satchel gizmo (pazz_and_jop) wrote,
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Essay: "I Never Let Go: A YunJae Manifesto," TVXQ/DBSK/Tohoshinki

Rating: G
Summary: A dummy's guide to Jung Yunho, Kim Jaejoong and why YunJae just might be possible.
Warning: This is not a fic, but a non-fiction essay. All opinions expressed herein are my own. I snark because I love. Post features shit ton of gifs, pics and video links, so it's not at all dial-up friendly. Written as if you'd never heard of TVXQ in your life.
Disclaimer: Jaejoong and Yunho belong to each other. All other rights belong to SM Entertainment.


"Yunho, there would not be me if not for you. My other half, Yunho. I love you."
-- Jaejoong pretty much just laying it all out there.

Introduction: What is YunJae?

I'm sitting here, trying to think of how I can convince anonymous readers of why they should care about the bond between TVXQ's Jung Yunho and Kim Jaejoong. And my reasoning always comes down to one thing: YunJae is real.

I don't care what your favorite fandom is. I don't care what your favorite couple is. It is nothing compared to my YunJae. YunJae, with all it's complexities and subtext, has established a fandom all it's own. It's the one relationship that I truly believe goes beyond fan service, goes beyond performing, and simply is. These two men care for each other in a way the rest of us dream of being cared for. They are as real as William and Kate. More real than Brittany and Kevin. Their affection cannot be faked, no matter what anybody says. And when you find a love story as adorable as that, you just gotta share it.



Jaejoong: "Maybe people that haven't been hugged by Yunho don't know this but-ah, I shouldn't say this because I'm a man-but if Yunho hugs you, your heart will beat faster."
Yunho: "Yeah...I hug him a lot because it calms me."
-- Jaejoong and Yunho describing hugs that most certainly aren't brotherly

The Band: TVXQ, A Better Boy-Band

Before I get ahead of myself, let's go over some basics. TVXQ is a five-member group (or boy band, but they're all in their 20s now, so that just doesn't sound right) that debuted in South Korea in 2003 with S.M. Entertainment. TVXQ is their international name (and more importantly, how Wikipedia refers to them). When they're at home in Korea, they are Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK) and when they perform in Japan, they are Tohoshinki. All these name variations are translations of the phrase "Rising Gods of the East."


Okay, so they had to grow into that whole "god" thing.

TVXQ is, and I do not exaggerate, one of the most influential boy bands in the history of k-pop. Yep, H.O.T. and TVXQ. Not many in the industry are up to their level. They are credited with jump-starting Korea's stagnating albums sales with their second album, Rising Sun. They boast the world's largest fan-club, Cassiopeia, with more than 800,000 official members (that's in South Korea alone). They have been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most photographed celebrity in the world. They are, in short, a big effin deal.


See? All grown up.

In 2006, they began promotional activities in Japan, singing in (what I can only assume) fluent Japanese, and have since become international cross-over stars. They were the first foreign (non-Japanese) artists to have multiple songs on the Oricon charts (roughly Japan's equivalent to the U.S.'s Billboard charts). Beyond Japan, they boast a sizable fan base on each continent (save Antarctica, but who knows? There could be some k-pop loving researcher down there studying the ice...I'm seriously struggling to keep from making a "Love in the Ice" joke here.)

Why so popular? It could be that, unlike some boy bands, all of them can sing. And damn well, in my opinion. (K-pop bands are kind of notorious for selecting talent that's not so...talented.) They originally debuted as an a capplla group, but their discography also includes pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B. Here's a sampler:

Hug || Their debut song. My babies! Look how young they are. Don't you just want to cuddle and love them forever?
My Little Princess (A cappella) || This was the song that got me hooked. Simply lovely.
Tri-Angle || The lead single off their first album. Concept is slightly ridiculous (what the hair?), but the song is catchy as hell.
Rising Sun (순수) || This video cracks me up. Jaejoong injured himself before the shoot, so they just put a mask on a backup dancer and shoved him in the video. This song was also featured in Fast and Furious (aka The Fast and the Furious 4).
Tonight || My favorite of their Korean songs for so many reasons: live audience, awesome vocals, deep-voiced Engrish.
"O"-正.反.合 || Jaejoong with blond hair. That is all.
どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう?(Why Did I Fall In Love With You?) || One of their most popular Japanese singles and my unofficial YunJae theme song.
Bolero || A "bolero" is a type of slow Latin-American ballad. I have no idea how that relates to this song, but it's amazing nonetheless.
주문 (MIROTIC) || This video is such a blatant grab for fan service that it should have won some type of award for it.
Wrong Number || My very favorite music video. Jaejoong + navy blazer - shirt = love.
Love in the Ice (Concert Performance) || SOUNDS BETTER THAN THE ALBUM VERSION! I'm dead.


