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Although my main reason for writing this entry was due to my dissatisfaction about one of my favorite Korean boyband’s sudden turn of events, I’m mainly writing this to inform people about Korean netizens (Korean term for a person who is actively online). I just want people to know about a regular guy who chased his dreams and debuted in a group that gained fans and success through their genuine personalities and talent, only to lose it within a matter of days due to a growing trend of threats from Korean cyber users.
If you’re wondering why your Twitter or Facebook updates have suddenly appeared with the words “Jaebum” or “Jay Park”, I’ll tell you exactly why.
If you’re completely lost about the K-pop world then you probably don’t know about the controversy regarding Korea’s popular idol group, 2PM. 2PM is a 7-member male idol group that debuted in Fall 2008. Within a year, the 7 boys were able to top numerous music charts all over Korea and Thailand all while winning over fans through their playful and genuine personality on various variety shows.
After a controversy emerged on the brink of their 1 Year Anniversary, the leader of 2PM, Park Jaebum or Jay Park, announced on September 8th, 2009 that he would be leaving the group after only a year since debut.
The reason for his sudden decision to leave Korea and go back to his home in Seattle? After netizens got a hold of Jaebum’s myspace, they went through his conversations with his best friend and brought attention to some of his comments concerning Korea. One of Jaebum’s comments stated “Korea is gay … I hate Koreans,” causing an uproar within the Korean online community. As a result, Korean netizens left vulgar comments telling him to leave Korea and go back to America, as well as creating petitions for him to either get out of Korea or stop any further 2PM activities.
Jaebum then released an apology statement:
Hello everyone this is 2PM’s Park Jaebum. I would like to apologize on behalf of the comments I had made through Myspace a few years ago. I’m sorry.
As I tell all of you about how I felt that time, I also would like to apologize. In January of 2005, I came to Korea as a high school student. I was born in the States and I had insufficient knowledge of how Korea is. Being it my first time, I couldn’t communicate with others, my taste buds didn’t fit, and I barely knew the culture which I couldn’t understand. I felt as though I was treated coldly by the people around me as my family was left in the States. It was such a difficult situation where I didn’t even know if I was going to debut. Due to many hardships, things were getting too hard and I was getting lonely being homesick. I had the thoughts of quitting and I wanted to go back to my family in the States. The comment based on the Korea part: I wrote that because of my personal situation I was placed in and my emotions took over. I was too young and said things in the wrong words. I was too foolish, young, and facing difficulties where I made the mistake into turning my surroundings worse. Time passed by and I forgot that I had even written them. I am now embarrassed and truly sorry of those comments I had made. After that time, I had adjusted to everything and my thoughts have changed tremendously as I thank the people around me to get me to perform on stage in any situation. Those comments were made four years ago, but I am a different person now. To my family, Hottests, members of 2PM, and those who love 2PM, I am truly sorry. From now on, I hope that there will be no mistakes like this ever again. I will say it one more time that I am truly sorry.
The reason so many fans are upset about Jaebum’s departure is the fact that these comments were made back in March 2005 – four years ago. Back in 2005, Jaebeom at 18 years old, left his home in Seattle, Washington to pursue his dreams in Korea. Jaebum was extremely Americanized and had little knowledge about his own culture. Imagine leaving your home of 18 years to go to a country whose cultures differ greatly from what you’re used to. If you’re Asian, you’re probably aware that if you can’t speak your native language proficiently and you go back to your home country, you’re looked down upon. He was unfamiliar with the food, practically alone, and was training hard for a future he was unsure of. Some of you may be unfamiliar with a trainee’s life in Korea but it’s quite rigorous. You’re expected to give up everything and put all your strength into training without having the security of knowing what lies ahead for you. Even so, Jaebum persevered and debuted in 2008.
