TVXQ are icons within the Korean music industry. Many newer K-pop fans sparked an interest in the group after their explosive performances at SMTOWN LIVE 2022. The group was established in 2003 at SM Entertainment by founder Lee Sooman.
Their success within the industry helped push the Hallyu Wave in the early 00s across many different countries. The group played a big role into why K-Pop is as global and well-known as it is today. Here is a history lesson on your idol’s favorite idols: TVXQ!
Let’s Bring It Back To The Beginning
Lee Sooman, the founder of SM Entertainment had the idea of creating a pop group consisting of the best male singers and dancers in South Korea’s music industry. He imagined the group to also be an acapella group, similar to the image of Boyz II Men. He searched high and low for the perfect members and came across U-Know Yunho, Max Changmin, Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun, and Xiah Junsu.
The five teenagers formed the group TVXQ, also known as “The Rising Gods of the East.” Ranging in age from 15-17, they made their first televised debut during the BoA and Britney Spears Showcase on December 26, 2003 with their performance of “Hug.” The single was officially released on January 14, 2004 and after a bit of a slow start, rose to great success. By October, TVXQ released their first full-length album Tri-Angle which became the second biggest selling album of 2004.
After successfully debuting in Japan under the name “Tohoshinki,” the powerful group came back to South Korea and released their second Korean studio album, Rising Sun in 2005. This album was a breakthrough for the group. The cinematic title track off the album, “Rising Sun,” is a song that is still celebrated and covered by many today. It appeared in the opening scene of Blockbuster movie Fast and Furious 4 and earned TVXQ many accolades. Its success confirmed the powerhouse popularity and legacy of the group.
The successful rise of the South Korean boy group gave room for many different opportunities for the group to conquer. After the huge success of their third studio album, O – Jung.Ban.Hap, TVXQ was unstoppable. The group gained traction in Japan with their releases like “Purple Line” and “Beautiful You” and they were the first non-Japanese artist to release two number one singles in Japan. Their song “Asuwa Kurakara” also became the ending theme for the longest-running anime series, One Piece. They were also the first Korean group to perform at the Japanese New Year’s Eve Festival, making it one of the biggest highlights of their career. TVXQ also became the third foreign artist to perform at the Tokyo Dome for three consecutive days, with the other artists being big names like Michael Jackson and The Backstreet Boys. At the time, everything TVXQ achieved seemed impossible and unheard of. Along with their labelmate BoA, the bridge for Korean artists to release songs in other countries was created.
The Idol of Idols
In October 2008, TVXQ released the iconic and most well-known song of their career, “Mirotic” from the album of the same name. The hit single has been covered by many artists across the generations of K-Pop. The sensual dance moves and the catchy fan-chant are still relevant to this day.
The etiquette and polish that the group had is something that was inspiring to many. EXO’s Xiumin stated “I joined SM Entertainment because of TVXQ! To me, they are gods. If there was no TVXQ, I wouldn’t even be part of EXO.” NCT’s Yuta also talked about his love for the group, stating “when I saw TVXQ on TV by chance, I got inspired to become a singer.”
After the 2010 departure of JYJ members—Jaejoong, Junsu, and Yoochun—TVXQ became a duo. Changmin and Yunho released more albums together in Korea and Japan, including Keep Your Head Down, Humanoids, Spellbound, Tense. Arguably some of their best work can be seen on the 2012 album, Catch Me. The 11-track album, which featured the trendy lead single “Catch Me,” showed the true colors of TVXQ. With the combination of an array of different genres and the musical synergy between the two members, the album is a story within itself; one that is highly recommended to new listeners of TVXQ.
Both members have had successful solo careers, as seen on the SMTOWN LIVE 2022 concert. Yunho has released three solo mini albums, and is rumored to release his fourth this year in February. Changmin has also released three solo mini albums, including the recently released Devil. With Changmin’s performance of “Fever” going viral on Twitter, his song “Chocolate” is one fans would also enjoy.
“Rainbow” from the Mirotic album is also a highly recommended track. The bright song instantly puts the listener in a good mood with the space-like, groovy beat. The lyrics express the bittersweet feeling of growing up and letting go of your youth, comparing the sentiment to seeing a rainbow after the rain.
Lastly for R&B lovers, the song “Everyday It Rains” from the Rise as God album is a personal favorite. The smooth vocals of Changmin and Yunho shine and the jazzy production makes it a perfect listen on a stormy night.
What’s Up Next for TVXQ?
Changmin just released a new album, showcasing versatility in both image and sound. Yunho is rumored to make his solo comeback following up his 2021 EP, Noir. The pair is also preparing to head back on the road to tour once Covid restrictions are lifted.
Their passion and artistry for their craft is unreplicable. Nearly 20 years in, they still have so much more to give to the industry and we can’t wait to see it.
Want more TVXQ? Read our article on “The Return and Significance of K-Pop’s 2nd Gen Artists” here!