Every day, K-Pop groups like EXO provide a source of refuge and comfort for fans who struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. But sometimes, the EXO members actually get a chance to help fans directly. Take a look at these 3 touching times EXO lent EXO-Ls a hand in overcoming depression.
Fansigns are a place where fans often feel close and comfortable enough with their idols to share their deepest thoughts. That’s what happened between Baekhyun and a fan at one EXO fansign in 2018.
At the event, the fan confided in Baekhyun about her experienced with depression. During the ending talk, Baekhyun then addressed all the fans with some advice about depression.
Do you have people with good energy in your life? You have friends, and you even have me. I hope you can always smile when you see the other EXO members and myself… I hope that everyone will be able to become a little happier. Always hang in there, fighting!
After the conversation circulated online, Baekhyun was met with a flurry of criticism for the beginning of his speech, in which he admitted that he doesn’t understand the reason for mental health problems like depression or insomnia.
Feeling apologetic, Baekhyun later took to Instagram to clarify what he meant. He told fans that he had been afraid and sensitive about depression lately, and desperately wanted to tell his fan some words of strength in case they never met again.
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안녕하세요 백현입니다. 12월 30일 팬사인회 현장에서 있었던 제 발언과 관련해 직접 사과를 드리고 싶어서 이렇게 글을 올립니다. 저는 사실 요즘 우울증에 대해 많이 겁이나 있고 과민한 상태였어요. 그런데 현장에서 그 팬분과 꽤 많은 이야기를 나누면서 너무 걱정이 됐고 덜컥 겁이 났어요. 제가 행복하게 해주고 싶은 팬이 즐거움으로 가득 차야 하는 팬사인회에서 저에게 털어놓은 이야기가 꽤 심각하게 느껴졌고, 이 팬과 오늘 이 자리에서 헤어지면 다시는 이야기를 나눌 수 없다는 생각에 마음이 많이 조급했던 것 같아요. 한 마디라도 더 위로하고 싶었고 저를 좋아한다고 했으니까 제 말이 힘이 될 수 있을 텐데라는 생각에 오늘 이 자리에서 빨리 어떻게든 해주고 싶었어요. 그 팬 분과 이야기 한 후 팬사인회가 끝날 때까지 그 생각에 빠져 있었던 것 같아요..그래서 그 팬분은 물론 현장에 오신 팬 분들께도 우울하고 힘든 일이 있어도 엑소는 물론 옆에 좋은 분들이 있으니 힘내시라는 말을 하는 과정에서, 경솔하게 말한 부분이 있었습니다. 제 마음을 짧은 시간에 잘 정리해서 전달할 수 있는 능력도 없으면서 섣부르게 말을 꺼냈어요. 제가 그 순간 왜 그런 말, 단어를 선택했는 지 후회됩니다. 정말 위로하고 힘을 내라고 하고 싶은 마음뿐이었는데.. 지금 이 글을 쓰고 있는 중에도 또 제 글에 실수가 있지는 않을까 두려워요. 하지만 진심으로 사과드리고 싶어요. 그 팬분께도 죄송하고 이 일로 인해 상처받은 모든 분들에게 죄송하다는 말씀 드리고 싶습니다. 앞으로는 말과 행동을 더욱 신중히 하는 백현이 되겠습니다.
Baekhyun also admitted that his choice of words was irresponsible, and promised to be more careful in the future.
The fan who confessed her troubles to Baekhyun assured the rest of the EXO-L community that many of her idol’s words were taken out of context, and that she felt comforted by what he said.
In an interview with Dazed Magazine in 2017, EXO’s Kai helped fans by bravely opening up about his own struggles with mental health.
The interviewer said he often sees a shadow of loneliness over Kai’s face. Instead of shying away from the question, Kai answered with his truest feelings.
Kai told Dazed that while his personality is usually upbeat, there’s still a side of him that feels down a lot.
I like being alone and I tend to cry a lot. I also don’t have many friends. Every so often, I get depressed and downcast. But in those moments, I simply stay at home.
Many EXO-Ls could relate to Kai’s feelings of shying away from life because of sadness. At the end of his answer, Kai also offered some advice by sharing how he deals with depression.
I don’t try to ignore or escape these emotions. I look [depression] right in the eye, cry through all my troubles, then shake it off because it’s not something to feel ashamed of.
EXO-Ls took a lot of comfort in Kai’s words, which showed them that they’re not alone. Kai talked openly about his mental health again on MBC Radio Star in 2019, showing fans that it’s okay if healing takes a long time.
My members have a lot of mental strength, so I don’t worry about them… I think that my mental state is bad… Also, I blame myself often and have many regrets. But I’ve been working on overcoming these flaws.
Many K-Pop fans across the world would love to thank their idols for helping them overcome dark days. One young EXO-L got that chance when she met Chanyeol face-to-face on SBS Same Bed, Different Dreams.
Songji, a middle school student, revealed that she spends 24 hours a day fangirling over EXO. Her mother then explained how unhappy she was that her daughter gave EXO so much of her time and money.
That’s when Songji told everyone the heartbreaking reason behind about her love for EXO. When she was younger, her sister fell very ill, and her parents had to dedicate all their time to caretaking. Alone in her family, Songji became very lonely and depressed, and even tried to hurt herself.
But then she became an EXO-L and found happiness in the group and the fandom. It even helped her with her loneliness, encouraging her to talk to friends about EXO.
Chanyeol appeared on the show as a surprise guest for Songji. He connected with the young fan and her mother, helping them both understand each other and move forward happily.