JYJ and the Law on the American Agency, Part II

JYJ and the Law on the American Agency, Part II


It appears that my first piece on ‘JYJ and the Law on the American Agency’ has been circulating here and there and so, while I still have time, I would like to clear up any misunderstandings that might arise from it.

Of course, the prime motivation for JYJ’s use of the American agency model is for their personal activities in entertainment rather than a conscientious desire to lead Korean society by example. I am aware that there are already Korean celebrities utilising the agency model and accepted as equal partners by their agencies even before this concept was raised here. Of course I am aware this is the not the first time. (Translator’s note: she is referring here to the Korean film industry, which has been using the American agency system since the late 90s). However, what I wanted to stress is that because [JYJ] are idols the impact they bring by openly using the agency model will be much bigger.

When I was young, the concept of the idol did not exist in Korean society. The concept of the idol is the following: the entertainer is not engaged in an equal relationship with his or her management but is transformed into the status of a weak child that doesn’t know the ways of the world, is incapable of independence, and must thus depend on, obey and “belong” to their management company as if to a parent. In SM’s case, we are all familiar with the manifestations of this restrictive relationship—13 year long-term contracts, burdensome penalties for breach of contract, etc.—but what horrified me the most is the ideological position of these management companies. Korean management companies publicly announce that they have made children/youths who were “absolutely nothing” into stars with their big-scale capital and know-how. Essentially, their position is that if it weren’t for companies like them it would be impossible for these idol stars to make it on their own. This is why SM often says, “Even if idols leave [our] management company, they always go to another management company [just like ours].” Effectively, they are belittling and condescending the very talent and potential they themselves discovered, but those who habitually lie one day find themselves believing their own lies. In the eyes [of these management companies], idols are not capable of convictions or professional desires but exist simply to eat what’s served to them without any thought, judgment or the artistic ambition that comes with talent. Maybe this is why even the larger public doesn’t really acknowledge or accept idols [as talented people].

In this manner, thus far, [idol management companies] present [idols] as mere products perfected and refined from head to toe, and yet suddenly become the betrayed and hurt sunbae or parent—a corporation taking on human characteristics (Translator’s note: In law, the distinction between a corporate body and a physical body is absolute and without question)—the minute the idol star craves independence; such a sin is blasted as “an offense against the gods” and “ungratefulness.” This is the same logic as saying, because I raised the dog it has no right to bite me even if I decide to make stew out of it.

In this situation JYJ has become the dog that bit its owner or the dog that ran away the day its owner wanted it for stew, rather than artists seeking freedom. What’s more ‘shocking’ is that instead of seeking a new owner that would protect them and take responsibility for them much like the old, [JYJ] sought an agency that would facilitate their activities and let them stand on their own. The fact that they chose to engage with an American-style agency as opposed to a classic Korean management company means that they not only turned down being a slave by contract but also, on the mental level, they have escaped altogether the category of slave in every sense of the word.

In truth, no matter how vigilant one is, if you keep eating the food served to you by others you get used to the taste. SM’s assurance in its modus operandi is this “slave-like spirit” that is universal in human nature, especially when survival or fame is at stake. This is to say, even if slavery is abolished, if one doesn’t grasp at freedom against the temptations of slavery’s comforts and perks, one cannot escape the slave-like mentality. However, if JYJ were slaves in the past, they have now thrown aside their slave-like spirit and are running away from it with all their might.

If JYJ succeeds, it would shatter to pieces the “if not through us it’s impossible” ideology espoused by management companies. Existing idols and even newbie trainees will have grounds to not tolerate the belittling of their talent in a way that bullies them into unequal relations by categorising them as servile weaklings incapable of doing anything on their own. In that case, these restrictive, dependent relationships that form the basis of the idol-producing industry’s success and occupies the core of the system operated by management companies will most likely collapse, no? I at least hope so.

Written by: Junebug of Junebug36

Translation by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles

~Please do not re-post without proper credits~

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of JYJ and the Law on the American Agency, Part I. The writer is a Korean-American lawyer.

