Letter of (Almost) Resignation: Final Confessions, Part III

Letter of (Almost) Resignation: Final Confessions, Part III

In any case, as a Korean Government employee and representative, my loyalty lies first and foremost to Korea before the Korean Wave. My responsibility is to serve Koreans—including the idol singers under SM—not the Korean Wave. JYJ’s fight and plight is clearly exposing that, under the circumstances engineered by companies like SM, the latter is destroying the former. The social context of the lawsuit and the certain characteristic elements of the Kpop fandom reveal that not everything associated with the Korean Wave is beneficial to Korea or Koreans. If anything, a great many aspects of the Korean idol boom and its internationalisation have left me deeply disturbed, if not downright afraid, on behalf of our singers and citizens. As attractive as the commercialised components of it are—the slick music videos, cool fashion and complex stage performances—it is ultimately disseminating the image of Koreans as disposable products or exotic performing circus monkeys. One only needs to peruse the comments on high-traffic English-language Kpop sites to understand that this way of marketing Korean artists does not necessarily garner respect for Koreans or genuine admiration for the country’s culture—a culture that survived its unfortunate geopolitical position, wars, neo-Confucian oppression/repression, annexation, division, extreme poverty and more to accomplish in 60 years what it took Western countries 200, a rare and unique example of economic development and citizenship empowerment. Surely such a culture and its descendants deserve far more than to be regarded as a disposable Internet byte.

Not too long ago, Korean netizens were fuming over articles, blog posts and/or cartoon strips originating from Japan that portrayed Korean girl groups as little more than sex objects[i]. Koreans attacked the Japanese for their racism and low regard for Koreans, but, in all seriousness, were they in a position to level such criticism? After all, it’s not as if girl groups or idols are regarded any differently in Korea—ultimately, they are all objects, sexual or otherwise. So, who can blame the Japanese, or any other non-Korean group of ‘fans’ for that matter, when they are simply acting on what they learned from the original source? Idol singers…written off as products in Korea…and thus treated as sexual objects everywhere else. If this is the face of the Korean Wave, I daresay it’s not worth preserving. For the security and moral integrity of our citizens, this kind of Korean Wave is best dismantled.

Without Korea there would be no Korean Wave, and without Koreans there would forcibly be no Korea. Therefore, I strongly believe that a sustainable Korean Wave will have at its centre talented Koreans (along with an accountable infrastructure that cultivates and supports their well-being and potential) NOT faceless, shameless entertainment companies.

Thus, inasmuch as SM needs JYJ to fail, Korea, and more specifically the Korean music industry, needs JYJ to succeed. Every stable, thriving and/or critically acclaimed music industry has artists occupying the middle ground between the commercialised pop idols and serious indie musicians, artists who act as the fulcrum, and buffer, harmonising the two extremes. Industry size ultimately doesn’t matter. This principle applies to the music market in the United States—where the likes of Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson were allowed to grow from teen idols to music icons with merit in their own right—as well as the music markets of Iceland and South Africa, both of which have produced Grammy Award-winning artists[ii]. Korea needs artists like JYJ. The Korean Wave needs artists like JYJ, artists with pop idol roots but who grow to become acknowledged as artists in their own right, bringing stability to the entire industry by doing so and securing its future by sticking around to cultivate the next generation of pop singer-songwriters. And so I have always believed that not only JYJ fans but also those who truly value Korea, the Korean arts and the Korean Wave will support JYJ.

What the Korean Wave ultimately needs are leaders that, first of all, truly love Korea and also respect and understand the value of Art. Art is not a Slot Machine but a complex and capricious muse that will only play second-fiddle mistress to SadoMasochistic perverts for so long. By all indications, she has already grown tired of the game with said perverts and has found a new patron that truly appreciates her. The C’est si bon show, which gathered the artists of the Korean folk music movement of the 1960s and 70s for a studio concert that was broadcast live, garnered jaw-dropping ratings[iii], even among the young, and YG Entertainment is fast rising in prominence as a model for the future of Kpop business ethics and artistic success[iv] (though given its recent ill-judged dive into the cartel world through UAM, it remains to be seen if or, rather, how much, YG will sell out, since it will now have to harmonise its position with that of the likes of SM).

