On Autobiography, ‘Disco’ & The Values That Rule His Firm


J.Y. Park shortly realized that he’s the one one that can write his story. The Ok-pop artist-producer-executive already tried letting another person assemble what he had deliberate to be greater than 20 years’ price of memoirs to doc the highs and lows of his private, skilled and religious life, however the manuscript let him down.

“At first, I used to be fascinated with having a author write it so I sat down and did a bunch of interviews,” he shares throughout a prolonged nighttime cellphone interview from Seoul. “However I used to be shocked after I received it again as a result of it didn’t really feel like I even spoke in it. I spotted I’ve a really particular manner of explaining issues, and expressing sure emotions and tales. Being in entrance of a digicam for 26 years, my followers even know the way I speak. I erased every little thing and I typed each single letter on this e-book.”

Years later, the 48-year-old’s autobiography Reside for What? was launched on August 11 that—for as a lot because the written phrase can—represents his tendency to emphasise sure phrases with the occasional vocal squeak, however the core of a multi-hyphen mogul: one who’s the founding father of considered one of Ok-pop’s largest and most influential labels (his namesake JYP Leisure is publicly traded firm on the Korea Change and homes beloved acts like 2PM, GOT7, TWICE and extra), an artist in his personal proper (whose newest single delivered his largest chart hit in a years), and born-again Christian who leads weekly Bible courses outdoors of labor that he balances alongside his rising household, basketball observe, and a weekly go to to an LP bar.

“I feel my life was a journey to write down this e-book,” he says. “My life is now to let folks learn this e-book and the remainder of my life is to reside my life in one of the best ways I can so folks wish to learn this e-book.”

A day after the Reside for What? e-book was launched in Korea, Park’s newest single “When We Disco” dropped—a venture that got here collectively remarkably fast and organically compared to his memoir when an outdated Euro-disco monitor from his high-school days performed on TV and a former signee on his label despatched him a textual content.

“I used to be so nostalgic,” he says with an pleasure in voice like one does when speaking about their favourite music, this being the German dance-pop duo Fashionable Speaking’s single “Brother Louie” which carried out respectably within the UK and France within the ‘80s. “I used to be writing these lyrics, these nostalgic lyrics and at that second Sunmi despatched me a track that we used to take heed to after we have been touring with the Jonas Brothers.”

Sunmi is presently considered one of Korea’s reigning tremendous divas who initially started as a member of JYP Leisure’s first feminine troupe Marvel Ladies launched in 2007 that helped make preliminary inroads for Ok-pop worldwide with their viral hit “No person” touchdown contained in the Billboard Sizzling 100 singles chart and scored them alternatives like high-profile excursions. Regardless of Sunmi exiting JYPE in 2017, the team-up not solely made for a singular founder-and-former-artist pairing however one which exhibits that departed staff can stay on good phrases with their former labels.

“I at all times wished to create a profitable firm, that’s true, however to a restrict—that’s no more necessary than my buddies,” he says earlier than explaining that Marvel Ladies, in addition to his former male acts Rain and g.o.d, are significantly particular to him as a result of he was the one coaching them in singing and dancing earlier than his firm adopted lecturers and trainers. “I actually at all times wished them to be joyful and I wished to show as a lot as I can so once they depart me, they will keep it up their profession and work out issues of their life.”

The pure connection for “When We Disco” proved to to be successful with followers too with 10 million views on its YouTube video secured in lower than 5 days, a private finest for Park, whereas the monitor rose to be his largest hit each in Korea and on the Billboard charts in 5 years.

These two main situations from J.Y. Park’s August 2020—one which’s been robust and drawn out, whereas the opposite seemingly extremely pure—symbolize a bigger facet of his success story that continues at this time: a few of this got here as an extended lesson for the exec however what has stayed central to his story, and what continues to show, is what involves him naturally.


As he shares in Reside for What?, every little thing modified when Mr. JYP set sights on the American music trade.

