DBSK 동방신기 is a pop duo consisting of U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin. The name DBSK is an abbreviation of Dong Bang Shin Ki (동방신기), which roughly translates to "Rising Gods of the East." They're also known as Tohoshinki (東方神起) in Japanese releases and as TVXQ, an initialism for Tong Vfang Xien Qi (Chinese: 東方神起).
Formed by S.M. Entertainment in 2003, DBSK began as a five-member boy band composed of members U-Know Yunho, Max Changmin, Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun, and Xiah Junsu. They were immediately launched to mainstream recognition following the release of their first physical single "Hug" (2004), which peaked at number four on the MIAK monthly music chart. Their first studio albums, Tri-Angle (2004) and Rising Sun (2005), were both top sellers, pushing the band's popularity beyond Korea. Under Avex, DBSK entered the Japanese market with their first Japanese album, Heart, Mind and Soul (2006), but it was met with limited success.
DBSK rose to international prominence in the late 2000s after the group achieved critical acclaim in the Korean music industry for their best-selling albums "O"-Jung.Ban.Hap. (2006) and Mirotic (2008), both winning the Golden Disk Award for Album of the Year. The latter album also contains the pop hit "Mirotic," touted by international music critics as a staple song of Kpop. With four chart-topping singles, DBSK gained widespread media attention in Japan following the release of their fourth Japanese album, The Secret Code (2009). However, despite their commercial success, the group plunged into legal turmoil and internal conflict when members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu attempted to split from their Korean agency S.M. Entertainment. Prior to the trio's departure in 2010, DBSK released their last Japanese album as a quintet, Best Selection 2010, which became the group's first album to top the Oricon Albums Chart. The album spawned two platinum-selling singles, including the long-running hit "Share the World / We Are!"
After a year-long hiatus, DBSK returned as a duo with remaining members Yunho and Changmin. They released DBSK's fifth Korean album, Keep Your Head Down (2011), topping album charts in most major Asian markets upon release. Their first two Japanese albums as a duo, Tone (2011) and Time (2013), solidified their success in Japan as it forged DBSK's reputation as one of the top-touring artists in the country. Their eighth Japanese album, With (2014), made DBSK the first and only foreign music act in Japan to have four number-one albums in a row.
Selling over 10 million records in the first 10 years of their career, DBSK has become one of Asia's most successful music acts of their generation. They are often referred to as "Asia's Stars" and the "Kings of K-pop" for their immense success and contributions to the Hallyu wave. According to Oricon, DBSK has the most number-one singles for a foreign artist and is Japan's best-selling foreign music act in CD singles of all time. Their Time Tour, one of the highest-grossing concert tours of 2013, is the highest-attended concert tour held by a foreign music act in Japan. With the tour, the duo became the first non-Japanese Asian artists to headline a nationwide five-dome tour and were the first foreign artists to perform in the Nissan Stadium. Billboard has described the group as "K-pop royalty".
With the disbandment of H.O.T. in 2001 and Shinhwa's departure in 2003, producer Lee Sooman of S.M. Entertainment had to search for another boy band to compete against other popular idol groups in the K-pop market. In early 2003, Lee selected five teenage boys from four different S.M. training teams to debut in a vocal dance unit. Xiah Junsu, the first to join the new group, became an S.M. trainee at age eleven and was originally trained to be a solo singer. He was put into an R&B trio with trainees Sungmin and Eunhyuk (both now of Super Junior fame), and the trio made their first appearance on the reality show "Survival Audition – Heejun vs. Kangta, Battle of the Century," a 2002 series that starred former H.O.T. members Kangta and Moon Heejun as mentors for prospective singers.
U-Know Yunho, who signed with S.M. Entertainment in 2000, was a member of several failed project groups throughout his years as a trainee. In 2001, he was featured as a rapper in Dana's debut single "Diamond" and briefly toured with her. That same year, Hero Jaejoong auditioned for S.M. Entertainment and was subsequently accepted into the agency after going through various auditions. With trainees Heechul and Kangin, Yunho and Jaejoong joined the project group Four Seasons in 2002, but the quartet disbanded when Yunho and Jaejoong were selected to join Lee's new group in 2003. Heechul and Kangin went on to debut as members of Super Junior two years later.
