• Jennie Kim reflected on her mental health in the start of the year
  • She feels honored to be called an "icon"
  • Discussing mental health concerns is taboo in South Korea

Blackpink's Jennie Kim started 2022 with a mountain hike that led her to reflect on her life particularly on her mental health. The 26-year-old has decided to make self-care her priority in the new year.

"I think the beauty of nature is irreplaceable. I really felt recharged by the energy from the mountains and even got to come up with some new year's resolutions. The goal is to focus on becoming healthier, both physically and mentally," she told Elle Korea for its February cover story as cited by Koreaboo.

Blackpink is one of the busiest girl groups in South Korea. Since their launch in 2016, Jennie Kim, Kim Ji-Soo, Lalisa Manobal and Roseanne Park have completed schedules replete with photoshoots, live appearances, music video shoots and album recordings.

In 2021, the group also starred in their own movie, "Blackpink: The Movie" which celebrated the group's fifth year in the music industry. The nearly 2-hour movie earned $1.2 million worldwide and further propelled the quartet's worldwide popularity.

In South Korea, discussing mental issues is considered taboo. This has left many recording artists with no one to lean on as they struggle with depression while living in the spotlight. Aside from having to secure their ranking in a highly-competitive industry, K-pop group members also have to maintain a squeaky clean wholesome image which puts a pressure to many K-pop idols.

"K-pop artists are called 'idols' in Korea... [beings] that must be ideal, perfect people and performers at all times even in their personal lives," K-pop columnist Jeff Benjamin told BBC in 2019.

A Korea-based K-pop critic echoed the same thought when she commented on the death of Sulli, a former K-pop idol who dealt with mental issues, "Female K-pop stars are expected to be cute and lovely while being obedient to public reception. Sulli didn't fit this mould. She was one who intentionally raised her voice and wanted to be heard," Yoonha Kim also told BBC.

While Jennie feels honored being called an "icon" and "unique," she also told the magazine that it also pushes her to improve on a lot of ways. "It is a great honor to be an inspiration and icon to someone. When people describe me with these words, I feel like I need to show a better side of me."

The K-pop singer and dancer recently celebrated her 26th birthday. She re-posted her friends' birthday greetings on her Instagram story before uploading a series of photos thanking her friends for wishing her well on her special day.

"2022.01.16 __ Thank you so much for all the sweet wishes! I love you _," she wrote on her Instagram page on Sunday.

INDIO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 12: (L-R) Jennie, Rose, Lisa and Jisoo of BLACKPINK perform onstage during Weekend 1, Day 1 of the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 12, 2019 in Indio, California. Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella