Park Jaebeom, also known as Jay Park, is an American-Korean recording artist, dancer, music producer, and actor. He was the former leader of the South Korean boyband 2PM, and is part of a Seattle-based b-boy crew Art of Movement.
As a young Korean-American born and raised in Edmonds, Washington, Park showed great interest in hip hop music and breakdancing in particular. In 2003, during his early high school years, he joined a local b-boy crew called Art of Movement (AOM). In 2004, he auditioned in Seattle for Korea-based JYP Entertainment (JYPE). The company’s founder, Park Jin-young himself watched Park’s audition and brought him to Korea, in January 2005 to receive further training in dancing, rapping, singing, and the Korean language.
Park first appeared through MNET’s Hot Blood, a documentary-style reality program that showed the future members of idol groups 2AM and 2PM in training, with Park finishing at the top spot with the most fan votes and getting the position of 2PM’s leader. On September 4, 2008, 2PM debuted with the song “10 Points Out Of 10” (10점 만점에 10점) on music program M! Countdown after the release of their first mini-album “Hottest Time of the Day” a few days prior. Park and 2PM garnered further popularity when they were featured on the third season of MBC’s variety show “Idol Army”. However, it was their promotions for their single “Again and Again” that catapulted the group’s status in the Korean music scene, and earned them first place awards for 3 successive weeks in music shows like SBS’s Inkigayo and Mnet’s M! Countdown in May 2009. Similar success continued for their follow-up single “I Hate You” (니가 밉다).
Aside from 2PM’s music activities, Park featured in the song “正” (“Jeong”) with Yeeun of the Wonder Girls for the television drama “Conspiracy in the Court”‘s original soundtrack, and V.O.S’s “To Luv…”. He also participated in special stage performances such as Navi’s “마음이 다쳐서” (“Heart Damage”) on May 3, 2009, and K.Will’s “1초에 한방울” (“One Drop per Second”) on June 20, 2009. He also became a regular cast member in several variety programs, including Star King and Introducing a Star’s Friend. In August 2009, he and Kara member Nicole Jung became the new hosts for a cultural variety show called Nodaji.
After Jaebeom’s departure
2PM’s first official album was titled “1:59PM”, to symbolize Park’s absence (according to the 6 remaining members). Through their acceptance speeches at end-of-year award shows for Again & Again”, the members thanked Park and reiterated their wish for his return. At the M.net Asian Music Awards, the group paid homage to him during their performance of “Again & Again” with a spotlight shown over his usual position in the dance formation and his lines left unsung. The six 2PM members also mentioned their plan to distribute their income from their 1st album with him. Information on a press conference planned for January 24, 2010 regarding Park’s situation was leaked by the press, but this was shortly denied by JYP Entertainment.
After Park returned to the United States, fans changed their perspective on the matter when they realized that his MySpace messages had been severely mistranslated and taken out of context. Several protests and projects were immediately put into action, designed to inform JYP Entertainment and the general public about the huge support for Park’s return to 2PM.
Boycotts on 2PM-endorsed products and protests for Park’s return to the group began to take place, not only in South Korea, but internationally as well. Various Jay Park-dedicated forums and fansites all over the world organized silent protests and flash dance mobs. International fans also raised money for the Jay Sky Banner project, for which they arranged for a rented jet to fly across Seattle at 2:00PM with a banner that says “J, WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?”. Seattle’s local broadcasting news station, KOMO News, did a brief segment about the event.
Several 2PM fan communities also donated generously to charities in Park’s name. A major Korean fanclub called UNDERGROUND donated a total of $10,000 USD to the children’s foundation in Haiti under the name “People Waiting For 2PM Leadja Park Jaebeom”. By May 2010, their donations to different charities have been estimated to be around $100,000 USD. International fansites also organized charity drives, with a North American-based fan community donating $1,000 USD to send books to international Korean adoptees every year.
On several instances, Park was the number one trending topic on Twitter, even topping the Oscars on March 8, 2010. Park’s fanbase revealed that they plan to release a self-produced album in his honor on March 27, 2010, to commemorate the 200th day anniversary of his departure from Korea. However, because the album had been prepared since January, during the time where public opinion on 2PM had changed, the fans decided it would be in the best interest to not release the CDs, instead mailing 10-20 copies to Park’s hometown in Seattle.
