By Han Sang-hee
Amid the ongoing battle between three members of K-pop group TVXQ and their agency, SM Entertainment, held a press conference Monday to announce their stance on a recent interim court ruling prior to a final verdict.
The agency of the troubled boy group stressed that the legal case regarding the three members ― Xiah, Park Yoo-chun
and Kim Jae-joong
― was not about "slave contracts" or human rights, but "financial temptation that started with a cosmetic business".
"The petition is based on financial temptations that started with a cosmetic business", Kim Young-min, the head of SM Entertainment, said during a press conference at the 63 Building, Yeouido, southern Seoul. Along with Kim, Nam So-young, head of SM Entertainment Japan, and executives Han Se-min and Jeong Chang-hwan, were also present at the conference. This was the agency's first official statement after the legal quarrel began.
The other two members issued a statement saying that they couldn't allow the band to collapse "because of their illegal cosmetic business", urging the three members to come back.
According to SM, the five members were allotted the same amount of proceeds when the band started, as many former groups who disbanded in the past experienced discord regarding money issues.
"However, many things changed after the three members started investing in a cosmetic business", Kim said.
In December, 2008, the three members asked Kim if they could invest in a cosmetic company. Kim told them that it would be better if they did not accept any royalties due to legal issues, and also prevented them from using any of TVXQ's photos, stressing that if they did, the members were to inform the agency immediately.
From January to May, the agency discovered that the three members were, in fact, promoting the cosmetic company in China and holding various events in Japan. They were alerted by Internet portals and fans' complaints.
"The agency's biggest concern was that the image of TVXQ could be hurt through promotions and also the fact that it would be impossible to build up star status, image and reputation as one of the best boy groups in Asia once they were entangled in a mess concerning a cosmetic business in China and Japan", Kim said.
He said that despite the agency's request to see their contract with the cosmetic company, the three refused to show it to them.
A Note From the Two Members
also expressed their feelings for the first time through a statement Monday, saying that there was no way that the group TVXQ would work under a different agency and that they hoped the three members would return quickly.
"We have been working under the same contract with SM for the past five years. The group was created by SM and we believe there is no other place where TVXQ can be present. We are keeping our promise with SM and carrying out our activities as a group under the agency only", the statement signed by the two members read.
They also mentioned their worries regarding the cosmetic business.
"We thought working with a company that approached the members without informing the agency would bring problems, and thus we did not participate in the business", the statement read.
"We cannot believe that TVXQ might collapse like this over a cosmetic company. We hope the three will return to the time when we all pursued the same dream before their business".
Future of SM and TVXQ
The Seoul Central District Court gave a partial victory to the three members last week, stating that the three were free to appear in dramas, commercials and movies until a final verdict. Legal representatives for the three said that they will continue their action until the contract is declared null and void.
The creators of H.O.T., Girls' Generation
and SHINee added that the court's decision would bring chaos not only to related people, but also to the entertainment industry as a whole.
"The court's decision was made without considering the true nature of this case. The current system that made 'hallyu' (the Korean wave) possible through long term investments and raising stars will collapse", Kim said.
The agency added that the contract the three members wanted to scrap was changed three times in 2002, 2007 and 2008, following the Fair Trade Commission's recommendation that the members and their parents give their supervision and approval.
"If a contract that was made by the singer or actor's agreements is not valid after their success, this will confuse the whole entertainment industry. It will be impossible to invest and carry out efforts that are put into the overall hallyu business in a competitive market", Kim said.
Adding that the agency will further look into legal measures, Kim said that there was a strong need to have legal criteria regarding exclusive contracts to cover similar cases in the future.
"The court's decision has granted free activities for the three members, but they can only work as TVXQ under the agency", said Kim. "We have set the date for the group's comeback in spring next year. Thus, we request a reply from the three members by Nov. 12. They may contact their management personnel, which is still managing the group TVXQ".