It’s a story that has captivated the international world of Korean pop
with a potent mix of youth, celebrity, and scandal. In four years, Jay Park
went from being a regular American teenager to one of Asia’s most famous singers as part of K-pop group 2PM
. Then, at the peak of his popularity, a media controversy precipitated his sudden exile from Korea. After briefly disappearing into obscurity back in the U.S., Jay is preparing for a second foray into the spotlight, both here and in Asia—this time as a solo artist, and on his own terms. How did he do it?
First, a primer: In 2004, Jay was a typical high school kid in Seattle when he auditioned for Korean entertainment mogul Park Jin-young
(JYP), who was in the U.S. to scout for new talent. Impressed by the 17-year-old’s potential, JYP sent Jay to Korea to begin a “trainee” program. (Korea’s major entertainment companies operate rigorous youth academies that churn out K-pop’s never-ending supply of new artists.) Having never lived in Korea, and without his family, Jay struggled to adjust to the culture shock and the demands of his new environment. But, in the fall of 2008, after nearly four years in JYP’s talent factory, the hard work paid off: Jay (now called Park Jae-beom
) emerged as the leader of a new group called 2PM. By the summer of 2009, with the success of their hit “Again & Again
,” 2PM was Korea’s most popular male group, and Jae-beom became a pop idol across Asia.
Then, it all came crashing down. On September 4, 2009, the Korean blogosphere caught wind of several private messages written by Jay to a friend in 2005, leaked
by a “netizen” who hacked Jay’s MySpace account. The damning words, typed by a then 17-year-old Jay just months after arriving in Korea: “korea is gay….i hate koreans.” The public furor was immediate and relentless, and Jay quickly issued an apology. But the media scrutiny and blogger hate only intensified. Less than a week after the story broke, Jay abruptly left 2PM to return to Seattle.
In the months following Jay's exit from Korea, rumors constantly circulated about his possible return to the group. But in February of 2010, JYP announced the permanent termination of Jay’s contract, cryptically alluding to an additional, unnamed controversy that supposedly trumped the MySpace incident. Thus, with his 2PM career officially over, Jay began the process of rebuilding his career as a solo artist. Jay spent much of 2010 touring with his b-boy crew, Art of Movement
, while also putting plans in motion for a comeback in Korea. Now, with the controversy behind him and on the cusp of releasing his new Korean mini-album, Jay granted us his first in-depth interview about 2PM, Korea, and his plan to tackle the U.S. market. ( Collapse )Source: Complex.com