In 2009, three members of TVXQ filed a suit against S.M. seeking termination of what they claimed were overly restrictive contracts. The three members, Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu left the company and released three albums under the name JYJ. The two remaining members, Yunho and Changmin, stayed with the company, and in January, they released their first album since the suit began more than two years. Sad to say, there's never been a harder time to be a YunJae fan what with the split, the lawsuit and the music videos featuring Go Ara. It's enough to make a girl lose her faith. (Ha! But I haven't. Because Jaejoong is just too lovey to deny.)



"I consider Jaejoong to be a true friend rather than just one of the members.
He is someone that I really need in my life."
Yunho, stating the obvious

The Members: One Band, One Family

The Couple

Kim Jaejoong/Hero Jaejoong

DOB: Jan. 26, 1986 || Band position: Lead vocalist
Kim Jaejoong is prettier than you. He's prettier than me. He's prettier than the majority of his fans, his female labelmates and most of the women involved in the Korean modeling industry. The lead vocalist and eldest member of TVXQ, Jaejoong serves as the band mother. He cooks. He nurtures. He looks good in long hair.

And he is very easily Yunho's biggest fanboy.


Jae is the one who gives the fangirls their faith. When it comes to Yunho, he has eyes that are a bit too expressive and a mouth that tends to say a bit too much. Jae doesn't really care too much for propriety. If he feels like hugging Yunho, he'll do it. Never mind the live audience, the television cameras or all those other bodies standing in between them.

Jaejoong seems to be the most ... how do I put this? ... fragile vulnerable sensitive out of the group. I have way too many gifs of him crying. His Twitter is littered with posts about how lonely he is and photos of him looking sad. He admittedly drinks too much and smokes too much. He may be addicted to tattooing himself. He composed this song and actually did a decent job of singing it in English. (I know he's singing about U-Know; you can't convince me otherwise.) He seems happiest when surrounded by his group mates. He looks especially happy when he's with Yunho.

Oh yeah, his English is quite possibly the most adorably fail thing I have ever witnessed. (But it's okay, bb, because you are my favorite.)

Jung Yunho/U-Know Yunho

DOB: Feb. 6, 1986 || Band position: Leader, lead dancer
Yunho is manly...or at least, that's how Jaejoong describes him. Yunho is the beloved leader-sshi* of TVXQ, meaning he's the man makes the award acceptance speeches, leads the group interviews and pretty much serves as the face (and a handsome one at that) of TVXQ. (I'd like to point out that only reason he's the leader is because nobody else would take the job. That's our selfless leader.) His role is opposite that of Jaejoong, in that he's the band papa. He keeps the kids in line and he makes sure Jae is well taken care of.


Trust me when I say that Yunho doesn't hand feed the rest of the members.

Yunho is a bit harder to read than Jaejoong. At times, it can appear as if he's uncomfortable with the attention Jaejoong gives him. He doesn't stare at Jaejoong and he tends to do a better job at keeping his hands to himself. But while the affection may be hard to read, it's still there. Yunho treats Jaejoong like his own security blanket. He leans into him when he's tired/worried/upset, he hugs him when he's happy and he pokes him when he's bored.

 
 
 

And he's not completely innocent of the love stare, either.

He moves in ways that amaze me and is my very favorite.

 


The Other Members: Fanboys and instigators

If Jaejoong is the momma and Yunho the papa, that would make the other three members their children.

 

Park Yoochun/Micky Park

DOB: June 4, 1986 || Band position: Vocalist, rapper
Yoochun is the group's deep-voiced crooner, rapper and spouter of random English phrases. If ever the YunJae fangirls needed a mascot, Yoochun would be it.


Someone's having a bit too much fun (and I'm not talking about YunJae).

While the other members either ignore or remain adorably oblivious to the YunJae love, Yoochun seems to promote it. He's subtle. A look here. A suggestive smirk there. But it's enough to egg fangirls on. Well done, sir.


