2AM’s Jo Kwon (조권) opened up about his own gender identity and shared how Big Hit Entertainment CEO Bang Shi Hyuk accepted his views.
Jo Kwon confirmed in a recent interview with Newsis that he identifies himself as genderless. Or in other words, his gender is neutral.
“Being genderless is my weapon. In the past, I was afraid of having a neutral image. If people said I looked like a woman, I would pretend it wasn’t true. But now, I’m fine with it. I’m okay with people saying I look like Choi Ji Woo or Tae Yeon,” Jo Kwon told the news outlet.
Jo Kwon continued, “I have come to accept who I am. I have a weapon that will help me keep going for a long time, ahead of an era without gender.” The K-pop idol is currently busy performing in the musical “Jamie”, where he plays a drag king character.
In speaking about his experience working in the project, Jo Kwon shared, “There is a drag queen in the musical. There are boys who appear to be more feminine, and vice versa. Men are also interested in beauty. It seems like Jamie will be accepted by more and more audiences with an open mind as time goes by.”
For those who don’t know, the “Never Let You Go” singer joined BTS’ agency Big Hit Entertainment back in 2012. During his tenure with the label, he released a song titled “Animal”. He even shocked everyone with his experimental drag style, which was considered a taboo among traditional Koreans.
Jo Kwon recalled, “Bang Shi Hyuk (Big Hit CEO) asked me if I wanted to opt for a full commercial route for my promotion, or if I wanted to do the concept I wanted to do. I told him that I wanted to do what I want, like Lady Gaga.”
“Bang Si Hyuk then said ‘Jo Kwon, listen to your hyung (brother). If you try to throw a curveball (drag concept) into a still lake (cookie-cutter K-Pop image), there will still be an impact but it will require a long time. But still, he bought me my first pair of high heels,” he further added in the chat.
During the session, Jo Kwon also gave a special shout out to BTS and J-Hope for appearing on “Animal”. He stated how proud he was to see the world has changed over time. According to him, “Of course, I have benefited a lot from BTS. But I’m also glad that Animal” is getting recognised for the concept.”
He continued, “I think the country’s views on this is getting more attention, and it is changing bit by bit. I feel very proud when I hear comments like ‘I’m glad I live in the same era as Jo Kwon’ or ‘I’m happy seeing Jo Kwon as Jamie.'”
Additionally, Jo Kwon shared that his mom has been very supportive of her son. “My mother secretly supported me. She came to see my first performance of Jamie, and her eyes were swollen after watching it. She was sad from the first scene, and after Jamie turned into Nanana, she said she was heartbroken after the students shouted, ‘F**k off!'”
Jo Kwon ended the interview by sharing a piece of inspiring messages for people of sexual minorities around the world. Relating the issue with his experience, Jo Kwon revealed, “When I was in my 20s, I lived in someone else’s eyes. Whether it was with 2AM, or on a variety show, I lived to satisfy others. When I entered my 30s, I entered a new chapter in my life. And I’m very grateful that now I can do what I want, and tell my story as Jo Kwon.”
“There are so many different people in the world. From men and women to sexual minorities, people with disabilities, or multicultural people. Everyone’s appearance and the way they walk are different, there is no law stating that women must have long hair or men cannot wear makeup. Women don’t have to only wear high heels, and men don’t have to just wear soccer cleats,” he concluded.