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The sudden passing of SHINee’s main vocalist, Kim Jonghyun, has brought more information about his battle with depression to light and allowed netizens to fully understand the pain and suffering he was struggling with.
While Jonghyun had always been very open with his feelings — lovingly referred to as the “big dam” of SHINee because he was not shy about crying — fans didn’t realize the heavy significance of one of his tattoos and what he was trying to convey regarding his depression.
Jonghyun had several tattoos, but after his death, fans realized the symbolism behind them carried much more weight than previously thought. One in particular, a black dog on the left side of his body, caught the attention of Shawols everywhere, as its true meaning came to light in the wake of his passing.
“Achtung!! I have a black dog. If you touch, you’ll get bitten!” the tattoo reads. The black dog, now a symbol of depression, was first popularized by Winston Churchill, who said that his nanny used to refer to his dark moods as such. Although the phrase “black dog on my back” is more closely related to the colloquialism “woke up on the wrong side of the bed”, it has been romanticized by historians and authors to mean depression, even posthumously diagnosing Churchill with bipolar and other mental illnesses.
Jonghyun’s choice of tattoo indicates how his depression plagued him, which devastated fans to hear how much their beloved idol was suffering. Little did Shawols know of the heartbreak that awaited them, as Park Karo, Jonghyun’s tattoo artist, revealed his final tattoo design on Instagram:
We’ll see each other again, Jonghyun.