A public gathering to pay tribute to late K-pop star Kim Jong-hyun near Kuala Lumpur’s Masjid Jamek went ahead smoothly last night despite intervention by the police.

Catherine Tan, a Malaysian studying at the University of London and a devoted fan of Kim, had organised the assembly without a permit.

The Asian Correspondent reported that the street tribute went on for about 90 minutes before police stepped in and politely asked the crowd to disperse as it was illegal.

Many conservative Muslims also took a dim view of the event for two reasons.

Firstly, they viewed negatively the fanaticism shown by some of Kim’s fans and, secondly, Kim’s death by suicide was not considered religiously acceptable as killing oneself is deemed sinful by most mainstream Muslims.

Despite the criticism, a sizeable number of Muslims were among the fans who participated in the event.

“I’m just here to pay my respects to him. I don’t think my presence is against any Islamic principles,” a 17-year-old Muslim youngster, who preferred to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying by the Asian Correspondent.

The event was attended by almost 200 white-clad fans who brought balloons, gave speeches and lit candles to honour Kim.

“It’s a chance and effort to let the fans find closure and provide a small amount of comfort,” Tan, 21, was quoted as saying.

She said it was a way to tell the fans that they are not alone.

The mild controversies may have brought about an increased awareness about depression and those bent on suicide.

According to a tweet from journalist Sumisha Naidu, crisis hotline centre Befrienders Kuala Lumpur saw emails from Malaysian youths struggling with suicidal thoughts almost double after Kim’s death.

Kim, 27, died in a hospital on Dec 18 after he was found unconscious inside a serviced residence in Seoul.

A coal briquette was burning on a frying pan — a common method of suicide in South Korea, an ultra-competitive society with one of the world’s highest suicide rates.

Kim was the singer for South Korean band SHINee.

News reports said a note believed to have been sent by him to a friend spoke of his struggles with depression and fame.

It said he was “broken from the inside” and that “the life of fame was never meant for me”-FMT


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