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Singer Park explains abrupt departure

K-pop icon cites mistake, bad publicity, private blunder and ‘more’

Many reasons have been suggested as to why he bolted from 2PM in his heyday, including “bad online publicity” and a “private blunder.” Now the K-pop singer and b-boy, Park Jae-beom, has finally spoken up.

In an exclusive interview with The Korea Herald, he said his abrupt departure was not caused by one reason alone. “There is more to it than the story people know,” he said during his shoot for the upcoming music video “Abandoned” at a studio in Gyeonggi province.

The former 2PM leader, 23, left Korea in September 2009 after leaving the group amid a quarrel that erupted over his criticism of Korea, which he posted on his personal MySpace account four years prior to their debut.

Six months after the scandal hit in March 2010, Park Jin-young, CEO of JYP Entertainment, to which Jae-beom belonged, recalled that he could not keep Jae-beom from bolting from the boy band due to his determination to take responsibility for his behavior.

Park Jin-young later made a follow-up announcement, stating that the agency had terminated its exclusive contract with Jay, as Jae-beom is also called, due to a “personal wrongdoing,” sealing his departure from the agency. Since then, he has been busy with his new album and movie releases. 

<한글 요약> 

박재범 2년 전 갑작스런 탈퇴에 대해 입을 열다

박재범이 2PM에서 갑자기 탈퇴한 이유에 대해서는 여러 가지가 언급되고 있다. 코리아헤럴드는 박재범과의 단독인터뷰를 갖고 그로부터 탈퇴 이유와 향후 계획 등을 들어보았다. 

박재범은 인터뷰에서 그의 갑작스러운 탈퇴는 한가지 이유 때문만은 아니라고 밝혔다. 그는 그 당시 상황에서 단순히 도망친 것이 아니라고 말하며, 사람들이 알고 있는 것보다 더 많은 일이 있었다고 한다. 또한, 이미 지난 일을 다시 이야기 할 필요는 없다고 하며, 그 당시 자신이 취한 방법이 옳든 그르든 후회는 남지 않는다고 했다. 

전 2PM 리더인 박재범은 2009년 9월 온라인상에서 한국 비하 발언으로 갑자기 그룹을 탈퇴하게 되었다. 그리고 6개월후 작년 3월 JYP의 박진영은 재범이 자신의 행동에 대한 책임을 지고 그룹을 떠나려는 결심 때문에 붙잡지 못했다고 말했다. 그리고 박진영은 JYP가 박재범과의 계약을 종료한다고 하며 그의 탈퇴를 일단락 정리했다. 

아래는 박재범과의 인터뷰 전문:

Q: Don’t you think the whole process of leaving the team and the country was a snap judgment? Some people regard your abrupt leave as running away. What are your thoughts on the public sentiment?

A: Well I didn’t really run away. There is more to the story than people know but I can’t really say everything. I didn’t just “run away,” there is just much more to the story than people know. It’s because of a lot of things, I mean, they don’t really have to know. What happened in the past is over. There is no reason why we need to talk about it again. It was a long time ago. There was a lot of different ways I could have handled the situation but that’s just how I handled it. Maybe I was wrong, and maybe I wasn’t. I don’t really regret it.

Q: But, how about the fans here in Korea?

A: I’m sorry for all the fans that were disappointed but people make mistakes. I just didn’t want to put negative pressure on my group. They were receiving a lot of hatred back then because of me, so I just wanted to separate myself from all that.

Q: If you missed 2PM, did you contact them? I’m sure you still have their numbers?

A: Yeah. I did. I contacted Nichkhun and wished him a happy birthday, and he said “thank you.” I am on good terms with them. Well, it’s much more complicated than that though. I don’t ask anyone about their relationships, it’s just none of their business. It’s our business. The public don’t really need to get into that.

K-pop singer and b-boy Park Jae-beom at the studio shooting his upcoming music video “Abandoned” in Gyeonggi province  (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
K-pop singer and b-boy Park Jae-beom at the studio shooting his upcoming music video “Abandoned” in Gyeonggi province  (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Q: Why do you think you attracted so much anger here? Do you think the criticisms went a little overboard? You believe that your leave was necessary?

A: People just misunderstood everything. They thought I was a racist against the Koreans. Which is weird because I’m Korean and my parents are Korean. So that’s kind of impossible. I just said a lot of stupid things when I was younger. And, no, I don’t think they were too harsh. Everything happens for a reason, people make mistakes, and I made a mistake. It just depends on how you learn from it. If you can grow from it and become a better person; at the end of the day it’s all good. When I look back at myself, I was just negative, ignorant and immature back then.