66 thoughts on “JYJ and the Law on the American Agency, Part II

  1. I love this kind of information, because it is the truth. I’m old enough to know who I want to follow, of course JYJ and my beautiful duck butt kekeke…

  2. Jimmie,
    I wonder if this article posted somewhere else or did she only post it on her blog?
    I spreaded it between Turkish cassies 😉
    JYJ is also lucky because they are from tvxq, they have loyal fans. they are too much talented and even if they are not that strong they have at least a management company and a PR company who can help them. they have examples from past so theye were prepared….what I am trying to say is they managed to survive and in the end they will be the ones who succeed!! I believe this ^^
    thank you for the translation.

    • i believe that JaeSuChun can bring a new era to korean companies and show them that artists don’t need to accept allcompanies want, cuz they can be on their own too 🙂

      just hope this action to allow SME to don’t think this high as they think and bring 5 together, even if it means more 1 year or 2 *being positive XD*

  3. This reminds me of a exerpt of a book I read in Humanities class a couple years ago called “pedagogy of the oppressed”by Paulo Freire. When the writer of this article mentioned the slave like mentality it sounded so similar to the concept written in the book I mentioned it was scary.
    Anyways, yet another well-written piece!
    Thank you to Jimmie for the translation!

  4. JIMMIE!!! I want to materialize in front of you and bring coffee and yummy donuts and have a delicious talk with you about these things!
    I consider myself still new to the K-Pop industry, but so far I have seen how the artists rights’ have been treated insignificantly by big companies like SME. I was seriously concerned when my sister told me how TVXQ started and I was like, “WHUT?” when I read about the past artists that have tolerated such treatment to continue.
    Now that JYJ has stepped up, I do hope with all my heart that they would be the ones to bring the much needed change so future artists can be treated as equals and can be looked upon as idols for what they are worth.
    Somehow, I feel pain knowing that HoMin are suffering but just hiding the wounds, covering them up and bearing them. I hope that they soon seek for the freedom that they know they too need.

    • it’s like “instant star” an american serie i see…
      the girl have talent but the agency just wanna things their way without using her full potential. and if she go against they just say: “u will end” or things like that >.<

  5. Jimmie thank you for the translation,
    I am really tired with some people still saying that JYJ just greedy people, ungratefull,
    I hope this article can shut up their stupid mouth,
    it’s close with 18 january, I hope judge can open his eye and bring freedom for JYJ, and I read that some K-media make article about JYJ who cockblocking from appear on TV,
    Jimmie can I ask, how K-media comment with JYJ situation now?

  6. I’m really REALLY happy of coming to this place. Reading the first part and now this one actually makes me all happy and teary. I don’t know how to thank the author for this piece of greatness. Is a way to tell the things a lot of us think, in a really simple and clear way. I Love the author. Thanks for makin me smile ^^

  7. Call it serendipity if you will but just yesterday I was using the slavery model to explain this very situation when someone likened the mentality of idols to the Stockholm Syndrome. Both are indeed quite fitting and neatly and adequately puts things into perspective.

    Thank you so much for the translations. I’m spreading these posts around, I hope you don’t mind. I’ve had enough of immature, emotion-based behaviour and I’m trying to educate those inclined.

    • I really hope it helps fans look at things differently. Even if not this situation in particular, it’s informative nonetheless.
      Once JYJ are okay, well… I’m hoping HoMin will find a way to save themselves. No one can do that for them at this point.

      • i believe that having people brainwashed by SME by their side only don’t help this much HoMin……
        some “fans” just care about their own happiness, forgeting HoMin’s feelings >.<

  8. Jimmie and the staff of The JYJ Files, thank you very much for bringing us this piece.

    In the last part, the author raised a lot of interesting points about the efficiancy of the American system and the Korean one. The American system is also used in other countries with even smaller marked than the Korean one and still all works. In my country, the highest sold CD last year, sold 10.000 pieces yet the artists and people connected to them could live a good life just by depending on their music.

