It’s not surprising at all that Korean Pop (K-Pop as it’s usually called) has been sweeping across the international market in recent years. Some say that it had started around 2009 where the beginning foreign market started swarming together into cult groups. I remember when I had started listening to KPop, it was G-Dragon’s “Heartbreaker” and SHINee’s “RingDingDong” that pulled me through. Comparing songs like that to the ones we have now, you could probably say that they’re among the prettiest music videos out there. But for today, we are going to cover a video that had come out a few years ago, back in October of 2012 (yep, we’re going far) and talk about the genius about how a short music video like this can pull off twists that M.Night Shyamalan would cry over.
Just as a warning, there will be some massive amount of spoilers (for a KPop video, which is weird) that will be discussed, so if you don’t want to be spoiled then I highly recommend watching the video first. If you don’t know Korean, don’t worry about it, for the video has English Subs in the CC button. Click on it and watch away, and make sure you stay through to the end.
Beautiful music, don’t you think?
And now that you have seen the video, let us take in a few minutes to sit down and realize just how huge that twist in the ending was. Now process that in your head for a few minutes. If this music video was made in, say, Canada or the United States, this type of revelation would not be this surprising. Heck, since sexuality is spoken of quite openly here, if a plot twist such as that had been pulled off, you wouldn’t even be that surprised about it.
Oh wait, we did make a music video with this twist. It was called “Call Me Maybe”.
Well then. For those of you who were too stubborn to not watch the music video, I just gave away the biggest twist of the music video. But for our sake, I’m gonna show you the ending anyway in two beautiful pictures.
Horrifying out of context, huh? Probably should’ve watched the video. But don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to watch it properly and we can talk about it later.
Now, I’m not going to talk about this video being a masterpiece in bringing up how homosexuality is still somewhat taboo in Korea (at least a lot more compared to say, America, where we can be at least a bit more open about it to the public), because everyone else had been saying that for the three years that this video had been out, and I am not talented enough to talk about it. Instead, I’m going to talk to you about the cinematography of this music video, and how it tells a coherent plot with characters and personalities that are so rich that we are just one man away from having an entire movie running on this.
Before we start, I am going to quickly run down the plot of the story as presented in this video. This piece stars three characters, and these three characters are all present in the featured image on top. There is no dialogue during this video and hence they have not been given any names, so many viewers have decided to refer to them by their real actors’ names.There are also two “plot times” in the story: the one in the car is its own plot time and the rest of the video is the past that In Guk is depressed over. For the scene in the car, recall that there are two people in it: Dasom and In Guk.
All we are aware of is that In Guk and Dasom seem to have a strange relationship. She constantly teases him through pinches and pushes and from the look on his face In Guk doesn’t really like it. Dasom is also currently dating Ahn Jae Hyun, and judging by how they act in the first time they’re together on screen, In Guk is willing to tolerate her when he’s around, meaning that they must be really close friends.
As the video progresses, In Guk sees Jae Hyun cuddling with Dasom and is very awkward about the whole thing, almost as if he doesn’t approve of the relationship. Naturally, we assume that he must have been crushing on the girl the entire time and is kinda jealous that his best friend got the girl instead, since we have seen a lot of media (both in Korea and in America) where the relationship between two individuals start with a lot of tension between the two staring leads. Heck, a similar plot line shows up in another KPop Music Video: MBLAQ’s “This is War”. I’m only putting the video here so that you don’t have to search for it in another page, but it’s also cinematic in nature and has almost the exact same plot.
You can see that when Jae Hyun and Dasom announce their engagement to In Guk with all the smiles on their faces. In Guk, not surprisingly, does not seem to like this news. Going back to the car for a minute, once he starts thinking about the two of them cuddling each other before the wedding, he flat out freaks out about it, while Dasom is still in the car with him!
And it’s then that we get our first plot twist of the video.
Honestly, with the way he flipped out in the car, if he wasn’t alone in the car, she would’ve called the cops on him so quickly.