Max Changmin, the youngest at age fifteen, was the fourth to join the new band. Micky Yoochun, who started his training only a few months before the group's official debut in December 2003, was the last member to make the cut. The boys received phone calls from Lee and were told to attend a photo shoot session, which turned out to be a briefing for their upcoming debut. To build group chemistry, the members moved into a small dormitory room arranged by their management. After a few weeks of training and rehearsals, they recorded their first song, "Thanks To," and performed it at the S.M. New Face Showcase. Yunho was appointed as the group's leader.
During their early recording sessions, the group was offered some tentative names to use: SM5, Dream Team, O Jang Yuk Bu (오장육부; literally "The Five Visceras and the Six Entrails"), Jeon Meok Go (short for Jeonseoleul Meokgo Saneun Gorae; 전설을 먹고 사는 고래; literally "A Whale That Eats Legends"), and Dong Bang Bul Pae (동방불패; the Korean name for the Chinese wuxia character, Invincible East). They decided on Dong Bang Bul Pae, and even obtained permission to use the name from Film Workshop, but the name was later rejected by their management because the Hanja was not aesthetically pleasing. Their name was subsequently finalized to Dong Bang Shin Ki (동방신기), which was suggested by Lee's acquaintance.
DBSK made their first public appearance and debut on December 26, 2003, in a BoA and Britney Spears showcase, where they performed their debut single "Hug" and an a cappella rendition of "O Holy Night" with BoA.
2004–05: Debut and early years
The group released the physical single of "Hug" on January 14, 2004. The single debuted at number thirty-seven on the monthly MIAK chart, selling less than 5,000 copies. On February 6, 2004, DBSK made their official television debut at the Mnet and KM cable music program "Music Tank," where they performed "Hug" and "O Holy Night." The following day, they performed on SBS's "Inkigayo."
The sales of "Hug" picked up following their television appearances, and on March 28, 2004, DBSK won their first music show award with "Hug" on "Inkigayo." "Hug" won two more awards in April 2004. By May 2004, "Hug" sold 118,114 copies and reached a peak at number four on the MIAK. "Hug" stayed charted for ten consecutive months.
On June 24, 2004, DBSK released their second single, "The Way U Are," which entered the MIAK at number two. In July 2004, DBSK participated in their first SM Town project and collaborated with other label mates to release the SM Town album, 2004 Summer Vacation in SMTown.com. In October 2004, DBSK released their first full-length studio album, Tri-Angle. It was DBSK's first record to debut at number one, selling a total of 242,580 copies in the first month. According to the MIAK, "The Way U Are" and Tri-Angle became two of the top ten best-selling albums of 2004.
During the promotions of Tri-Angle, S.M. Entertainment had plans to promote DBSK in mainland China and Taiwan under the support of its overseas partner, Avex Group. The DBSK members recorded Mandarin versions of their popular singles and released them exclusively on the Taiwan presses of Tri-Angle.
Inspired by the success of BoA's Japanese music career, DBSK signed with Japan's Avex Group in late 2004. The members learned Japanese and moved to Japan to record their first single. Introduced as Tohoshinki (東方神起?), DBSK released their debut Japanese single "Stay with Me Tonight" in April 2005 through Avex's record label Rhythm Zone. The single reached to number thirty-seven on the weekly Oricon Singles Chart. Before returning to Korea to prepare for their second Korean album, Rising Sun, DBSK released their second Japanese single "Somebody to Love" in July 2005, which peaked at number fourteen. DBSK's debut in Japan was not as successful as their management had hoped, and the group said their first few months in Japan were "difficult." In August 2005, DBSK performed for Avex's annual A-Nation summer concert tour, their first musical festival in Japan.
Rising Sun was released in South Korea on September 12, 2005 and became the group's first breakthrough album. It debuted at number one on the Korean charts and was the fourth best-selling record of 2005. The album's lead single "Rising Sun" was a popular hit, and it eventually became the group's signature piece. DBSK ended the year with two more releases: their third Japanese single "My Destiny" and a Korean maxi single "Show Me Your Love," featuring Super Junior. The latter single entered the Korean charts at number one. Rising Sun garnered several popularity awards for the group at the end of the year, including M.net KM Music Video Festival's Best Popular Music Video award, the ceremony's daesang ("grand prize").
