TVXQ, this generation's legend created by funds and nurtured by fans.
An example of a successful Idol Group
TVXQ was the third male idol dance group that SM debuted after H.O.T. and Shinhwa. SM, who is the forerunner when it comes to the K-pop Idol culture, used any and every one of it's producing methods when it came to created TVXQ. Different from their seniors who could not shake off the image of 'A dance group that emphasizes looks,' TVXQ was an idol group that emphasized the members' vocal abilities from the start. They came with an a capella song with excellent vocalist Xiah Junsu as the main vocal. Dance skills and good looks were standard. Their debut song "HUG"(2004), that had some embarrassing lyrics such as "I want to be your bed for one day," gave teenage girls the image of a sweet and charming boyfriend. (The members who would whisper 'girl' after their debut successfully evolved into a mature group who gave off their sexy masculinity in 'Spell(MIROTIC)')
Each member becomes a subject for Games and Stories
SM's ability to instill a unique character in each member was the most prominent with TVXQ. 'Visual Shock', pretty boy YoungWoong Jaejoong who has looks that seemed to pop out of a comic book, manly leader U-Know Yunho, sweet guy Micky Yoochun with soft features who shows his honest feelings by frequently crying on stage, tall and handsome Choikang Changmin who is the youngest and cute Xiah Junsu who talks and acts like a child. These characters can be seen anywhere from tv shows to performances, to even the smallest of actions. It is almost as if they have made a kind of drama about themselves unlike other groups.
'Xiahmori', known by the vast majority of fans, is the members' intentional bullying of Xiah Junsu. Not only does this bullying emphasize Xiah Junsu's cute factor, it also shows the closeness of the members. To compare, the members of TVXQ are like the members of 'Infinite Challenge', each having their own unique character and part, each member created their own story of their characters early on in their singing career. Their images grew stronger as they matured. Masculine U-Know Yunho's 'oldest brother' image sunk in and stayed. While Yoochun's warm acceptance of Xiah Junsu's childish behavior has given them a 'sweet couple' image. The team's youngest member Choikang Changmin, who had the weakest image at the start, became the cool, indifferent 'Chic Chang,' or the 'Real Leader.'
These images and characters were the deciding factor when it came to the fans' acceptance of TVXQ's existence as one story. There are endless 'activities' to do with TVXQ as the subject. Fan-Fictions that include the idol members loving each other are prevalent in other groups, but they are not as good quality or quantity wise as they are with TVXQ as the main subjects. There is also a game that is called 'TVXQ's Answers for Situations'. It is a game where fans imagine what members would say about a same situation. Through these games, fans are able to become closer to the members, and the relationship between fans become stronger as they share games and laugh about their content. Not only their official fan club site 'Cassiopeia', but also all their tens and hundreds of fan cafes and sites have become a playground for fans.
The world's greatest fanclub that got on the Guiness Book of World Records
The number of people in Cassiopeia is 800,000. The number of people in Daum's fan cafe 'Yuaerubi' is also 800,000. SM stopped signing Cassiopeia members in 2006. Nowadays, TVXQ's fans Cassiopeia are simply called 'Ca-A' or 'Kang'. Cassiopeia, a name that derives from the five star constellation, was included in the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest fan club in the world. TVXQ's fandom, that started off as most fandoms do with the majority of fans being in their teens or 20s, spread out to include people in their 30s and 40s, and international fans. The fan clubs have even divided based on age. 'Xiah Soul' is a fan site for people in their 30s who have a preference for Xiah Junsu, and 'DongnaeBangnae' is a fan page where many international fans participate.
The fandom's personality has changed as well. The generation of fans who not only worship their idols, but also protect and support them, or act as spokespeople for the stars has come. The motherly guardian fandom that watches the stars grow from a young age started off with 'the first Nation's Idol' GOD and has evolved and solidified with TVXQ. The fandom that considers themselves the spokespeople of the stars have served community service hours or donated money under the name of the star. 'Match Made in Heaven' and 'AVC' are some of the Cassiopeia community service groups that move around the nation helping others. Fans do these services to better their star's image but they also become great contributors to society. As many people know, when the Mad Cow Disease crisis occurred in Korea last year, the first people to protest on the streets were the fanclubs of TVXQ.
The Internet's groups for people with the same taste
A fanclub's strongest cohesion comes from liking the same thing. Especially for society's underdogs who are open to the economic aspect of life, teenage girls, it is hard to find the sharing of one's affection without any competitiveness. The only competition amongst fans happens to be their faithfulness of their stars. In fan sites that work on a ranking system, many ask detailed questions about TVXQ for 'level ups'. There are even essay questions such as, 'The effect of a capella on TVXQ.'
The made-up language and ceremonies that only the fans know have also solidified this fandom. Cassiopeia decides on the type of cheer they will use at a TVXQ concert through voting. There are thousands of words and phrases that only the fans understand. The word 'Ilko' refers to an adult who hides the fact that he/she is a TVXQ fan and acts like a regular person. But the biggest influence of the fandom can be found in the music market. Instead of downloading illegally, fans have opened up their wallets for CDs even if TVXQ releases three versions of the same album. At the same time, TVXQ has also become a victim of an excessive fandom. Because of them, the new 'personal life fan (A fan who follows them everywhere)' has emerged who follows the star's movements almost 24 hours every day.
'Fan-Fic', putting sexual imagination to paper
TVXQ is also at the top when it comes to Fan-Fiction, a characteristic of idol fandoms. Fan-fics refer to the romance novels written by fans that depict the idol stars engaging in homosexual relationships. Rather than going against their 소유욕 by having their 'oppas (older brothers)' taken by other girls, the fans have made the members gay in the stories. It can be seen as a branch off of Japan's 'Yaoi' culture. After TVXQ's debut, SM aroused the homosexual imagination aspect by linking the members as couples. Of course this does not mean that the members are actually gay, and they used this romantic imagination, that could be used for heterosexual situations, to relieve the built-up sexual tension that women in their teens and 20s have. Many of the fan-fic writers are up to par skill-wise to professional writers. The majority are free to read through the writer's homepage, but there are some that are sold for profit.
An interesting fact is that there has been a sudden surge of fans in their 30s and 40s. This correlates to the increase of Auntie-Uncle fans that have appeared in society these days. They act as a protective guardian fandom as well as a fandom that has physical desires for people who are extremely younger than those fans are. Like adults who love teen romance such as 'Boys Over Flowers' or "Gossip Girls', they have an air of people who are physically attracted to and wanting idols who are way younger.
The Idealization of 'Me'
As most teens are limited from relationships because of their age, idols become a 'substitute lover' for them. At the same time, fans see idols as a part of themselves, feeling the success of the idols is their own success. Also, since teens live in a highly competitive society and do not have many successes of their own, they see TVXQ's success story with great awe (This is also why fans can be ruthless when it comes to tight competition with other groups.) If the members of TVXQ are not able to overcome this current situation, the devastating impact it will have on their fans is unimaginable.
They even have unwavering Vocal Abilities
The most important point of this TVXQ syndrome is their music. Even though they debuted as an idol group, they showed their vocal maturity and growth through their Japanese activities. Match the powerful dance skills trained through the SMP genre (SM's unique genre of song with powerful dancing), their stage presence, their ability to sing unwaveringly even after a powerful dance, and their good looks, and it's no wonder TVXQ started off the second Hallyu Wave. From dance to pop-ballads, the members have done them all and have used the members' star-qualities to their fullest potential. At live concerts, especially, has their music touched many hearts and that is why they are worthy of being called 'The Gods of the East' by their fans all over the world.
Source: [JoongAng Sunday + DNBN]
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