Who is Leeteuk?
Park Jeong-su is a South Korean actor and singer-songwriter, currently affiliated with the K-pop boy band, Super Junior, and its subgroups, Super Junior-T and Super Junior-H. He is more popular by his stage name ‘Leeteuk’. After being accepted into SM Entertainment's Starlight Casting System, he was initially slated for debut as the member of boy band ‘Smile’. But the project was dropped and Park was placed in the rotational group ‘Super Junior’ with eleven other boys instead. As he was older than the other trainees, he was designated as the leader. They made their first official appearance in 2005 on SBS’ music show ‘Popular Songs’ and the positive response it garnered prompted the release of their debut album only a month later. It too turned out to be a massive hit. Since then, ‘Super Junior’ has emerged as one of the most successful groups in K-pop history, earning the genre’s best-selling artist accolade for the last four years. Leeteuk has established himself as a star outside the group as well; he has a thriving career as a solo artist, has acted in both films and television, and hosted variety shows. He has won several awards for his contribution to the entertainment industry.
Childhood & Early Life
Leeteuk was born as Park Jeong-su on July 1, 1983, in Seoul, South Korea, as the younger child of Park Yong-in and Yoo Sook-young. When he was about 15 years old, his parents divorced. He has been outspoken about his parents’ relationship. Actress and singer Park In-young is his older sister.
After completing his schooling, he enrolled at the Paekche Institute of the Arts but later moved to Inha University in Incheon.
While he was on a vacation in Myeongdong with his sister in early 2000, he was spotted by a talent scout from SM Entertainment. After a successful audition, he signed with the talent agency as a trainee. In the same year, he landed the role of an extra in the MBC drama ‘All About Eve’ and in 2002, he became a model for Pepsi for a brief period.
SM Entertainment’s original plan was to introduce him as a member of the boy band ‘Smile’, which also included his future bandmate Donghae. Meant to be a rival of TVXQ, the group also had three other members. However, the plan was eventually scrapped and both Park and Donghae were then put together with ten other boys in the rotational group, Super Junior’05.
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Beside Leeteuk and Donghae, the original members of Super Junior’05 were Heechul, Hangeng, Yesung, Kangin, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Siwon, Ryeowook and Kibum. They made their debut on November 6, 2005, and performed the single ‘Twins (Knock Out)’. The group released their first album, ‘Twins’, a month later, on December 5. It opened at #3 spot on the monthly MIAK K-pop album charts.
In 2006, when SM Entertainment started the initiative to recruit new members for the group, the rotational system faced strong opposition from the fans and the talent agency eventually relented. When the 13th member of the group Kyuhyun joined, they dropped the suffix ‘05’ and officially became Super Junior.
From 2006 to 2011, he co-hosted KBS Super Junior's ‘Kiss The Radio’ with Eunhyuk. He briefly returned to the program in 2016 as a guest host. In February 2007, he was included in the trot-singing sub-group Super Junior-T. A year later, he joined the bubblegum pop group Super Junior-H.
Leeteuk served as a host on SBS’ ‘Star King’ and ‘Strong Heart’. In 2010, he assumed the role of the new MC for MBC’s ‘Enjoy Today’, replacing the previous host Big Bang's Seungri.
Super Junior has released eight Korean albums, ‘Twins’ (2005), ‘Don’t Run’ (2007), ‘Sorry, Sorry’ (2009), ‘Bonamana’ (2010), ‘Mr Simple (2011), ‘Sexy, Free & Single (2012), Mamacita (2014), and Devil (2015), and a Japanese album ‘Hero’ to date. In 2008, Super Junior-H put out their sole Extended Play ‘Cooking? Cooking!’
Over the years, Leeteuk has made cameo appearances in many Korean dramas, including ‘Nonstop’ (2006), ‘Dream High’ (2011) and ‘Salamander Guru and the Shadows’ (2012). He and his bandmates wrote, produced, and starred in the variety game show ‘Super Junior Mini-Drama’. They also appeared in various promotional films for their studio albums.
On October 30, 2012, he enlisted for his mandatory military service, which included five weeks of basic training, followed by active duty for 21 months. He finished his service on July 29, 2014.
He marked his return to the entertainment industry and to Super Junior by performing with the group at Music Bank. In June 2016, he teamed with Suho, Kassy, and songwriter Cho Young-soo to produce a track called ‘My Hero’ as a tribute to the present and former South Korean Olympians.
Super Junior’s third studio album ‘Sorry, Sorry’ was released on March 12, 2009. A critical and commercial hit, it peaked on the music charts in South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan and won a Disk Daesang (Album of the Year) at the 24th Golden Disk Awards in 2009. Leeteuk performed the album’s title track with members of BTS, Twice and Gfriend, at the 2016 DMC Festival.
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Awards & Achievements
In 2006, Super Junior was named Newcomer of the Year at the Golden Disc Awards.
Over the years, the group has registered three wins at the Asia Song Festival, held in South Korea since 2004. In 2007 they were conferred with the Appreciation Award, in 2009 the Asian Best Group accolade, and in 2011 The Highest Asia Singer Award.
For co-hosting ‘Strong Heart’ and ‘Star King’, Leeteuk won SBS Entertainment Awards in Best Newcomer Award (Variety) and Excellence Award (Talk Show Division) categories in 2009 and 2011 respectively.
Leeteuk received the Popularity Award at the 2012 MBC Entertainment Awards.
In 2013, the group became the recipient of the Best Live Act accolade at the World Music Awards. At the 17th Teen Choice Awards in 2015, the group won the Choice International Artist and Choice Fandom awards.
In 2006, Leeteuk dated a non-celebrity for about a year. He was also linked with Girls’ Generation member Kim Tae-yeon. He had revealed in an interview that right before he went into the military, he had dated an actress for about a month and they split because she could not understand his busy schedule.
On April 19, 2007, Leeteuk was on his way back home along with Shindong, Eunhyuk, Kyuhyun, and two managers after recording the radio program ‘Kiss the Radio’. When the driver of the car they were on tried to switch lanes on a highway, the front left tyre burst and the car slammed against the guard rail on the driver’s side. It skidded for about 30 metres before it flipped over to its right side due to its momentum. Everyone was injured and Leeteuk had to be hospitalised for his injuries.
Later in his life, Leeteuk’s father Park Yong-in began to take care of his parents, Leeteuk’s grandparents, who were suffering from dementia. Park Yong-in was struggling to make the ends meet and all the stress culminated in a severe case of depression. In January 2014, Yong-in strangled his parents before hanging himself. He left a note taking responsibilities for his actions and asking for forgiveness from his children.
When he began to use Leeteuk as his stage name, Park hoped that it would have a positive effect on his career. The name also helps him to distinguish himself from veteran actress Park Jung-soo. As the word Leeteuk means ‘special’, it also denotes his agency wanting him to be a special member of his group.