Six Things You Didn't Know about Firstborn's Top Creative JoonYong Park

Digital Agency Leader Dropped Out of School at Age 13 -- And Home-Schooled Himself

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JoonYong Park
JoonYong Park

JoonYong Park joined Firstborn in 2004 as a senior art director and since then has risen the ranks to become the New York-based digital agency's first chief creative officer.

In that role, he's helped oversee the company's diverse portfolio, which includes a SXSW installation and site for Sobe that imprints digital tattoos on users' faces, Ford's original Mustang Community Customizer. More recently, he oversaw the Dentsu-owned agency's launch of an e-commerce site for Em Michelle Phan, Loreal Luxe's new online-only line launched with the YouTube beauty celebrity.

While Mr. Park is known for his smart choices on the job, his life outside the office also reflects an ingenuity and rogue spirit that no doubt led him to where he is today, as you'll see in this week's edition of "Six Things".

1. He can't be left alone. When Joon was in 6th grade his parents went away for a night leaving him to fend for himself. His friends were all going to an arcade and he really wanted to go with them but he had no money. So Joon decided to have a yard sale. Things got little out of hand. He ended up selling his parents 40" screen TV along with the family refrigerator. That was the first and last time his parents ever left him home alone (and his first and last yard sale).

2. He built a tree house -- in his house. Joon was always raised in cities and never had a backyard to build himself the tree house he had always dreamed of. Still living in the city with his own family today, Joon didn't want his three-year-old son Dylan to miss out on any potential tree house adventures. He recently set out to design and build a tree house in his apartment -- quite possibly the first tree house in NYC's Greenwich Village. Dylan and his friends love it and only let Joon in if he does the "secret knock."

3. He found his calling by circumventing military duty. Joon was born in South Korea. When you are a Korean, you have to go into the service. It's not an option. Or so he thought. Until he found out that every year the Korean government picks the top 500 programmers to work for the country instead of going to the military. That was his big motivation to start studying programming, and after only one year of learning everything he could, Joon made the cut. He ended up loving coding and still uses it today for scripting 3D.

4. He was home-schooled -- by himself. Joon moved to the United States from South Korea when he was seven and stayed through fifth grade before moving back to South Korea. Frustrated with the transition he decided to drop out of school at the age of 13 and home-school himself. He got his high school diploma at the age of 16. Joon still maintains to this day that dropping out was one of the best decisions he ever made in his life. He was able to explore his own interests, got heavy into design by the age of 15, and hasn't stopped or looked back since.

5. He has a very specific shoe fetish. Joon recently got into running while training for a Brooklyn half-marathon. During his training he bought over 10 pairs of running shoes. It became a mild obsession. He soon wound up with 10 more pairs of running shoes and feels there is still plenty of room for more in his closet. He enjoys running in a different pair of shoes every day.

6. He's bulked up. Never in his life had Joon worked out until he decided to quit smoking just over a year ago. Since, he has become a workout freak, most recently taking on power lifting. Four times a week. Watch out. Joon wakes up at 5:30 every morning and heads to the gym. He still craves a smoke every single day.

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