Kim Jae-joong (Hangul: 김재중; Hanja: 金在中; born January 26, 1986), also known mononymously as Jaejoong, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, actor, director and designer. He is best known as a member of the Korean pop group JYJ, and was one of the original members of boy band TVXQ. Kim was also known by the stage names Hero Jaejoong (in South Korea), Jejung (ジェジュン) (in Japan), and 英雄在中 (영웅재중) (in China).
Born in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do as Han Jae-joon (한재준; 韩在俊) , he was adopted into the Kim family at a young age. As a teenager, he moved to Seoul to audition for SM Entertainment. From 2003 to 2010, he was the lead vocalist of South Korean boy band TVXQ. Later, he sued SM Entertainment along with Park Yoo-chun and Kim Jun-su and together they separated from TVXQ to form JYJ. As a solo artist, he has released two studio albums, WWW and No.X, and has tour extensively in South Korea and Japan.
Kim has branched out to act in TV dramas including Sunao ni Narenakute, Protect the Boss, Dr. Jin, Triangle, SPY and most recently Manhole; and in films such as Heaven’s Postman and Jackal is Coming. He was also the Executive Director for JYJ’s 2011 Worldwide Tour and the 2011 LG Whisen Rhythmic All Stars.
Kim was born Han Jae-joon (한재준; 韩在俊) in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea. His real birthday, as revealed by his biological mother, was on 4 February, instead of 26 January. At a young age, he was given up for adoption by his biological mother to the Kim family, and his name was changed to Kim Jae-joong.
When Kim was fifteen, he moved to Seoul by himself in order to take part in the auditions held by SM Entertainment. Life in Seoul was financially difficult and he took various odd jobs to pay for rent, food, and training fees; and even appeared as an extra in movies. In an interview, he admitted he used to be tone-deaf in primary school and was frequently ridiculed for his dream of becoming a singer, but managed to overcome it through practicing alone.
Kim attended Gongju Jungdong Elementary School (중동초등학교), Kongju National University Middle School (공주대학교 사범대학 부설중학교), Kongju Information High School (공주정보고등학교) and then dropped out in 2001. He enrolled Hanam High School (하남고등학교) in 2005 and Kyung Hee Cyber University (경희사이버대학교), majoring in Digital Media Engineering.
In 2001, at fifteen years old, Kim auditioned for S.M. Entertainment and was accepted into the agency. From 2003 to 2010, he was the lead vocalist of South Korean boy band TVXQ. After TVXQ went on hiatus in early 2010, he and two other fellow band members Yoochun and Junsu formed a new trio boy group, initially known as JUNSU/JEJUNG/YUCHUN in Japan.
In 2009 Kim, Junsu and Yoochun, started a lawsuit against their agency, S.M. Entertainment, and separated from TVXQ, soon founding their own band, JYJ. Their debut Japanese language EP The… was released in September 2010, and their first concert DVD from Tokyo Dome Thanksgiving Live in Dome both reached No. 1 on the Japanese Oricon album and DVD charts. The group’s English language debut album, The Beginning was released in October 2010, featuring Kanye West.
In January 2011, they released a Korean EP, Their Rooms “Our Story”, with three of Kim’s own compositions, “Pierrot” (삐에로), “Nine” and “I.D.S.”. In April he toured Asia and North America with JYJ, and later South America and Europe. He was also stage director of the Asian leg of the tour. In September the band released a studio album called In Heaven, which sold 350,000 copies and ranked first on the Gaon charts. He composed two new songs for the album, “In Heaven” and “Get Out”. Kim composed “In Heaven” in memory of his good friend, Park Yong-ha, who committed suicide.
Apart from TVXQ and JYJ, Kim has worked on solo activities as a singer. He sang “Insa” (인사 lit. Greeting) for the soundtrack of A Millionaire’s First Love. Kim collaborated with label-mates The Grace for the Japanese version of their song “Just for One Day”, which was featured on their fifth Japanese single and their debut album, Graceful 4.
Kim also sang the solo track “Maze” for the fifth and final single of the Trick Project, “Keyword/Maze”. Jaejoong wrote and composed “Wasurenaide” (忘れないで lit. Don’t Forget) which was included on Tohoshinki’s twenty-fifth single “Bolero/Kiss the Baby Sky/Wasurenaide.” The song was also on their fourth Japanese album The Secret Code, along with the songs “9095” and “9096” which were also composed by Kim. The song, “忘れないで” was used in an television advertisement for cosmetics in Japan.
On 30 September 2009, Kim and bandmate Yoochun released a self-composed single “Colors (Melody and Harmony)/Shelter.” The A-side track, Colors (Melody and Harmony), was used as the image song for Hello Kitty’s thirty-fifth anniversary. Jaejoong and Yoochun also participated in m-flo’s album m-flo TRIBUTE -maison de m-flo, singing the track “Been So Long”.
Kim sang “Love” for the soundtrack of the film Heaven’s Postman in which he starred as the male lead. He also sang “Found You” and “For you It’s Separation, For me It’s Waiting” for the soundtrack of the television drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal, “I’ll Protect You” for Protect the Boss, and “Living Like A Dream” for Dr. Jin. “Living Like a Dream” was awarded the Best Hallyu Drama OST at the Seoul International Drama Awards.