Here’s a video of Jaebum’s trainee life from the show Hot Blood with his members:
I’m not justifying Jaebum’s comments but I can understand what would lead him to say such things. He was having a conversation with a friend (that all of us have had) and he happened to vent about something that was bothering him. As an American, I can understand the use of Jaebum’s words and although to native Koreans it may mean one thing, the term “gay” is used very loosely in society (although it shouldn’t be). Regardless, any fan of 2PM or specifically, Jaebum, have witnessed through variety shows, performances, and fan meetings that Jaebum has changed since those four years and his positive perspective of Korea is evident as well.
Amidst the drama, Jaebum’s fellow members left words of encouragement on their Cyworld (Korea’s Myspace), showing their support for Jaebum and gratitude towards Hottests (fanclub of 2PM). However, these messages were removed after netizens criticized the band mates for sticking up for their member, telling them to leave with Jaebum to America.
The title read ‘Hottest… Thank you ^^’ and on the side bar ’2PM, we are not 7 members, we are one.’
His Cyworld stated ‘Let’s walk together’ but was later removed when a netizen responded with ‘Walk to where? America?’
However, even after his apology, netizens found it to be insincere and continued to fuel the hate by creating a petition for Jaebum to commit suicide. Their way of handling things has been referred to as “witch hunting”. As absurd as it sounds, that’s exactly how I would describe it. In the past when a celebrity did something unsatisfactory in netizen’s eyes, they would bombard their Cyworld with harsh comments and vulgar language. Some celebrities just close down their Cyworld while others cave in and commit suicide. You’re probably thinking this is a rare occurance but unfortunately in 2009 alone there were 6 suicides commited after attacks from Korean netizens. They have also gone as far as poisioning food given to the celebrity (Yunho of TVXQ) and throwing various objects at them to express their hate. Fortunately, Jaebum did not experience any of these but instead dealt with verbal abuse. Click here for an article concerning netizens and suicides.
Some things that netizens said to Jaebum through these petitions were:
“You’re Korean-American…which means you are neither Korean nor American. You belong in the “garbage” category.”
“Go home you Yankee.”
“Producers should immediately stop promoting foreigner entertainers. They only succeed here because they don’t have a chance in hell in America!”
“He’s changed from the person he was 4 years ago? No one changes in that timespan. He’s full of sh*t.”
I know some Korean Americans who are offended by the fact that Korean netizens are acting as if they are of a difference race or some sort. Many Korean Americans have also expressed their “disgust” to those who have said such things. I think it’s sad that due to a statement made four years ago, netizens are going against people of their own nationality that are just located in a different region. I particularly thought the harshest comment was categorizing Jaebum as “garbage”. Regardless of his mistake, he is still human and should still be treated and considered as one. Being human also means that mistakes are bound to be made. What irks me is that these netizens act as if they have never done anything wrong and feel as if they have the right to attack someone just because they are in the spotlight. I just wonder how they would feel if others were to point out something that they’ve done in the past and even after apologizing still not be forgiven but asked to give up your life as a means of redemption?
On September 8th, Jaebum left a message stating that he was to leave 2PM and return back home that day.
His statement read:
“Hello, I’m 2PM’s Jaebum. I’m sorry for giving you my last greeting through this letter. I think it will be hard for me to see you all on stage because of my sorry heart. I’m really sorry to everyone, and I’m even more sorry to the fans who have shown me love.
From today, I will leave 2PM.
2PM boys, I’m really sorry to the boys and I’m sorry I couldn’t be strong as a leader and a hyung and have to leave like this.
However, I hope you will be more cool and charming.
Again, I’m sorry.”
At 4:30 P.M., Jaebum arrived at Incheon airport surrounded with around 400 fans, hoping to prevent him from leaving. As Jaebum went through baggage inspection, fans cried and begged for him to stay.
An account of Jaebum at the airport:
Sports Seoul.com was able to talk to Jaebum on the 8th 6:10 PM inside the Incheon Airport departure Lounge. The first things out of his mouth was “I apologize..I’m sorry.”
He said “What more can I say? I am just so sorry to the loving fans and the members who had trusted me and followed me.” He added, “I am sorry that I had to leave this way, I did not fulfill my responsibilities as a leader and was just a burden, so I decided on leaving the group.”