    I found my self nodding my head up and down when I read this part XD. One thing that struck me the most when reading responses from SME and from their other artists. It is like they really believe that since the company raised and made those idols into who they are today, they should follow SM to the end if they were not “lower than beasts”. Those who do not follow this idea are in their eyes, well… (I wonder what they think of Backstreet Boys and N SYNC)

    Before the lawsuit, leaving one record company or dismissing a manager never did seem like a big thing to me and it still doesn’t. After all, didn’t both sides made bets on profit by working with each other? Didn’t SM profit from those years that the three guys worked under them? It is not like JYJ only took and never gave back. If it was not for the fans of the artists under their company there would be no SME like it is today. Going by their logic they should listen to the fans wishes. As one of the people who has financially supported this company I wish that they leave JYJ alone. Can they do what they tell others to do?

  9. thank you

    One of my major concerns about the idol system is not really the length of contracts or heavy penalties as those can be challenged in court but rather it is the mentality don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Just because someone gave you a foundation to start a career and helped you reach success does not mean you owe them undying loyalty. This type of mentality sadly reminds me of the mob mentality, in which if you enter a gang you pledge your allegiance to them and you cannot leave as its seen as betrayal.

    Everybody works to get better opportunities. If your company no matter how much they planned a huge role in your success refuses to listen to your grievances and concerns you have the right to search for a better opportunity somewhere else and that is why many resign but looking at JYJ’s case the only option offered to them was suing the company. Searching for better opportunities does not equal ingratitude or betrayal but rather it doing what is best for oneself same as those companies doing what is best for them.

    Am more astounded that people would think its fine for the companies to do what is best for them to maximize profits but when the idols start to question their company and do what they think is best for them and their long term career its seen as immoral. I find it perplexing as to how certain people view this case because personally i just see it as someone resigning their job but the only way its through suing.

    • you’re absolutely right about that. I think most commonly, many people are actually putting words into JYJ’s mouth w/o them saying it themselves. Never once did they say they were ungrateful to their old company. How many times have you seen them say their so thankful, how many times have they shown their gratitude. They’re very humble people w/o a doubt.

      But really the Korean system is built up in that image of “loyalty”

      • yeah XD
        they just don’t like the contract!
        but SME have this god complex and artists can’t understand that talent, charisma and hardworking come from them only!
        a company don’t created it!
        SME abbuse the wish to be a star and brinwash them all ¬¬

  10. It’s time for Korea’s music industry to come out of the dark ages. These other idols, like Boa, SJ, SNSD, Trax, etc., who are nothing but puppets and spewing SM propaganda need to open their minds to a new century and enter into enlightenment. Their ignorant attacks show how malicious and petty the entire SM group really is. I find it very offensive as a consumer and fan and have made a decision to boycott any SM Entertainment artists and productions. They have totally turned me off. I will take my purchasing power and democratic rights and boycott those who are parasites on progress (like SM) and support those who are working towards a better world for all entertainers.

    • I love dogs, but when I read this article, I immediately think of the slave-like dogs (or idols if you like it) mentioned in the comment above.

    • well said. i agree. i use to like superjunior and others under their label but now they leave a bad taste in my mouth. i’ll support those that strive to become real artists exploring their god-given talent to help others.

  11. This article explain many things, like how jyj were offended by sungmin, shindong, boa and called ‘betrayal’, is it loyalty when our owner want to stew out us and we did nothing to do, eh? i don’t think so, i called it stupid! and good step, very brave jyj that try to enhance their carreer but don’t want to ‘slave’ again by other management like SM do…i wonder, how bout shinwa, ftts, and other ex SM artist? they move to another ‘just-like-SM’ company, so they were didn’t blocked by SM or? i guess i ever heard that shinwa get huge problem too when they try to leave SM, is it not the same as jyj now?

    • i think ftts and shinhwa also had troubles of their own when leaving sm, but not as much as JYJ. JYJ actually sued SM and is still locked in this court case while the others ex-SM idols simply wanted to leave the company asap after their contracts expired. JYJ on the other hand, still has more years to fulfill with SM’s contract and thus it’s a bit more difficult. In addition, SM is fighting harder because DBSK is a big name group with tons of commercial success and are popular all over Asia. Then again, it took awhile for Shinhwa to get the copyright to their name “Shinhwa” from SM…but were successful in the end. Let’s hope JYJ is just as successful! Fighting!

