Jung Ho-seok (Hangul: 정호석; born February 18, 1994), better known by his stage name J-Hope (stylized as j-hope), is a South Korean rapper, songwriter, dancer, and record producer. In 2013, J-Hope made his debut as a member of the South Korean boy band BTS, managed under Big Hit Entertainment.
J-Hope released his first solo mixtape, Hope World, worldwide on March 1, 2018. The album was met with a positive reception. His debut at number 63 (and subsequent peak at number 38) made him the highest charting solo Korean artist on the Billboard 200 at the time of the mixtape’s release.
Jung Ho-seok was born on February 18, 1994, in Gwangju, South Korea, where he lived with his parents and older sister. Before debuting with BTS, he was part of the underground dance team Neuron and took dance classes at Gwangju Music Academy. J-Hope had been relatively well known for his skills in dance prior to his debut; he won various local prizes for dance, including placing first in a national dance competition in 2008. His skills in dance eventually led him to gain interest in singing and rapping, helping him to audition as an idol trainee. As a trainee, J-Hope was featured as a rapper in Jo Kwon’s song “Animal”, which was released in 2012.
On June 13, 2013, J-Hope made his debut as a member of BTS on Mnet’s M! Countdown with the track “No More Dream” from their debut single album 2 Cool 4 Skool. He was the third member to join the group as a trainee after RM and Suga. J-Hope has since been involved in the creation process of every album in BTS’ discography.
In 2018, he was awarded the fifth-class Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit by the President of South Korea along with other members of the group.
On March 1, 2018, J-Hope released his first solo mixtape, Hope World, worldwide, along with a music video for the title track “Daydream”. A music video for the B-side “Airplane” was later released on March 6.
The EP debuted at number 63 and peaked at number 38 on the Billboard 200, making him the highest charting Korean solo act on the chart up to that point. Hope World also peaked at number 35 on the Canadian Albums chart, and number 19 on the US Top Rap Albums chart. Three mixtape tracks, “Daydream”, “Hope World”, and “Hangsang”, charted on the World Digital Songs Chart, ranking third, 16th, and 24th respectively. The following week, the tracks grew to first, sixth, and 11th, with three additional tracks off of Hope World, “Airplane”, “Base Line”, and “P.O.P (Piece of Peace) pt. 1” arriving on the chart at number five, eight, and twelve, respectively. “Daydream” peaking atop the chart made J-Hope one of only ten Korean groups, including his band BTS, to reach number one. The success of his solo debut lead him to rank third on the Emerging Artists Chart, and 97th on the Artist 100 Chart for the week of March 10 and 91st for the week of March 17. He is the fifth Korean artist, and the second Korean soloist after Psy, to place on the Artist 100.
The mixtape charted in ten countries worldwide, with “Daydream” charting in three. For yearly charts it came in at five for world albums on Billboard.
On February 18, 2019, J-Hope donated 100 million Korean won (roughly $89,000 US dollars) to Child Fund Korea, in support of those attending his high school alma mater in Gwangju. He had previously donated 150 million won (roughly US$133,000) to the same organization in December 2018, but requested the donation be private at the time.
His stage name, “J-Hope (제이홉)”, comes from his desire to represent hope for fans, as well as to be “the hope of BTS.” It is also a reference to the myth of Pandora’s box, as after the box was opened and all the evils inside were released to the world, the only thing left was hope.
J-Hope has been described as having an upbeat and energetic tone to his music and performances. His mixtape, Hope World, was described as having a fun nature and variety of musical genres, including synth-pop, trap, house, alternative hip hop, funk-soul, and retro elements. Jeff Benjamin of Fuse wrote that the atmospheric style of “Blue Side”, Hope World’s outro track, “leaves the listener curious for what’s coming next from J-Hope.” The lyrical elements of the mixtape, notably the lead song “Daydream”, was praised by Billboard magazine for its discussion of the difficulties an idol faces in their career, various literary references, and fun presentation of the serious subject matter.
J-Hope cites the adventurous nature of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the works Kyle, Aminé, and Joey Badass as influencers on his style and work on Hope World. The idea of peace has also provided a basis for much of his lyrics, stating that “it’d be fantastic to become a part of someone’s personal peace through my music” in an interview with Time magazine. The idea of “representing the modern generation” has also influenced his work on BTS’ music.
He released his first mixtape, Hope World, on March 1, a mixtape that “showcases exceptional creativity, genuine personality, and a cohesive sense of direction.”