2006–07: Japanese albums and "O"-Jung.Ban.Hap.
In February 2006, DBSK embarked on their first headlining international concert tour, the Rising Sun Tour. Comprised of 6 shows only, the tour started off with four shows in Seoul. On July 14, 2006, the tour stopped by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; DBSK was the first Korean artist to hold a concert in the country. The tour's second and last overseas stop was in Bangkok, Thailand on July 15, 2006. A CD recording of their concert in Korea was released on July 14; the DVD was released six months later in January 2007, and had initial sales of 38,000 units.
On March 8, 2006, DBSK released their fourth Japanese single, "Asu wa Kuru Kara" (明日は来るから?), which became the seventeenth ending theme for the long-running anime series "One Piece." Their debut Japanese album Heart, Mind and Soul was released two weeks later, and it debuted on the Oricon Albums Chart at number twenty-five, selling 18,000 copies. In April 2006, DBSK released their first double A-side single "Rising Sun / Heart, Mind and Soul" as a follow-up from their album. The single peaked at number twenty-two. To support Heart, Mind and Soul and its subsequent releases, DBSK held their first Japanese tour, the 1st Live Tour 2006: Heart, Mind and Soul, from May to June 2006. The tour consisted of eleven shows that attracted an audience of 14,800. After the tour, DBSK released two more Japanese singles, "Begin" and "Sky." The latter debuted at number six on the Oricon, making it the group's first single to reach the top ten in Japan.
The group resumed their Korean activities with the release of their third Korean album, "O"-Jung.Ban.Hap. on September 29, 2006. The album entered the Korean charts at number one and became the best-selling record of 2006 after one month of release. The success of the album gave DBSK four coveted grand prize awards in 2006; at the M.net KM Music Festival, they received four awards, including Artist of the Year and Best Group. DBSK won all three of their nominations at the 16th Seoul Music Awards; at the 21st Golden Disk Awards, "O"-Jung.Ban.Hap. won Album of the Year, the ceremony's grand prize. DBSK also took home the biggest awards at the SBS Gayo Daejeon. The album's international success won the group their first award in Japan, the Best Buzz Asia in Korea award at the MTV Video Music Awards Japan.
In November 2006, DBSK returned to Japan to release their eighth Japanese single, "Miss You / 'O'-Sei-Han-Gō," which became DBSK's first top three single on the Oricon. In January 2007, DBSK announced their second international tour, the 2nd Asia Tour: O, and toured Seoul, Taipei, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. The tour attracted an audience of 390,000.
DBSK released their second Japanese album Five in the Black in March 2007, debuting at number ten on the Oricon with nearly 27,000 copies sold on its first week. Drawing in an audience of 46,600, the group toured Japan from May to June 2007. The five singles DBSK released upon completion of the tour, "Lovin' You," "Summer," "Shine / Ride On," "Forever Love," and "Together," peaked in the Oricon top five, their most successful being "Summer," which peaked at number two. DBSK were also featured in Kumi Koda's thirty-eighth single, "Last Angel," which was used as the theme song for the Japanese release of Resident Evil: Extinction. Released in November 2007, the single peaked at number three on the Oricon and won Best Collaboration Video at Japan's MTV Video Music Awards.
2008–09: Japanese breakthrough and international success with Mirotic
DBSK's sixteenth Japanese single, "Purple Line," released on January 15, 2008, became the group's first single to debut at number one on the Oricon. Their third Japanese album, T, was released a week later and debuted at number four, selling over 52,000 copies. With the critical and commercial success of T, DBSK delayed their Korean comeback to put more focus on their new Japanese releases. From February to March 2008, the group released a series of five singles consecutively for six weeks, promoting the releases as the "Trick" project. Each single contained a solo track by a member as well as some of their own compositions. The group toured around Japan from March to May 2008. The T tour concluded with 17 shows and attracted an audience of 150,000 people, more than three times the size of their previous Five in the Black tour. The tour's DVD, released in August 2008, sold 112,000 copies. T also received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) in May 2008.