Describes as “the primary failure” in his life, Park’s plans to have Marvel Ladies break America—in addition to two different acts he mentioned have been within the midst of signing their very own U.S. document offers—fell by means of when the monetary disaster hit the U.S., and the remainder of the world, exhausting introduced on by 2008 chapter of monetary buyers Lehman Brothers.

“For years I invested my time and the cash I had earned,” he says. “Every part collapsed and I didn’t know how one can settle for it as a result of it was not my fault. If the songs have been launched they usually failed, I might have accepted that. Like, ‘Look, I attempted my finest, my dangerous, what did I do fallacious?’ However the Lehman Brothers’ chapter? C’mon, that’s not my fault. I didn’t know how one can digest it.”

In 2009, he had divorced his first spouse after 10 years of marriage. “I had to determine life—I didn’t know why I ought to reside, what to reside for. Every part earlier than my first marriage was excellent: you turn out to be profitable in your profession, you meet this excellent, attractive lover and also you get married. Every part was excellent! Then I spotted there was one thing lacking and I didn’t understand what it was.”

To fill the “void in my coronary heart,” J.Y. mentioned he turned to partying, courting, and clubbing—“however I by no means did something unlawful,” he’s certain so as to add—however discovered neither the married life nor bachelor life-style made him really feel entire.

After looking out by means of all the foremost religions—Buddhism, Islam, Scientology, native Korean religions—Park discovered his religion within the precise textual content of the Bible and the “stable fact inside that e-book.” He provides, “Lastly, it was accomplished: why I used to be born, the place do I’m going after I die, principally determining my life when it comes to the beginning and the top. And in case you can work out the beginning and the top, then every little thing falls into place.”

Comparatively talking, an ethical code that has been simpler for Park to just accept and share from the get-go is reinforcing and holding robust the values that he created when he launched the corporate in 1997 with the tagline “Chief in Leisure.” For the manager, being a frontrunner goes past profitability, seems or expertise.

“In my e-book I say the important thing component in me deciding to select an artist is ‘Is that individual a real, pure person who I can love?’” he says of his imaginative and prescient. “While you love an artist, it isn’t work anymore. In the event you don’t love that artist, you possibly can’t spend all night time working for them, you realize? Even final Christmas Eve and New Years, I used to be with Rain and his spouse. We’re nonetheless finest buddies.”

Whereas Park isn’t as concerned with the coaching course of like he was when Rain debuted in 2002, he stands by his declare that “he is not going to work for an individual who’s not respectable, sincere, that does not have coronary heart.”

That hardline strategy has been seen within the firm terminating a number of artist contracts, some within the swings of the profession. When Park is requested about among the firm’s extra mysterious departures, he lets out a sigh.

“We’re recognized to launch artists, yeah,” earlier than making an attempt to elucidate it in enterprise phrases that may be utilized to a number of industries and even his shut Ok-pop rivals. “I might attempt to first outline what the corporate is: I created the corporate, I assist run the corporate, what is that this factor referred to as ‘firm?’ It is a group of individuals linked collectively by one thing. If that one thing is monetary curiosity, you’re a financially dedicated group. The issue is, if one other firm presents you more cash, you are mechanically going to go to that firm. I do not need that. My solely thought is that we ought to be linked by values. I need my firm to turn out to be a value-linked group.”

He continues, “We’ve the longest training system amongst leisure firms. They completely perceive our values of what we stand for. If an worker or artist crosses the road, it’s going to harm our values and you need to depart. Although I do not need them to go away, despite the fact that I like them, I’ve to allow them to go—or else our values will collapse. I am not letting somebody go as a result of I hate them—all people make errors, we do silly issues—but when we pardon them, the following man will do it once more. I’ve to do it to maintain our values alive. However it hurts. It hurts letting go of any worker or any artist we have now. That additionally doesn’t imply that each artist who left our firm has accomplished one thing fallacious. Some had different points or different causes to go away.”

