Weird Korean Music Video

The first Korean music video that showed up on the Korean MSN page that loads automatically in Windows Media Player because I am in Korea. This isn’t an ecxample of a good video, it’s absolute cheese, but for those friends of mine abroad, it’s a pretty encyclopedic index of gestures, stock facial expressions, plot moments in romance movies, clichéd actions, locations (the comic book shop, the stationery store, the whorehouse…), stock characters—the whore with the heart of gold, the young, sweet man who nonetheless kinda has a thing for screwing hookers, but changes his ways, the radio announcer who is also a confessor and figure of wisdom—and the like that I think watching it once or twice may be of interest to those who wish to compare it to the stock, clichéd depictions of romance in Western movies or media. Some of it’s the same, and some will strike you as different. (I’m interested in who sees what, so don’t hesitate to comment.) As an added bonus, it’s set in the 1970s but looks as if it could be in Seoul today. It’s quite a weird video, to be honest, and if it hadn’t been so weird, I’d probably have shut it off after a few seconds. Even without catching all of the comments of the different characters, you can get the basic gist—because there’s a lot more dialogue in this thing than in your average music video, but most of it, I think, is not really necessary to get the gist.

More in the extended section of this post, but don’t read it before seeing the video unless you want the story spoiled for you more than it has been already…

I think each of these character types has seen some use in the west, by the way, but on the other hand, the ease with which the male lead is accepted as a nice, tender, sweethearted guy, who happens to visit hookers, feels odd to me. He’s such a sympathetic character, and yet… he goes whoring. And to expiate his sin, he cuts all his hair off? Is that going to work for him long term—has his newly conservative (read: upstanding) appearance been accompanied by a major change in his moral values—or will he go whoring again later, even with his short, proper-young-man hair?

And the woman: her offering herself to him, her rejecting him when he comes back to her… what exactly is tied up in all of that? She’s the one calling an elder female radio announcer, by the way; what does it mean that she is seeking guidance? Why is rejection the outcome of all of this?

Okay, probably understanding the lyrics and the dialogue would, admittedly, contribute to understanding this more deeply, but honestly, it was a surprising video, to me. I don’t think I’ll spend any more time on it, but it was interesting to look at and—though the effort was probably quite futile—to try and understand.

3 thoughts on “Weird Korean Music Video

  1. I agree: the video is fascinating. By the way, the man didn’t cut his hair to expiate his sin; he had to cut his hair because he’s going to the military. The woman gave him his scarf because she was afraid he was going to catch a cold–a sign of compassion? And then she leaves him. The final scene of the video has the woman telling the radio announcer, relating the story to her, and finishing by saying that if she could have one wish, she would like for the young man to call her back.

  2. Ah, thank you Gary! I am a little embarrassed at having missed some of those things, though the horror of the music caused me to turn the volume so low I missed the bulk of the dialogue.

    I still can’t help but feel as if the haircut was somehow related to his embarrassment at what happened in the brothel, regardless of whether he was off to the military. It just felt that way to me… but I could be totally wrong, of course!

  3. By the way, the fact he’s off to military makes it less surprising that his going whoring doesn’t seem to interfere with our (expected) sense of him being a “nice guy”… in the 1970s, the time in which the video was set, plenty of guys died while in the military, during training and so on. I suppose it wouldn’t be much different from young men going off to war, and plenty of films and books present the whoring of such lads are not incompatible with their general niceness and their miserable victimhood.

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