I felt that this was a really great article on TVXQ/DBSK’s nationality contradiction kinda thing. I also have my own analysis after the article.
TVXQ sings “I got you~ooo, Under my skin,” and dances. When the buttons on the shirts that cling onto their bodies cannot handle their powerful moves and burst, U-Know Yunho’s well-developed and chiseled pectoral muscles are shown. Fans from all over Korea, who may have had ill feelings towards the long stretch of Japanese activities, act as though the group had never left and stare at their TV and even go up to the TV screen and stroke it. I’m talking about the comeback stage of <Spell-MIROTIC> that happened after the album’s release last December. Fans found something a little odd about TVXQ during this stage. Although the five members’ faces were the same, it was as though their faces had been stuck on someone else’s body. This was because of their ‘muscles’.
TVXQ’s thin and muscular bodies are completely different from SM Entertainment’s preceding idol groups. The direction that the members of TVXQ are headed is being influenced by the Japanese activities they have been carefully and diligently doing. In Japan these days, their is a ‘Hosomacho’ or ‘thin muscle’ trend blazing through the nation. The biggest reason for this trend is because the majority of young Japanese women prefers the thin muscled hosomacho look over the heavily muscled gorimacho (gorilla macho) look.
What am I talking about? There are probably going to be some people who tell me that this trend has been around for a while with the majority of singers in Johnny’s Entertainment and with the majority of males in Tokyo having a thin muscle body structure. But what they are talking more about skinny guys who look as though they have muscles because they are skinny, not the ‘thin muscle’ look. But to think that TVXQ is just one of the many hosomacho groups is a big mistake. This is because the popularity of Tohoshinki, as they call themselves in Japan, is so great and out of this world that it cannot be fully comprehended or understood in Korea.
If we divide the dominating Japanese male idol groups into three categories, the first would be ‘role Lolita’, groups comprised of pretty boys, the second would be ‘Yankees’, groups comprised of members who have a bad boy vibe to them, and the third would be the TVXQ style. The TVXQ style’s popularity can be properly felt in Japan’s host clubs. Koreans may connect the words host or hostess with adult clubs and see these words with a negative outlook, but to many young, handsome and popular college students in Japan, it is the most preferred part-time job.
Different from Korea’s hosts, Japan’s hosts serve only alcohol and there is a different term for those who provide sexual intercourse and they are called ‘Urisen’. In these host clubs that can easily be found in Shinjuku’s Gabukicho area, the pictures of the hosts in the clubs tell women what kind of style each host is. Before, most of the people in the pictures copied the style of Johnny’s Entertainment’s idol groups. But now, at least one or two hosts in every club very conspicuously copies the style of one of the members of TVXQ.
In this area, there was once a time where the most manly people were nabe (a girl dressed up as a guy or a trans gender female). with their thin, pretty bodies. But now many Japanese women are asking for the hosomacho style, men who are not only pretty, but are also manly, and who are not only skinny, but has muscles. The TVXQ wind is blowing through the clubs of Gabukicho.
Since many Korean idol groups are popular not only in Korea but all of Asia, many Koreans may think that TVXQ’s popularity is similar to that of other celebrities. Shall we delve deeper to see just how popular TVXQ is in Japan? TVXQ’s most recent Japanese single sold almost 200K copies in one week. This sets TVXQ with the second highest first week sales in their agency, Japan’s biggest company Avex.
The only group above TVXQ is the 14-member group Exile, the group that received the highest award from the Japanese Record Association and the group that even creates big changes in society with their raging popularity. This means that TVXQ’s first album sales beats that of the female leaders of Japanese pop, ‘Amuro Namie’. ‘Hamasaki Ayumi’ and ‘Koda Kumi’. This is a feat that not even popular star ‘BoA’ has achieved. These are the kind of top singers we can compare TVXQ to now.
But I am not basing their popularity on album sales only. TVXQ has set a huge record of being on Japan’s representative music chart ‘Oricon Chart’ as 1st on weekly single sales six times already. Since the year 2000, the number of stars who have attempted to enter the Japanese market is enormous, with stars such as S.E.S, Sugar, Park Junghyun, Rain, Lee Soo Young, Se7en, SS501, Ryu Siwon, Park Yongha, Lee Byunghun, Yoonha, K, Sunmin, Big Bang and Super Junior.