Dismissal from JYPE
On February 25, 2010, JYPE announced that they had permanently terminated Park’s contract with collective agreement among the other 6 members of 2PM. The company claimed a moral, but not illegal, personal “mistake” he did in December of the previous year. No other explanation was offered, despite multiple reassurances given by JYPE on his status in 2PM during the period between December and this announcement, including the publicity for the group’s first full-length album 1:59PM which asserted to the public and their fans that a 2PM without Mr. Park was incomplete. A conference that JYPE held two days after the announcement later for 87 representatives from major 2PM fan communities reaffirmed the company and members’ collective decision to continue 2PM with six members but failed to provide any further justification behind the dismissal of Park, the group’s leader.
Reappearance through YouTube
Beginning in November 2009, eagle-eyed fans found and spread footage of b-boying battles that he had attended and participated in uploaded on Youtube, despite his initial efforts to cover his face from the view of cameras. On March 6, 2010, Jaebeom and the Art of Movement crew participated in the charity event “Breakin’ 4 Haiti”, with the proceeds going to Haiti victims.
On March 15, 2010, Park created his own YouTube channel. His first post was a video where he sings a rendition of “Nothin’ On You” (with his own rap and lyrics) in his bathroom. The video went viral and reached over 2,000,000 views in less than 24 hours. In Korea, the original song by B.o.B and Bruno Mars topped the Cyworld background music chart in a matter of hours upon the video’s release, beating Girls’ Generation’s song “Run Devil Run” that was released the following day. “Nothin’ on You” also reached #1 on other music sites such as Dosirak, Melon, MNET, Bugs, and Soribada, profiting $300,000 in sales through the effects of Park’s video. On his ‘About Me’ page, Park left a message thanking his fans for their support. He also encouraged fans not to hate remaining 2PM members on his behalf.
On March 18, an American online entertainment channel “stirfrytv.com” did a brief report on Park’s video during their “But, What Do I Know?” segment, garnering much attention from international online viewers. On March 19, Digital Media Wire published an article emphasizing Park’s potential of crossing over to the American entertainment market.
On March 29, 2010, Rutgers Korean Student Association announced on their website that Park and fellow Art of Movement members Dialtone, ChaCha and Junior would appear as surprise special guests at an annual Korean American festival event called Project Korea III: KSA Cinderella Story at Rutgers University, New Jersey on April 3, 2010. Merely hours after the festival finished, several videos of the event were uploaded onto internet portal sites, where footage of Park acting as an MC and dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” on stage drew much positive interest.
On April 14, an associate involved in the production of American dance film Hype Nation confirmed that Park had been cast as the movie’s main character. Filming is set to begin in June 2010, with more than 70% of the scenes to be shot in South Korea. It was stated that Park will also contribute to the original soundtrack.
On April 20, it was announced on allhiphop.com that Park is recording under Teddy Riley and has completed tracks with Snoop Dogg and T-Pain. This was later confirmed to be for Park’s solo album. On the same day via notification through Defense Productions’ official Twitter, it was also announced that Park will be participating in a concert presented by Defense Productions & Epidemic to be held on May 30, 2010, performing along with Art of Movement, Kero One, MYK and Dok2 from Mapthesoul.com, and Dumbfoundead. Sponsored by Allkpop, this concert will mark Park’s second major public appearance.
On April 24, Dumbfoundead released a collaboration track featuring Park and Clara Chung on his website, titled “Clouds“. The same day, stirfrytv featured Park in a “Youtube Spotlight” video, where he gives his first interview since the Myspace controversy. In the video, he also confirms his role in Hype Nation and thanks his fans for their support.
It was revealed that Park will return to Korea through Incheon International Airport with the staff of Hype Nation, Art of Movement, and his parents between May 31 and June 1, 2010. Also being prepared are a press conference for Park’s involvement in the movie (which was later revealed to be falsely reported), and a fanmeeting.
Park is to release his first official single titled “Demon”, produced by Teddy Riley and originally meant for Michael Jackson, as well as singing 4 songs for Hype Nation’s original soundtrack. Also confirmed was Park’s participation in the Hype Nation world tour with B2K that will begin in December, touring across 10 American cities and major cities in Asia.
On May 22, 2010, Park took part in major hip-hop event Claws Out in Seattle as a judge, while fellow Art of Movement member Junior competed.
On May 29, 2010, Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney Ned Sherman, also Founder and CEO of Digital Media Wire, Inc., announced that he would be Park’s entertainment legal representative, also stating that several projects for Park were in the works.
On May 30, 2010, Park appeared with Kero One, Dumbfoundead, MYK and DOK2 at The Showbox Sodo in Seattle for a concert along with few members of AOM.