Although, sometimes he just gets in the way.

Yoochun spent a few of his childhood years in the U.S. and I wonder if that might play a role in his close relationship with Jaejoong and his support of YunJae. His exposure to U.S. culture may have resulted in Chunnie having a more open-mind than your average Korean citizen when it comes to things like same-sex love.

Yoochun knows more English than the others, but it's still adorably bad. A lyric from his first English single goes "Maybe my love is bigger than Gingerbread man's vitality." This is why I hold you dearest, Chunnie.

 

Kim Junsu/Xiah Junsu

DOB: Dec. 15, 1986 || Band position: Vocalist
Junsu is TVXQ's second lead vocal (following Jaejoong) and (in my opinion) the pimp of the group. Shortly before the lawsuit (or during, I'm not sure), Junsu released a solo single in which he offered to "stroke you like an arpeggio." I'm sure many a fangirl would have loved to have take him up on the offer if they had any idea of what the hell that meant.


Scratch that. They'd take it no matter what.

Junsu is a walking paradox. He has a voice like an angel, a baby face and is adorably dorky. But then he has these hips.

Junsu isn't a big player in the YunJae due to the fact that because of their standing formation, he usually isn't aware when some random act of YunJae is going down. It is worth noting however that Junsu tends to be the victim of what the Internet had dubbed the "YunJae gap." When seated, Jaejoong tends to be glued to Yunho's side leaving poor Junsu alone.


Junsu is forevah alone.


(Alright, he's not completely unaware; sometimes he serves as a damn good lookout.)


They're just insulting our intelligence now.

Junsu has a heart bigger than Jupitar. He's donated thousands of dollars to African charities and sponsors orphan children. I love him the most.

 

Shim Changmin/Max Changmin

DOB: Feb. 18, 1988 || Band position: Vocalist
Changmin, Changmin, Changmin...our poor traumatized maknae**. Once again, the group's standing formation results in some interesting interactions. Changmin's assigned spot is right in between Jaejoong and Yunho, which means he gets a front row seat for every glance, touch and smile. And from the look on his face, you can tell he really doesn't want to be there.






Changmin is not stupid.

Changmin is the baby of the group and, therefore, is allowed to get away with being a snarky bastard. While he does love Yunho, his relationship with Jaejoong seems to be based on some sadistic enjoyment out of beating him up. It's quite adorable really, as Jaejoong never really seems to get bothered by it. And Changmin does frequently compliment his cooking.

Changmin also feels the need to remind Jaejoong of how much he dislikes touching men. You know, I can't help but wonder why it's Jaejoong that always gets told this? (Changmin knows. Changmin knows!)

Changmin is the only member of the group who is younger than me. I don't tend to like younger guys, but his asshole-y persona makes him seem more mature than even Jaejoong. He is my secret favorite.

Yunho: I like someone who can cook.
Jaejoong: I can cook.
Yunho: I like someone with straight hair.
Jaejoong: I have straight hair.
-- Jaejoong trying hard to prove he's Yunho's ideal

The Evidence: Our Boys Do Not Know of Subtle

You're intrigued now, aren't you? You want to see proof of the YunJae. The Internet is flooded with YunJae photos, gifs, videos and audio clips. Some of it runs the gamut for blatant YunJae to the work of obsessive fangirls nitpicking mundane formalities. (Some of it is also Photoshopped, so watch out. Sadly, this is 'shopped. And this. And so is this.) For the purpose of this essay, I'm sticking with the undeniable acts of affection. (In other words, a clip of Jaejoong staring at Yunho while he talks is not necessarily evidence of YunJae. It just means Jaejoong is polite enough to look at people while they are talking. However, if he's looking at him with pure unadulterated love in his eyes while everyone else is paying attention to something else, well...that's another matter.)


You can see him melting!

YunJae's Everyday Interactions

First off, they stare at each other. A lot. Long, piercing stares that may or may not be accompanied by tongue ...


That's some unresolved sexual tension you all got going there.


From head to toe, eh Jae?


He wants to devour him!


Always look this happy, Jaejoong.


I've seen this dorky look on people before. Most of the time, they weren't giving it to their BFF.


Camera's the other way, Jae.


They also like to hold hands. Which, depending on context, may not really mean anything ...

Kind of an awkward location to hold hands.


My, they have gorgeous hands.


Reach and pull. Classic move.


This is too sweet to snark at.


