IU (아이유) – Sogyeokdong (소격동)


When I first heard the news about IU’s collaboration with Seo Taiji, my heart dropped a beat. I know Seo Taiji was considered a legend in K-pop, but before I knew him, I had known Lee Ji Ah first (despite the fact that his name had been somehow familiar to me beforehand). I loved The Legend (ha, the irony) mostly because of her, and I watched Beethoven Virus and Style also because of her. For a while I didn’t follow what was going on for some reason (life?), and I didn’t follow celebrities’ lives and scandals anyway (that’s a good life), so I only heard vaguely about her secret marriage with a huge influential figure which shook Korean entertainment industry (imagine how big it was that even a person who was oblivious of that world even heard about). I think the news broke out when they were handling their divorce process? Anyway, little by little, pieces came together, then “ah so that’s that Seo Taiji”. I couldn’t help but taking Ji Ah’s side, probably because it was natural to support another woman and also because she was suffering so much. So when there was news about IU’s collaboration with Seo Taiji, I was stunned. There was rumor before about Seo Taiji’s comeback, I heard about it but didn’t pay attention, let alone imagine it to be collaboration with IU!! Why did everything about this man had to be so shocking?

Then I translated the news from English to Vietnamese to kites. It calmed me down a lot, and when I finished I was actually much more fond of the project than initially. Seo Taiji complimented IU a lot, he was the one who suggested the idea, and for IU who had always shown her respect to her seniors and her eagerness to learn, she seemed to be genuinely honored for the chance to collaborate with such a big name.

Seo Taiji said through his agency Seo Taiji Company, “When I was looking for the female singer who could express the song Sogyeokdong well, I thought of IU right away, who I’ve always thought of as the hubae female singer with the best singing ability. I wanted her to sing the song with her charming voice so I requested her participation. She accentuated the charm of the song more than I expected, so I’m happy.”

‘Sogyeokdong Project’ will release IU’s version first on October 2 followed by Seo Taiji’s version of Sogyeokdong to be released on October 10. This is the first time in 22 years where another singer will be singing a song written, composed and produced by Seo Taiji.

IU’s agency Loen Tree stated, “IU was very happy to receive Seo Taiji’s request and expressed her desire to participate in the project. She felt honored to be participating in the senior singer’s song, who she respects greatly in terms of music, and said that Sogyeokdong will be a meaningful song for her too, showing anticipation and excitement for this collaboration.”

Source: mnetamerica

I had usually struggled with the idea of whether I should listen to artists that had troublesome private lives (the same went for actors/actresses, well, celebrities in general), but I was all for IU’s growth as a musician. What happened between Seo Taiji and Lee Ji Ah was their own business, both of them suffered and their lives moved on, they had to continued despite the past. We didn’t know the whole story and maybe never will, so there was no point to judge. And if Seo Taiji decided he didn’t want people to be nosy of his private life, he had the right to do so. It shouldn’t be something suspicious and to be made fun of. It shouldn’t affect the way people see his ability to make music.

When the teaser came out, I was ecstatic!

I loved everything about it. The electronic sound, IU’s voice, the lingering feeling of the past. It was all so mesmerizing. I replayed it again and again and again. I thought about how IU never failed to surprise me with the music she delivered. You might have thought the previous time was the best it couldn’t get better, then as if it was “challenge accepted” from her, she came back with another piece that blew your mind away.

When the audio release at midnight between the 1st and 2nd of October, I was a bit confused though. It lost a bit of its charm from the teaser, I felt it right away from 1-minute listening on MelOn and got it confirmed when I listened to the full audio. Many people said that the music was too loud it over-dominated IU’s voice, but to me it wasn’t that (most probably because I listened to it with headphones – I always listen to first-time music with headphones). The song structure was weird. It went up and down in an unexpected way which I couldn’t really grasp the essence of it, and I got drifted away when it came toward the end – it passed by like din’t leave a mark. It was still a very nice song, just that I had too high of an expectation from the teaser.