Shortly before completing the T tour, DBSK released their twenty-second Japanese single, "Beautiful You / Sennen Koi Uta." "Sennen Koi Uta" was used as the opening theme for the historical Korean drama "The Legend" when it aired in Japan. Despite the drama's disappointing ratings, the single was a number-one seller, making DBSK the first non-Japanese Asian performer to release two number-one singles in Japan, a record which was last held by Taiwanese artist Ou-yang Fei-fei twenty-four years prior. In July 2008, DBSK released their twenty-third single, "Dōshite Kimi o Suki ni Natte Shimattandarō?" their third number-one single in Japan. They performed the single at Avex's 20th anniversary meeting and at A-Nation 2008, their fourth consecutive concert with Avex.
In August 2008, DBSK returned to Korea to prepare for the release of their fourth Korean album, Mirotic. The group assumed more creative control in this album compared to their last Korean releases: Yunho wrote the rap for several tracks, Junsu and Changmin wrote the lyrics to two tracks, and Jaejoong recorded his own solo track. Mirotic was slated to be released on September 24, 2008, but due to an unprecedented amount of pre-orders, the release was postponed to September 26. The album entered the charts at number one and sold over 110,000 copies in one week, setting a new record. The album's lead single "Mirotic" became DBSK's most successful single of their career. The song won a total of nine number-one trophies on Korean music programs ("The Music Trend," "Music Bank," and "M! Countdown") and was touted by international critics as a staple song of K-pop. Mirotic has sold over 600,000 copies, the first Korean album in six years to surpass half a million sales in South Korea.
In October 2008, DBSK released the Japanese version of "Mirotic," which topped the Oricon, breaking a record that the group had set with their previous single. DBSK was the first Korean group to attend the Japanese New Year Eve's music festival Kōhaku Uta Gassen, and their invitation to the event was considered as one of the biggest highlights of their Japanese music career. In January 2009, the group released their twenty-fifth Japanese single, "Bolero / Kiss the Baby Sky / Wasurenaide," which was another number one single for the group. "Bolero" was used as the theme song for the Japanese film Dance Subaru, and DBSK also made brief cameo appearances in the film. In February 2009, the group kicked off their third international tour, the 3rd Asia Tour: Mirotic, which went through five cities in Asia.
DBSK released their fourth Japanese album, The Secret Code, in March 2009, and it debuted at number two on the Oricon. It managed to sell over 317,000 copies in Japan, earning a platinum certification. From May to July 2009, DBSK went on their fourth headlining Japanese tour, the 4th Live Tour 2009: The Secret Code, which consisted of 21 shows to an audience of 279,500 people. The last two shows of the tour were at the Tokyo Dome, making DBSK the first Korean group to perform at the venue. The concert's DVD, which was released in September 2009, pre-sold 107,000 copies and ultimately sold more than 353,000 copies. A number-one seller, DBSK was the first foreign artist in twenty years to peak at first place on the Oricon's DVD rankings.
2009–10: S.M. Lawsuit, Best Selection 2010, and the split
In July 2009, members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu attempted to split with their Korean management S.M. Entertainment, claiming that their thirteen-year contract was excessively long, schedules were held without permission of the members, and profits were unfairly distributed. In October 2009, the Seoul Central District Court granted the trio a temporary contract injunction, and DBSK's group activities in Korea were ceased. In November 2009, Yunho and Changmin released a joint statement in support of S.M. Entertainment and urged the trio to resolve their issues with their management quickly if they wished to continue their careers as DBSK members. As a result of the legal battle, the Shenzhen show for the group's Mirotic tour was canceled a week before its scheduled date on November 21, 2009, prematurely ending the tour. Despite the injunction, Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu maintained their activities as DBSK members under Avex's management in Japan, and the group continued to release new Japanese singles together until early 2010. However, the members' last public performance together was on December 31, 2009, at the 60th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, where they performed their twenty-eighth single, "Stand by U."
In January 2010, DBSK released their twenty-ninth single, "Break Out!" which created a new record for the group. The single topped the Oricon and broke Elton John's fourteen-year record of having the highest first-week sales for a foreign artist. On February 17, 2010, DBSK released their Japanese greatest hits album, Best Selection 2010, a compilation of their number one hits including new singles released after 2009's The Secret Code, such as "Share the World / We Are!" "Stand by U," and "Break Out!" The album sold over 400,000 copies in one week, earning RIAJ's double platinum status by the end of February. In March 2010, the group released their last single together, "Toki o Tomete," which was certified platinum by the RIAJ.