Return to Korea and present activities
On June 18, 2010, Park arrived in Korea at Incheon International Airport, received a warm welcome from thousands of fans, making history as the biggest crowd ever at the said airport ‘Park Jaebeom’s returned’ became the biggest headline in Korea that day. “JayIsBack” shot up immediately on the trending topics on Twitter on June 18 at 9:30 AM GMT. Pictures of Park in Hype Nation were released on July 2, and Park was able to meet with the Korean media for interviews for the first time, talking about his current activities. It was also revealed that his single “Demon” would be included in Hype Nation’s original soundtrack.
On July 6, 2010, Park had finished featuring in a song by a famous Korean composer for a rookie female singer preparing for debut, as well as having received love calls for a drama appearance. Aside from holding a series of nationwide fanmeetings for his Korean fans starting August 3, 2010 in Seoul, it was confirmed he held 8 other Asian fanmeetings in Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia throughout the month of September to November. 12 of the fanmeetings were reportedly sold out within one day.
On July 8, 2010, it was reported that Park will sign a contract with Sidus HQ for his domestic Korean activities in terms of acting and singing, where his management states that he plans to redebut as a rookie artist. It was also revealed that Jung Hoontak, President of Sidus HQ, has been involved in Park’s activities since May when Park traveled to Taiwan to film a music video. The contract with Sidus HQ was finalized on July 16, 2010.
In addition to having featured on “Nothin’ on You”, Park will also release a single album titled “믿.어.줄.래” (“Will You Believe Me”) containing 3 tracks, including a rearranged Korean version of “Nothin’ on You”. Renowned composer Park Geuntae, who was a part of the production, revealed that the song will have a newly added melody and style to fit Park’s characteristics. The English and Korean lyrics were written by Park himself. Announced to be released on July 13, 2010. The song immediately reached #1 on Cyworld and Bugs music charts, and also on other music sites as Monkey3 , Soribada , Dosirak and Melon within the hour of its release. On YouTube, Park also uploaded a short music video for the song on the same day. The single album sold 21,989 physical copies on the first day of release, coming in at #1 in sales and #7 in the overall ranking of albums released from January 2010 to July 13, 2010. With more than 41,316 copies sold at the end of 2010 making the album place at #32 on Gaon’s year end chart, Park earned approximately 700 million won from his single album, which placed him at #3 in the overall annual ranking of album released until at the end of July 2010.
Sidus HQ released the news at their official website that other American Dance Movie than Hype Nation 3D, Park also will be cast as one of the lead actors in the upcoming Korean Movie titled ‘Mr Idol’. The movie will be in the cinema around Summer 2011. Ironically, the film features an idol group who is forced to replace their lead singer with an indie band member.
Park finally announced through his twitter ‘jaybumaom’ that he will be making his official solo comeback to Korean entertainment as he is currently preparing his Korean mini album. The album is believe to be released on April 2011 and it has been confirmed that the tracks on the album will be written by Park himself.
Park was chosen by MusiqSoulChild and Ne-Yo as a special guest for tour their concerts in Seoul, Korea. Park also performed a duet song ‘Love’ with MusiqSoulChild at the same stage and he also cooperate with Ne-Yo for charity event before performed as an opener guest for Ne-Yo’s concert.
On 28 March 2011, Park was finalist and received the most voted in the special category ‘Connecting people award’, a joint venture between Shorty Awards and Nokia for his contribution connecting communities worldwide and encouraging people to do good deeds, charities and many more. Park also was a finalist in the celebrity category at the same event.
Park released his first Korean Mini Album titled “Take a Deeper Look” on 27 April 2011, with the title track “Abandoned”. This mini album contained 7 songs where 6 out of 7 seven songs were written and produced by himself. His first performance of the song was on 30 April 2011 at the 9th Annual Korean Music Festival in Los Angeles, where he performed as one of the headlining acts. The album received explosive response from the public as 50,000 copies album sold out in just within 5 days. It has been reported the album already sold more than 71,000 copies in less than 2 weeks and the album is ranked #2 in yearly Hanteo chart. Music Industry predicted that the album will probably take over #1 spot in anytime. In addition, Park ranked consistently high on the iTunes top 10 R&B/Soul albums chart and ranked #1 in Canada, #1 in Denmark, #2 in United States, #3 in Australia, #3 in Norway, #4 in Japan, #5 in Italy and #6 in France. Park also made his debut stage in Music shows such as Music Bank on May 7, 2011 for the first time in 2 years as a solo artist and made history as the first artist crowned winner at a debut stage. He won Music Bank again on May 13, 2011.