SHINee means more to me than I thought anything like that would. I missed my peak in terms of finding and being a part of stan culture, as I was into fandom stuff more than individual people as a middle schooler. I was never into one direction or 5sos or whatever people my age were into in terms of boy bands. I dont know how the switch was flipped in favor of being a fangirl (both the term and the idea of being a girl are disgusting).
I fell into K-pop hard in 2020 but I was strictly a girl group fan. My RV and Twice roots from 2017were coming back. I then heard SHINee Sherlock in my friends car. It was so terrible for me. I didnt have the heart to tell my friend that showed it to me that I hadnt heard it before. While we listened I almost heard my fucking brain flexing and moving and calculating how terrible and incredible this event was going to be for me. I eventually was like Whats the name of this one again? (Im so casual) and my life was fucked. I tainted my girl group exclusive playlist in 2020 with SHINees Sherlock (Clue + Note). Since then I became silently obsessed with them. I tried desperately to be casual about it lest I be associated with those heinous boy group stans I had only heard about.
November 25th, 2020 - my friend and their sister decided to assign me a bias in a bunch of groups. I got assigned someone they called Jinki but when I tried to quickly find what this guy looked like I was confused and couldnt find anyone in SHINee named Jinki. eventually I figured out that his name was indeed Onew and I saved this picture to my camera roll to remember. Its like that thing from life is strange or whatever thats like this action will have consequences but this time in a positive way.
Its difficult for me not to have been a Shawol since like 2016. I feel like Im a poser. I think the idea of stanning in K-pop is all about longevity. Ive been an army since 2014 so-, Im a predebut reveluv and-, sixteen twice stan here- shit like this is so commonplace and belittling. if you havent been a ___ stan since ____ you shouldnt be speaking on this. I just am very scared by this way of thinking. there is a benefit to being in something for longer, but thats not everything. I dont want to feel like Im any less of a fan because Ive not been in the community for as long. Its just hard for me to know that Ive only been in it for like three years instead of 8-10.
That being said: I think Im a verifiable Shawol. I mean I did code a whole website dedicated to them (Shawolism.neocities.org). Without knowing how to code. Like. I just love them. As mentioned earlier, my assigned bias was Mr. Jinki. Incredibly, he is still my bias. Not to be cheesy but like I feel like hes more than my bias at this point. — not in a parasocial way. I try not to dedicate a lot of passion and energy to real people most of the time- in terms of being a fan. Most directors and actors are terrible people, a good amount of celebrities at large are awful and I just feel like I cant attach myself to anything without being scared of fallouts. But with Jinki, I dont know. I just feel like its okay.
Despite his past actions which caused controversy, I feel like he is balanced. A great deal of his personality and SHINees personality as well is manufactured and fabricated, but I just feel like he has an incredible air of comfort and humanity. He is often cited as the member that messes up the choreography and lyrics the most, hes prone to pratfalls and it feels like he cares. On bubble (bubble subscriber btw) he says good morning and good evening on most days. I feel like other idols wouldnt even try to do that. despite his insanely busy schedule, and even on days hes on vacation, hell come on and say Hi my jinggu! He sends pictures of every individual piece of sushi he eats. He tells his fans about the type of shampoo he uses. He shares his love for yoga with us. Ill come back to that later.
The main reason I like Jinki though is his voice. Stunning. Once I heard his voice in the few tracks I found myself before I knew it was his voice, I would always pick it out and think about how perfect it was. I couldnt (and still cant) understand how smooth and rich and sweet his voice manages to be in every song. Once I found out who the voice belonged to I was so glad I had been assigned to the one with the golden voice. His voice has brought me out of countless droughts of happiness. Its insane to me that something as simple as someones voice has the power to do something like that. Hearing circle for the first time made me cry. I just. I dont know. the song is about the passage of time and lives changing and forgetting people and things you loved just feels sentimental. I often feel like Im inconsequential. I feel like I am nothing and I mean nothing and I can do nothing about it. Songs like Circle make me think that Im not nothing or even that Im not the only one. I can find comfort in the lines of the songs sung by his voice and feel okay. I appreciate that voice that can help me so much even though its just a job.
The eternal cycle around the sun, the wind
The clouds, the rain, and the sea
Between spring, summer, fall, and winter
All the greetings and the farewells have been the same
I think his solo album Voice is my favorite album of all time. his somber tone coupled with ballads just makes me go crazy. I feel like Im at my melting point whenever blue comes on shuffle. As soon as pureun bit neoneun nareul dalmaseo hits my ears I feel a sense of something beyond me. Its cheesy but I find comfort in this song and the lyrics and rhythms and vibrations. If someone else sang it would I feel the same way? Probably not. Everything about it is perfect to me. I cant even believe that that song is real its among my favorites if not my favorite song of all time as well. blue light you look just like me- thats me! he gets it! I think I love Onew because on multiple occasions hes stated that he wants everyone to be happy. I am not someone who can say that they are indeed happy most if not all of the time. mental health has been a struggle for me for the past 10 years and I dont imagine it will go away anytime soon. But when Jinki says he wants everyone to be happy and that he will continue to sing to help sad people, I believe him. I believe that whenever I listen to his voice and his songs I can be happy even if its just for a moment.
