Choi Dong-wook (born November 9, 1984), better known by his stage name Seven (stylized as Se7en), is a South Korean singer, who has also advanced into Japan, China and the United States.
Seven began training under the management agency YG Entertainment at the age of fifteen. After four years of training in singing and dancing, he made his debut in 2003 with “Come Back To Me”. He then released his debut album Just Listen on March 8, 2003. Later that year, he received the Best Newcomer Award from MNET, who described Seven as a super rookie who could only stand against Rain, although the two were friends back in their high school years, alongside Boom.
Seven and YG labelmates Jinusean and Gummy made an appearance on the now defunct MTV K to celebrate YG Family’s 10th anniversary and to help promote Se7en before his American debut. They, along with the rest of the YG roster (1TYM, Big Mama, Stony Skunk, Lexy, and newly formed BIGBANG) then performed together for the YG Family 10th Anniversary Concert Series held in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles in October 2006. The MTV K documentary aired on December 11, 2006. Seven is a featured guest on Ameriie’s “Take Control” from her album, Because I Love It, which was released in May 2007. This remix is available on Asian versions of the album.
Yang Hyun Suk, (CEO of YG Entertainment) had announced that Fabolous would be featured in Seven’s first U.S. single. However, due to a leak in March 2007 of his US debut song, “This is My Year” featuring Fabolous, which was produced by Rich Harrison and Lionell Davis, on Myspace and YouTube, this caused some changes in Seven’s U.S. debut.
Seven worked with former CEO of LaFace Records, Mark Shimmel and Grammy Award-winner Rich Harrison and Richcraft producer Lionell Davis on his first American album. A new production team called Noize Trip, who produced The Black Eyed Peas’ “Disco Club” also contributed some work.
YG Entertainment and Seven also took necessary steps to ensure his debut such as trademarking his name in America.
Seven began promoting his English songs through a U.S. album preview party tour with his first stop at the Hiro Ballroom in New York City on March 14, 2008 (produced by Swerve Media and Base NYC). Three of his U.S. album tracks were played at this preview party. Verizon Wireless sponsored his preview parties and autograph signings for a charitable cause.
On March 10, Seven’s first single “Girls” featuring Lil’ Kim was released through digital stores such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. The music video for “Girls” was also released on Myspace that same day.
Seven’s “Girls” music video premiered on BET 106 & Park on June 2, 2009, which failed to receive much recognition.
Seven made an official comeback in Korea after a three-year-long hiatus on July 31, 2010 with his first mini-album “Digital Bounce.” The album consisted of six songs, including a song from his American debut titled ‘Money Can’t Buy Me Love’. His 2nd track ‘Digital Bounce’ featured the rapping skills of Big Bang’s T.O.P. Seven began his follow up promotions in October with the song ‘I’m Going Crazy’ which featured his longtime girlfriend Park Han-byul as the main actress in the music video. Throughout his comeback, Seven attended many variety shows and even featured in fellow labelmate 2NE1’s hit reality show 2NE1TV, where he described his hardships in America and his hiatus. Seven ended his promotions on the October 30, 2010.
Seven has recently revealed, by means of 2NE1’s Nolza Japan Concert, that he is planning a comeback in Japan after his four-year hiatus since 2007. He has revealed that this album will have a Pop concept and that his first official fanmeet would be on November 6, 2011. Seven has also revealed that he will be releasing a digital single called ‘Angel’ in November 2011, and would release a full Japanese album alongside a Korean album in January 2012.
Seven released his 2nd mini-album on February 1, 2012 with title track “When I Can’t Sing.” The track was produced by JYP and written by JYP, making it the first ever official collaboration between YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment.
On March 18, 2013, Seven enlisted for his mandatory military service at the 306 Reserve in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province for five weeks of basic training followed by 21 months as an active-duty soldier. On that same day, YG Entertainment released Seven’s music video “THANK U (고마워)”. Seven was discharged from his mandatory military service on December 28, 2014. During his military service, the singer’s contract with YG Entertainment expired in February 2015. It was later confirmed that they mutually agreed not to renew the singer’s contract.
On July 6, he released “I’m Good”, his first song since leaving YG Entertainment. On October 14, he released the mini-album I Am Seven (stylized I Am Se7en), his first album in over four years, along with the title track, “Give It to Me”, and its music video.
Seven accepted the lead role for the Korean drama Goong S, a spinoff of the drama Goong. The first episode of Goong S premiered on January 10, 2007 on MBC; the average nationwide rating for the entire series was 9.7%.
Goong S was the most searched and rewatched drama online it ranked higher than its competition: KBS2 Dalja’s Spring and SBS Surgeon Bong Dal-hee. The drama has also gained a wide variety of support from international fans in the U.S., Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, and Singapore.
Seven has stated an intention to continue acting in the near future. Seven had said that even though the drama was not of much of a success, he does not ever regret accepting the role of his character in the drama. It even helped Seven to sing with more emotion during performances. He also mentioned that he was thankful to have a chance to work with the drama crew and take his career to a new level by acting.
Seven’s vocal range can be classified in the tenor range. His voice can be described as smooth, mellow, and sometimes mildly abrasive (see vocal belting) when songs, such as “Crazy,” “La La La,” “Hikari” and “I Know,” call for it. He often sings with a vibrato in his voice that American R&B singers are known for, and also incorporates beatboxing into many of his songs such as “Passion.” Se7en maintains an adamant belief that he should not lipsync during his live performances.
In June 2009, Seven acknowledged on his website that he and actress Park Han-byul had been in a relationship for seven years, with the couple having first met when they were seniors in high school. Seven had previously denied rumours that they were a couple in order to protect Park’s privacy and let the relationship grow naturally.
On December 23, 2014 a statement was released by Park Han-byul’s agency stating that Park and Seven had ended their 12-year relationship earlier that year.
On September 6, 2016 an exclusive report from Sports Chosen reported that Seven and actress Lee Da-hae had been dating for over a year and that most of their peers were aware of their relationship.
Seven was under investigation for allegedly visiting a massage parlor, famous for prostitution, whilst on military duty on June 22, 2013, alongside Sangchu of Mighty Mouth. It was decided that they broke curfew trying to get massages. They allegedly visited several parlors that were closed before they found one that was open late. They left as soon as they realised that it was a parlor for prostitution. Both received ten days in military jail for their actions. At the same time, five other celebrity recruits were sentenced to four days in military jail for possessing cellphones, and one was sentenced to 10 days’ probation for leaving to watch a movie after hours. The incident caused a severe backlash, and led the Ministry of Defense to abolish the Celebrity Soldier unit.