Saturday, February 26, 2011

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 34. Dongbangshinki

[Read more reviews from the Korean from the Library Mixer. To join, click here.] 

Starting with Number 34, this ranking is moving into Tier 3 - artists who had a strong impact on shaping Korea's pop music scene. Tier 3 begins with...

34.  Dongbangshinki [동방신기]

Also Known As:  DBSK, TVXQ.

Years of Activity:  2004-present

Choigang Changmin "Max" [최강창민] - Vocal
U-Know Yunho [유노윤호] - Vocal
Yeong'ung Jaejung "Hero" [영웅재중] - Vocal (until May 2010)
Micky Yucheon [믹키유천] - Vocal (until May 2010)
Xiah Junsu [시아준수] - Vocal (until May 2010)

(Regular albums only - there are 39 singles unlisted here.)

Regular Albums:  Korea
Tri-Angle (2004)
Rising Sun (2005)
O - Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis [O - 正, 反, 合] (2007)
Mirotic (2008)
Keep Your Head Down (2011)

Regular Albums:  Japan
Heart, Mind and Soul (2006)
Five in the Black (2007)
T (2008)
The Secret Code (2009)

Representative Song:  Hug, from Tri-Angle


하루만 니 방의 침대가 되고싶어
Just for one day I wish to be the bed in your room
더 따스히 포근히 내 품에 감싸 안고 재우고 싶어
Warmer and softer, I wish to put you to sleep in my arms
아주 작은 뒤척임도 너의 조그만 속삭임에
For the smallest rustle, for your little whisper
난 꿈속의 괴물도 이겨내 버릴텐데
I will defeat the monsters in your dream

내가 없는 너의 하룬 어떻게 흘러가는 건지
How your day without me goes
나를 얼마나 사랑하는지 난 너무나 궁금한데
I am so curious how much you love me
너의 작은 서랍 속의 일기장이 되고싶어
I wish to be the diary in your little drawer
알 수 없는 너의 그 비밀도 내 맘속에 담아둘래 너 몰래
I will hold in my heart that unknowable secret of yours, you wouldn't know

하루만 너의 고양이가 되고싶어
Just for one day I wish to be your cat
니가 주는 맛있는 우유와 부드러운 니품안에서
With the delicious milk you give me and in your soft arms
움직이는 장난에도 너의 귀여운 입맞춤에
Your cute kiss given even when you are teased
나도 몰래 질투를 느끼고 있었나봐
I must have been secretly feeling jealous

내 마음이 이런거야
That's how my heart is
너밖엔 볼 수 없는거지
I cannot see anyone but you
누구를 봐도 어디 있어도
No matter who you see, no matter where you are
난 너만 바라보잖아
I am only looking at you

단 하루만 아주 친한 너의 애인이 되고 싶어
Just for one day I want to be your very close boyfriend
너의 자랑도 때론 투정도 다 들을 수 있을 텐데 널 위해
I will be able to hear all your boasting and complaining, for you.

In my heart in my soul
In my heart in my soul
나에게 사랑이란 아직 어색하지만
For me love is still awkward but
이 세상 모든걸 너에게 주고싶어 꿈에서라도
I want to give you everything in this world, even in a dream

내 마음이 이런거야
That's how my heart is
지켜 볼 수만 있어도
Just being able to look at you
너무 감사해 많이 행복해
I am so thankful, very happy
나 조금은 부족해도
I may not be much but
언제까지 너의 곁에 연인으로 있고 싶어
I want to stay by your side as your lover forever
너를 내 품에 가득 안은채 굳어버렸으면 싶어 영원히
I wish I could turn into stone, holding you in my arms forever

Translation Note:  The portion written in English in the original is marked blue. Is it just me, or is it normal to projectile vomit while translating?

In 15 Words or Less:  The peak of K-pop's global domination.

Maybe they should be ranked higher because...  They will easily win the award for "Most number of death threats sent to the Korean by their fans for not ranking them #1." That counts for something, right? Right?