On 17 January 2013, Kim released his first solo EP titled I/MINE, a rock-themed album which Kim penned all the lyrics to. The album debuted at the top of both the Hanteo and Gaon weekly charts in Korea. It was also met with resounding success throughout Asia, topping Taiwan’s Five Music’s Korean and Japanese music chart, Japan’s Shinseido weekly chart and Yin Yue Tai’s V chart for K-pop. It also topped the iTunes rock charts in nine countries. Additionally, the pre-released single “One Kiss” and lead single “Mine” topped both domestic charts and foreign charts, including a German Asian music chart.
On 26 and 27 January, Kim held two days of special concerts at the KINTEX Ilsan to celebrate the launch of the album, as well as his birthday. Kim then released a repackaged version of his album, titled Y which consists of contains two additional tracks: “Only Love” and “Kiss B” . The album was met with success and sold 50,000 copies upon release.
His first full-length solo album, WWW was released on 29 October 2013. A single titled “Sunny Day” was released ahead of the album and topped the iTunes EP chart in Japan. A repackaged version of the album, WWW: Remove Makeup was subsequently released in January 2014 and included the title track “Heaven”, a pop ballad with label-mate Gummy. To promote his first album, Kim embarked on his first Asia tour which traveled to regional countries like Japan, Taiwan and China.
His second solo album, No.X was released on 12 February 2016. It topped iTunes charts of 39 countries around the world upon its release, and was named the most popular K-pop album in China for 2016.
Prior to his debut as a singer, Kim worked as an extra, playing a soldier in film Taegeukgi. Along with the other members of TVXQ, he acted in television programmes, Banjun Theater and Vacation.
In November 2009, Kim co-starred with Han Hyo-joo in the joint Korean-Japanese telecinema Heaven’s Postman as a young man who delivers letters written by the living to the dead and helps lingering ghosts settle their earthly affairs. This was followed by a leading role in Fuji TV’s Japanese television drama Sunao ni Narenakute in September 2010.
In August 2011, he starred in his first South Korean television series, Protect the Boss with Choi Kang-hee and Ji Sung. He played the role of seemingly a perfect director known for his business acumen, who becomes frustrated and fight against the constraints in his life.
In May 2012, he starred in historical fusion drama Dr. Jin with Song Seung-heon. He played the role of a high-ranking officer of the police force of Joseon Dynasty, who is an illegitimate son of the Joseon era’s Prime Minister and his concubine. This was his first time acting in a sageuk, and he was praised for his performance. The same year, Kim made his big screen debut in the action comedy film Jackal is Coming playing a Hallyu star who is kidnapped by an assassin (played by labelmate Song Ji-hyo). His comical acting in the film drew positive reception from fans.
In May 2014, Kim starred in MBC’s drama Triangle as a man who grows up to become a lowlife gangster. His performance won the “Top Excellence Award, Actor” at the 7th Korea Drama Awards in October the same year.
In January 2015, Kim starred in KBS2’s thriller SPY as a genius analyst working for South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. The drama is based on the Israeli drama The Gordin Cell, modified to depict North/South Korean relations.
In 2017, Kim was cast in KBS2’s time-slip drama Manhole, as a man who travels back and forth through time to stop a wedding from taking place.
Kim served as Executive Director for the Asian leg of JYJ’s 2011 Worldwide Tour. He also participated in the directing team for the 2011 LG Whisen Rhythmic All Stars.
In September 2005, while rehearsing the dance steps for “Rising Sun”, Kim ruptured his cartilage in his knee and was admitted to a hospital in Seoul. He underwent surgery on the same day to repair the tissue.
On November 21, 2006, a man with the surname Han filed a lawsuit against Kim’s guardians. Han claimed he was Kim’s biological father, and thus wanted parental rights.
Han cited the reason for the lawsuit against Kim’s legal guardians as “for not going through the proper procedures before registering [Jaejoong] in [the legal guardians’] custody.” The first hearing was to be held in Kim’s hometown, Gongju, on November 29, 2006, but on November 22 Han dropped the charges against Kim’s legal guardians.
In reaction to the matter, Kim uploaded a journal entry on his official fan club website, and said that he was informed of the existence of separate biological parents by his mother two or three years ago, and it had been quite a shock to him. With his current mother’s support, his biological mother has been able to keep in touch with him, and to meet occasionally, but whereabouts of his father had been unknown.
He expressed his will to live by the name of Kim Jae-joong, not by his birth name Han Jae-jun (한재준).
Kim enlisted in the army on 31 March 2015, the first five weeks spent for his mandatory basic training at the 1st Infantry Division (Republic of Korea) recruit training center in Gwangtan-myeon, Paju, Gyeonggi province. He later ended up as the top recruit among the 244 in his batch, earning the Excellence Award during the graduation ceremony. He was under the 55th Infantry Division in Cheoin-gu, Yongin to serve as an active-duty soldier for 21 months and was also a member of the military band. He was discharged on 30 December 2016.