On April 3, 2010, Avex declared the suspension of DBSK's Japanese activities, stating that each member would be pursuing a solo career. However, a week later, Avex announced the formation of a "special unit" (later known as JYJ) with members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu, a move that led to Yunho and Changmin's indefinite hiatus from music activities. After JYJ's announcement, S.M. Entertainment filed a lawsuit against JYJ. In June 2010, JYJ submitted a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to void their exclusive contracts. Following the suits, S.M. Entertainment attempted to denounce JYJ and their new agency C-JeS, while Yunho and Changmin remained silent throughout the legal proceedings. In the meantime, Avex released two of DBSK's greatest hits albums, including the Complete Single A-side Collection and the Single B-side Collection, both of which were released on June 30. They were DBSK's closing releases under their contract with Rhythm Zone.
After several months of inactivity, Yunho and Changmin made their comeback appearances in August 2010 for the Seoul stop of the SM Town Live '10 World Tour, where they performed re-recorded versions of older DBSK songs. Their two-piece performances garnered strong and supportive reactions from the audience, prompting Yunho and Changmin's decision to continue DBSK activities without the other three. There was an attempt to add new members to the group, but their mentor Lee Sooman suggested that they should continue as a duo. Shortly after the concert, the duo began working on their comeback album and brought in a new line of producers, including E-Tribe and Outsidaz. In September 2010, Avex dropped JYJ, citing conflict with C-JeS. Avex then declared its support for remaining DBSK members Yunho and Changmin on November 24, announcing that the duo have signed a new record contract with Rhythm Zone's sister label Avex Trax.
2011: Return as a duo, Keep Your Head Down and Tone
Yunho and Changmin released DBSK's comeback Korean album Keep Your Head Down on January 5, 2011. The album debuted at number one on the Gaon Albums Chart and maintained its position for a second week. With 230,922 copies sold by mid-2011, Keep Your Head Down won the Album of the Year for the first quarter of 2011 at the Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards. The album's title single, "Keep Your Head Down," also stayed strong on the charts, winning seven number one trophies on music shows "The Music Trend," "Music Bank," and "M! Countdown." The Japanese version of "Keep Your Head Down," which was released as a physical single in Japan on January 26, 2011, was a chart-topper and became DBSK's second best-selling single in Japan, earning a platinum certification by the RIAJ. In March 2011, Keep Your Head Down was reissued with a new single, "Before U Go," and the repackaged album Before U Go peaked at number nine on the Gaon, pushing the album to be the third best-selling record of 2011 in South Korea.
While promoting Keep Your Head Down, Yunho and Changmin spoke up for the first time about their 2010 hiatus and breakup with JYJ. According to Yunho, JYJ had "exceedingly deep conflicts" with their agency and the members had irreconcilable differences about their career. Changmin added that the team had worked so hard to the point where they felt like they could finally "harvest the fruits of [their] labor", yet instead of being happy they had to perform their final stage with heavy hearts. JYJ responded by saying that they did not regret their decision in leaving S.M. Entertainment. The lyrics of "Keep Your Head Down" came under media scrutiny, with claims that they were directed at JYJ; however, DBSK clarified that "Keep Your Head Down" was not a diss track, and that similar claims would still happen even if they were to release a different song with different lyrics. Yunho said, "The song is about a man's mind towards a woman who had left him. We can sometimes find out that a certain song seems to talk about my own story. In this way it totally depends on the interpretation using our own thoughts."
In July 2011, DBSK released their thirty-second Japanese single, "Superstar," which was certified gold by month's end. From July to August, the duo toured around Japan for Avex's A-Nation summer concert; at the Tokyo stop, DBSK performed as the closing act, breaking Ayumi Hamasaki's record of closing the concert eight years in a row. DBSK was the first foreign act to close the festival. On September 28, the group released the Japanese album Tone, which earned them their first number one studio album. It sold over 200,000 copies on its first week and earned RIAJ's platinum certification on its second week. DBSK was the second overseas artist in Japan to achieve album sales of more than 200,000 in a week; the previous holder was Bon Jovi with their 2000 album, Crush.