But the only singers who have reached first on Oricon’s weekly single charts are BoA (once) and TVXQ (six times). TVXQ also succeeded in being invited to hold two concerts in July at the Tokyo Dome which is considered the Dream Stage, even to Japanese singers. This has never been completed by any other Korean singer before.
But the Bible sends a message, “Prophets do not get respect from their homelands.” For some odd reason, TVXQ’s outstanding achievements do not seem to be reported or praised in Korea. Also, it is sad to see that TVXQ’s success of almost selling 200K copies of their single was buried under the dispute between SM Entertainment and three members of TVXQ (Micky Yoochun, Xiah Junsu, YoungWoong Jaejoong) and the disbandment rumors that followed it.
They are not something something ’sama’ (like Yonsama) who were washed ashore by the Hallyu Wave. No, they even asked all Japanese media agencies not to associate the word ‘Hallyu’ with them (even asking for news articles to be pulled down if the word was used in relation to them), to show that they wished to succeed with their own powers and were able to become widely known in Japan. TVXQ had to erase their nationality in order to gain the acceptance from the Japanese population.
The rumors of disbandment at the height of their popularity has become a hot topic of conversation in the Japanese music industry. Japanese media has been created a daily special to update everyone about what’s happening in Korea with regards to TVXQ, and this has caused Avex’s CEO to come forward and give an explanatory statement to clam the Japanese fans. He announced that TVXQ’s Japanese activitees would continue regardless of what was happening in Korea and he decided to announce this himself. This has never happened before.
It seems as though the way Korean agencies set the income division when writing up the contract has surprised the people of Japan who are used to the Japanese agencies’ way of working that gives monthly salaries that may change. Since the first official event TVXQ held after the disbandment rumors came out was in Japan and not Korea, the source of such rumors, with the Fireworks Festival Concert, the Japanese media was more vigilant when it came to reporting the issue than the Korean media.
Therefore, whether they wanted this or not, this case has opened TVXQ up to a wider fan base including the younger generation. YoungWoong Ja
ejoong, who is the most popular amongst the members in Japan, was even seen in a paparazzi scandal magazine that only extremely famous Japanese celebrities appear in.
Although the situation in Korea is a complete mess, TVXQ might be able to take one step further in their Japanese activities through this happening. But they must once more grab hold of their Korean fans. There are already rumors that the ‘light fanbase’ is ready to embrace the new 6 member male idol group SM Entertainment is preparing.
As faithful as Korean fans are, they are also able to turn their backs on a singer very quickly. If even the fans who used to embrace them turn their backs on TVXQ, the group will become the prophets who are not respected in their homelands.
source: [GQ Magazine+DNBN]
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i think it occurs to korean fans at times that dbsk got famous in korea, since it was their homeland and their talents could easily take them to the top, then they “invaded” japan. and they are successful on levels no korean singer has ever been before.
what struck me in that article was about how they are one of the first artists to “erase” their nationality in order to gain popularity in japan.
while this is true, and it does not favour the korean fans, its the only way to reach that level of success in japan. theyve been so immersed in their activities in japan and thats the only way they could have reached this kind of level.
inevitably, they will lose fans in korea, but they have enough of a strong fanbase there that won’t just fade away. this is much better than simply concentrating on korea, which they have already “maxed out” in terms of popularity, and then half-assing in japan which would not have led to their 6 oricon #1’s, or budokan, or tokyo dome for that matter.
its also because they’re korean, and they generally look/act a bit different than a japan group. everyone in japan probably thinks “wow, their korean yet they appear so japanese, and plus theyre so talented!” This is probably one of the reasons for their popularity.
unfortunately, i think their image is different in korea. they seem to be a group that only “little girls” like. this is the kind of response ive gotten from korean guys regarding dbsk. i think its rather unfortunate. perhaps its because they appear as more of an idol group aimed at girls with their looks (talents overlooked).
lastly, i also think that their advance in japan was the smartest thing to do. japan is a totally different world, you just cant get as famous there if all you do is sing korean songs, as opposed to singing japanese songs, appearing on japanese tv speaking japanese, and making a MUCH stronger impression of yourselves on the native fans.
i guess one of the things that I feel intuitively is the fact that one day they might get overtaken by the new group(s) in korea, and more or less forgotten, while they still remain popular in japan. then it would be weird, because the most popular male artist group in japan would be … korean. the boys would have or will eventually feel this kind of identity contradiction, especially since korea doesn’t regard success in japan that well.
anyways imo this is a really good article and its very true in some of its analysis. their influence is superb.