Over the past two decades, Jay Park has amassed an international fan base. Since his days dancing while a student at Edmonds-Woodway High School in Seattle, the United States, to his breakthrough in the Korean music scene, to his current roles of singer, rapper, entrepreneur and dancer, he’s been working nonstop.
And like most other times in his life, Park has been very busy the past few months, but has still kept his heart on the Seattle community that raised him.
Fresh off his Sexy 4eva World Tour, Park returned to his home in Seoul, South Korea, just as the coronavirus pandemic enveloped the country and the rest of the world. Since then, Park has filled his time with numerous projects, releasing new music and other dance collaborations with his record labels AOMG and H1ghr Music.
He’s also spearheaded efforts inspired by recent events, including a food drive in Seattle to support people affected by Covid-19 and creating awareness (posting support on social media and coordinating statements with H1ghr Music artistes) and donating to Black Lives Matter amid ongoing protests.
Over a Zoom call, Park told us more about what he’s been up to the past few months, his role in speaking up about social justice, and what the Seattle community means to him.
We were quarantining for a little bit, but then things were getting a lot better and cases went down in Korea, we started to open back up.
But cases have gone back up, so quarantining and social distancing are back in effect.
Quarantining or not though, I’m always working on new stuff, along with some of the other AOMG artistes.
But the world is shifting every day so we’re just trying to figure out how to keep afloat and navigate and help out where we can.
There were a lot of things that we were planning on doing, videos we had shot and were editing, that we were going to release during this time period.
We were planning to release GANG, a song that went viral in Korea that we remixed, but once the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movements started, we knew we had to push it back.
It didn’t feel right to pretend that these protests didn’t exist and that we didn’t know what was going on.
Me, being from the States, having been influenced by Black culture, having a lot of friends affected by this, of course I felt like it was my duty to spread awareness over here.
A lot of people over here in Korea know that racism exists, but they don’t really know to what extent, and they don’t know why it’s so important.
So I felt it was my job to bridge this gap, and explain why we need to support.
I don’t consider myself an activist, I’m not involved in politics. But for me, this is more than just a social issue.
Just because me, or my family or friends are not affected by something directly, doesn’t mean I should ignore it. People need our support right now.
It’s more than just a Black, Asian thing. This is a human rights problem. If I see these things happening to other people, I should use my platform to change things. And I can see right now, something very important is happening.
The reason I am who I am today is because of the Seattle community and the people there; I still have a lot of friends and family there. It shaped who I am; it gave me the characteristics to even come to Korea in the first place.
And I’ve of course built other characteristics since coming to Korea, but the base of who I am is from Seattle. I’ll never forget where I come from and I’ll always try to give back.
We (at H1ghr Music) were planning a lot of things, but it’s so hard to predict what things will be like.
This has been such a crazy year for everyone. I’ve seen people plan comeback shows and festivals, but then another outbreak happens and they get pushed back three months. So I just hope that everyone stays safe and healthy and that everything changes for the better very soon. – The Seattle Times/Tribune News Service
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