What the Korean Wave needs are more Seo Taijis and Yang Hyeonseoks (CEO of YG Entertainment) as opposed to Lee Soomans and Kim Youngmins, more DFSB Kollectives[v] as opposed to Melon or Dosirak, and an industry environment where the likes of Fluxus and C-JeS can compete alongside the likes of JYP and Cube.

And so, in the end, in attempting to leave my last words on JYJ, I have strayed far from our favourite trio and have ended up on policy recommendations for the sustainability of the Korean Wave. Nonetheless, I hope my readers can see the logical connections between all the points that got me here. Also, I hope that the readers of The JYJ Files can now see why I never considered JYJ’s plight to be a question of Kpop or fandoms but rather one of justice and State sovereignty. In fact, I believe SM has been trying for a long time to trivialise the matter into a conflict between fandoms, pitting in its discourse the JYJ fandom against either the HoMin fandom or the fandoms of other SM artists. In my view, it is so much bigger than that, and it is my wish that the international JYJ fandom does not fall to the trivialisation ruse. As I have said above, SM—in drafting and enforcing the kind of contracts that it did, in continually disobeying the mouthpiece of the Korean State, and in defrauding Korean taxpayers—has meddled in the one area the Korean State cannot tolerate—its exclusive sovereign authority—and consequently has come to symbolise the antithesis of post-G20 Korea and a force that hates the Republic of Korea and her citizens.

More than anything, I would like the international JYJ fandom to be a fandom that truly loves Korea and Koreans…that cares enough about Korea to have high expectations of it and hold it accountable to those expectations…a fandom that loves the members of JYJ as Koreans and human beings with talent. I don’t know how much I’ve convinced you that to love Korea in practicality means hating SM, but the only effective response will be to NOT get bogged down in fights with either the HoMin fandom or the fandom of other SM idols. At the most fundamental level, this is not a fight between SM fans and JYJ fans. It is not even a fight between SM and JYJ. It is a fight between the SM system and the Korean State. Therefore, I am convinced that the only effective response is to pressure the Korean Government. Continue writing and emailing relevant ministries and communicating with them through projects like the international fans’ petition. As international consumers of the Korean Wave who are fully aware of the prevailing conditions, you have immense potential to influence policy on the labour standards in the Korean entertainment industry and to effectively protect the artists you love.

In many ways, you boast a power Korean fans cannot even dream of, as the ripple effects of the international fans’ petition have already shown. I remember on the day of the interview I gave to the Chosun Ilbo, I told an impressed reporter that there were an unimaginable number of people outside of Korea who have never been to Korea before but who loved Korean culture. “Korean culture no longer belongs solely to Koreans,” I said, and this part made it to the actual article. What didn’t make it into the article is that I went on to say, “Now that Korean pop has garnered an audience beyond Korea and has gone truly global, it must meet the international expectations of its international audience. If only to retain the economic prowess and global appeal of Korean music, we cannot afford to ignore the opinions and demands of the international consumers.” These standards and expectations, being international, are ultimately yours to define, not Koreans’. Your mobilisation will thus benefit not only Kim Jaejoong, Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu, but future ambassadors of the Korean arts, music and pop culture as well. Ultimately, your voice will prove the most effective in realising positive change in the Korean pop music industry. As such, I consider you all (including all those who participated in the international fans’ petition) as true Friends of Korea and decent human beings. JYJ could not ask for better admirers, and Korea could not ask for better supporters. I thank you all immensely from the bottom of my heart. Please don’t change, and may your numbers grow.

Be encouraged! Be empowered!

