Debuting artists at a young age is one of the typical elements of K-Pop. Artists going back to the very first generation, like BoA, started working as an idol as young as 13. However, back then, having older artists debut was not a rare sight either. g.o.d., one of the most popular groups in the early 2000s, debuted in 1999, when one of their members, Joon Park, was already 30!
Park held the record as the oldest K-Pop idol to debut for a really long time until the debut of a third-gen boy group in 2014.
The group in question is TROY, a hip-hop boy group formed by Brand New Music in 2014. The group consisted of four members, Bumkey, Jaewoong, Changwoo, and Kanto. At the time of their debut, three out of the four members were either already in their 30s or pushing 30. Only their maknae Kanto was 20 years old.
When TROY debuted, Bumkey was 29, Changwoo was 30, and Jaewoong was 32! This made Jaewoong replace Joon Park as the oldest idol to ever debut.
Born in 1981, Jaewoong grew up as an athletic kid. Since the third year of middle school, he was training to be a professional snowboarder, and in high school, he was picked to be a part of Korea’s National Snowboarding Team. But a severe knee injury and financial struggles made him quit his dream after 14 years.
He switched careers and made a name for himself as a fitting model in the fashion industry. He was working at a clothing company when Rhymer, rapper and the founder of Brand New Music, scouted him to become an idol.
In a later interview, Jaewoong confessed that he was unsure whether debuting as a singer at his age would be a wise decision, but he took up the challenge with the same sporting spirit of an athlete. After joining his label, he gave his all to music and learned how to write and perform rap.
In 2014, he debuted as a member of TROY, with the digital single, “Green Light“. Jaewoong’s on-stage charisma, toned physique, and off-stage humility attracted fans a lot. The group soon earned acknowledgment in the hip-hop scene and released another single, “Why Are We?” in the same year as their debut.
But the group wasn’t active after that release. Since 2017, their social media accounts also started going inactive as well, and the group has not reappeared since then. In 2021, however, a remix of their debut song was released with the title “[TEN PROJECT Part.6] TROY – ‘GREEN LIGHT (UKG REMIX)’,” which brought back a wave of nostalgia for a lot of their fans.
Since the group’s presumed disbandment, only two members, Bumkey and Kanto, went on to pursue solo music careers. Both the artists are still signed under Brand New Music. But Jaewoong completely withdrew himself from the public eye for years before briefly resurfacing on his personal Twitter account last year.
— jaewoong of troy (@jwsnow81) August 8, 2022
Jaewoong’s single Tweet, made in 2022, turned into a virtual reunion of three of the original TROY members. He wrote, “Is this alive?” referring to his own Twitter account that was hacked back in 2017. Bumkey responded with, “Yes, it is, hyung!” followed by Kanto, who happily quoted their debut single as a reply to the thread. From this interaction, it appears that the members are still on good terms, despite going their separate ways years ago.
Give me the green light woowoowoowooooooo
— 최칸토 (@kanto94) August 10, 2022