      • fortunately DBSK cannot be copyrighted in korea!!!
        so if JYJ wants that can call themselves DBSK

      • ah….so the different is that jyj sued SM when they still has contract with sm while shinwa want to leave when their contract expired, ok thx for your explained bout this, and yeah let’s hope for jyj’s success!!! ^^

      • yeah, but SME isn’t carrying trully for TVXQ name, cuz it’s precious with all 5, but like can’t lose anyway, SME is bringing a huge name to the same ground the company is.
        in the end, SME is just losing money and the name and the best group they have ¬¬

  12. A good article & thanks Jimmie for the translations. I saw Mr. Egg linked the Part I to his facebook, I’m sure he will link this as well.

    • i think it’s useless… this article would still be said as JYJ’s biased article.. and it’s from Fan blog…not from news.. they wouldn’t take it..

      i always tip good News about JYJ and none posted, like JYJ essay and harry potter thing =.=;; so i give up send any tip to AKP…they just want the controversial news one about JYJ…of course not in the good term..

      • i dx get it when some people complained the article is a opinion-based article so its irrelevant thus not newsworthy to be posted. But the article was constructive and informative. AKP is a gossip site so intellectual piece is not meant for gossip-folk like them? well good for them. and about them not posting all this positive news on JYJ well, thatz nothing new….they like degrading people more than uplifting others success. That’s what make them famous.

      • @9mm actually some of JYJfiles articles being posted on omonatheydidn’t (i hope this is okay >.<) well that site is something like AKP but they are in LJ community… and i can say the people there more well-mannered than in AKP… actually this article get good reaction from the reader…but of course they still said this is JYJ biased article…

  13. Jimmie, thank you so so much for the information ❤ ❤ JYJ surely has opened up a new chapter of Korean entertainment industry hasn't them. NOw whether this chapter is a successful one depends largely on FANS. I believe as long as there is demand, JYJ will soar. We just have to make our voices known.

  14. thanks for the trans unnie ^^ we must be strong for jyj…today is another shitty day that sme gives me…i gave up the faith and hope for a reunion…both sides made their point but there’s no conclusion in the end…i will FIGHT FOR JYJ AND ONLY GIVE MY MONEY TO JYJ! the rest can go bash others while i shall spread my love >< waste my energy and time to even think of those unworthy ppl ==

  15. Sorry random,
    but we need Jimmie now, guys do you read new article about homin’s feel with JYJ? Some comment say that this translate article different with the real/korean, I am really scare with new fanwar again, I am really tired with all this drama,
    God please protect our JYJ,

    • You’re referring to the Allkpop article right? I hear that the original sources have mysteriously disappeared….so I’m inclined to believe that the original sources were faulty to begin with…

      • Sorry, Jimmie, I have a question to ask you.
        About Allkpop article, someone who claimed herself as Korean said that this article is true and Allkpop has already confirmed about it. So, is this true? I don’t know Korean Language so all I can do is just ask and ask.
        Because, if this article is true then I think those two just killing themsleve with their words.

        And thank you so much for translating such useful information about the law. I find it’s really interesting.

      • Unfortunately, the article seems to be true though I have no idea why the article ‘mysteriously’ disappeared.
        If you go visit dnbn.pe.kr, the poster (by the name of 샤쵸제제촹훠) had the article screen captured for everyone to see that in fact, this article existed.
        There is another post with an actual picture someone took of the Korean newspaper, where YoonHo and ChangMin express their feelings on this whole chaos.

        I must admit, as a person who supported both sides, that I was left stupefied after reading YoonHo and ChangMin’s interview. It is as clear as day to me now that JYJ and HoMin are on two complete different pages, and that it’ll be extremely difficult for them to reunite as TVXQ.

        By the way, I know this is a random spot to say this, but I thank you and all the other ‘mods’ for setting this place up! Like everyone mentioned, it’s extremely informative and I love the fact that the fans from two separate camps aren’t out to slash each other’s throats.
        Keep this place runnin’!

