JYJ3 note: This is Part 3 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. Read Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking on the links.
So are JYJ, the exiles of K-pop, happy? Of course they are, because JYJ fandom’s righteousness makes them happy. JYJ’s source of happiness can seemingly be viewed as a commercial success. Since their official debut in 2010 until now, JYJ have been as successful as they were in TVXQ days. Until now, combining 2 studio albums, members’ solos, OST albums, concert albums, etc., at least 1,200,000 albums were sold. They have appeared in more than 10 ads such as being models for Lotte Duty Free. Not only publishing photobooks, a music essay, and DVDs, the members have also participated in a movie, musicals, and dramas. They had 33 concerts and showcases in total (including Live Concert in Japan, Worldwide showcases in 2010, World Tour concerts in 2011), mobilizing audiences greater than 550,000. Economically, they have gained more benefits than TVXQ of the past and in comparison with TVXQ’s 2 members, they have gained greater fame.
But the real reason for which JYJ can be happy is that they can decide for themselves their activities. No longer having to follow unilateral activities under company’s decision, the recovery of freedom is indeed JYJ’s source of happiness. Without a management company, JYJ made an agency contract with C-JeS Entertainment that takes care of everything they need in their activities. Contrary to TVXQ days in which their activities were all under SM’s unilateral schedule, they have now all the rights to their activities. Now that they create and produce their own music, they want to be called artists. When they perform, have united activities, release albums, or have to do public activities, they don’t need to read anyone’s countenance, but instead have the right to decide for themselves. Giving up the original name and vested interests, they got freedom of thought and action in return. Isn’t it the thing that many K-pop’s musicians must dream of?
The TVXQ that was praised as the most perfect group in the genealogy of Korean idol groups has now been separated into TVXQ and JYJ. To fans, their fateful separation when they were running to the highest peak was unhappy and tragic. It would have been good if all 5 members of TVXQ had come out of SM and had had independent activities, like the example of Shinhwa. But unfortunately, getting entangled in these or other private interests, they have separated and broken off.
The past TVXQ fandom or the present JYJ fandom might once dream of their reunion. It means that 2 members cancel the exclusive contract and they reunite again under the name TVXQ, because there is almost no chance that the 3 JYJ members would join SM again because they miss the name TVXQ. In that case, could 2 TVXQ members come out of SM? And would they be able to exercise their rights as TVXQ and be active again?
Perhaps it would be impossible. If SM itself won’t give up right to the trademark TVXQ, it’s impossible to reunite under the name TVXQ in one form or another. The possibility that, the 2 TXQ members Uknow Yunho and Choikang Changmin who have already decided to stay at and continue their activities under SM until now, move on and liberate themselves out of SM, is not that high. Even if they could reunite, it would be impossible to use the name TVXQ again. In that case, there are only 2 ways left for the return (or reunion) of TVXQ. One way is for the 2 member TVXQ and the 3 member JYJ to acknowledge the reality of the situation [that JYJ are not TVXQ members], but I believe that JYJ are still seen in practical cases as being part of TVXQ. Of course they cannot claim the name TVXQ, because it clearly belongs to SM and is used solely for the activities of the 2 boys, however there are the 3 JYJ members who helped give true authority to the name TVXQ*. In other words, the members must accept the reality that there is a discrepancy between the name [TVXQ] and the content. In this case, instead of giving up their original presence in the ‘nation of TVXQ’, the members must be willing to be vested with the symbolic authority of the name by fans and live in exile forever. [T/N: the author is trying to say that both sides must give up the name TVXQ so that they can still remain as symbolic ‘TVXQ members’ in the minds of fans forever.]
Second way has bare possibility, it’s that 2 TVXQ members come out of SM and rejoin JYJ. In this case, they wouldn’t be able to use the name TVXQ either but they could practically acquire the nationality of TVXQ, because all the population of TVXQ nation would have applied for exile. The name doesn’t matter. Perhaps it would become JYJYC or YCJYJ. Although there were misunderstanding and hatred in the past, perhaps, fans would sincerely hope for this 2nd case. It means that they couldn’t call TVXQ ‘TVXQ’ but the name of a new exile, as long as they could be together.
* The professor is mistaken here; SM does not own the trademark rights to 東方神起 or “Dong Bang Shin Ki”. The Korean Patent and Trademark Office rejected SM’s trademark application because “The requested trademark filed by SM Entertainment is inextricably and intrinsically connected to famous a cappella dance and singing group members U-know Yunho, Youngwoong Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun, Xiah Junsu and Choikang Changmin and as such, under Trademark Act Article 7.1.6, this request cannot be accepted. End.” Source and English translation