Work, sweat and hold on tight.
 

Give him back his hand, Yunho.

They like to hug each other. And their hugs always seem to be a be more than brotherly...

 
This is just pure love. (There's another body hugging Yunho. Ten bucks says it's Yoochun.)


I love the look of "Fuck off" Yunho gives the camera man.


Notice how the other members don't even react to Yunho's draping himself over Jae. They're totally immune to it at this point. "Yunho-hyung*** and Jaejoong-hyung are hanging all over each other? Nothing weird about that."


This is totally how teenage boys interact with each other.


Leader says come closer. NOW!


We can see your hands, Jae.


"Yunho! Let me walk past the other three members of our group to pull you into a hug that lasts so long the camera will have to switch angles, lest something be given away."


This scene was not in the script.


The rest don't even pay attention to it anymore.


They practice this pose all the time.

They even share kisses...


Baby YunJae


Jae's weakness will always be Yunho.


The kiss seen 'round the fandom.
 

Damn you, camera man! Whatchu hiding?

"Who Would You Date?"

When I first entered the TVXQ fandom, I was one of those people who felt that Yunho and Jaejoong's relationship was that of close brothers or friends. I knew of the YunJae ship, but thought it to be just another S.M.-created ship for the fans to enjoy. They were obviously good friends and they seemed to get a kick out of teasing the fans, but I didn't seriously consider their relationship to be anything more than that.

Then I saw the following clip. And let me tell you, this was the clip that made me a believer. This was the clip that planted, watered and harvested the seed of doubt in my mind that their interactions were just for show. (I wish I could find this clip without the annotations, because their interactions say everything that needs to be said.)


In this clip, our boys are asked if they were a girl, who in the group would be their ideal date? When Yoochun is trying to decide which member he'd choose to date, he glances over at Yunho only to be shoved by Jaejoong. How do I read that?

Yoochun: "Hmmm...Yunho would be a good date in the unlikely event I ever find myself with two X chromosomes."
Jaejoong: "Check yo'self, boy. He's mine."

Remember what I said about Yoochun's subtle promotion? This is what I was talking about. Really, he could have just blurted out Yunho. (Or Junsu as YooSu is just as popular a pairing as YunJae.) Instead he had to have that whole eye conversation with Jae. Some online commenters have stated that Yoochun was hesitating while looking at Yunho as a way of asking permission and I can totally see that. It certainly explains why he drops Yunho and quickly states that Jaejoong would be his ideal date.

At the 40-second mark, Junsu states that any member of the group would be okay with him (a nice safe answer if you ask me), to which Yunho quickly agrees. Two amazing things happen. First, right after Yunho makes his comment, Yoochun and Changmin both turn and look directly at Jaejoong. Second, Jaejoong begins to pout. And not a playful, exaggerated "oh shucks, I'm not leader's favorite" pout, either. A full on, lower lip biting, hugging ones self, looking every where but at him pout. The smiling, shovey Jaejoong seen in the first part of the clip disappears. Why? Because his beloved Leader-sshi didn't pick him. His hurt practically oozes out off the YouTube screen. (Yoochun also becomes much more touchy during all this. Way to be a comfort, Chunnie.)

Jaejoong is the last to answer the question. Before he even opens his mouth, the entire back row (Yoochun, Jaejoong and Changmin) glances over at Yunho.

Real subtle, guys.

Jaejoong of course selects Yunho because of his "more manly" personality. (Jae should get "Yunho is manly" printed on a T-shirt, then when people ask him to talk about Yunho, all he'd have to do is point at his chest. I'd totally buy that T-shirt.) Yunho seems to be a tad uncomfortable by Jaejoong's declaration, but not surprised. It's all in good fun, right Yunnie?

TVXQ's appearance on X-Man, Episode 151

Soon after I saw "Who would you date?" clip, I discovered the "YunJae Special Edition" episode of X-Men. Oh my Jae, where do I even start with this love-fest? There's physical intimacy, serenading, jealousy and blatant confessions all in one episode. What's even more telling is the awkward looks everybody else seems to be wearing as our two boys interact. If you're interested, the entire episode can be found here. But for my purpose, I want to concentrate on two moments: Jaejoong singing to Yunho and the monkey bars challenge.

First, there are the monkey bars. This part is just...I can't even think of how to describe it. Just watch. (The monkey bars starts at about 1:25.)


