Behind the glitz and glamor, K-pop idols don’t always have it easy. These past few years, we’ve seen a number of artists in the industry open up about their struggles with mental health—particularly anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. The latest idol to provide an official statement regarding his mental health is Shinee’s Taemin, who’s been taking time offstage to serve his conscription.
SM Entertainment announced today, Jan. 14, that Taemin has been transferred from the military band to public service due to his depression and anxiety. Public service work is considered non-active duty and those enlisted in it are assigned to public health centers, regional offices, and other government offices to provide aid to public services.
In most cases, those allocated to public services are individuals with health concerns. Actor Lee Min-ho, for example, served as a public service worker because he had metal screws inserted in one leg from a previous accident.
“As of January 14, Taemin has been transferred from the military band to supplementary service,” SM’s statement reads. “Due to the symptoms of depression and anxiety that Taemin has been suffering from before [his enlistment], he continued to receive treatment and therapy even while carrying out his service. However, because his symptoms recently worsened, the military determined that it had become impossible for him to continue his military life and treatment at the same time, and he was accordingly transferred to supplementary service.”
The company apologized for the concern the sudden news may cause and assured fans that they will “continue to focus on Taemin’s treatment in the future and do our utmost to ensure that he can find stability.” The inclusion of an apology and its implication that Taemin’s mental health struggle is an inconvenience to fans leaves a bad taste in the mouth. We know that South Korean music labels are still hesitant about their artist’s mental health concerns but sheesh. Read the room. Focus on your talent’s well-being.
Although this may be the first time that we’re made privy to Taemin’s personal battle, he has taken part in a concert series promoting suicide prevention in 2018. We wish him well on his treatment and his transfer.