2PM's got nothin' on Jay Park

Jay Park

This article will be mostly old news for K-pop fans, but for the casual K-pop listener, there is an interesting story behind Jay Park and his recent solo debut. The rest of the article will assume you don’t really know who Jay Park is to begin with.
Who is Jay Park?

Jay Park is a Korean-American B-boy and musician (singer and rapper) from Seattle, Washington, USA.  He auditioned for JYP entertainment and was accepted as a trainee.  He trained for 4 years under JYP until gaining his first exposure on a JYP themed reality show called “Hot Blood”.  Here, 13 male trainees were given various tasks and challenges.  The end result was an 11 member boy band called “One Day”.  This was later further split into 2AM and 2PM.  Jay, now going by his Korean name, Jaebeom, was selected as the leader of 2PM.

Tell me more about 2PM.

Okay, well, 2PM was a 7 member boy band that debuted in 2008.  After moderate success with their first single “She’s a 10 out of 10” (10점 만점에 10점), their popularity skyrocketed with their 2nd single, “Again and Again.”  2PM for a time was the top boy band in Korea, consistently beating out Super Junior and Shinee for the top spot.  (Big Bang, Dong Bang Shinki, were on hiatus at the time.)  Again and Again was Korea’s song of the Year for 2009 at the KBS music festival.  Casual fans of K-Pop would have probably been able to name only two members of 2PM without doing research of the group.  Those two would have been Nickhun (a Chinese-Thai-American from California) who appeared in so many TV shows that he developed a popularity separate from 2PM fans, and Jaebeom.

What was so special about Jaebeom?

Okay, this is basically my own opinion, but he was by far and away the most talented among all of the members.  When you watch 2PM perform, you’re watching Jay.  The rest of the people in there might as well be background dancers.  (And I don’t mean that with any disrespect to the other members of 2PM.  Jay simply is that good.)  Take a look at this performance of “Again and Again”.  Jay stands out.

http://www.youtube.com/v/iCYTY3qTAkc&hl=en_US&fs=1

Cover for <del> Jay Park's</del>2PM's second single, Jay on far left.

Cover of Jay Park's 2PM's second single, Jay on far left.

It appeared that following this single that 2PM was poised to do for Korean boy bands what HOT had done for them 10 years earlier. Their popularity continued to soar, and it seemed like there would be no end to their domination, but all was not well.

Why not?
At the height of 2PM’s popularity, a Korean phenomenon known as “netizens” took them down a notch. (Netizens are people on the internet that spread information to each other quickly. If one person finds some news, within minutes, hundreds of thousands of people will know about it. Since Korea is so well connected, the actions of one can literally reach millions in a matter of a few hours.) Netizens had located Jay’s myspace page and read through old comments that he had made long before his debut.  After cherrypicking the very worst of them, netizens spread this “news” on to each other.  Jay had made some disparaging comments about Korea and Koreans when he had first arrived in Korea as he was having trouble adjusting to life as a trainee and was homesick.  And really, how can you blame an 18 year old kid for feeling homesick, not being certain if he’d ever debut, adjusting to a new country (including learning a new language), and not being totally familiar with Korean culture?  Also in fairness, the Korean people who were offended by his remarks don’t really understand the nuance of what he said.   The two comments that stick out the most are “Koreans are gay.” and “I hate Koreans.”  Literally taken (as they must have been) these sound horrible.  First “I hate Koreans” taken literally means what it sounds like.  But in English, the word “hate” can be thrown around when it doesn’t really mean what it sounds like it does.  For example, I say “I hate Pepsi” all the time.  That should mean that the mere thought of drinking Pepsi should make me want to throw up.  It does not.  In fact, I’d rather drink Pepsi than several other things, but I say “I hate Pepsi” when it is available and my favorite soft drink, Coke, is not.  I’ll have to apologize to any homosexual readers who take offense to the term “gay” being used in this way, but at worst, it means “disagreeable” or “too much effort required.”  I admit that I’ve used this term myself.  The last time I used it, I was in the DMV back in Maryland trying to get tags for my car.  Since my mother was a cosigner when I purchased it several years before that, I was required to produce her marriage license since our family names are different.  “That’s so gay!,” I muttered to myself.  I wasn’t calling anyone a homosexual (and even if I was, I don’t consider that an insult.)  I was expressing my frustration at the situation.  When Jay was saying that “Koreans are gay!” he was expressing his frustration at living in Korean society, not suggesting that all Koreans are homosexuals.  Homosexuality is still taboo in Korea, so literally translated, this is a horrible offense on Koreans.