When they asked him about his plans in America, he talked about music. He said, “I am planning to study music in America” and “have a time of reflection. I want to show a more mature side both personally and musically.”
He also avoided answering questions regarding his plan to return to Korea. His expression showed that it was too early to be discussing about comeback plans. Instead, he expressed, “I want to thank the fans who had come out to the airport,” and “I will stay healthy in America. I will come back as a better person.”
There have now been news update that the person behind Jaebum’s career downfall is a school girl. The girl has asked for forgiveness and apologized for causing all of this, but Hottests (2PM’s fans) have repeatedly stated that they can not forgive her but will not use vulgar language, insult, or bash her as she and many other netizens did to Jaebum.
Jaebum’s departure also led to the sudden surfacing of new Myspace comments where Jaebum expressed his true reason to coming to Korea and his love for his nationality. Many have speculated that netizens did not think that Jaebum would quit the band and began to feel guilty. However, 2PM’s former leader Park Jaebum has already safely landed in Seattle.
Netizens released more recent comments from his Myspace:
“Or I could come back.. Get my GED and go to Shoreline CC.. and I would be pretty happy…
surrounded by friends and people who care for me… (this reflects that in Korea, he doesn’t have
any friends or people that care for him) but I wouldn’t be able to make as much money…So I
would be able to buy my mother nice things… and help with debts and stuff… my mom said
to just come back… or do whatever makes me happy.. I don’t know what to do…”
So now 2PM is left without their leader due to the netizens whose leisure rest in digging up celebrities’ pasts and Hottests can no longer see the seven boys perform together as one. I feel that this has gotten out of hand and it’s crazy that Jaebum had to leave due to mere Myspace comments. It’s not as if he committed a crime, he just made an offensive statement in which he has stated that he regrets and is embarrassed by. Despite the fact that Jaebum feels as if he has failed as a leader, fans are still continuing to show their support by showing up at his company’s office (in Korea and New York) leaving post-it notes all over the building. (The words say ‘Jaebum, stay strong’, ‘Leadja, don’t go’, etc.)
Thanks to another case of Korean netizens cyber bullying, 7 boys who trained years together, shedding sweat and tears, are now stripped from their dreams. Anyone who knew of 2PM knew the boys had a great future ahead of them. To top it all off, thousands of their fans have now lost the leader of a band that they’ve seen grow from mere trainees to hard working idols. Future plans for 2PM are unknown at the moment, but no matter what, 2PM will never be the same without their leader. Whatever Jaebum chooses, I hope we all respect his decision and realize that in the end it’s his well being and happiness that is important.
I thank you for the taking your time to read this and see why so many fans are distraught at the moment. Please understand Jaebum and Korean celebrities who are heavily scrutinized in Korea. Spread the word about Jaebum’s unjust treatment by Korean netizens. To Hottests, let’s continue to support Jaebum and 2PM, always! Let’s show that Jaebum is the best leader and know that we will always be his fans no matter where he is.
Jaebum singing and showing his playful side on a Korean variety show:
After I posted this, many celebrities and friends of Jaebum have expressed their support and grief. I feel the need to put these up to show how many people support him and to give a glimpse of what he was like as a person.
2PM’s Kim Junsu wrote on his Cyworld:
Autumn has come through the wind
The smell of the autumn has come so suddenly
And is making these times stumble
The high and blue sky
It’s so clear that my eyes are chilled
It keeps bringing tears to my eyes
Even looking at the sky makes me tear up
This 2009 autumn…
credits: oneday-room (for cap) and G-race @ 2ONEDAY (TRANS)
2AM’s Jokwon (very close friend and label mate of Jaebum):
The first song that we practiced to together…
Our beating and nervous hearts…
I will continue to pray for you. I hope you don’t have a difficult trip…
I trust that you will become healthier
Because you are our hyung (older brother)
CREDITS; JO KWON’S CYWORLD; JIYO @ 2ONEDAY.COM (TRANS)
F.T Island’s leader Choi Jonghun left a message on his Cyworld (Some of you may not know that Jonghun was also criticized by netizens for being a ‘playboy’ after they dug up pictures of his past gf’s. They also started a rumor stating he got a girl pregnant.) :
“Isn’t the world too scary? The past is the past… I understand the feeling of that person who is in trouble now…Fighting!”
