The K-pop superstar, better known to his fans as just Jonghyun, was transported to a hospital after he was found unconscious by police on Monday at his apartment in Seoul’s Gangnam district.
His sister reportedly alerted authorities after being concerned about her brother’s whereabouts, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
SM Entertainment, the company that founded the group, confirmed Kim’s death in a statement, writing that his funeral would be “carried out in the quietest manner with his family members and co-workers.”
The cause of death is currently unknown, but police told BBC that they are investigating suicide as a possibility.
Dubbed “The Princes of K-pop” by CNN earlier this year, SHINee was first formed in 2008. They’re one of only a handful of K-pop groups to find international success. As the lead singer, Kim also composed songs and wrote lyrics ― somewhat of a rarity in the scene ― for several of the band’s chart-topping singles, including “Juliette.”
The five-member boy band made a dent in global music, fashion and dance trends after entering the Japanese market in 2011 with their song “Replay,” which sold more than 100,000 copies. Their most recent album, “Five,” was released earlier this year.
Kim also launched a solo career in 2015, with his debut studio album “She Is” peaking at No. 1 on the South Korean charts. He last performed at two solo concerts at Seoul’s Olympic Park earlier in December.