Maybe they should be ranked lower because...  A huge apology to gay readers of this blog, but there is just no other way of saying this: DBSK is the homoest homos who ever homoed. They are responsible for ingraining "Korean men are gay" stereotype around the world. And that's before talking about their pile of diarrhea music. (Actually, come to think of it, does that make DBSK even more influential? Ugh.)

Why is this band important?
Why is DBSK important? Because they have a screaming horde of fans around the world, that's why. Does the Korean understand why there is a screaming horde of girls (AND grown women) around the world? No. But they are there, and they create influence.

The Korean is being glib, but that's really it. The current influence of Korean pop culture over Asia began with Korean dramas in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While there were certain pioneers (discussed later in this list,) K-pop as an international force was not yet to be.

Then DBSK came around, and their international popularity was unlike anyone that preceded them. To be sure, influence via the fans can take many forms. For example, no one can deny that Nirvana is one of the most influential pop musicians in the last 20 years. But there is just something about thousands of screaming girls at Justin Bieber's concert that the quiet, reverential homages to Kurt Cobain do not have. Same with DBSK -- there had been other K-pop artists who were successful outside of Korea, but not like DBSK. No one brought out a cloud of screaming girls all across Asia quite like DBSK. For many people around the world, DBSK is the first meaningful contact with Korea and K-pop. If for nothing else (and there really is nothing else,) DBSK deserves its spot here.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. heyyyy nothing brings countries together like fanlove ;)

  2. I'm not a huge fan of DBSK but I have to say, you need to give credit for their singing ability. Sure their songs are pouring with sap and pop sugar, but take all that away and give them an a cappella song (performed live even) = great voices.

  3. "DBSK is the homoest homos who ever homoed"

    he said, shortly before entering the witness protection program...

  4. I do find DBSK more palatable than SNSD (though that doesn't say much I suppose).

    Also on the series index it says 34 is BoA not DBSK, unless 33 is actually BoA...?

  5. I have to agree with Cartoonist62. I do like DBSK, but even if I wasn't prejudiced in their favor, they do have good vocals, especially for an idol group. And I would argue that Hug is not a representative song - their later albums were much less vomit-inducing than their first singles. Even I don't like Hug. But Mirotic, Wrong Number, even the title song off of Triangle, and especially their latest Keep Your Head Down is a total 180 from their early sound.

  6. siliconrex, that was a just a mistake -- fixed now. And no, 33 is not BoA.

    Cartoonist62, unless the singing ability gets to the level of, say, Lee Sora (ranked 37), it does not matter much. DBSK have good singers, but they do nothing to make a song special. It's empty calories.

  7. Oh my gosh, Planderson_99...
    LOL, so true!!
    DBSK fangirls are INSANE.

  8. can't wait til you do your analysis of Rain only 33 more spots til we get to him i love i will not send death threats if he's not #1...i just won't understand your logic lol

  9. Rain is up there, but I wouldn't even put him in the top 5. Then again this is not my list.

    I still think at #1 has to be Seo Taiji. Nobody has been more influential on K-pop than he has.

  10. Well, if anyone is higher than Seo Taiji, it will have to be someone I've never heard of who's frickin amazing.

    So, even if that happens It's not like I'll be angry or anything.

  11. LOVE TVXQ... less now that there are only two of them left... it's hard to keep track of JYJ and TVXQ at the same time :)

    Just a side note to the Korean: I'm curious as to your use of "wish" instead of "Want" in this translation; though the denotation of the words are the same, "want" seems to have better connotation and fits better lyrically. Also, 뒤척임 would probably be better translated into "stir" instead of "rustle"

  12. Ahahaha, TK, your words are harsh :)

    I don't like to be called their fan (because it's way too juvenile and I don't want to be associated with their obsessed Cassies, and yep, their fan club has a name, who knows?), but I do enjoy DBSK's songs a lot. And I do think in terms of vocal DBSK has the strongest voices in the entire idol industry. I don' t know if you ever look past and beyond your little, may I say, "prejudice" against them. Here are some songs that I really love, give them a shot if you have time :) And yes, they sang live in all of them :D


    I know they sound kinda boyband-ish for American taste but I definitely think they should rank higher than the likes of Super Junior or whatever bands Kpop is having now :)

  13. Homoest of homos...? Well, this shows how much I've been disinterested towards them; I didn't even know (or catch) any homoerotic undertones. Yay for being oblivious :P

    That being said, even with everything the Korean wrote, I'm surprised he didn't even include the recent lawsuit!

