Eun Ji-won (born June 8, 1978) is a Korean rapper, host, dancer, composer and former leader of the first generation idol group Sechs Kies (젝스키스). Eun was the oldest member of the group, and pursued a solo career in 2001 with his first single ("A-Ha"). He returned to the K-pop scene in 2007 with the Latin-hip-hop single, "Adios". The following year, Eun released an album (G Code) and a single ("Dangerous"). In addition to singing, he appeared on KBS' Happy Sunday: 1 Night 2 Days and now co-hosts the health program Vitamin and the network's song-contest program Saturday Freedom: Immortal Songs 2.
Eun graduated from Seoul Yeudo Elementary School (서울 여의도 초등학교), Yoon Joong Junior High School (윤중 중학교) and Korea Kent Foreign School in South Korea. After moving to the United States he attended Hawaii Pacific University, where he was known as Matthew Eun. During his stay in Hawaii, Eun roomed with Kang Sung-hoon. His granduncle is former South Korean president Park Chung-hee; his auntie from his mother side family is South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the late President Park.
Eun Ji-won's nickname in Sechs Kies was "Soy Sauce" (깜시) because of his dark skin. "Eun Choding" ("Kid Eun") was a later nickname on the reality-variety show Happy Sunday: 1 Night 2 Days because of his boyish behavior.
1997-2000: Sechs Kies:
Eun Ji-won and Kang Sung-hoon were discovered by a Daesung Entertainment's president who was vacationing in Hawaii, and hired to perform at a nightclub. Kim Jae-duc and Lee Jae-jin were in a dance group (the Quicksilvers) in their hometown of Pusan, where one of the group's members sent a tape to Daesung Entertainment.Jang Su-won won an open audition. Finally, Ko Ji Yong was introduced to Daesung Entertainment by Kang Sung-hoon (his friend since elementary school). Eun and Kang originally wanted to perform as a duo, but became part of the larger group after the debut of H.O.T.. Lee Ho-Yeon, president of Daesung Entertainment, formed a six-member group in which Eun performed as a rapper.
The group debuted in 1997, and disbanded in 2000. Eun described his time with Sechs Kies as hectic, recalling that members would retreat to their parents' homes to avoid the demanding schedule. He said the group's record label planned many of their media appearances without consulting the members. During this time, the group's popularity rivaled that of H.O.T.
On May 18, 2000 Sechs Kies announced their departure from the K-pop scene at a press conference, where a few members were tearful. Lee Jae-jin later said that the group originally intended to leave their record label without disbanding. After the press conference a last music video, "Thanks", was released after their final concert. He said he had not seen bandmate Ko Ji-Yong for seven years; Ko moved to the United States to study, and has not returned.
With former members:
Although Sechs Kies disbanded in 2000, in 2002 Eun performed with former member Kang Sung-hoon and J-Walk's Kim Jae-duc and Jang Su-won. In 2007, he performed with J-Walk on a number of music shows, including KBS' Yoon Do Hyun's Love Letter (where they performed the Sechs Kies song, "Couple") and Music Bank (performing Eun's "Adios" and J-Walk's "Light Storm"). Eun and J-Walk performed "Couple" at Lee Soo-geun's wedding on March 2, 2008. Eun was featured on the third J-Walk album's title track, "My Love" and in its music video.
After Sechs Kies disbanded Eun began his solo career in 2000 with an EP including "A-Ha" on October 27, 2000. He wrote all the songs on his first solo album, G Pop, which was released on March 29, 2001. After his successful first album, Eun refined his style and experimented with his music on his second album, Heavy G.
2003-2005: Third-album breakthrough:
Eun's third album, Drunk on Hip Hop (with the single "Drunk on Melody"), was released on September 5, 2005. He later reissued his third album, including a "winter version" of "Mikasaro" and "Never Ever" from his first solo album. "Drunk on Melody" won Eun the Hip Hop Award at the 2003 SBS Gayo Awards and the KMTV Korean Music Awards. He has performed the song twice on stage with Tiger JK of Drunken Tiger on KBS' Yoon Do Hyun's Love Letter.
2004: Screen debut:
Eun starred in the romantic comedy Marrying a High-School Girl (여고생 시집가기) with Lim Eun-kyeong by first-time director Oh Duk Hwan, which was released on December 23, 2004. He played Park Ondal, a transfer student to the school attended by Pyung-Gang (Lim). The film was about a high school girl who must marry a boy named "Ondal" before her sixteenth birthday, and have a baby within a year; otherwise, she would die.