So what happened?

Well, uber-nationalist netizens and others who became aware of what Jay had said 4 years earlier cried bloody murder and called for Jay to be deported, jailed, executed, and there was even a petition that people signed asking him to kill himself.  Most of the fan base of 2PM or K-pop in general probably didn’t really like his remarks, but they didn’t act in such an extreme way as these people.  So, fed up with all the negative press, and at the height of 2PM’s popularity, Jaebeom suddenly quit 2PM and headed back to the U.S.

Man, the netizens are so GAY!

Haha, well, there were also netizens in support of Jay.  Those against him seemed to be the same kind of people who preach that Korea is (and should be) racially pure, that Korea shouldn’t have any kind of contact with the outside world, or other nonsense theories about Korea’s cultural superiority.  Those for him were undoubtedly fans of Jay or 2PM, and also a large contingent of Korean-Americans who live in Korea and could empathize with him.  In addition it seemed that JYP and 2PM itself threw its support behind Jaebeom, and hoped for his return, but in his absence, they would continue as a 6 boy man group. This lead to several awkward situations, when they had to perform songs in which Jay had had parts. If you watch the video below, you will see exactly where Jay was supposed to stand.

http://www.youtube.com/v/1BFs-KQSLFE&hl=en_US&fs=1
How did 2PM do as a 6-person group?
They did alright. They came out with a new hit single, “Heartbeat” and in Jay’s absence, all of the other members (especially Ok Taecyon) gained a lot more exposure. 2PM rode their popularity further and each individual member got more face time and became more well known. After promotions of that single died down, 2PM took a much needed break.

What happened to Jay?
He left Korea, went home to Seattle, and started up with his old breaking crew called Art of Movement. There he focuses mostly on breaking, but from that, he’s also started his solo career. He also started his own youtube channel, where fans can keep up with his activities. After one of his videos of him singing BoB’s “Nothin’ on you” surfaced, Jay was contacted lend his voice to the Korean release of the same song. He also wrote his own Korean version of the song. This song reached the top of the Korean chart.

Jay Park also came back to Korea recently to act in a movie about Korean B-boys. His popularity is soaring. And it’s quite possible that Jay by himself is even more popular than 2PM without him.
Will he ever rejoin 2PM
Will Michael Jackson ever rejoin the Jackson 5?
Hey, that’s not nice, he’s dead!
May he rest in peace, but it essentially is the same question. Jay is at a level so much above and beyond the 6 members of 2PM that there’s no reason for him to go back.
Any closing thoughts?
Yes. SPECULATION ALERT (I don’t know if the following is true) I think Jay’s departure from 2PM was simply a little bit too convenient for 2PM and for Jay. On the one hand, Jay probably got out of an exploitative contract that he signed when he was a kid out of high school, and wasn’t getting what he was worth. He was outshining the other members of 2PM to the point that if things had continued further, 2PM would essentially be Jay Park with back dancers. (It’s a little harsh to say that, I know, but it’s true, he is so much better than they are in my opinion, even though they are really good.) I have a belief in a conspiracy theory that the breakup was mutual. The netizens finding his myspace account was just a convenient excuse to accomplish the break up. The individual members of 2PM are now more well known, and Jay Park is free to collect big on his own. It’s a win win scenario for both parties. Fans seem to be angry with JYP Entertainment about this, and Sunmi’s departure from the Wonder Girls, but as the majority of K-pop fans are fickle teenage girls, I doubt that these grudges will have any real effect on JYP’s standing in the entertainment industry.
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15 Responses to “2PM's got nothin' on Jay Park”

  1. strawberries Says:

    Art of Movement has been around since 2002. Jay was in AOM before he even knew what JYPE was.

