JYJ3 note: This is Part 2 of an article written by Professor Lee DongYeon, who teaches cultural theory at Korea National University of Arts. We decided to translate this piece due to its strength of insight and its relevance to understanding how the situation between JYJ and SM is perceived by intellectuals as well as by the general public. DNBN, among other Korean fansites, have posted the professor’s article and we believe it is our duty to share it with international fandom. Part 1 was posted yesterday and can be accessed HERE while Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.
SM’s wrong judgments
There are 2 reasons that SM decided to put the brakes on JYJ’s activities and incapacitate them. First, they believed that SM, the production company of K-pop’s most powerful idol groups, could influence JYJ’s broadcasting activities. Due to the nature of Korean popular music, it’s impossible to succeed without broadcast. The idol groups who are in SM occupy important roles in terrestrial and cable broadcasting. Members of these groups have a greater proportion of appearances on music programs, entertainment programs, radio programs, etc. than any idol of other companies. Even if the broadcasters aren’t under direct pressure, they still have to read SM’s countenance. Without SM’s tacit consent, JYJ’s broadcast appearances can’t go through. In the closing ceremony of ‘IAAF World Championships Daegu’, JYJ were able to appear on KBS because that program was not under the jurisdiction of KBS’s Entertainment Department. The broadcasting stations said that JYJ couldn’t appear because of the lawsuit with SM but as the Court has already judged that the previous exclusive contract between SM and TVXQ was unfair, this claim is not persuasive. In addition, according to reports from media, the FTC (Fair Trade Commission), after receiving many complaints about SM interfering JYJ’s activities, has investigated and found out some clues and is preparing to impose hundreds of millions won of fines [to SM].
Second, SM thought that JYJ wouldn’t be able to ensure a proper management system like they had during TVXQ days. Although the ability of the group is important to gain popularity in Korea as well as abroad, a well-organized management system is more important than anything else. For an idol groups’ activities, from music and choreography to coordination and scheduling, many staff members are needed. SM expected that, in the situation that broadcasting activities don’t work out, even if they are TVXQ’s former members, without agency’s powerful support system, they have not much possibility of success.
But the strange thing is that JYJ are on the roll now. Instead, the two members of TVXQ who received full support from SM can’t be active vigorously like JYJ are. The fans of [5-membered] TVXQ in the past also support JYJ’s activities overwhelmingly. If we compare activities of the 3 JYJ members with that of the 2 TVXQ members (concerts, showcases, albums, CF, modeling, internet searching, etc.), we can judge that JYJ are far more successful. Why did this happen?
After the dismissal of TVXQ’s unfair contracts, the most important thing is the power of the fandom. SM thought that after the 3 members withdrew from TVXQ, there wouldn’t be a problem to retain the same name. They believed that if they could keep the brand called TVXQ, fans would still acclaim and support that name. But such expectation failed and broke off. The majority of TVXQ fandom support JYJ’s 3 members’ actions. To the fandom, the important thing is not TVXQ’s name itself but what defined TVXQ. Moreover, the legitimate reason for which 3 people have filed the lawsuit was distorted into the greed for personal business by SM and also by statements released by the remaining 2 DBSK members which included expressions of blame [towards JYJ]. All this made TVXQ’s fandom move to JYJ’s side. JYJ is what helped define TVXQ and now they have also become the name of truth. Fans believe that, even though they can’t hold the name of TVXQ, they will continue the righteous way to become musicians under the name of JYJ.
If so, what is the righteousness of JYJ fandom? It’s that they protect their favorite musicians themselves. At this point, fandom is ‘selfish’. To protect their favorite stars, they behave in the most exclusive way possible. Therefore, fandom wants their favorite stars and the production company that raised those stars to separate willingly. It’s true that because the production company exists, the stars can maintain their activities, but fandom doesn’t believe that the stars can’t live without production companies. To fandom, production companies are a necessary evil, an inconvenient truth. For the success of their favorite stars, a powerful production company is needed but they don’t want the production company to earn big money from their financial investment and to place the stars under strong control. Moreover, the contract that their stars were involved in is unfair. They had to work under a murderous schedule yet couldn’t get a fair distribution of profits. Hence, to fans, the production company is a public enemy. The distrust of the fandom toward TVXQ’s production company, SM, has already started from long ago. When they looked into the precedents of HOT and Shinhwa– both of whom have left SM because of unfair exclusive contract issues, they feared that, at the peak of their popularity, TVXQ may run into big difficulties because of unfair contract issue.
That fear has become a reality. TVXQ’s fandom chose justice instead of the name. They immediately set up base camp to urgently support 3 members of TVXQ and declared war toward SM. After mobilizing and finding concrete data to answer key questions; Why is TVXQ’s exclusive contract unfair, why couldn’t the members get significant economic compensation, why didn’t SM disclose the profits from Japanese activities; [the fans] came to a positive conclusion [in JYJ’s favor]. In addition, they submitted a petition regarding TVXQ’s unfair exclusive contract and brought forward the suspicion that SM was interfering with JYJ’s broadcasting activities to the FTC. They weren’t scared to change the TVXQ fandom into a JYJ fandom. By voluntary fundraising, they conducted an advertising campaign called “We support your youth” to support JYJ. To protest JYJ’s ban from TV, they even published satirical ads ‘You say that you’ll sing on TV? You?’ and ‘The 101 methods with which to drive out JYJ from broadcast’ on internet and in newspaper print. While the JYJ members are living in exile, their compatriots who support them are newly establishing a righteous republic.