Brian Joo (Hangul: 브라이언 주; born January 10, 1981), better known simply as Brian, is an American-born South Korean K-pop and R&B recording artist who is better known as one-half of the R&B duo Fly to the Sky. His solo album, The Brian was released in December 2006. His 2nd solo album, Manifold was released in December 2009.
He had two birth names: as Brian Gintaek Joo for American and Joo Jin-taek (Hangul: 주진택) for Korean. Later, he changed both of his real names to Brian Minkyu Joo for American and Joo Min-kyoo (Hangul: 주민규) for Korean.
Joo was born in Los Angeles, California to Korean immigrants. The family later moved to Absecon, New Jersey. Brian’s parents are employed at casinos in Atlantic City and his brother, Jason Joo, is an officer in the US Navy.
While attending Holy Spirit High School, a friend signed him up for an audition with Brothers Entertainment without Joo’s knowledge. The company has discovered several Korean-Americans who wish to pursue an entertainment career in South Korea. After several months of training, he was sent to SM Entertainment in South Korea, and on December 9, 1999, made his debut as one of the two members of Fly to the Sky, along with Hwanhee, at the age of 17.
Joo later went on to attend Rutgers University, but only completed a single year. Attending school in the States while simultaneously being a recording artist in Korea became too demanding, and Joo decided to cease his education in the States and go to South Korea. While back in Seoul, Joo enrolled in Dongguk University, where he graduated from the Department of Theatre and Film.
Joo is a member of Fly to the Sky with Hwanhee, Brian sang and also rapped. As Fly to the Sky made its musical transition from bubblegum pop to heavy R&B, Joo felt discontent and inferior, and felt that Hwanhee was more appreciated for his vocal skills.
Joo has appeared on television many times. Since 2005, he has appeared on a number of variety shows, including hosting MBC’s Music Core in 2006 and becoming a host for SBS’ Green Gold in 2009.
In August 2009, Fly to the Sky decided to work on separate projects and have become solo singers under different labels.
On April 14, 2014, Brian Joo announced on his Twitter that Fly to the Sky will be making their comeback in May. The band later signed up with H2 Media, the agency of member Hwanhee. Their 9th new album “Continiuum” has been released and the main title track is “You You You”. The single peaked at number one on Gaon digital chart.
Although being on hiatus for five years, Hwanhee and Brian expressed their good teamwork and solid friendship in an interview, telling “There were rumors about us being gay and liking men, but it’s not like that. We’re that close so people feel that way about us”.
During September 2006, Joo announced that the release of his debut solo album, The Brian. Originally scheduled for released in November 2006, the album was postponed to December. The album incorporated diverse genres such as classic pop, soul, and jazz. With this album, Joo hoped to gain more respect as an artist, rather than being known as “Fly to the Sky without Fany”. He describes the reason for the solo album as,
First of all, I just wanted to do it. I also wanted to show that I could [be successful] as Brian (sic). When (Fly to the Sky) sang, many think Fany is the main vocal, and that I am the second vocal and a rapper. I won’t mention his name, but one producer once said to Fany, “You are a really good singer”, when he only said “Good job”, to me. So I wanted to prove that I could do it too.
Originally, the album was to be fully recorded in English.; due to lack of time, however, all tracks are in Korean, excluding the English track “All I Know”. Joo performed his first single, “가지마” (Don’t Go), on Mnet Countdown on December 7. He released three songs from the album to music website Melon.com. Released on December 18, the album debuted at #7 behind TVXQ and sold 15,376 copies in the first month. On January 21, “가지마” (Don’t Go) was selected as the “Mutizen Song” on SBS Inkigayo. Due to hectic schedule, Joo has been suffering from vocal fold nodule.
Joo is interested in pursuing an acting career, and said his dream was to be a star in Hollywood. Brian is interested in breaking into the American music industry, as Rain and Se7en are doing, but is waiting for the right opportunity.
Most recently, Joo starred (as himself) in the English segment of the mini-series, Homey Korean, presented by Arirang. Joo – along with co-star and real life friend, Chris Pemberton – teach basic Korean language as well as discuss the culture, landmarks, popular tourist sites, and daily life of Korea to English-speaking foreigners.
Recently, Joo made a cover version of Jason Derülo’s “In My Head”.
7 April, Joo released his new mini album UNVEILED.
May 2011, Joo released the mini album UNVEILED through iTunes. He tweeted: “Great news~! My Mini-Album “UNVEILED” will be released on iTunes on May 17, 2011~ Spread the word & let’s get me up on the iTunes charts ;”
The title song was Loved, It’s Now Over. A representative from Jellyfish Entertainment stated: “Brian is recognized as the person who’s always making people laugh, but he wanted to show that he does have other feelings such as sadness and pain. I think you’ll be able to see a more diverse side of Brian through the album that will be released soon and the music video.”
In June 2011, Joo went on a solo US Tour. The UNVEILED Tour was held in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Opening act included LA based electro-pop group IAMMEDIC.
On March 21st, 2012, Brian Joo performed at 2K12 Korea Night: Seoulsonic at Kool Haus in Toronto along with artists such as A Pink, Teen Top, G.NA and many more. The show was hosted to around 700-1,600 fans and it was also stated that some fans couldn’t get into the concert (even with tickets) because the venue was filled. Brian Joo stated in an interview that he loved Toronto very much, was surprised by how kind and calm the fans were, and stated that once he retires he would like to come and live in Toronto permanently.
Currently Brian Joo is working as a radio DJ at tbs eFM 101.3 for a show titled “What’s Poppin’.” The show airs Mondays through Fridays 9am-10am.
He is the current host of The Qmentary on 1theK YouTube Channel.
In an interview published in the July 2018 issue of Beauty10 magazine, Brian revealed that Fly to the Sky would release an album during the 4th quarter of the year to celebrate the group’s 19th anniversary.
In 2012, Joo performed as a principal cast member representing the Korean culture in Loving the Silent Tears, a Broadway-style,at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, USA, to commemorate the 19th Anniversary of Supreme Master Ching Hai Day. The musical, based on Supreme Master Ching Hai’s poetry collection, Silent Tears.
Joo’s ties to the United States stirred controversy in 2002, when Fly to the Sky was the host of the radio show “1010 Club”. At that time, the death of two teenage Korean girls in the Highway 56 Accident caused a surge in anti-American sentiment in Korea. Because of Joo’s American citizenship, guest Hyun Jin-Young asked for his opinion regarding this matter. In response, Joo stated that while the American soldier must be brought to justice, he did not want relations between Korea and the United States, his home country, to become strained. His comments were reported as “You can’t talk badly about the United States in front of me. I’m an American. Please only hate the American soldiers (responsible for the incident).” (내 앞에서 미국에 대해 나쁘게 얘기하면 안 된다. 나는 미국인이다. (사건을 일으킨) 미군 부대만 싫어해달라)
Joo’s statement was met with harsh criticism and backlash. Not long after the airing he posted a statement on the website of 1010 Club, in an attempt to clarify his position:
Unfortunately, during our program, I might have said something that some people took the wrong way…I wanted to make clear that the people involved with the incident are guilty and should face proper punishment. I also understand that the officers involved said that they were not guilty, which in fact they were. Even if they said that it was an accident, they still caused the accident, and for that should be willing to face what comes to them. That is what I wanted to point out and but, since my KOREAN isn’t 100% good, I believe what I said threw a lot of people off I would like to take the time to apologize. Please do not be upset with me for this misunderstanding.