2006: Hip-hop movement:
Eun disappeared from mainstream K-pop in mid-2006, joining Movement (무브먼트) (a group of rappers and hip-hop artists throughout Korea). Many of these singers are well-known in the K-pop industry, while others are underground artists. Members of the Movement include Drunken Tiger, Tasha (Yoon Mi Rae), Dynamic Duo, Epik High, TBNY, Leessang, Yang Dong Gun (YDG), Bobby Kim, Buga Kingz, Ann and Double K. The Movement staged a concert on May 13, 2006, and many Movement artists have been featured on Eun's albums.
Eun returned with a single, "Adios", after a hiatus from the music industry; his album Love, Death, Introspection (사랑 死랑 思랑) was released on October 30, 2007 with four new tracks and an instrumental version of "Adios". Mr. Tyfoon, Baek Ji-young and Sat Byul (샛별) were featured on the album. "Adios", a Latin hip-hop song, was composed by Keeproots with lyrics by Mr. Tyfoon. Tiger JK from Drunken Tiger, Mr. Tyfoon and Eun produced the album. Eun is part of 13 Creative Unit, a subsidiary of Eyagi Entertainment (which also produces singer Hwang Bo and actress Park Si Yeon).
In mid-2007, Eun appeared on the KBS reality-variety show Happy Sunday: 1 Night 2 Days. He replaced Kim Jong Min (who left for military service) on MBC's Come To Play (놀러와). Eun was a cast member of SBS' Burst! Mental Concentration (작렬! 정신통일) before the show's cancellation in September 2007.
For his fifth album, Eun selected 20 of over 100 songs. In 2007, he performed at the DKNY Party. Eun appeared on Starship Entertainment label-mate Moon Ji-eun's debut EP (released on April 10, 2008), rapping on "Fox" and appearing in its music video after Moon appeared in Eun's 2003 music video for "Suddendly" (문득). In June 2008, Eun collaborated with J-Walk (Kim Jae-duc and Jang Su-won, formerly of Sechskies) on a song for J-Walk's album, "My Love". Later that year Eun released G Code; its single was "Dangerous", a sample of Kardinal Offishall featuring Akon's version of "Dangerous".
2009: GYM Entertainment and fifth album:
In early 2009 Eun left CH Entertainment and started his own company, GYM Entertainment. The first artist to be released in his company was singer-rapper Gilme; Eun appeared on Gilme's debut song, "Love Cuts", and has performed the song on stage with her.
After a year's hiatus from the music scene Eun released his fifth full-length studio album, Platonic. The lead track, "Siren", is an electronic dance song with hip-hop rhythms. Eun collaborated with Mr. Tyfoon, Gilme and 2 Days & 1 Night member Lee Su-geun on the album. The album was jointly released by GYM Entertainment and Starship Entertainment.
In February 2010 Eun announced that he would marry his first love, a woman three years his senior who was a contestant in the Miss Korea pageant. They knew each other since 1994 in Hawaii, but broke up three years later when Eun returned to South Korea as leader of Sechs Kies. Eun and Lee Sooyeon were reunited 13 years later, and had a steady relationship since then. Eun's fiancée is sister-in-law by marriage to soccer player Lee Dong-Gook. A representative of GYM Entertainment said that Eun and Lee were looking for a wedding hall in Hawaii; although they had not yet set a wedding date, they hoped to marry in April.
On April 7 Eun left for Hawaii to prepare for the wedding ceremony, scheduled for April 20. The couple cut short their honeymoon because Eun had to return to South Korea. A small party was planned during the filming of 1 Night 2 Days on April 23 for his marriage; however, due to the ROKS Cheonan sinking episodes that were to be aired during April (when the cast traveled along Korea's coastline) were postponed or canceled. This allowed Eun to extend his honeymoon.
Although filming for 1 Night 2 Days was postponed, Eun and his parents returned to South Korea on April 22 and he was interviewed on SBS's One Night's TV Entertainment; he said it was like filming a commercial with his wife. The couple's new home was in Yeouido. On April 29 the first photo of the wedding ceremony was leaked to the public, in which the couple is walking down the aisle with family and friends congratulating them.
On March 31, 2011 Eun, Gilme and Mr. Tyfoon formed Clover, which showcased their similar musical styles. They performed "La Vida Loca", from their mini-album Classic Over, on a number of musical shows.
2013: Divorce announcement:
On February 28, 2013, Eun announced that he and his wife divorced in August 2012. A statement from his management said, "Eun Ji Won wed his wife Ms. Lee Sooyeon in April 2010, but the two decided to part ways in August 2012. They decided to go their separate ways so that they could lead new lives following difficulties in getting along due to differences in personality".
Eun is the only member of Sechs Kies to face criticism since the group disbanded for changing musical genres from pop music to hip hop and rap. Former boy band member Moon Hee Jun of H.O.T also changed genres, becoming a rock instead of a pop singer after going solo (Sechs Kies was a musical rival of H.O.T.).