Jinki also talks about his own struggle to be happy rather often. I feel like I can relate to him in that way if not in many others. I believed that if I came out on TV or somewhere and comforted someone with a smile, I can be happy if I endured it. Even if its a little hard for me. He really does make me proud to be a fan of his. This selfless message is inspiring and admirable even if its in conjunction with the sort of inherently selfish industry he resides in. I feel like hes being genuine though. Onews plan and passion for something like yoga is comparable to my love for him and his voice. He posted an instagram photo with a caption that expressed his passion for yoga. He feels like its helping him be more mindful and alive and he even got a certification so he can try and help others feel like he does. He also noted (through translation) that he feels like people are often blamed for their mental health and that he doesnt feel like that is right. He wants to make people happy but show that people are allowed to feel like that anyway. I need to be more like him in my daily life. I need to try to emulate his happiness. I think he would like that too. I want Jinki to be proud of his jinggus!
This sentiment hits very well for me because SHINee truly makes me very happy. I feel like their music can single-handedly lift me out of anything I might be trapped in or be alongside me as I try and work through it. Jonghyun op2 has been very present with me as I confront my struggles with (TW) suicidal ideation and Im always reminded that its okay. Elevator is another one of my favorite songs. The lyrics are just so perfect and relatable and Jonghyuns voice fits it all together. Its comforting to have something I care about so much. Most of my life has been just bouncing from interest to interest with no real path, settling on a college major based on something I enjoy doing which is never a good idea. I feel like my interest in K-pop is mostly for escapism but with SHINee, I feel like its different.
Im inspired by Key especially. Ive talked at length about how much he inspires me to my ex-roommate but I dont know how many of those hour-long rants I can remember verbatim. Essentially I view Kibum as a true artist. All of SHINee are artists (especially Jonghyun too) thats a given, but with Kibum I feel like there is something that sets him apart. He presents such a clear vision for everything he is a part of that makes him so admirable. He finds inspiration and humor in everything while still being analytical and quick-witted. Key makes people laugh and smile at a moments notice and its like hes always there to lend a hand. His passion for bettering himself and the world he lives in with his art and his presence is admirable. He works hard to be on Nolto and ILA and in SHINee and on his solo things. And throughout all of that he has his dogs and his family. Our personalities are so similar but only when Im not feeling like shit (not a good majority). Hes everything I wish I could be. His existence and his thriving life and persona make me want to work harder. I feel like if I work as hard as he does I can feel more like a real person. If I work hard to achieve what meager goals I do have, I could emulate his personality. For now, Ill just learn more girl group choreography.
SHINee means a lot to me, more than a lot maybe like a ton. Or more. When my roommate said that SHINee was the only thing I care about, it might be true. I find myself coming back to thinking about SHINee more than most things. Im infatuated with their talent and their presence in the world. I dont necessarily idolize them but I see them as inspiration. Similar to the lyrics of Trisha Paytas I love you jesus- SHINee gives me reason and they give me hope. Like not to be a cheesy army posting a thinkpiece about Jimin enlisting in the military but I believe that a great amount of my happiness comes from SHINee. Their music is on my phone all the time, their albums are displayed in my room, their little jokes come out of my mouth, and their little faces are in my photocard binder. I find that even just seeing them gives me an espresso shot of hope in my shitty day.
Whenever I watch a SHINee stage performance I feel like theres something more. Like theres something I could be working towards. Their smiles and their movements require insane strength and its so admirable. I can see the amount of practice and pain through the performance, I can feel the blisters and cut-up heels. Just now I was rewatching SHINee World 3 ( my favorite ) and as soon as the chorus for Destination hit and I saw them all dancing as hard as they could I just felt a wave of relief. I cant even explain it. I just felt like everything was perfect for a second. The same thing happens for the bridge of Evil. I feel like every time that part happens I like cry a little its just so incredible. Maybe the escapism factor is playing a bigger role than I thought. I dont care anymore. If this is the only thing that can make me feel anything outside of myself, then I dont mind at all.
People always say that their favorite musicians are the lights of their life but I feel like this is truly a thing with someone like Lee Jinki. He brings out the best in people just by existing! In variety shows he doesnt overstep his position, but when he does have a chance he makes the most out of it. His humor is so stupid and dad-like but its so endearing. Every time I see him pulling a little aegyeo-esque stunt I look through my hands. Hes great at his job and he makes it feel like theres a real person behind the Onew name. I just feel very indebted to him and to SHINee as a whole. They have saved me countless times. I might not have the most merch and I havent been a fan for very long, but the love and admiration I feel for SHINee makes up for everything I lack in. I may not ever be as good as an inch of Jinki but through his existence I can at least try. Those bubble notifications are truly lifesavers. Ill be thinking and thinking and thinking and then my phone lights up with a new message from Jinki and I click on that shit so fast. It means a lot to me even if its just meant for building parasocial relationships.
Its cheesy and silly but I do love these people Ive never met and never will meet. I appreciate that they put so much effort into people like me. For me, SHINee is something that makes me feel like I could have a purpose or that I wont live a purely meaningless life as I so often feel like I will. I got into SHINee a little before my freshman year of college. I was in a bad place at this time and if I hadnt found something like SHINee I dont know what would have happened. I still feel lost and hopeless often but I know SHINee will be there to quiet those thoughts. I can just listen to my favorite tracks and be filled with something other than the sadness that eats away at me on most days.
I love SHINee and I will continue loving them until I find something else to give me something to exist for (besides family and friends or whatever LOL).