Before I launch into a full-blown theory on Jay’s sudden departure from Korea, I want to tell you all how heartsick I am about it. Despite the topic of this article, I know full well that none of us could have known in advance how Jay would react to the criticism directed at his past behavior. I am sad to not have Jay in upcoming programs or albums, but not as sad as I am that he was so crushed by everything that he felt he had to quit the industry completely—for the (alleged) sake of 2PM members, no less.
I hate that it’s so easy to be a petty and torch-bearing netizen; I think any of us who have been around long enough know how we can become those “monsters” if we’re not careful. That is why I want to encourage everyone to be careful in how you conduct yourselves EVEN ONLINE. Especially online. Perhaps you think you are anonymous and harmless, but remember Jay’s story before you act foolishly. Even international fans should keep this in mind. Also, don’t fight fire with fire. If someone is being cruel, retaliate with positive words. Hate breeds more hate, so when (not if) you see something similar to this in the future, do your best to remind everyone what it’s like to be human.
I think most Kpoppers know by now that Park Jaebum, or Jay Park, decided to resign as leader and member of 2PM yesterday. Shortly after, he left Korea for Seattle in the US. Everyone aware of this is shocked by how fast something small exploded into such drastic action. I have been thinking about this all day and I wanted to share some thoughts with you. I believe that Jay did not make a sudden decision; this choice has always been a temptation. Read on to find out more.
As I previously mentioned, Jay’s speedy leave of Kpop has left Korea and international fans in an absolute tizzy. How did something so trivial trigger this kind of outcome? Here’s a visual: It’s as if someone lit a match to start a bonfire–to have a little fun–but they didn’t realize that the surrounding area was dry. It’s a weird metaphor, but I kind of stand by it. Whoever started the MySpace thing was probably stalking Jay quite a bit in order to find some new and exciting factoid to share. Heck, in fandom it’s always fun to be the first to share news, be it good or bad. Netizens blew things out of proportion, but when do they not? My theory is that Jay must have already been sensitive to such hurtful remarks.
Let’s start straight off: YES, Jay certainly made foolish and offensive remarks about Koreans and Korea on his MySpace several times between 2005-2007. However, we all tend to let loose when we think we’re just “chillin’” with friends. I think social-networking sites can give us a false sense of intimacy; it’s hard to remember that these are public forums, available to all. I don’t think I need to remind anyone that potential employers definitely check up on these sites–it’s just one example of how the internet and real world are closely linked, especially recently. I think I should also point out that unless you know someone pretty well, it’s very hard to read emotion behind text. Sarcasm is an absolute art on the internet because you don’t have the accompanying dry tone to indicate your meaning. I guess I’m trying to get at one thing: Jay clearly didn’t intend to make a public statement about anything, and it’s hard to know whether or not he was joking a lot or a little. Jay made these comments when he was only a “nobody” trainee–certainly not the leader of a popular group.
I know it’s hard to fully interpret someone’s personality by just seeing them on television programs, but I think all who HAVE seen Jay’s TV appearances have an impression about him that’s opposite of the one his old MySpace comments give. I personally believe in this feeling more than a few disambiguated notes written years ago. Why? Jay has proven again and again that he’s a cool guy with a big heart. He may not be the best in Korean, but he sure has worked hard to be better. How irrational is it to make enormous judgments on someone’s character by examining their MySpace? If you don’t know by now, it’s very irrational–especially if is from almost five years ago.
Back when Jay wrote those god-forsaken words on his MySpace, he was new in Korea, away from family, friends and the life he was raised in. Anyone who has to experience the loneliness of moving away from such tight bonds will know the difficulty of it. I am an hour away from my family right now–just during weekdays!–and I still feel like it’s a great hardship. Even if you have a dream you want to reach, it doesn’t make it much easier if you still have a big part of your heart devoted to people in a different place. It must have been that much harder for Jay, who moved halfway across the world to try for his goal. Furthermore, it was to a place that didn’t even speak his language. Try that level of “alone” on for size and see how you handle it. It’s unsurprising that Jay tried to make light of his homesickness with words like, “Korea is gay (re: dumb)… I hate Koreans… I wanna come back… like no other…” Harsh, yes. Shocking? No.
Jay may have grown up since then (after all, four and a half years have gone), but I am pretty sure he must still have struggled with the same issues. In 2007, he wrote: “I wanna come back but iono (I don’t know) shit (re: anything)…. I don’t even know what’s going on; just practicing and living day by day haha.” This shows that he was still having a hard time even two years after his angsty “gay” comments back in ‘05. I believe that even right up until these words were made an issue, Jay was still having his doubts about his adaptability in Korea and his roots there.
After all, celebrities are criticized on the internet all the time. Netizens explode about something whenever they can, and many times it blows by without much more than an apology from the “culprit” and perhaps a quiet period of shame. It only gets bad when something was already going on with the person. I hate to bring her up (out of respect), but Choi Jinshil is an example of this. She had horrible accusations thrown at her (that she acted maliciously toward a friend who ended up committing suicide), but most people would be aware that as terrible as people can be to you, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly, Jinshil was already in a difficult and hard place in her life, so she ended up committing suicide herself. Was this a drastic response to hurtful comments on the internet? Yes. But celebrities are only human. If they are pushed hard enough (especially when they already weak and leaning toward a way of “escape,”) they will crack and behave unreasonably.
The fact that Jay quit 2PM before anyone had time to BREATHE has put everyone in a state of emotion that can only be explained in one way: mourning. It’s as if he has been taken from us suddenly and without warning–and he has. However, he is still alive and WILL some day be well. Still, if you examine these circumstances it seems that this was not a sudden decision. You can look at things that probably contributed to his departure being sooner rather than later, such as the petitions for his suicide, the pressure on his fellow members, and talk of withdraw from activities. I would argue, though, that these were only excuses to leave, not reasons.
I’m not exactly saying Jay wanted to leave (there were so many wonderful reasons for him to stay; I’m sure he would be the first to point that out), but I think he always felt it was an option. For some people there is no option for escape. You say no to giving up, no failure, no to suicide. Still, not everyone is the same. When you have enough pressure placed on you, those things can open up as possibilities. I unfortunately believe that Jay was in that place, and that’s why he left so fast. I still have GREAT hopes that Jay’s heart will heal from all of the hurt and loneliness he has felt and must still/especially being experiencing. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jay Park OR Park Jaebum. I feel very sympathetic toward the rest of 2PM as well, and I hope that their pain and (likely) resentments will dissipate as soon as possible.
This is life, isn’t it? I know we all make light of our K-entertainment attachments, but when serious things like this happen I think we actually realize how much energy and love we have for it. Earlier I felt like it was silly to be so hum and drum to write such an article as this, but after thinking about it all last night and today I couldn’t rest any longer without resolving my thoughts in some way.
I know I went overboard with words, but there are so many that keep coming. Guys, don’t feel silly to feel sad when something like this happens. You’re just realizing that there is someone else out there with a lot of heartache; that’s always a reason for such empathy.