Wednesday, September 22, 2010Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This was released on Piffania (Korean music review site), part 2 has yet to be translated.
This is a piece I finished writing back in 2009, on August 15th. For various reasons, it was never publicized, and it's now been over a year. I personally feel that the problem faced by the three members of Dong Bang Shin Ki is an issue of institution. It is an institutional problem that has affected others just as much as it's affected them. Please bear with me as I explore and discuss the nature of this problem.
On July 31st of 2009, the three members of Dong Bang Shin Ki filed their contract suspension injunction lawsuit. Their decision came as a shock to many, but at the same time, many of us had seen this coming. Why do I say that? Because there is no way the group's activities could have been sustained considering how hard they were worked and how little they were paid. They may have tolerated it when they were young, but as time goes by, they'll eventually realize the problem.
We will now go back in time to year 2005. We began to notice Dong Bang Shin Ki in 2005, and ever since, se've closely monitored their activities. Nowadays of course, their talent is widely recognized and applauded, but most of it had already been made obvious back in 2005. Xiah Junsu's husky voice; the rocker within Youngwoong Jaejoong, waiting to be released; Micky Yoochun's oustanding charisma; U-Know Yunho amazing low notes; and Choikang Changmin's incredible range. The most staggering thing though, was none other than the harmony their voices created, elegant yet filled with energy. Though there were times when they had been lacking, the boys improved at an astonishing rate; they always had something new to offer. The passion and fire in the 5 of them never ceased to amaze.
And so the stars were born. We were offered so many opportunities to see their live performances, but it wasn't until February 2006 when they finally held their 1st concert, which was to last for 4 days. This was a completely surreal experience, everyone who was present, fans and music producers alike felt their power and emotion. This year (2008), they shocked Japan once again with their 4th concert. Their stunning capability took Japan by storm and I vividly remember writing a fan account recounting the exhilaration and joy they'd brought me.
After the concert, it was reported that the members were all completely thrilled and they'd said to the directors that they really wanted to do it all over again, to step on stage once more. And it was those words that encouraged our anticipation.
That was the very last time we saw genuine happiness...
Dong Bang Shin Ki began to focus on their Japanese activities from the beginning of 2006, releasing single after single, album after album. It was as though the promotions and television appearances would never stop coming, the same went for their Korean activities. In February, they not only held a showcase but also released a song for the World Cup entitled 'Fighting Spirit'. They flew all the way to Germany to record tv programs in celebration of the world cup.
Their schedules were just as hectic even as summer came around, participating in their Japanese management's summer concert 'a-nation', filming the movie 'Vacation' for their Korean company SM, recording OSTs, touring around Asia and then making their Korean comeback in September.
I was a little baffled then, I didn't think they would have time to record a new album. I thought that maybe they'd take a few month's rest before making their Korean comeback, yet there they were, on stage performing in no time at all. A-nation ended on August 26th and the date of their comeback was September 29th. In between that, not only did Junsu manage to release a single with SM's new artist Zhang Li Yin, they also managed to film a TV show which was broadcasted on September 9th.
It was then that it hit us: since we began monitoring their activities, Dong Bang Shin Ki had not had a single day's rest.
Whether it be recording studio albums or performing on stage, they were always in pursuit of the same goal, a goal that they'd achieve with months or mere days' worth of preparation.
It is common knowledge that whether it be dancing or singing, everything about Dong Bang Shin Ki requires the participation of all 5 members. And so considering the day they made their comeback, the rehearsals they'd partaken and all their other schedules, there was no way they would have gotten any time off.
The result of this was brought to light on September 9th, when a performance by Junsu and Zhang Li Yin had us completely shocked. Xiah Junsu's voice was at its very worst. Whilst a normal audience wouldn't have noticed it, those of us who'd been present at their concert in the beginning of 2006 were honestly taken aback. Back then, despite having to perform 4 day sin a row, his voice remained powerful, steady and versatile. What we heard this time was something else altogether, it felt as though he'd been completely worn out, it sounded as though he'd been performing 40 days in a row non-stop. Even though young singers have the stamina and energy to sustain themselves, it was apparent that Junsu had really reached his limit.
Flabbergasted, we made an inquiry to SM with regards to his situation, and this was their response: 'everything's fine, don't worry.'
2006 and Onwards...
No changes were made to Dong Bang Shin Ki's schedules. In the year they released their third album, they lip synched to most of their performances. Of course, there were occasions where they actually did sing, but they were lip synching even at the end of year award ceremonies. Not only were the fans disappointed, this also provided the wider audience with yet another opportunity to denigrate the boys.
Under normal circumstances, the only reason artists would be criticized for lip synching is if they lacked the skill to sing live. In Dong Bang Shin Ki's case, lip synching was the result of having to persevere through their other promotional activities whilst suffering intense fatigue. In that same year, Dong Bang Shin Ki had their first tour in Japan, in which all performances were sung live.
On October 14th 2006, U-Know Yunho became the unfortunate victim of a poisoning incident whilst he was on a television show. He was immediately rushed to the hospital to have his stomach pumped. Due to the malicious actions of an anti fangirl, he'd drunk glue by accident. The incident put his life under threat and it was beyond fortunate that he'd recovered. However, despite having recovered physically, there is no doubt that the event must have had a huge impact on him psychologically. Anyone would agree that after having endured this trauma, a few day's rest was essential to ensure that he recovered properly.
Yet Dong Bang Shin Ki continued to work as usual. Whilst he was in hospital, the other members continued to promote , and he was required to make his return as soon as his conditioned showed signs of improvement. In fact, they were even requested to go back and re-film the show where the poisoning incident had taken place. The exhaustion in their eyes did not go unnoticed. The greatest appeal of young artists is that they have strength and endurance. The things their company put them through are honestly beyond my comprehension.
Their determination had them standing on stage once again in no time. Normally, these things don't happen more than once, and if they do, people begin to question the managing authorities.
That was not the first time a member was hurt or injured; back in 2005, Youngwoong Jaejoong suffered a leg injury but continued with his activities anyway. In 2006, after they'd completed their Japanese tour, Yunho also hurt himself during rehearsals for their Asian tour. Even in such conditions, their attendance in a-nation was obligatory, and the scene of Yunho being carried to through the airport by his manager triggered heated discussion amongst the media. Of course, this was considered normal practice.
This year, in 2009, right before they began their 19 stop Japanese tour, Xiah Junsu injured his leg whilst rehearsing. Avex announced that they'd 'considered cancelling the concert, but Junsu insisted on performing'. In the first few shows, Xiah Junsu had no choice but to sing whilst sitting in his wheelchair. After this was made known to the public, it seemed only natural that he'd be given time to rest in between shows… as always, this was not the case. Even throughout that period, Xiah Junsu took part in all of his Japanese and Korean activities with his fellow members. It seemed as though it was customary practice for their Japanese and Korean management companies to continue booking them jobs even whilst the members were unfit for work. It was the norm.
Despite their packed schedules, despite being sick, and despite being injured, the boys consistently delivered perfect performances, earning them unrivaled success. With artists like the five of them, you'd think that their company would be grateful for the heart and effort they'd put in and grant them the holidays they deserved. Travelling back and forth between Korea, Japan and other Asian countries, singing in different languages, recording television shows, attending fan meets, releasing album after album and performing stage after stage… in everyone else's eyes, these boys had earned their fame and success, they'd really worked for it, and they were completely deserving of a break. Even in the fiercely competitive showbiz world, vacations were perfectly normal for artists who'd completed their promotions.
What did Dong Bang Shin Ki get?
2006 - 5 days
2007 - 1 week
2008 & 2009 - 10 days
To be continued...