Did you see that? Did you see how giggly Yunho and Jaejoong were? Did you see the looks of pure "what the fuckery" all the onlookers wore? Did you feel just a tad uncomfortable watching this clip, as if you were impeding on a rather intimate moment? Yeah, so did I.

Before this match-up, Yunho had to face off against Junsu, and he was damn lethal. Kicking our poor angel square in the chest, until the other man fell off the monkey bars. Yunho is competitive; he's admitted as much. When faced with a challenge, he doesn't hold back. Unless the challenger is Kim Jaejoong. Then, he just wraps his legs around him and tickles him.


Our boys are just too presh.

Later, one of the challenges during the episode requires opposing team members to face off and tell the truth about each other. At one point, when Yunho and Jaejoong get paired up, Jaejoong serenades Yunho with the Chinese version of their debut single, "Hug." To be specific, he hits him with this line: "I want to be your bed in your room for just one day."

Oh, Jaejoong, you're so obvious I think I'm going to cry. Out of all the lines in all the songs in your catalog, why this one? If my knowledge of TVXQ is correct, this episode had to have been filmed during the "O"-era. (I could totally be off on that, but Jaejoong has blonde hair and Minnie has that long brown hair that characterized the "O" concept. I loved that hair.) At this point, the group had released three albums, so there were plenty of songs to choose from. "O" would have been the most obvious choice, as it would have been their latest single, but instead he went with "Hug." I'm thinking it's because "Hug" is a love song, while "O" promotes unity.

Okay, so let's say he sang "Hug" because it's their signature song. But that just raises another question: Why sing it in Chinese? I suspect Jaejoong did not mean for everyone else to understand what he was saying. I also believe it was coincidence that MC Yoo understood the lyric. Jae wanted to sing something special for Yunho, because Leader-sshi is special to him. Yunho looks slightly uncomfortable by Jae's crooning and admits as much to the MC and the rest of the panel. And unless I'm reading too much into things, Jae seems to deflate just a little at that.

MKMF Awards

In 2008, the boys performed at the MKMF Award show. Now, I haven't seen any video from the show, only stills/gifs. But that's been plenty. I don't know what brought it on, but our normally restrained Yunho is adorably doting to Jaejoong during the award ceremony. He gives Jaejoong the type of attention that makes the other man's face light up with joy. That sound melodramatic, I know. But look at the pictures.

Honestly, Jaejoong could not be more in love if he tried. When Yunho pulls Jae in for a hug (which he did multiple times that night), look at their faces. They look blissful and at peace. They are where they belong.




Screw all those other people.


Gosh, Jae looks like Yunnie's pretty girlfriend.


Lean closer, you two.

None of this is for show. None of this is fan service. The camera catches them as they are sitting and watching the performances. Nobody should be paying them any attention. And yet we get this:

How is this anything but real? How can people deny the obvious affection behind this?

"Yunho and Jaejoong never get offended when fans scream 'YunJae.' They are actually very happy about it."
-- S.M. Entertainment staff member proving Yunho and Jaejoong aren't nearly as bothered by YunJae as you think they are.

The Love: Why We Ship and Why the Haters are Just Haters

Let me be clear: When I say YunJae is real, I mean that the relationship between the two goes deeper than that of bandmates/friends. I believe there are real romantic/affectionate feelings between the two. Does that mean they're dating as we define it (however we may define it)? Maybe, maybe not. Does that mean they've acted upon it physically? There's no way any of us will ever know for sure. But I do know this: Brothers don't look at each other the way these two do. Brothers don't touch each other the way these two do. Brothers don't talk about each other the way these two do. You know who does? People who are in love.


This is how brothers act.

In an industry that leaves them at the mercy of demanding managers, fickle fangirls and obsessive stalkers, these guys have each other. When they can't get away to see their families and friends because of overbooked schedules, these guys have each other. And it's amazing to watch how well they take care of each other. Even before they debuted, they were looking out for one another. Yunho comes from a relatively poor background. At one point, he was even homeless. It was Junsu's family that took him in and they came to be close as brothers. Yes, Junsu and Yunho are brothers (I don't care about the lawsuit; all families have hard times); but I'd like to point out Yunho doesn't treat Junsu the way he treats Jae.


Jae has been special to Yunho from the very beginning.

