2AM‘s Jo Kwon recently appeared on SBS’s Do You Eat where he told the devastating story of how much his family suffered in the past due to the debt they had with loan sharks.

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Ahead of telling the story, Jo Kwon set the record straight about his past.

Because I’m pale and pretty, people think I grew up in a wealthy household. But the truth is, our family had a hard time.

– Jo Kwon

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He explained that his family went under when he was in grade 5 of elementary school and shared how it all happened.

When I was in grade 5, our family went under. The three of us lived together in one basement room. Since it was a half-basement, the rent was 60,000 won (~$50 USD). At the time, our debt was around 500 million won (~$417,000 USD). My mother worked at an insurance company when she was younger, and my father was a driver. We went under when they tried to start a new business.

– Jo Kwon

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But the shocking part of Jo Kwon’s story was when he confessed what happened to his mother at the hands of the loan sharks.

The loan sharks barged into our house once. I was hiding in my room. The loan sharks put my mother in the middle, brought buckets of water, and kept hitting her with the water. She lost an eardrum because of that.

– Jo Kwon

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Jo Kwon’s mother had such a difficult time that she even ran away from home. And when she hid out to see her son one day after school, the loan sharks assaulted her once again.

My mom was hiding when I was coming back from school so that she could see me. But the loan sharks caught her, and she ended up falling on the asphalt and hurting her chin.

– Jo Kwon

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But what turned it all around was when Jo Kwon saw that Park Jin Young was holding a program that fostered young talent.

There was nothing to eat at home, so I was eating thin rice with soy sauce. That’s when I saw Park Jin Young’s Young Talent Program. I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to try out for that.’

– Jo Kwon

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Jo Kwon later went on to debut with 2AM after appearing in Mnet‘s Hot Blood, which became the beginning of his journey as a K-Pop star as well as a popular TV personality.

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SBS

Jo Kwon was recently discharged from the military on March 24.