    Yes, that's something outside their singing, but I feel like the now JYJ splitting off from SM, and their lawsuits, the verdicts, as well as SM's various efforts to keep JYJ off the entertainment field (and their being supported by the news and drama fields, amusingly enough) should have a special mention - it is one of the biggest attempts to break free from the almost inhumane corporate trainee systems of idol singers, exposing how much they have been exploited by SM. If the final verdict goes in favor of JYJ, it would bring about a huge influence on how idol singers would be treated and created, so I feel like it's a "noteworthy" mention you should mention offhand.

  14. As the homoest homo, this offends me.

    Haha kidding. I like DBSK, and when I say I "DBSK" I mean I like Jaejoong (so attractive).

    Their music doesn't do much for me though.

    (SHINee and U-Kiss are gayer though, heh)

  15. And here I thought the homoest of homos would go to Heechul of Super Junior, since he's mouth-to-mouth kissed several of his bandmates on stage.

  16. I was unsure if TK would even include DBSK, so I'm glad to see them here! I'm an avid kpop fan, so I guess I'll be written off as another crazed girl with no musical taste whatsoever. But hey, you like what you like and that's just how it is.

    I thought you would probably mention the lawsuit as well, even though it's a somewhat separate thing. Isn't that also influential? I suppose it really remains to be seen...

    About the whole "homo" thing... I don't understand why that even matters. I don't think they're gay, and even if they were, does that mean they shouldn't perform or something? If you really do just care about music, their "image" shouldn't even matter at all. Besides, it's from an ethnocentric Western pov that we even get that idea. I just feel that really has no bearing. But hey, that's just me.

    As others have said, they are excellent singers. Not just average or acceptable, but truly amazing. They improved their live performances by leaps and bounds after debuting in Japan. Their many covers are just beautiful, such as their live acapella of In the Still of the Night. I appreciate the interest they show in composing, am proud when I see Junsu making great strides as a bonafide musical actor, and love it when they incorporate the instruments they play into their music. I also respect the fact that they became fluent in Japanese after their debut overseas, which many idols these days do not take the time and trouble to do. Their lawsuit is also very inspiring to me.

    As for the music, I personally love it. Most of my favorite songs by them are not as well-known, such as You're My Melody, Love Bye Love, Rainbow (Japanese), As We Kiss Goodbye (Japanese), Darkness Eyes (Japanese), etc. Actually, their whole fourth Korean album is pretty great, as well as basically all of their Japanese songs. The first three Korean albums are pretty hit-or-miss for me, though. The thing that sealed it for me was their Tokyo Dome Concert. Any group that could give such splendid live performances for over three hours straight, all while dancing, running around the stage, and looking like they're about to die- well, they have my respect, at least. Add in the songs they composed themselves, Yoochun on the piano, and the dances they choreographed, and I'm sold. Freaking PHENOMENAL.

    DBSK is honestly the reason I even care about Korea. If it weren't for discovering their music, this amazing country, culture, people, and language would have been lost on me. I don't love Korea because I love DBSK- I love Korea because DBSK sparked my interest and it took root from there. I would love Korea regardless of kpop, but kpop and DBSK are the reason I was exposed to it in the first place. Now I'm an International Studies major, particularly interested in Korea, and studying Korean when I have time. Now I stalk this blog and share what I learn with my family and friends.