      • @gulp
        Thank you for replying this. I’m just curious that’s all.
        And I’m really diappointed with their words.
        Sometimes the thought of them were brainwashed by SME poped up in my head. But I think, if this really what they feel then I think it’s finally the time for me to let go these two handsome men’s hands and hold tightly to JYJ’s hands instead.
        I like them but I can’t stand their words. (I want someone to wake me up and tell that this isn’t true)

  16. @I Love JYJ & @gulp
    im curious abt the article you’re talking abt… what did Homin say abt the whole situation? i dont read AKP so, i dont have any idea what goes on in there…

  17. This made me think about something that was being said not too long ago. A lot of people still want to audition for SME because there is a good chance of making it big if selected, this goes for the other big Korean Entertainment companies out there. We then have to acknowledge that because SME has the resources people of talent and of no talent will want to go to them.

    What SME has is a consistent reputation of producing hit groups. This pulls in a good pool of resources, not just money but also song writers and show producers that are willing to work with them because in some case if you get an SME artist to work with you will get viewers and listeners. I was thinking of this in the instance of a good university. If a university has graduates that went on and made something of themselves, they can use that to advertise themselves. Like so and so graduated from here and now he or she is a millionare. It attracts people that think that if one person made it big than they may have that chance here. This may attract some of the most brilliant students there are and the university will continually produce successful graduates. But to be a successful school they can use the fact that they’ve already gotten their name out there and then the people with great minds will then try to come to them looking for positions within the school.

    The university then has vast resources. The university I’m going to made its name from a sport. It pulled in sports fans and money. The money went to building better facilities and hiring better staff. Which increased the attraction. We have in one place a group of good teachers, good resources, research facilities, more out of class learning opportunities based on the network that the school has created.

    What I’m trying to get at is, that it wasn’t always the institute that made something successful. But once you have the resources, you have make yourself a better institute.

    That’s how I was looking at this. 🙂 I liked the article a lot. Loved how you painted the picture. Do you bite the hands that feed you?

    • i don’t think that’s “biting the hands that feed u”….
      even if the person helps u, u will allow the said one to order u forever?
      u can even be greatful for the chance and help time to time, but being said to ALWAYS help?
      did they do it for u or cuz they wanted something from u?
      what if they don’t let u grown up?
      Miyavi after 10 years decided to create Jglam and PSCompany didn’t see a problem, cuz miyavi were always great in there and just wanted to grow another step together with the marriage and his 2 daughters 🙂

      TVXQ can still do works with SME, but SME need to just keep them cuz they bring huge amounts of money?
      Don’t SME cares about their artists’ future?

      • I don’t think I was clear I was just rephrasing the point of the article. Which basically asks, do you bite the hand that feeds you?

        Not about the example I provided I tend to make jumps whenever I talk so yea . . .

        I just left the question as is because like a previous commenter that the mentality to not bite the hand that feeds you is very common in Korean industry.

  18. Perhaps it would be better phrased as “Should you bite the hand that feeds you?”
    As it implies that the phrase is open for debate

    • I was just focused in SME as an institute because it seems to take credit for themselves and I was trying to illustrate the fact that the institute only makes a name for itself after it has had success and after success they capitalized on it and that brought in resources for them to build a better institute. A better institute meaning one that has the available resources to attempt to reproduce an earlier success.

      But in the beginning, to start out they had to have invested in someone with talent so it was talent and the institute working together to gain success before the institute had the means to train people who may or may not have talent to debut. So saying that the fame gained by a person is own to a persons education or training given by a company is not a good reason. Because one could be well trained and well educated and that still does not guarantee success. Being given the right song, the right amount of publicity, being able to keep up with the schedule provided, having the right personality towards work, all these little factors contribute too. For an institute to take all the credit for an artist’s fame is rather demeaning like the article says, “I made you what you are.”

      It suggests that you have little free will over your actions because they are the master puppeteers and you did exactly what they wanted you to.

  19. seriously sme please improve your PR what you’re doing to HM is only damaging their image and reputation not only that digging their own grave….

    • OR maybe that’s their new style of PR…hahhaha……

      sorry, i’m just too confused about the whole thing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • i can’t imagine 18 jan TT i will be at school during that time! i’m afraid of the results TT probably can’t focus at school during that day

      • January 18th is the last verdict for the lawsuit. Correct my if I’m wrong!
        And they said that there will be 2 persons from SME side to give testimony as witnesses in court. So, fans are getting worry because they ASSUNE that those two would be HoMin. So………….will see then.

