These days, most people know Rain as one of the biggest soloists in Korean music history. However, 20 years ago, he was just a teen from a failed boy group trying to make it big. Everything changed when he was recruited as a JYP Entertainment trainee—but Rain’s audition wasn’t quite like most auditions are today. In a new interview with Rolling Stone Korea, Rain revealed the story of his audition and founder J. Y. Park‘s unusual way of conducting it.
Rain confessed that it would take “more than 24 hours without sleep to talk about this as a whole,” but went on to reveal what he did remember about their meeting. While he couldn’t remember the precise date, he did note that it happened sometime between winter in 1998 and spring in 1999. At the time, Rain would have been just 16 years old and had already failed over a dozen auditions.
The star soloist went on to reveal that the audition started with J. Y. Park playing a song by famous singer Michael Jackson. “I’m not sure why he did that,” Rain recalled, “but he… just had it on repeat, you know?” Putting the song on repeat once or twice wouldn’t have been so strange, but Rain says J. Y. Park played the Michael Jackson track on repeat for a staggering “four to five hours.”
“I just kept dancing alone,” says Rain, who seems to have been confused by the process at the time. After that, Rain says the JYP Entertainment founder told him to copy his moves. He then proceeded to give Rain a personal dance lesson for another hour.
After spending so long in his first meeting with J. Y. Park, it should come as no surprise that Rain had a good feeling about his future. “You kind of get the feeling,” he explained, adding, “I thought I passed the audition.” However, in the following weeks, J. Y. Park didn’t get back to Rain at all!
As the time went by, Rain was sure the founder had forgotten all about him. But then, exactly a month later, he finally received that fateful call asking him to join the company. Interestingly, despite his slow response, J. Y. Park revealed several years ago that he saw a spark in Rain from that first meeting.
I remember the first time Rain entered the audition room. His facial expression, his passion, and even his sweats—I can recall them all.
Rain reminded me of a starved young lion.
I could tell he really wanted to succeed, but with the difficult circumstances, he was not able to make it come true.
I had never seen anything like that before, and I wanted to help him to make his dreams come true.
— J. Y. Park