Jay Park is back and better than ever with a new TV special that focuses on ... him.
UNLIKE most Korean celebrities who require translators to more or less “speak” for them, Jay Park can hold his own.
The US-born singer and rapper was in Kuala Lumpur recently, answering questions from the press in fluent English, and seemed unfazed by the plethora of weird and zany enquiries into his not-so-personal life.
The “Fresh Prince of Seoul”, as he is often called, now has his own Jay Park E! News Asia Special TV programme, premiering tonight. For the first time ever, fans will get a lowdown on just how much more there is to the controversial K-Pop star.
Filmed over a period of four days, the TV special includes talking heads ranging from Park’s B-boy pals to his family members, with exclusive footage provided by his buddy Hep of dance crew AOM.
Arriving in KL from Seoul just after the second leg of his concert tour around South Korea, Park was exhaustion exemplified, and harboured less zeal than one would expect from a 26-year-old superstar.
“I went to Hong Kong, I went to Thailand ... then I went to Europe, then I went to Thailand, then Europe, then China. I’ve just been on a plane so much. I’ve been doing so much work that I think I’m just starting to get burned out right about now,” he revealed during a one-on-one interview.
With a pierced nose and tattoos running up the length of his left arm, Park gave a hip-hop artiste swagger, accentuated further by his beanie-and-oversized-T-shirt look.
Judging from a media preview of the E! Special spot, it seems likely that the 30-minute show will touch on Park’s dark past, which has much to do with being ousted from top South Korean boy band 2PM.
“In the show, you’ll get to see what I’m like on a day-to-day basis – times when I’m not on TV, when I’m in the waiting room, or in my house, or at the office. It’ll also get into what I think about certain situations, certain things that happened in the past. So yeah, you’ll probably find out a few new things about me,” he offered.
Initially the leader of the pack, the charismatic entertainer had a hard time pacifying anti-fans when unfavourable comments he wrote about Korea in 2005 were leaked by a netizen and later taken out of context and misinterpreted by the Korean media.
Famed for his B-boy dance moves, Park returned to the US in late 2009, just as the rest of the 2PM group members revelled in the launch of their first official album – while Park’s vocals could still be heard on some of the tracks, visuals of him were completely removed from the final image compilation.
Conquering all odds, the fallen star rose to fame once again when his bathroom rendition of B.o.B.’s Nothin’ On You, enhanced with his own rap and lyrics, went viral on YouTube and reached over two million views in under 24 hours.
By July 2010, Park was back and bigger than ever, debuting as a solo singer and actor. After winning multiple awards, and topping charts with his first full-length album, the multi-talented performer became a permanent cast member of Saturday Night Live! Korea earlier this year, adding the role of “comedian” to his already crowded portfolio.
Having previously been under record label JYP Entertainment for four years as a tightly-reigned trainee prior to the debut of 2PM, Park is currently enjoying the creative freedom of managing his own R&B independent label, AOMG, which stands for Above Ordinary Music Group.
“Right now I’m making my own music, my own decisions. I get to create my own career path. Back then, as a member of a group, it was the company who had everything planned. I think I’m much more of a free spirit now,” he shared.
Of course, aside from worrying about his own future, Park also has to oversee the musical journey of artistes Jun Goon, Gray, Cha Cha Malone and LO, who are all a part of AOMG.
Aside from working on everyone’s individual album, the company is opening up to take just a few more artistes on board.
No longer the boy who confessed to crying every day for two weeks (due to the culture shock he experienced when he first came to South Korea as a JYP trainee), Park seems to have taken things in his stride – he may have his hands full right now, but he’s not stopping anytime soon.
With the support of his family, who has since returned to South Korea to accompany his burgeoning stardom, Park expressed interest in producing more English titles and to have his songs be known “not just in the world of K-Pop, but internationally.”
“Things can get overwhelming but I take it day by day. I actually didn’t think I’d come back this big. I didn’t think anybody would be interested in me or what I did. I am very fortunate, I guess.”
As for attributing social media with the making and breaking of careers, Park has a smattering of advice for hopeful ingénues: “If you want to be an entertainer, just do it for the right reasons. Social media won’t exactly help you achieve your goals. You’ve got to put in the hard work first, then can you use social media as an outlet to market yourself.”
> Jay Park’s E! News Asia Special premieres on E! (Astro Ch 712) today at 9.30pm.