    I guess you'll just say I'm another rabid fangirl, but it doesn't really matter. When you find something that really speaks to you, you love it even if people constantly judge you for it. Just my two cents... er, maybe more like twenty cents, since I talk way too much. >_<

    Love this blog! Keep up the great posts~

  17. Another two cents, I suppose - as crappy as TK may view the idol singers in K-pop in general, you cannot deny that they are a major soft power for Korea - most foreigners will have gained an interest on Korean culture or language through exposure of the pretty and (hopefully) talented celebrities. Of course, among all these singers there are good ones and there are really bad ones, but I don't think it's inherently bad as a whole.

    If you thought the music industry needed other forms of music other than idol singers and their repetitive dance music, then yes, I wholeheartedly agree. But I don't think the idol singer genre should be looked down as a whole for being manufactured - some people like it that way, I suppose, and hey, it brings the money. It just can't be the ONLY thing to dominate the Kpop scene (which is sadly the case).

  18. @Haiyen- actually pretty much all the groups and many of the solo singers have fanclub names. And colors. And official lightsticks, and unofficial lightsticks, and official banners, and unofficial ones, and all sorts of stuff. All of which I would find more amusing were my favorite bands the currently popular ones. Not that I have any objection to most of them, but....

    Anyway, for anyone who is interested, here's a link to some of the main groups and their fanclub info-

  19. A friend of mine once came to a Korean grocery store with me, and he saw a poster of one of these guys... and he turned around and said

    "Dude, who's that chick on the poster? She's pretty hot!"

    I spared him the embarrassment. Ignorance is bliss, after all.

  20. Jeon94,

    "Wish" seemed to connote desiring for something impossible, so it seemed to fit better. "Want" would not be a bad choice either.

    The Korean likes "stir" better also. He might change the translation.


    I do think in terms of vocal DBSK has the strongest voices in the entire idol industry.

    That's like saying, "Little Johnny is the fastest runner in the whole kindergarten." Good for Little Johnny, but he won't be challenging Usain Bolt any time soon.


    The Korean thought about the lawsuit, but that lawsuit was neither the first nor the most important lawsuit involving celebrity and a production company. Another artist deserves that mention.

    JYJ did win recently, actually -- SM is now required to pay $2000 for each act of interference.

  21. "DBSK is the homoest homos who ever homoed"

    I'm a bit irked by this. I'm supposing the Jay Park incident has scarred me more than I care to admit.

  22. Wait, so Super Junior is going to place higher than DBSK?

    (Gets popcorn; waits for fangirls to fangirl)

    1. you would really put Suju on the 50 most 'influential' list? for popular sure, but not influential

  23. well i agree wit the article mostly, since i do believe that they deserve the spot.
    what makes me surprised is how this makes other pop idol groups seem to lose their chances in getting a spot in the list.
    dbsk, by all means, i believe is the most perfect boyband ive ever known, so since they only make it in 34th spot, i can see no other boyband can stand a chance in getting a higher rank on the list.
    thus, i really am excited to know the artists more influential than them.
    nice article, TK :D

  24. I'd agree with Y's point about boy-bands and Korea's soft power... most of the non-Korean asian females I've met in Korea, who are studying Korean or Korean culture, first got hooked because of the boy bands

  25. hang on a sec... i thought DBSK/TVXQ is no more??? btw, how many names does a boyband need anyway?

  26. Of all the songs to pick as a DBSK single to showcase lol. Rising Sun? O Jung Ban Hap? Mirotic? Keep Your Head Down?

    I mean, I love Hug but it's their first single lol. They never go back to this kind of cute, other than Balloons.

  27. I'm guessing that BoA was at some point at this place on an earlier version of the list--and probably for a similar reason. BoA, before DBSK, went international (well, really just breaking Japan).

    Anyone else have other similar-level idols that could've competed for this similar spot on the criteria of going international?

    And for those espousing the singing capacity of the quartet/trio, technical singing ability *is* impressive, but there are plenty of great technical singers who are not influential or great artists. Lee Sora, mentioned earlier on this list, isn't just a great technical singer, she's a great interpreter of music, like Joe Cocker, imbuing the music with a quality of her own.