After that, we watch the wedding take place, In Guk goes off to collect his thoughts before Jae Hyun goes to get him so that the three of them can take a beautiful wedding picture. Cue the end of the song and the second twist ending that I had spoiled above.
Okay, maybe the summary was longer than I had wanted. But for a video that’s about three minutes long? That is a lot of stuff to take out of it. Compare that to MBLAQ’s video, which seems to have so many plot holes in trying to explain the same plot in five minutes. Clearly this is the work of good directors. So how does this music video foreshadow these two twists?
First off, when you watch the video at face value, most of the information that you’re given seems to clearly aim for you believing that In Guk is crushing on Dasom. They are both seen in the car for a great chunk of the video, and for the most part they seem to have the most interaction. But check out how they both act between each other.
Dasom is cheery and playful, something you typically see in videos like this, but In Guk does not look comfortable whenever he’s around her. And this is not a “I love you but you’re dating a friend” kind of awkward either. There’s a difference between being awkward around someone because you love them, and then there’s being awkward around someone because you’re too nice to tell someone to piss off. Speaking of which, you know where In Guk is really awkward toward?
People don’t notice it at a first glance, but the annoyed face of In Guk immediately drops when Jae Hyun is in the picture. Check those few seconds again. In Guk straight out went to chase Dasom when Jae Hyun shows up, and he flat out stops and has that awkward face on him again. Also, whenever he has the blow ups, it’s never in front of Jae Hyun. Ever. Not even in the car scene, where we still see Dasom.
And let’s not forget what he was doing right when the wedding was about to start, either.
All right, there are a lot of obvious hints in the video showing that In Guk liked Jae Hyun instead of Dasom. I could go over even more of them, to how the camera seems to lovingly linger onto Jae Hyun whenever he’s in the main focus and jump cuts through Dasom’s scenes like it’s the Transformers movie to seemingly having more Jae Hyun than Dasom on the camera whenever the two of them are in the same frame together, but then we have the million dollar question.
If In Guk was in love with Jae Hyun the entire time, and he was in his car alone freaking out about it the entire time, then why did the majority of the video seem to show Dasom instead of Jae Hyun inside the car? He never had romantic feelings for her, of course! So maybe he really did love her?
No. He never did. His feelings were completely toward Jae Hyun and never Dasom. Dasom was never the person he was hallucinating about when he started speeding through Seoul. In Guk never saw Dasom. We, the audience, were seeing Dasom.
Let me try and explain this. Remember how earlier I was stating that there were two “plot times” in the MV? Other than being horrible at names, I stressed this because each time has two different POV’s in place. The past time (with the wedding and the house) was through In Guk’s eyes, nothing too surprising. But the car? That was from the audience’s point of view. If you’re having a hard time trying to understand this, try and imagine that you are sitting in the backseat of the car that he’s driving and are listening to this entire story as he’s reiterating this to you. He’ll be vague about it, forcing you the listener to fill in the blanks as you go along. This works well with the actual song as well, sung beautifully by K.Will. But look at the lyrics again. They never say “he” or “she”, only “me” and “you”. Vague enough for you to have some kind of understanding but not specific enough to answer questions.
Listening to the story/song, and knowing that this is a male reiterating this story, we the audience (and especially a Korean audience, who still conform to some stricter sense of heteronormativity) automatically assume that he is talking about a girl in his life, marrying a close friend so that he will never have her. In fact, if you stop the video right when the song ends, you never get the twist ending. The revelation that he was in love with Jae Hyun was shown after the song is over…after the story is finished being told. When In Guk puts the two halves together, we the audience finally get what person he was talking about, and replace what we assumed with the truth, hence why we finally see Jae Hyun with him. This is further emphasized by their clothing: Dasom and Jae Hyun seem to be wearing the same version of that long sleeved sweater, aren’t they?
Let me stress that there was no lying during the entirety of this video. The story still holds up. The only thing that is different is who his true level of affection is aimed toward. And the best part? Watching the video again knowing what you know makes the bigger details stick out even more.
Kind of mind blowing, isn’t it?