(Last month, Jay Park left an official apology message on his Daum online fan community website to 2PM and his former agency, JYP. In the statement, he said he was sorry for causing trouble for members of 2PM due to his breakaway from the group. He also said it was regrettable that he disappointed JYP entertainment producer Park.)

Q: What is your relationship with JYP now after the apology? Why did you decide to write an official letter all of a sudden?

A: Well, I have been apologizing for a long time, it’s just that now I’m coming out with an album and CD. I just wanted to put everything to rest, I guess for one last time, and just stop talking about it but obviously people like talking about it. My fans just hope that I just get done with it.

Q: So you are on good terms again with JYP after you made your apology official. Did you recently talk to him directly?

A: No. Look, I’m on good terms with everyone. Personally I don’t have bad feelings for anyone. I’m just being me, and I’m just trying to support my family and support my crew, I don’t care about anyone else. I don’t care what people think, I don’t care what they say, I don’t care if they dislike me or hate me, if they want me to fail, I don’t care. It’s just me doing my thing. I wish them the best of luck, but we’re separate now, you know. Live with it. If we can’t get over it, then whatever. I’m totally over it.

Q: I heard that JYP helped you when you were in Seattle?

A: I guess he just told me to keep on trucking. But that was way back then, a long time ago, like a year-and-a-half ago. Then he stopped calling me.

(Last year, however, fans of 2PM vented indignation toward the boy band after the 2PM members expressed hatred toward their former leader. His fans held a debate forum on Feb. 27 with fans to discuss their future course of action, with the group members present at the meeting. At the meeting, they unexpectedly voiced criticism of Jae-beom. All six remaining members said “yes” without any hesitation, in response to the question of whether they supported Jae-beom’s leaving. They said that he behaved inappropriately as a group member.”

Briefing him with the story, it seemed that Jay had not been aware of it. He answered. “Are you positive? Maybe it’s rumor.”)

Q: If you had not apologized officially, were you aware that it could have worked as an obstacle for your new album release? Is it wrong to see this as some kind of a strategy to establish firm ground for your career?

A: If it was an obstacle, I would just find a different way to do it. I apologized, regardless, like the reason I’m putting out an album is just for my fans. So if I go on, my fans are going to love it, I’m satisfied with that.

(After Jay’s official apology last month, the influential Korean Federation of Pop Culture and Art Industry (KFPCAI) issued a statement, allowing the singer to appear on Korean music shows. Up until now, under SidusHQ Entertainment, Jay was unable to promote the album on Korean TV music shows like “Inkigayo,” “Music Core,” “Music Bank” and “Mnet Countdown” due to an apparent ban imposed against him ever since the “2PM scandal.”)

Q: What’s the first thing your parents said when you arrived in Seattle?

A: They just said “it’s okay.”

Q: From what I understand, the 19 months after the scandal was not just kick-back time for you. What have you been working on?

A: I just had a lot of fan meetings in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Korea. I also worked at a tire shop back at home in Seattle, for 4 months for about $10 an hour, it wasn’t bad. I just didn’t want to live off my parents’ money. I just chilled with my friends and was busy with b-boy battles and things like that. Lately, I have been working on my new album, and was also busy shooting the movie, “Hype nation.” I’ve participated in b-boy competitions as a member of a b-boy crew called Art of Movement (AOM).

Q: Why did you decide to come back to Korea? Couldn’t you have continued with your career back in the states?

A: Because most of my friends are in Korea, I can’t not come back to Korea and just put an album out in the states because my Korean fans are here. I’m sure they are happier with me coming here.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming song, album, movie and your new-set resolution.

A: I am working on a Korean album right now that’s going to come out in April. I did all the vocal arrangements and lyrics. I’m also beginning to shoot a movie called “Happy Together,” that will be released this September, don’t know much about it yet.

With my new songs, I’m just trying to portray the type of music that I want to do that represents me. There’s not a lot of hip-hop and R&B in the K-pop scene right now so I’m just trying to do that, and show people that hip-hop and R&B can be good music too and it doesn’t always have to be a repetitive hook or addictive hook, it can be just good music to listen to.

As for my future goal, I don’t really set goals. I’m just trying to do this for my fans and do what I want to do. And the most important thing in the world to me is to make my friends and my family proud and to get respect for all my fellow b-boys and fellow rappers and dancers.

Q: Anything you want to add for your fans?

A: I’d love to go to Japan, as I was supposed to go in May, but I don’t know what’s going to go on with all the earthquakes. I am willing to go to do a free show and donate what I can to the victims.

By Hwang Jurie  (