    That said, for fangirls (and even fanboys) of DBSK/TVXQ/JYJ, I definitely believe that there are idols of noticeably greater influence than these guys. Even if I don't have a strong appreciation for this kind of music, I'm certain TK will place them higher on the list.

  28. For me Kim Jaejoong has the most beautiful and emotional voice I have heard in the last ten years. He never fails to move me very deeply whenever he sings!

  29. Their influence is so exponentially enormous because of the digital world. I bet the ones further down your list would have had the same/more influence if the presence of the internet was present in their days.

    Oh.. But watching that Hug MV gave me shivers and brought out that fangirl-16-year-old me!! :D

  30. I think most K-Pop boy bands are adorable. This group has a lot of talented young men. I love their harmonizing. And what's wrong with a little eye candy?

  31. Roboseyo said it. If it weren't for the pretty boy bands and ridiculous variety shows on YouTube, I would never have become interested in Korea and Korean culture as a whole.

  32. LOLLOL oh DBSK I will NEVER admit out load how that group managed to bring out the fangirl in me that I thought never existed.....BSB and NYSYNC came and went and I didnt care....yet I discovered DBSK...or more like I discovered Jaejoong and all was lost :-P

    and I agree with Y's assessment of kpop as a "soft power". For better or for worse, kpop is bringing SK culture to the masses...crap songs and all.

  33. Holy wow, AnnMarie. I haven't listened to DBSK since they split, but you mentioned Keep Your Head Down. So I listened to it and WOW. I'm a B2uty myself, but that impressed me a lot.

  34. wow DBSK

    1. ukiss/shinee/super junior are gayer LOLs
    2. solid vocals and dance skills from an IDOL GROUP i cannot ask for more :D

  35. Apology not accepted. I'm totally indifferent to DBSK, but being the "homoest of homos" should not be a reason to rank a group lower. It is the same as saying that "acting gay" devalues your accomplishments. If anything, "acting gay" or having "gay vibes" increases the influence of groups like this. Gay Korean teenagers need role models and women and girls (half the population) eat it up.

    Sorry my first comment here is so harsh, by the way. I'm a fan of your blog, and of this series in particular. But c'mon, man.

  36. IF I was making the list, TVXQ would have placed higher, WAY higher than this. Seriously. They STILL have largest fan-club and still insanely popular in Japan. (BigEast's royalty amazes me.) And a lot of new Kpopers say their bias is another group, but they do respect H.O.T, Shinhwa, TVXQ and etc...

    And about that gay thing, I don't want to be rude but many people said KPOP guys are soooo gay to me. So, TVXQ doesn't make whole kpop any more or less gay-er than now. (that's other people's opinion though) And I agree with other people. Why would being homosexual matters in ranking groups?

  37. ...this is stupid!!!..why Tvxq rank like this..haha..i find it funny though i cant believe i open this site and find this...Lol..why would homosexuality be a basis in this ranking...haha..Anti Kpops...Tvxq has the most biggest fanclub and talking about popularity they always had it...have you heard of aktf..??..

    _cough~..haha..If you heard of tvxq best couple YUNJAE..Lol..the best otp that the reason why they are rank like this..??

  38. wtf... your article is insulting rather than stating opinion ...
    "DBSK is the homoest homos who ever homoed. They are responsible for ingraining "Korean men are gay"" I've never thought that!!! hahhhaha
    anyways, having that reputation is better than the other one which is that Korean have small pen*s

  39. I do love that some people on these articles actually think that you used their "homo"-ness as a qualitative indicator of DBSK's ranking. I see nothing in the article that linked "homoest homos that ever homoed" to your reasoning for why they're that low. It's an apt description of what they do and if anything, that may actually have helped them rank higher here because they made everyone think Korean men are gay. If you're a fan, I guess you really do misread everything.

  40. I won't even say a word because this is 6 years old and if you've grown to respect talent, you'll respect these men for having created the influence and their talents. And if you haven't, well, you're just another hater :)

  41. I'd never heard their music before this -->
    By far the very best version.


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