In the latter months of 2011, the duo performed for a string of K-pop music festivals around the world. They first performed at the 2011 Hallyu Dream Concert at Gyeongju Citizens’ Stadium in South Korea on October 3. On October 9, DBSK participated in the New York-Korea Festival, a concert produced by KBS Global to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Korea's entry into the United Nations. It was held in New Jersey. On October 23, DBSK performed with SM Town at the SM Town Concert in New York at Madison Square Garden concert and garnered international media attention. DBSK also participated in the 2011 K-pop Music Fest in Sydney, Australia, presented by JK Entertainment on November 12.
Their new Japanese holiday single "Winter" was released on November 30. The single's A-track, "Winter Rose," was selected as the commercial song for Seven & i Holdings's Winter Gift, which premiered on November 8. DBSK also contributed in their Korean management's December compilation album, 2011 Winter SMTown – The Warmest Gift, and released the song "Sleigh Ride." On December 31, DBSK performed "Keep Your Head Down" at the 62nd NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen. It was their first time performing at the Kohaku since the split, drawing media attention.
2012–13: Groundbreaking success in Japan, Catch Me, Time and touring
DBSK started 2012 with their comeback Japanese solo tour, the Tone tour, in January 2012. Tickets were sold out in a few minutes. Spanning a total of twenty-six shows in nine cities, the Tone tour reached an audience of 550,000, more than twice the audience count of their 2009 Japanese tour, The Secret Code. DBSK also became the third foreign artist, after Michael Jackson and the Backstreet Boys, to perform at the Tokyo Dome for three consecutive days, attracting crowds of over 165,000. The Tone tour's 550,000 audience was also the largest mobilization for any Korean artist in Japan at the time, until DBSK broke their own record with their 2013 Japan tour, Time.
With the release of their thirty-fourth chart-topping Japanese single, "STILL," in March 2012, DBSK became the first foreign artist to release ten number-one singles in Japan. By July 2012, DBSK came to be recognized as the first foreign artist in Japan to sell over 3.1 million CD singles, breaking a ten-year, ten-month long record that was previously held by the American vocal duo, The Carpenters. The group had a fan club event tour called "The Mission" that attracted over 100,000 fans.
DBSK returned to South Korea in September 2012, to release their sixth Korean album, Catch Me, followed by the announcement of their first world tour, the Live World Tour: Catch Me. Catch Me was released online on September 24 and on September 26 through normal commercial outlets. It became Yunho and Changmin's second number one album and DBSK's fifth number one album in South Korea and maintained its number one position on the Gaon Albums Chart for three weeks. On November 26, DBSK released Humanoids, the repackage of Catch Me, which also peaked at number one. Two days after the reissue's release, S.M. Entertainment and JYJ dropped their lawsuits against each other and reached a settlement, ending their three-year legal dispute. As part of the agreement, both parties stated that they would no longer interfere with each other's activities, and it was agreed upon that JYJ's contracts with S.M. Entertainment had ended in July 2009.
On January 16, 2013, DBSK announced on their official Japanese site the release of their sixth Japanese album, Time, for March 6. The album became their fastest selling studio album to date, selling over 277,000 copies in its first month of release. Its lead single, "Catch Me/If You Wanna," sold over 137,000 copies and topped the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, making the group the first foreign artist to have had twelve number ones on Oricon. In March the group took part in the TRF tribute album TRF Tribute Album Best for TRF's 20th anniversary. They sang a cover of "survival dAnce ~no no cry more~" and were the only Koreans to participate on the album.
DBSK set several records with their Time tour, which commenced at the Saitama Super Arena in April 2013. The duo became the first K-pop artist and the fourth foreign artist to embark on a five-dome tour and was the first foreign musical act to perform at the Nissan Stadium as a headlining artist. The tour attracted a record audience of 850,000 people. The tour grossed US$90 million, breaking Tone's record.