      • i think so too…i think it’s going to be HOMIN…i don’t want to think about it == those two are not relevant to me anymore right now i rather focus on JYJ….hwaiting! i’m with you guys~

      • HOmin or not i don’t care. the only thing i wish and pray for everyday is for JYJ to win this lawsuit !!!!!! yes

  20. Thanks for the second part to the article! 🙂 I pretty much agree with what the author says in the whole article, so I won”t comment too much on the issues raised. I’d just like to say one thing:

    A lot of people have been saying that JYJ hasn’t produced anything successful in terms of their music since they left SM but as a fan who has really enjoyed the members’ self compositions since their time in SM/avex (JJ and YC’s Shelter, COLORS, YC’s Fox Rain, Evergreen, Love Bye Love and many others), I’m willing to wait for any creative output from the members of JYJ and judge that on the basis of it being an original work, even if it’s less polished than SM productions. Jaejoong and Yoochun’s COLORS single in Japan, particularly, proved to me that they have exceeded the frame of being merely an executor of other people’s productions to becoming people capable of being in charge of the creative process. In this sense I don’t only agree with their decision because of the indirect social impact I think it will have, but also because I see their potential in existing outside the models created for them by S.M.

    • LOL who said that?! they haven’t done anything successful in terms of music? sure the beginning was not the best but so far their rooms music essay ALL 6 songs are lovely wonderful and just amazing! =) self composed and self written just wonderful and lovely~~~these boys have potentials to even exceed what they can do~~~i’m quite satisfied with their new works like nine,fallen leaves, no name song, pierrot, ids~~~all of them are my fave ^^ and definitely not the usual idols songs ==;;; i’m sick of kpop idols songs already…it’s nearly the same style the same type of song BAH! go JYJ hwaiting!

    • I kind of agree to what you have raised. Don’t get me wrong, I love jyj and their music, but comparing the songs they sing now to those they sang when they were still DBSK, there’s certainly a drop in quality. If you were to judge it from the perspective of ‘quality music’, their currents songs are not able to surpass the ones they had in the past. JYJ’s music is so fabulous is because of the emotions they have invested (its clearly reflected in their new album ‘music essay’), but the overall composition of the songs is not entirely full, and will be able to leave a deep impression in others. Of course, music is always personal and subjective, which leads to so many factors of why many people are attracted to jyj’s music. I personally love their godly vocals, especially junsu’s, that’s why I cant detach my ears from their music!

  21. Lo and behold, I’ve finally sought you guys out. Eternally grateful to a fan-lead to this site. Thanks for keeping me in mind and in the loop, Jimmie, missed you loads. *Same sentiment extends to familiar ones here*

    This is one awesome site that demonstrates the neurological capabilities of a human brain with active neuro synapses. You guys rock!

  22. I finally had time to read this and it raises valid points. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    I’ve been wondering, since the American-style agency model is not that familiar in South Korea, what are the chances that the judge would take note of it? I’m not familiar with Korean laws, so I’m actually curious as to how the court would rule in SM’s case against JYJ for double contracts. Because as much as the SME-style of management is old-fashioned, it’s not necessarily wrong. Their contracts might be questionable, but I doubt if the company itself is illegal, although one could accuse them of unfair business practices.

    I was introduced to the concept of “debut” when I got into Kpop. While I think it’s a good idea to train a person first before putting them into the spotlight, I realize that if the company is the one who controls and decides everything for their talent, then the talent wouldn’t be able to grow. And I think that this is probably the reason why there are so many idols are debuting in South Korea every year, replacing the ones who are already growing old.

  23. thanks for translation, i admire your hard work.
    I have a question, SME always said they had to cover the cost of training trainees, but didn’t DBSK said in talk show long time ago that they (Yunho, Jaejoong) had to work a lot to pay for housing, personal expense and TUITION FEE??
    so what does SM really pay for when they’re training new groups?

  24. Hi, I’m really thankful for your information. Nothing is impossible. The old system need to be and can be changed. I believe JYJ is trying to change the old system to a new and better system. I believe JYJ’s fans around the world should try to help or support them in any way they can. We love Jaejoong, Junsu and Yoochun.

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