yet, since when has a death of a celebrity become a valid ground to criticize the close people around the celebrity? Why must these close and personal friends and family be under constant searchlight of the fans, of whom some attempt to detect the slightest fallacy in the mourning behavior of others? The meaning of a funeral and proper way to send a loved one away seem to have been degenerated, under the influence of celebrity limelight as well as disrespectful fanship, into one of criticism and verbal assault.
As taking down the Christmas tree and welcoming the dawning of 2018, we recognize that we have many aspects in a society to rectify as a whole. Utilizing the cloak of anonymity and attempting to dictate and interfere with a celebrity’s personal life – even during the time of mourning – is definitely on the list.