Now let me get personal. I don't know about the rest of you, but I can see hatred, anger, bickering, pettiness, jealousy and greed anywhere. Western society loves to play up these things. Look at shows like The Real World, Cheaters and any trashy talk show. We love to watch people fight and argue. We love to see relationships break apart and ultimately explode. When I first discovered TVXQ, I was not a real happy bunny. I lived in a town I loathed because of all the hate and ignorance it had. What was worse, due to my job, I had to personally sift through and edit all the vile crap the worst of the town's residents decided to share with the world. Trust me when I say reading garbage like that has a major impact on your emotional health. Also, I was hours away from my family and all the friends I grew up with. I felt bitter and angry because of all the negative energy I had to put up with on a daily basis.

Then came TVXQ. The family: Yunho-appa, Jae-umma and the three kids. The gentle teasing. The support they gave each other. The tears they shared. The prizes they won. The scares they had. The hand holds, hugs, kisses, smiles and affection they gave so freely. And because it seemed so real (or rather was so real), I fell for them. Hard. I loved them because they loved each other.

Yunho and Jaejoong were just the candy topping on the already sweet cake. Watching them interact was especially adorable because of how much they seemed to adore each other. They are undeniably close. They look for each other across crowds. They smile at each other when they laugh. They protect and worry about each other. Actions speak louder than words, dear readers, and these two are just screaming "We are so much more than you think we are.Considering what they've been through, is it that unreasonable to think that certain members might develop deeper feelings for each other?


Changmin has no idea what's going on.

But, as long as no one says anything, no one will ever think to question it.

Which leads me to all those anti-YunJae shippers. I have nothing against those who like other pairings. I have nothing against those who can't stand the YunJae pairing. It's all part of the fan culture. I mean, it's all kinda silly when you get right down to it. Why should any of us care so much about these guys' personal lives? It's those people who look down on YunJae fans as sad and delusional losers that really get to me. I'm sorry, but YunJae is not out of the realm of possibility. Let's look at some facts (I love facts!):

  1. Gay/bisexual people exist. I don't have to provide any kind of proof for this do I? We're all aware of this, right? There are people in this world who are attracted to the same sex. And yes, that does include famous people, good-looking people and people in South Korea. (Famous, good-looking people in South Korea? Yep, them too.)

  2. The majority, if not all, of the cultures on Earth tend to be hetero-normative. This means that unless somebody states otherwise, we assume all people are straight. I can admit, I am guilty of this. It wasn't until I challenged this idea that I began to see Yunho and Jaejoong's interactions for what they were. If one of the guys were a woman and they interacted the same way, I'm certain everyone (including the national media!) would be a YunJae shipper.

  3. South Korea is a very conservative culture. LGBT people in South Korea live invisible lives. They can't be out and open because there is simply too much to lose. It's not illegal to fire someone because of sexual orientation in South Korea. Many Koreans still view gay people as sexual perverts/pedophiles. A person could risk losing their family if they came out as gay/bisexual. I can't even imagine the amount a courage a person has to have to come out in such an environment.

  4. The life of an idol is one of little privacy and even less control. This is one of the very reasons Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu sued S.M. Entertainment. Everything concerning an idol's life is controlled by the company. These teens and young adults are trained from the second they enter the company on what to wear, what to say and how to act. What's more, given the idol culture of Korea, many fans feel personally connected to the idols. When an idol deviates from the norm (and for an idol "deviation" can mean getting a DWI or getting a girl/boyfriend), the fans take that as a personal affront. Recently, Jonghyun, a member of the k-pop band SHINee announced he was dating Shin Se Kyung, a Korean actress. The repercussions of the announcement resulted in angry letters and threats being mailed to the actress, her online homepage being vandalized and a surge in Shin Se Kyung anti-fan clubs. The nature of this fan culture has lead to the suicide of more than one South Korean star.

Let's take these facts and use them to respond to some common anti-YunJae arguments. The first is "Yunho/Jaejoong can't be gay/bisexual because they've never said they're gay/bisexual." (Hello, Fact #2!) Or a variation, "Yunho/Jaejoong can't be gay/bisexual because they've described their ideal women in interviews." Gee, I wonder why? I believe the boys are gay/bisexual; I don't believe they're stupid. Given the facts already stated above, there is no sane reason for the guys to present themselves as anything else but straight men. What would happen if either Jaejoong or Yunho were to announce that they were gay/bisexual? The outcome would likely be more severe for Yunho, given that he has more power/visibility in pop culture right now, but they'd both suffer the same way. They would be dropped from their respective companies, be barred from appearing on any national broadcast television stations and be the victim of cruel and savage netizen attacks. It's happened before. Jae is in fact friends with one of South Korea's few out celebrities, Hong Suk Chun, who had to completely rebuild his career after announcing he was gay. This cover-up behavior is not limited to Korea. Do some research. There are dozens of examples of Western celebrities lying about their sexual orientation to protect themselves: actor Rock Hudson, singer/composer Elton John and comedian Ellen Degeneres, just to name a few.