That final word factors to why JYPE is tightlipped about among the firm’s controversial exits and speaks to a decency sometimes not seen in biz.

“We would like them to achieve success outdoors of our firm,” he says. “In the event that they actually did do one thing fallacious, we are going to by no means say it—that is our coverage. We actually need them to succeed once they depart. If we publicly reveal what they did once they depart, that may harm them. That is not what we wish.”

Park can also be conscious of when followers really feel that his firm is just not residing as much as the expectations of the superstars beneath his label.

“We positively take the [complaints from fans] critically, however typically it is actually painful for us after we can not clarify why one thing occurred,” he shares.

“If we did one thing fallacious on the business-side, we’ll simply apologize. We by no means attempt to cover ourselves out of an issue, that is not us. Some labels do hear sure accusations and simply transfer on, however we do not try this. However after we do that’s when it was not our fault: typically we will not share the explanations as a result of we try to guard the artists or possibly it is any individual’s fault that we will not point out like a associate. However that is how I strategy it: We’ll reveal it after a sure time frame. We take into consideration how a lot we love, how a lot we care for somebody like GOT7, on the finish of the day there could be misunderstandings within the brief time period. However in the long run, solely the reality involves gentle. I feel lots of people are pissed off—and plenty of time there are causes to be pissed off—however in case you noticed JYP 2.0 video clip, I used to be making an attempt to construct a system that is natural and versatile sufficient to resist any variable.”

Park says that belief within the bigger firm imaginative and prescient and objectives should be felt and prolonged to the musicians as properly.

“The artist has to consider the corporate is an honest firm with coronary heart—that is the one manner we are able to arrive to any sort of conclusion,” he says when points about album releases or promotions come up between the powers at giant. “It’s very attainable the artist and the corporate’s imaginative and prescient doesn’t align. We will speak, but when they solely sees the corporate as searching for cash then it’s so exhausting to succeed in any settlement. However in case you consider we’re real, there’s an enormous likelihood we are able to attain an settlement. An artist will know in case you’re firm and individual.”

As the ultimate stage of his JYP 2.0 plan to export Ok-pop in different languages and blend it inside different cultures, the label’s most up-to-date, and most formidable tasks, are coming collectively higher than anticipated.

The corporate’s first Japanese lady group NiziU was created through successful singing-competition present that was proven in Japan serving to land them a chart-topping album and single within the nation with what was meant to be a pre-release buzz EP forward of a full-fledged debut this fall. (“I absolutely believed it might take two to 3 years to succeed in the extent that it reached already,” Park says) Whereas their shortly rising Chinese language boy band Boy Story took a special route by making their manner into the market with out TV. (”We truly did movie their auditions, but it surely wasn’t simple to air and if we aired their auditions it may need harm them—so we debuted Boy Story as a Chinese language group with a small connection to Korea”) Whereas the 2 are distinctive to the bigger firm roster, Park needs to clarify that they’re nonetheless JYP household by means of and thru. “Lots of people usually are not certain, however all of them are signed to our firm similar to TWICE and 2PM are signed to our firm, they’re all our artists. I feel individuals are simply confused as a result of there is no Koreans. [Laughs]

There’s far more coming from J.Y. Park (together with English and Japanese variations of Reside for What?), JYP Leisure’s bigger international growth (there are talks for a girl-group competitors present primarily based in America comparable to those who created TWICE and NiziU), and the beloved lineup of JYPE acts (keep tuned for extra). However one thing that isn’t altering anytime quickly is Park and his firm’s dedication to a powerful and true picture.

“The very last thing I wish to do is disappoint our followers and make them really feel like they have been betrayed,” he says, including that the dedication to an organization displaying its finest self begins with its well-known figurehead founder. “I do not ever wish to run into an incident the place they see me act a sure manner and say, ‘I used to be fooled by that picture.’”



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