    Also you forgot to mention the conference (where they kept reiterating Jay’s big “personal mistake” but couldn’t reveal it because it was “so dirty society would be affected, but at the same time it wasn’t anything criminal.” ) And Jay’s contract was terminated. Terminated is not the same as merely “He left”.

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      Fair enough. I made changes to the article thanks to your concerns. I don’t know everything about AOM, JYP, or Jay Park for sure.

      “Terminated” means the contract is no longer valid, and could be for a number of reasons, and I think it was just a little too convenient for both parties. And even if there is a private reason that he’s being forced out of JYP for, perhaps it needs to remain private.

  2. I’m not a Huge fan of Kpop, I know a couple of songs but I didn’t know about this whole situation of Jay Park, people ofter judges without having all the information or without thinking what they were going trough. I understand he was frustrated and all and I try not to judge because I don’t like people judging me without knowing me.o_O

  3. I didn’t know about this story but it’s very interesting!
    Netizens are the enemies of all artists in this era.
    I agree with you. Jay Park is so talented that he poped out between the 2PM. It wasn’t a balanced group. Maybe it was all organized since the beginning.
    I’ve listened to “Nothing on you (cover)”. Well… it’s so freaking good!! The rythme keeps going in my mind~
    I just hope he will find his way to more success because it’s worth it!

  4. Beyond Gun Says:

    Autotune sounds horrible in Korean as well as in English.

  5. I’m doing I just 2PM fan but as far as I read my interpretation was a bit exaggerated its modality, or as you say it was like a muto agreement was ultimately beneficial to both parties, was the case of anti- Fans who closed its my space

  6. I’m really surprised you didn’t mention the conference at all. That is a huge part of this story. It’s hard to say the separation of Jay from the rest of 2PM is “convenient” for the both of them without pointing out how that separation actually took place and what the aftermath has been.

    Never in the history of Kpop has a group stood in a room full of fans and said that they agreed to kick out their leader because he had committed some serious personal mistake that could damage society (but isn’t a crime) and then refused to give anymore detail. Regardless of where you stand on who was right or wrong in that situation, there is no denying the tremendous impact it has had. The 2PM fandom fell apart, and the groups sales on it’s next album was half of the previous. Meanwhile, Jay Park continues to have articles written about him in the press demanding he explain himself and his supposed dirty personal life.

    No one knows what the future will bring for either party, but right now, both are in awkward positions.

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      Regardless of how the separation happened, it’s convenient for both,as I said. Jay can get more money on his own, 2PM’s other members get to be more than Jay’s back dancers. WINWIN. I don’ t really know or care what it is he did that was so bad.

  7. About Kara Girl Group…

    A very popular all girl group from South Korea, Kara, is represented by the giant Daesung Entertainment, who have single handedly altered the entire look of Korean pop new music. The band receives its name from the Greek word “chara” which technically …

  8. Jay Park right now is doing well at the Bboy Contest
    (http://thejuliejuliagiselaproject.blogspot.com/2010/09/b-boys-b-girls.html) …good for him! that shows even if you don’t have the support of a Major company u still can success!😀

  9. Ideal article! I’m only beginning out in advertising and marketing and attempting to learn to carry out it well – assets just like this write-up are extremely priceless. As our firm is based mostly in america, it is all a bit new to us.

  10. […] Park (aka Jaebeom, ex-member of Kpop Idol group 2PM.) Don’t know who he is, go to this link: yujinishuge.com to read what […]

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