Yours Sincerely,

Jimmie Kim

 

 


[v] http://www.dfsb.kr/ . The company is better known as the distributor of Korean music for Apple’s iTunes in North America. Unlike the Korean Internet music download distributors, DFSB does not slash prices at the artists’ expense and invests a chunk of their profit into promoting a new Korean indie or underground musician each year. This year, it’s Seoulsonic.

Written by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles

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22 thoughts on “Letter of (Almost) Resignation: Final Confessions, Part III

  1. Thank you, Jimmie. For your time, your insight and your inspiration, and for making us all aware of the larger issues surrounding this struggle.

    Hope to see you wander by from time to time.

  2. We sincerely thank you Jimmie for all the hard work and concern that you have given to JYJ and to us JYJ fans! I know this is really not a “goodbye period” but more of a “goodbye for now and see you later”.

    Good luck on your personal endeavors and update us even once in a while, ok?

    God bless!

  3. Thank you for every information you have provided and every insight you have shared. Thank you for making us international fans not ignorant to the whole situation. I would especially like to thank you and the whole of thejyjfiles for the petition. That was awesome sauce! 🙂

    Good luck in the future Jimmie! Until we all meet again! ^^

  4. Dear Jimmie, I sincerely like to give you a big round of applause and I would shout BRAVO loudy to you all. Yes, it is not just JYJ, SME or…but for Korean Ent’s scene & Korean Law. You and all JYJ fandom make this possible for our future young talents from selling their souls before their achivements now in Korea and eventually throughout the world. Jimmie, this is a very move in my eyes. Without this move, history will repeat again for sure that’s how this is going on since the 1950’s or earlier with artiste selling their soul for stardom. It is very disturbing to know that in our times , such things do take place and make ones feel that why there is no law that protects the young teens who wanted to dream big.Thanks Jimmie and all.

    • Yes, this is a very big step with all your petitions and articles going to the relevant authorities and the general public.

  5. I offer you a well-deserved standing ovation, Jimmie-ah… We as JYJ International Fans are blessed to have someone like you. I wish you all the best~!!!

  6. Wow. This post (and the past two) are simply amazing and I hope it gets posted and read by all Kpop fans. Wouldn’t that be something.

    We’ll truly miss you, Jimmie! Thank you so much for all your effort and time. I’m truly glad that I’ve read every word of your posts. I came out of lurking just to say this :).
    I wish you all the best in your new chapter in life and hope to see you now and again here as well.

  7. Thank you Jimmie for your hardwork and to keep us being insane in this fandom

    God Bless you and Wish You All The Best 😀

  8. Dear Jimmie:

    I certainly love South Korea. As I said in JYJ3, I had the fortune to meet a very good Korean friend at school. Every word you’ve shared with us, is well guarded into my mind and into my heart. Thanks to you, I understand your point of view and the most important is, I share it and I agree with you in every word you’ve written.
    I’ll continue supporting JYJ because I know it’s of vital importance to treasure the true S.Korean Cultural Ambassadors represented through JYJ theirselves: Couraged, wise and talented youngsters who wanted to show the world the true value of South Korean people. Korean entertainment industry needs to be renewed, and we as JYJ’s fans; as korean culture fans, can make the difference. And we’ll do it as well.

    Jimmie dear, please “sail safe” and give us the pleasure of your company from time to time. We all love you and respect you very much. Thanks for being as you are; our angel; JYJ’s true angel; South Korea’s true and trustful angel.

  9. Jimmie is my HERO! (I always seem to get the update notices when I don’t have a moment to reply) but…I wanted to make sure I dropped in to *sing her praises* ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸❤¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

    ..and what’s more…with her intellect and energy, I have no doubt that Jimmie will be *causing cases of justice to occur* throughout her entire career, not just for JYJ, but for humanity in general. I couldn’t admire her more! MUCH LOVE & RESPECT ! ♥☮

  10. Thank you for everything, Jimmy. Do visit us whenever you have time. Stay healthy, stay safe, and good luck!
    *miss you already

  11. Pingback: 27/4/11 JYJ, Jimmie, SM y los derechos | OurJYJ

  12. Pingback: 27/4/11 JYJ, Jimmie, SM y los derechos | OurJYJ

  13. Hope this is not the last piece from you. You still needed for some in put and our mission not even accomplish yet. So have a glance for us once in a while. Honestly, I know you still have energy left for this fandom but put your personal life first as I did..XD. Good Luck!