The second argument usually goes "Yunho/Jaejoong can't be gay/bisexual because they're too manly." Now these people just seem to be a bit confused. Gender expression (that is, whether one takes on traditionally masculine or traditionally feminine traits) is not the same thing as sexual orientation (that is, who we are attracted to). The stereotypical gay man is portrayed as being feminine, but that's a stereotype! There are plenty of gay men who society would describe as manly: NFL player Esera Tuaolo (read his story; it pretty much explains why celebrities have no choice but to stay in the closet), actor Ian McKellan, actor George Takai, and actor B.D. Wong. Manliness, or the appearance of manliness, does not determine heterosexuality.

(And since we're on the subject, this accusation is usually used in defense as to why Yunho doesn't/can't love Jaejoong. Yes, it's true that Yunho generally maintains a very manly appearance. Jaejoong on the other hand...he's a chameleon. He looks girlishly pretty when he wants too. He looks damn manly when he wants to. You know why? He was a model before joining TVXQ. The man knows how to work it. I blame that hair. It's why I consider Jaejoong's forehead to be the sexiest part of him. Take those bangs away and ... gah!)


Yunho loves Jae like a boss. A manly boss.

Another common argument I've read is "Yunho/Jaejoong can't be gay/bisexual because they both have had girlfriends in the past." Um…see, bisexual means attracted to both sexes. If Yunho/Jaejoong were bisexual, they could have girlfriends and still be attracted to men. That's kind of how bisexual works. Or it could just be another part of that cover-up I mentioned earlier. There have been support groups established for spouses and ex-spouses of people who married and then later came out as gay. It's not that rare.

And finally, the king of all arguments: "It's just fan service."

I could write a thorough, in-depth dissection of that argument, but this macro sums it up quite nicely.

Just to clarify, the top four photos are of a challenge in which the members had to pass a spoon from one to another without using their hands. It was scripted and awkward. The bottom photo is a still from the MKMF award show. It was spontaneous and heartfelt. Fan service cannot be used to explain an idol's every action. These guys do have moments when they let their idol guard down. And this is what we see.


I don't think this is fan service either. Jae cares.

(I forgot an argument in the first posting. The old "well, Korean boys are just more touchy than boys in other cultures" argument. I guess that may explain why all those other male idols give each other loving looks and bear hugs and go on and on as to how much they love each other. I swear if Donghae doesn't shut up about Eunhyuk, I'll burst an artery.

It may also explain why all those teenage boys in k-dramas/television shows/real life are hugging up on each other.

Oh, wait...

That doesn't happen. Sometimes I wonder if the people who say that confuse idol culture with Korean culture.)

I hate to generalize, but many of the arguments I've read against YunJae seem to reek of homophobia. I can't tell you the number of comments that fall along the lines of "You think oppa is gay? My oppas***? How dare you sling such vile accusations!" Sigh. There is such a sense of revulsion that lets you know these people can't even consider the possibility of YunJae being real. You might as well be accusing them of committing puppy murder. Being gay/bisexual is not a crime. It's not a defect. It's not something they chose to be. So if you dislike YunJae, fine. But if it turns out that either one of them are gay, it wouldn't be due to some master plan to insult you.

"The Chinese YunJae fans are very kind. They sent me and Yunho links to fanfictions. They were fun to read."
--Jaejoong, the biggest YunJae shipper of them all.

The Fandom: Fics, Vids and More

Surprisingly, the greatest piece of YunJae fan product was acted in by the boys themselves. As part of their "Rising Sun" promotions, all five boys starred in a short drama series. Each episode was self-contained and had different themes. The one we care about was titled "Dangerous Love." The story's A-plot focuses on the the disappearance of Junsu and Changmin and the remaining members frantic search for them. The two youngest members are taken in by a mysterious woman who is much more than she seems (isn't that the case with all mysterious women?). Yoochun is distraught with worry and Jaejoong ... Jaejoong is busy grappling with the suspicion that Yunho may harbor feelings for him. (The YunJae scenes can be found here.)