On December 26–27, 2013, DBSK held two concerts titled Time Slip at the Korea International Exhibition Center in Ilsanseo-gu to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
2014–present: Tenth anniversary tours and military service
Promoted as DBSK's tenth anniversary debut album, their seventh Korean studio album, Tense, was announced in November 2013. The album was released on January 6, 2014, and debuted at number one on the Gaon Albums Chart and Hanteo Albums Chart, with first-week sales of 73,100 copies. First-month shipments reached 194,198 units, making Tense the best-selling album of the month in South Korea. Music critics rated Tense favorably, with a general consensus that the album is the duo's best Korean record to date. Musically, Tense has elements of neo soul with throwback-inspired pop, and it is described to be more mature than the duo's earlier efforts. The lead single, "Something," a swing jazz pop number, debuted at number four on the Gaon Singles Chart and reached number seven on the Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100, DBSK's highest debut on both charts. In Japan, "Something" was released as a double A-side single with "Hide & Seek" on February 5, 2014. In late February 2014, DBSK announced their follow-up Korean single, "Spellbound." An expanded version of Tense, re-titled Spellbound, was released on February 27, 2014, and debuted at number two on the Gaon Albums Chart, shipping 61,405 copies in two days.
Tree, DBSK's seventh Japanese studio album, was released on March 5, 2014. It debuted at number one on the Oricon Albums Chart, moving 225,000 copies on its first week of release. With Tree, DBSK became the first foreign band in Japan to have three consecutive studio albums with first week sales of over 200,000 copies, breaking Bon Jovi's thirteen-year record. DBSK continued to break new records with their seventh Japanese concert tour, Tree: Live Tour 2014, which toured Japan from April to June. The tour drew in over 600,000 people in total, pushing the duo to become the first international artist of Japan to bring in the largest number of concertgoers in the last three years, reaching over 2 million.
On August 30, DBSK announced at Avex's A-Nation concert that they would hold their second five-dome tour in early 2015, promoted as their tenth anniversary tour in Japan. The tour's accompanying studio album, With, was announced on October 23. At the same time, DBSK started their world tour concert, Tistory: Special Live Tour, to commemorate their tenth year in the K-pop industry.
With debuted at number one on the Oricon, selling 233,000 copies. On December 26, the duo's eleventh debut anniversary, DBSK's wax figures at Madame Tussauds were unveiled in Shanghai, China.
DBSK was the 5th artist by total sales revenue in Japan in 2014, with ¥3.691 billion.
The duo entered their second hiatus when Yunho started his mandatory military service for the Republic of Korea Armed Forces on July 21, 2015. DBSK released their eighth Korean album, Rise as God, a day before Yunho's enlistment. Changmin joined the Military Police on November 19, 2015. The duo is expected to return in late 2017 when both members are discharged from their services.
By the end of 2015, With was the highest selling foreign release in Japan, ranking at 15 on the end-of-year album charts while its corresponding concert release was the highest selling foreign concert release on both the end-of-year Blu-ray and DVD charts.
DBSK labeled their lead singles as "SMP," a supposedly experimental genre with a mix of orchestral pop, rock, hip hop, and contemporary R&B, topped with harmonizing vocals and high notes. Many of DBSK's songs feature lyrics with dark social commentary.
DBSK's musical style has evolved over the years. Dance-pop and contemporary R&B ballads persisted throughout their releases, and they have released a cappella versions of their music. In their first two albums, DBSK explored rap-rock and collaborated with the rock band TRAX. With their fourth Korean album, Mirotic (2008), DBSK delved into urban contemporary and electropop, and the album's lead single "Mirotic," a song marked by heavy-urban dance and Europop sounds, is considered one of the staple songs of K-pop. In the albums after the split, Yunho and Changmin experimented with more electronic dance music, traditional R&B, and pop songs with strong hip hop cadences. However, the duo's tenth anniversary album, Tense (2014), saw a drastic change in DBSK's musical direction, with acoustic genres such as adult contemporary pop music taking focus.
DBSK's dance choreography has been called "intense and powerful." Their stage performances have been described as "imaginative" and "captivating," with Yunho and Changmin being lauded for their stability and stamina to perform live, with some live concert sets lasting for more than three hours. On an episode of Mnet's "Idol Chart Show" that aired on May 4, 2011, DBSK was ranked number one among music removed (MR) idol singers.