Real Name: Yang Hyun Suk (양현석)
Nicknames: Terminator, Yang Goon, Choonsam
Birthday: December 2, 1970
Family: Parents, one older brother (Han Suk), one younger brother (Min Suk), both married. Min Suk takes care of a lot of the administration and finances at YG Entertainment.
Personality: Cheerful, lively and naive (according to his producees)
Education: Seoul Kyodong Elementary School, Joongdong Middle School, Gwangmyeong High School
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, sleeping
In the early nineties, Hyun Suk used to be a dancer for an idol group called Park Nam Jung & Friends (박남정과 프렌즈), and Seo Taiji wanted dance lessons from him – that’s how they met. Unfortunately, Hyun Suk had to leave to do his mandatory military service 15 days after Taiji paid him 1,500,000 won for the lessons.
In the army, Hyun Suk was in charge of sniping for the border garrisons. He was an excellent sniper, and still has a rifle collection and likes hunting pheasants. However, he was discharged after a year because of a heart condition. He contacted Taiji, and even though they were both planning to have solo careers at that point, Hyun Suk suggested forming a group after he heard the demo for “Nan Alayo”.
After Seo Taiji wa Aidul disbanded in 1996, Hyun Suk stayed in LA for a while, then went to Guam and lived there with Sean. This is when he decided to produce artists. While looking for a partner for Sean’s debut, Hyun Suk saw Jinu on television and heard him sing, then decided to meet up with him in LA and recruited him.
With Jinu, Sean and someone named James, Hyun Suk planned to start a three-man dance group. Together they composed music and planned, but due to visa problems, the plan never came through, and instead Hyun Suk founded Hyun Entertainment and produced his first group, Keep Six. The album wasn’t a success, so the group disbanded, and Hyun Suk went back to Guam to work with Sean on their next project. He ended up recruiting Perry and started working on Jinusean’s first album. Hyun Entertainment became MF Entertainment in May 1997, then was renamed Yanggoon Entertainment in March 1998 and finally became YG Entertainment in April 2001.
In 2003, after the success of Se7en’s first album, which was mostly R&B, YG entered a partnership with R&B label M-Boat. M-Boat produced their artists (Wheesung, Big Mama and Gummy) and YG Entertainment released the albums. YG benefitted by getting a foothold in the R&B market, thus expanding from hip-hop to hip-hop and R&B, and M-Boat benefitted by having added visibility and publicity, and help from YG Entertainment’s production team. The partnership ended in 2007 and artists had to choose between remaining with M-Boat, remaining with YG, or leaving for another company.
In addition to producing music, YG started publishing a hip-hop magazine called The Bounce in October 1999. It featured articles about local and international artists and hip-hop culture in general. It closed in 2001.
He established club NB in 2001, starting with one club in Hongdae. There are currently three – the one in Hongdae, one in Kangnam and one in Apgujeong. They’re highly-regarded hip-hop clubs and feature performances by hip-hop artists every Saturday night. YG also manages the Korean branches of Japanese hip-hop club Harlem in Hongdae and Kangnam.
For a CEO, Hyun Suk is pretty involved in his artists’s work. He does some photography, writes songs and remixes, arranges tracks, helps with choreographies, etc. He has a good relationship with his artists and has said that Perry and Jinusean are like brothers to him.
His “official” messages on the YG website are usually long and rambling, and he often ends them by saying that he’s tired, it’s X AM, and he should be in bed now. He uses emoticons and a friendly, casual tone in his messages, often adding personal notes and anecdotes about his friendship with the people he works with rather than speaking from just a CEO standpoint. He’s also very honest about the mistakes he makes and lets the fans know frankly in what direction he’d like to take the label.
The nickname “Yanggoon” (YG) was originally given to him by comedian Lee Kyoung Kyu (이경규). -Goon is simply a Korean honorific similar to “Mister”, which is a very good reason why fans shouldn’t call Hyun Suk “Mr. YG” – it’s redundant. Call him Mr. Yang. :)
Hyun Suk is notorious for sleeping a lot. He says he sleeps about ten hours per night, because “handsome men are late risers.” His lisp and mannerisms also pretty infamous – Seo Taiji, among lots of other people, seems to love mocking him.