  14. Dear Jimmie,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Especially on your perception of international consumers of Korean pop music. I am a classic example. I am a non Korean and I don’t understand the language.

    I am going to be candid here.So please forgive me if I sound frank.

    I used to “scorn” at boy/girl bands, starting from Spice Girls ,years ago. Personally, I found such categories of singers more packaging than real talent. Including bands from Korea. Worse, it’s irksome to see blatantly exposed muscular abs and scantily clad girls prancing around, marketed as ” singers”. And with so many groups sprouting out from Korea, many of us from overseas, feel these are like clones, riding on the Hallyu wave and not on their own abilities. But with lots of help from plastic surgeons. Not voice trainers.

    That is until I saw Park YuChun in SKK Scandal in Oct 2010. I hadn’t the foggiest idea who he was. But I was so impressed by his acting skills, that for the first time in all my years of watching Korean drama, I had to google his name to find out who this young actor was. It wasn’t his looks nor his acting per se. I have seen better acting and better looking actors. It was his X factor. An unexplained charisma.

    I was fascinated that this actor whose acting was non impressive in the beginning, had
    improved so much that by the 4th episode, he ‘d connected me to the character he was playing. He and the character had become one.That is amazing. Most actors who acted badly in the beginning of a drama tend to end badly too. But this young man’s talent in acting made me sit up. I had to find out who he was. That was how I was introduced to JYJ.

    And JYJ made me completely changed my perception of K pop , particularly of boy bands. I noticed two things about JYJ – they are multi talented individuals and they are decent human beings. This is the first time, I see a group that can really sing , dance and compose so beautifully. And now can act and even direct. I am moved to tears most times by their interpretation of the songs they write. They are so expressive , I can almost touch their souls and their tears from miles away. And I dont even understand a word they sing. Who needs to understand the language when they can interpret the song to me with their emotions? I am so completely wow’ed by these 3 guys’ voices, I have been listening to their music daily since Oct 2010.

    Moreover, I have been spreading JYJ’s music (and also YuChun’s drama ) to everyone I know with such evangelistic fervour , they’re wondering if I am having a crisis in life. Particularly to a cynic like me, the 180 degree turn is a miracle.

    Because I’ve become an ardent fan of Yu Chun/ JYJ music , I am now inspired to learn the Korean language. And probably will enrol for classes in Korean cooking later. LOL ! I never had that inclination before, although I had been watching Korean dramas for many years ( with English subtitles and dubbed in Chinese).

    So Jimmie is right. International fans like me, are beginning to appreciate and love the Korean culture. Not because of Korean dramas (which I still enjoy and watch regularly) .But because I recognise and appreciate real talent I see in Jae Joong, Yu Chun and Junsu. And in the process, JYJ has made me a willing ambassador for the Korean Hallyu wave. I am now planning with my family for a possible trip to Korea to try and catch JYJ’s concert in June.

    I believe I am not alone in becoming a JYJ convert. Korea must recognise and protect her 3 sons from being “exterminated” by SME and any cartel. Because the Korean Govt just does not recognise what a good thing they have.

    JYJ is one of the best resources Korea has. Not just Jeju Island.

    I am proud of JYJ for being such decent, brave human beings who are role models for the young. And their God given talents which can be used to spread happiness and hope to those who dream.

    Thank you. Jimmie. Thank you, JYJ. God bless you both.

  15. so well written jimmie, i wish u luck with ur career, even though i do not think u need it since u are smart lady.

  16. Dear Jimmie,

    Thank you for paving the way for us, Global K-Fans. My richest blessings to all your endeavours. See you around cyberspace sometime.

    Cheerios

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