Credit : Kor – Thai by Tik@2pm-online.com, Thai-Eng by email@example.com
Baekkga of Koyote wrote the following on his hompage (He too was a victim of netizens, claiming him as a ‘pervert’) — I personally think everything he said was true and I hope netizens read this:
On the 9th at 2:29AM, Bbaekga revealed on his homepage that “The scary people that mercilessly ran at me, calling me shameless, are now sending away my dongseng like person. When I heard and read the news I thought again that this is a place of many scary people.”
He added “Even though this witch-hunting crowd, pointing fingers and pushing them into places where they can’t get out, has been repeated in the past, they continue, and it makes my teeth tremble”.
Additonally, he expressed his regret, “People make mistakes and for anybody younger years are difficult and harsh, and now they have made somebody leave. Though being an entertainer may look like a fun job, you may not know that behind it there are so many trials that affect your mind and give a lot of pain. Now, please, I repeat for you to stop.”
omitted irrelevant information
Bbaekga again expressed his regret, saying that “I’m not even a good friend and do not have a relationship where we can contact each other. Though our field and personalities are different I have received so many attacks in the past, so even if the pain is big or the suffering is small, from what I learned a little before, I have sympathy towards the person in the returning plane, and wish that this situation never happens again.”
He concluded that “We are not gods. Even nice people can cuss when they are mad and explode and go out of control. Though if you repeat the same mistake twice it is no longer a mistake, but if you give a chance to reflect deeply, they can change into a harder working, healthier person. Though some people may think of me as presumptuous because I wrote this, but these are all of my thoughts and desires even if you cuss at me or threaten me, I don’t care. However, before that, think about what a clean and nice person you are and know that whatever fingers you point, cusses you do, or violence you display, that is all you. Forgiveness and understanding is something we know as extremely important.”
CREDITS; LEE Jay HWAN REPORTER @ NEWSEN (SOURCE); JIYO @ 2ONEDAY.COM (TRANS)
DIARY OF A JYP (the company 2PM is from) STYLIST:
On Dec 26, 2005..
A cold winter, I met a friend who has a charming smile.
Was it because I saw him on my birthday?
I can’t forget the day when we first met.
It was a showcase of trainees.
In order to do styling as a staff and meet trainees,
I also met a friend at my age when I came in my office.
According to our manager of the developing trainee department, He was a child who understood Korean just a little and was learning it step by step.
He spoke Korean together with English and wore Hip-Hop style clothes that were seen in the movie ‘Step Up’.
He was a friend who was uncomfortable in skinny jeans that I bought.
A friend who fit on a shirt without sleeve,
A friend who had a tender heart, who was worried about me and said that ‘Don’t push yourself too much’ when I caught a cold and had a hard time.
A friend who texts message slowly because he is still learning Korean,
A friend who has different eyes on stage,
A friend who is more shining on stage than others,
A friend who looks cold when he doesn’t say anything but in the reality he is more kind than others.
A friend who rarely shows his feeling but takes care of his little brothers and co-workers silently.
He is a boy who loves Korea and wants to get to know Korea.
You all know that it’s hard to live without friends and relatives in a strange country, right?
We say it’s “Our country” as we live and exist in the country, don’t we?
For Jaebum, Korea is already ‘Our country’.
Please give him a hug again when he overcomes everything and returns.
You must come back…you are as strong as you are weak.
Get over it and come back to work together again…my friend…
Credit: Kor-Eng by Sue@2pm-online.com, Edited by Mim&Offogato@2pm-online.com
Source : Onedayroom
Letter from Jaebum’s high school friend in Korea:
Hello this is Jaebum’s friend who was in the same class with him and I would like to share how Jaebum lived at the time.