Another confusion was that they didn’t release the MV right away, they waited until the 6th. I didn’t quite understand it. I mean, when the feeling was still fresh from the teaser and the audio, shouldn’t they add this important spice right away? My guess was that they wanted to have an all-kill with the audio first because it might be possible to manage with daily chart (perfect all-kill for a song that release on Thursday would be a miracle), and the MV on Monday would be good then to deal with perfect all-kill on weekly chart when songs’ points reset for a new week. But the competition was fierce, the song got an all-kill on real-time chart upon its release but it didn’t reach certified all-kill. The MV did make an impact but it soon dropped down again. It was a time to clearly see that IU’s continuous certified all-kills and perfect all-kills and cups from music shows weren’t easy achievements, they weren’t a given because it was IU, we never should take it for granted.

Anyway, as for the MV itself, it was good to know things before watching it.

  • The song has two versions as well as two MVs, one from IU and another from Seo Taiji. It shows the woman’s and the man’s perspectives, and these two secret stories will fit together like a puzzle. So, no freaking out when IU’s MV version wasn’t clear of what was going on, it was supposed to be completed by Seo Taiji’s version.
  • [Sogyeokdong Back story] Sogyeokdong used to be a dark and troubling period in the Korean History. It used to be the headquarters of the Defence Security Command and has now converted into a Fine Arts Mueseum. During the early years of Major General Chun Doo Hwan’s regime (1981~1983), students were forced into military service and martial law was forcefully implemented. Confrontation and protest started to arise and more reform was initiated and in the process many young people died. (FYI this major general carried out a military coup d’état and assassinated the then president Park Chung Hee) (x)
  • The message on the paper inside the paper-crane is “Meet me when the lights go off”, and on the other side it was “Let’s participate in the night blackout drill” (x)

And side note:

  • The girl was Kim Hyun Soo. I got to know her from Good Doctor. Most people would recognize her from her role as child actor of Jun Ji Hyun’s character – Chun Song Yi in You Who Came from the Stars.
  • The boy was Sung Yoo Bin. He was the child actor of Jo In Sung’s character – Jang Jae Yeol in It’s Okay That’s Love.

After a couple of days listening to the song whenever I felt like it (which was often the case), I got more used to the rhythm than previously. By the time I watched the MV, I somehow got the feeling from the teaser back. The more I listened and watched, the more I liked it. Everything seemed to contradict – modern and old, happy and sad – but it all blended in harmoniously, strangely. IU was gorgeous, she had the kind of sweet and nostalgic beauty and voice that matched so well with the MV atmosphere. And I agreed with Leeteuk (Super Junior) that it made me feel both bright and melancholic at the same time it was hard to explain. I hope this mesmerizing feeling will continue on to Seo Taiji’s version.

I actually wasn’t very much keen on understanding the story-line. Just like how I normally watched films, I didn’t question things all the time. I would be just like, we would understand eventually. This time it was even more open for interpretations. I thought about the girl with the bleeding bruises, was she shy and that was why she hid when the boy saw her, and like majority, the biggest question was what happened to the girl, why didn’t she appear and where did she go. But yeah, I suppose when the time came, we would understand.

All in all, I really liked this collaboration that IU did. The song felt as if pretty IU put on Seo Taiji’s dreamy piece and suited it to herself, like a fairytale (couldn’t describe it better than Kim Jong Seo; it was clearly Seo Taiji’s song but IU’s color shined through also). The MV was beautiful and well-made, I could see how much thought was put in from its high quality. My favorite scenes would include the part when the girl put her hands on her laps and grabbed her skirt tightly for a moment, the pinwheels spin in the sunshine when the wind blew (extra: the background was also green at that point!) which felt soft and gentle, the umbrella scenes especially the one when she turned the umbrella and her face would appear vaguely behind, the scene when the lights gradually went off, and all the ones that IU was in (of course). I also made a gif-set (because, yeah, how I love it so), which would be better to click on the images for the actual size because they were enlarged to fit with my tumblr theme.

It wasn’t as well-received in South Korea as I expected, but from that I grew even more protective toward the song and embraced it even tighter. I loved it for everything it was. I was happy IU took this new sound and once again expressed it beautifully in her own unique way. I was glad she was invited as guest to perform this song at Seo Taiji’s concert. As long as she’s happy with her music, I’m happy, too. And her music is great, her voice is one of a kind. I, really, couldn’t ask for more.


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