By Kwon Mee-yoo / The Korea Times
K-pop groups tend to sour faster than milk. So ”boy’’ band Shinhwa’s holding a lavish concert on the weekend in Seoul to celebrate 15 years of being together exuded equally a sense of accomplishment and the odd vibe of a centenarian’s birthday bash.
The six-member group ― consisting of Eric, Lee Min-woo, Kim Dong-wan, Shin Hye-sung, Jun Jin and Andy, now all in their mid-30s ― called their two-day performance at the Jamsil Olympic Arena ”The Legend Continues.’’ The self-praise was justified when more than 25,000 fans showed up.
The thousands of teenage girls who queued at record shops to buy Shinhwa’s first album 15 years ago ― during a time when CDs were still relevant ― are now in their mid-to-late 20s or 30s. Many of them took their husbands to the band’s recent concert.
So how can Shinhwa’s longevity be explained in the cut-throat K-pop scene, run by a system that is ready to spit out young artists as quickly as it sucks them in?
As with other K-pop groups, Shinhwa is a highly manufactured product ― one of the earliest groups produced by SM Entertainment, which hit it big with Girls’ Generation ― and their music is as formulaic as the others.
Their members have been successful in showbiz areas beyond music, with Eric and Kim Dong-wan now established television actors and Jun Jin showing a talent for sketch comedy and as an emcee. But that doesn’t explain why Shinhwa remains an A-list act on the music scene.
Eric, the leader of the group, offers a simple explanation: The members just genuinely like working with each other. His description of Shinhwa is like that of a veteran football team where the players have played with each other long enough and the chemistry between them only gets better with time.
”Each member of Shinhwa has a different character. But I think this difference makes us more compatible ― when one member develops the passion to do one thing, the other members understand where he is coming from and know exactly how to help him,’’ Eric said.
”We had our share of trouble in the last 15 years. We had turbulence. But after 15 years, we are more brothers than work partners.’’
So will Shinhwa still be singing sugary tunes and showing off slick dance routines for another 15 years, by which some of its members will be approaching 50? Eric matter-of-factly replied, ”Yes.’’
”We never discuss our future too seriously because we know that we will be together to the end in one way or another. We will continue to sing and dance until we are 50 or 60. Why not? We can’t beat Father Time, but as members of Shinhwa, we will always be the same,’’ he said.
Shinhwa debuted in 1998 under SM Entertainment, one of the nation’s top entertainment companies. Their first album, “The Solver,” struggled a little but the group took off with their second album, “T.O.P.’’
K-pop groups are expensive products. Members endure years of grueling singing lessons and dance training and require an army of assistants, choreographers and wardrobe designers. If a group gets off to a stumbling start or slides from its peak, the management company is usually quick to write them off and move on with a new group.
Shinhwa was a rare group that was able to survive after SM Entertainment refused to renew their contract after 2003. The agency wanted to selectively re-sign the more popular members, but the six instead decided to sign on with a new agency as a group. An ugly legal dispute with SM over the rights to use the name, Shinhwa, followed, but the group eventually got to retain the name.
The group went into hiatus as the members fulfilled their military duties from 2008 to 2011. Shinhwa resumed its music activities last year, when the group decided to establish their own entertainment company, Shinhwa Company, led by Eric and Min-woo with the other members as shareholders. Their 10th studio album, “The Return,” showed they are still popular as a group.
The 15th anniversary concert began with “Only One,” a song from their third album, and “Your Man” and continued through some 23 songs from their 10 albums. Fans raved at the sharp and agile dance moves of “Venus” and “Brand New” and enjoyed the newly arranged style of “How Do I Say” and “Shooting Star.”
The arena glowed with orange light sticks, the fan color for Shinhwa. As the audience chanted Shinhwa’s name and sang along to hit songs, the group expressed their gratitude toward “Shinhwa Changjo,” or their fans, openly. “We wouldn’t be here for 15 years if it weren’t for you. Please be proud of being Shinhwa fans,” Eric said.
The group also revealed its future plans at the concert ― its 11th studio album will be released in late April and the group will go on an Asia concert tour in June to China, Japan and Hong Kong, with an encore in Seoul in August as the grand finale.
“When they sang ‘Sharing Forever‘ from the first album, it immediately reminded me of my school days, when I was a middle school student and Shinhwa just debuted. I couldn’t imagine myself coming to Shinhwa’s concert when I’m 30, but I am so grateful that Shinhwa is still active and I am their fan,” Choi Jin-sun said. “I wish to come to their 20th, 30th anniversary concerts, hopefully with my family then.”
Credits: article via Kpoparazzi, pics @ nibsbox
a decent article even if it shows signs of n00bishness (are they really saying SNSD is what made SM big, not H.O.T or DBSK? ㅋㅋ). My ajusshis are flawless, grass is green, sky is blue, etc.