Jaebum moved to study at our class for his 3rd year in high school. There was nothing special. I just heard that he was a JYP trainee from USA. I regarded him as an ordinary student. At first, he could not adjust himself to Korean cultures and barely spoke Korean. Jaebum was not in acquaintance with friends and preferred to be alone. As time passed, he could finally get along with friends. We played basketball together. He seemed to be fond of physical education class the most. Since he had to part from his family and friends who he used to hang out and practiced dancing with in the States, he looked lonely at times. He was living by himself in a tough conditon as a trainee in Korea.
Jaebum had a lot of things to do. He usually practiced singing during his free time or writing rap lyrics. He loved to go to the gym the most. I remembered inviting him for lunch but he rejected and only ate food with protein nourishment. How pity he was then. We were in the same basketball team. The friends in our class used to sing birthday songs to him. When we graduated, Jaebum was trained full time at his company and one day he boasted to me that he was put into a group, 2PM and would be on national televisions. I knew that he worked so hard before he debuted with his first album.
Not only Jaebum, I heard that all JYP trainees and staff also worked so hard. Even though Jaebum had extreme tight schedules, during the second album promotion, he could come and join our alumni party. I was happy to see his confidence and shine coming from him which was different from the time he was still just a trainee where his future was in doubt. He told me that he liked Boom-hyung. Boom-hyung is a fun person who takes care of him so well. I knew that he was living a happy life at the time.
But, for the past few days, there were a controversial of Jaebum’s offending comments from his myspace. All those efforts he put were shattered in the blink of an eye. I tried to call him because I was so concerned. He told me he was at the airport and about to leave for USA. I asked if he’ll ever come back. He said how could he when so many people hate him this much…
As a friend of Jaebum, there is nothing I can do. I can only let him leave like that. His flight left at 6:30pm. I can only wish that he go back to have a better life with his family. Even in the US, I wish he still carry on and fulfill his dream. I would like to thank you all who loved my friend. Jaebum Fighting!
“Now I think I have become a real Korean”
“I’m proud to be Korean”
“The Republic of Korea”
“Korean people are like stars, they dress so well comparing to me I dress like a pauper. Oh no, yes I am a pauper.”
“I’m not familiar with English now, isn’t it funny? Haha”
These messages were written by Jaebum in 2006.
Looking at those messages, you can see that his attitude has changed.
He said he was proud to be Korean and he truly love Korea.
Please believe him.
Please don’t judge him only by the message he wrote when he was a struggling trainee (4 years ago)
SOURCE: Daum Trans: Kor-Thai by Tik@2pm-online.com, Thai-Eng by Offogato@2pm-online.com, Edited by Tiff @ 2pm-online.com
Boom, a very close friend (they filmed a variety show together) whose always shown his love for Jaebum left on his Cyworld:
Title: I will hug you…………….
My heart is hurting very much
My heart feels like it’s being torn apart because he is a dongseng that I love
Because I believe and love my dongseng I believe that he will return with a better appearance
Today my heart is hurting very much
Jaebum, hyung will work harder so that when you return I can protect and hug you with a warmer embrace
Please return healthy………
I love you……………..
It hurts to see that Jaebum feels as if the world’s against him when so many people are behind him. I really can’t emphasize enough how far netizens have gone this time. Although it has been known in the past that netizens were the cause of celebrity suicides and more, I believe this is the first time celebrities and colleagues have spoken up about it. I really hope that Korean netizens have learned from this but if they haven’t (which I have a feeling they won’t), I hope they know that they are being heavily criticized world wide and I hope this blog spreads so the world will know.
Thanks to 2oneday, allkpop, seoulbeats, ohmonatheydidnt, various users @soompi, and all the youtube video uploaders.
IF YOU ARE IN AMERICA AND WANT TO SUPPORT JAEBUM PLEASE VISIT 2ONEDAY, THEY’RE BASICALLY IN CHARGE OF THE INTERNATIONAL HOTTESTS.
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