The drama gave us these great scenes:



Fangirls ate it up. What made it even better was the fact that the drama was created to stifle the growing YunJae fanship. It doesn't really work when the two guys both admit they both became shy and nervous around each other for weeks following the filming.

There is an abundance of YunJae stuff out there, but here are a few of my favorites (I had more but I had to cut them for the proof. I stand behind my decision):

  • Jaeho Detox - A LiveJournal community focused on YunJae fanfics, fan vids and other fan created materials.
  • Jaeho Yongwonhi - A LiveJournal community that focuses on real life interactions between Jaejoong and Yunho (i.e. no fanfiction)
  • Trust Over Fear - Tumblr blog that features some of the best YunJae edits I've ever seen.

  • YunJae Everlasting - I don't think this site is active anymore, but the discussion boards are still up and they make for some great reading. They're rebuilding the comm! Hurry and register!
  • FIC: Bubbly Shotgun - All married couples fight. Yunho and Jaejoong aren't any exception. (No words can describe how adorable this is.)
  • FIC: Baby Blues- Jaejoong can’t be too sure if Yunho really plans to make this last; if he is going to hold onto his hand until the end. (Short and sweet with just the right combination of angst and fluff. Actually, anything by this author is recommended.)
  • FIC: Unbalanced - He put gentle hand on the shoulder of each. Someone was going to have to take charge or they'd kill the man before they got answers. “How is that possible, doctor? Yunho is male.” (I don't normally do mpreg, but this one walks that fine line between cracky and realistic so perfectly I couldn't help but enjoy.)
  • FIC: Shattered Love: Things become slightly unstable in DBSK when Jaejoong asks for one night from Yunho. (Angsty and smutty. A great combination.)
  • VIDEO: JaeHo Tribute - If You're Not the One - A fanmix of YunJae scenes put to Daniel Bedingfields' song "If You're Not the One." May be the best fan-made video I've ever seen.

"Yunho is a nice guy, but he absolutely will not allow people to attack Jaejoong, as a joke or otherwise."
--S.M. Entertainment staff member on Yunho's favoritism

Conclusion

So, that's the love that is YunJae. It's amazing, ain't it? Fate brought these guys together and gave everyone something wonderful. We, the fans, got the voices of Kim Jaejoong, Jung Yunho, Park Yoochun, Kim Junsu and Shim Changmin. And the members got a family. Yunho and Jaejoong created the sense of love that held the group together through anti-fan poisonings, Japanese debuts and dance injuries. You can see it in how they talk about each other, how they talk about TVXQ. I admire them all and I hope that I can have even just one friendship/relationship that resembles what they shared.

Thank you, boys. And take care of each other.

(TL;DR?

YunJae was real, is real and will forever be real, because real love can't be faked.)


A/N: I started writing this months ago, but then felt ridiculous for doing so. Then I started working on it again, only to feel ridiculous again. However, last week I saw this wonderfully homophobic blurb over at Tumblr. I realized I had to finish it to dilute some of the inanity that gets spewed by jerks such as that.

There is so much that didn't make it to this essay. YunJae is so complex, that it would have been near impossible to cover everything. LiveJournal wouldn't let me put in all the pics I wanted. =( But I think I made my point: These boys care about each other and nobody can deny it. Oh, YunJae, I heart you so.

I'm considering doing a whole 'nother essay on post-lawsuit YunJae as that's becoming a heartbreaking mess.

*-sshi - Korean formal/polite honorific. Attached to the end of the name, much like -san in Japanese. Roughly equivalent to Mr./Ms., but in this instance, there's a bit more affection behind it.

**Maknae - Korean term for the youngest member of a group; the baby of the group. Can be used as both a noun and a title.

***Oppa/Hyung - Oppa is a Korean term used by women to address men that are older than them. Has a whole array of connotations varying from older brother to romantic interest. Men call men older than them hyung. Women call women older than them unnie. Men call women older than them noona. Younger people of either sex are called dongsaengs.

Tags: !personal favorite, fandom: tvxq, media: gifs, media: photos, media: video, pairing: yunho/jaejoong, rating: g, type: essay
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