Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: K.Will–“Please Don’t”

Wow, they…actually went there.

Did you like the song?
I did. It’s a very pleasant ballad with a memorable chorus, but K.Will’s voice has undercurrents of such sadness that it really tugs at the heartstrings.

What was your favorite part of the song?
I really like the beginning of the chorus leading into the first “don’t know why” part: “niga hal mal ara geu malmaneun mara” (“I know what you’re going to say; please don’t say it”). So memorable.

K.Will Please Don’t album cover
K.Will’s album cover

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
Nope, it’s good. “Don’t know why, don’t know why~”

Did you like the video?
Okay, so this is a review of this music video, and it will be very spoilery! Please go ahead and take the time to watch the video fully before I ruin it for you. Go ahead; I’ll wait!

Okay, spoilery discussion commences here:

Well, damn. They actually went there and featured a sympathetic gay storyline. Lots of videos have done this before (recently, for example, in Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”), playing around with an idea that challenges many viewers’ expectations and pre-conceived notions of whom the romantic relationship is between. But this is the first time I’ve seen it in a Kpop music video, so this video is very unusual and groundbreaking and brave in that respect—at least to me. Please let me know if this idea has been done before in other videos (I understand there was a similar situation in the drama Answer Me 1997; see below).

K.Will Please Don't Cast members
Our cast: SISTAR's Dasom, Seo In-guk, and Ahn Jaehyun.

But did anybody else have a moment of…soul-searching when Seo In-guk grabbed Ahn Jaehyun’s arm and it became obvious that it wasn’t Dasom he was pining over after all? Because I sure did. I had this minor freak-out and worried that I was somehow homophobic for not seeing this development coming sooner. Sure, very early in the video it crossed my mind that this might be a gay storyline, but I quickly abandoned that idea because (1) that doesn’t happen in Kpop MVs—or so I thought—and (2) the way the video is filmed is deliberately misleading. It deliberately leads viewers to think that Seo In-Guk’s character is pining over his female friend, Dasom’s character, when in fact it seems he is actually attracted to his male friend, played by Ahn Jaehyun.

K.Will Please Don't review

Allow me to illustrate with a brief comparison of the filming techniques in Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” vs. K.Will’s “Please Don’t.” In “Call Me Maybe,” the plotline is that Jepsen’s character is lusting after a hot guy. She really embarrasses herself trying to get his attention, and in the end, he turns out to be more interested in her male bandmate than in her.

The tone is kind of awkwardly humorous because it’s all from her point of view. This guy pays her absolutely no attention, but her fantasies just run wild. On the first viewing, you think that the guy is just oblivious not to notice such an attractive person throwing herself at him; maybe he’s distracted. On re-watching the video, though, it’s obvious that he doesn’t show any interest in her because he’s just not interested—he doesn’t want what she’s offering, maybe because he’s gay or not interested in her as a person or just more interested in her bandmate. But everything is from Jepsen’s perspective, and it makes sense that the camera should focus where she does. In this case, her gaze is usually focusing on the guy’s hot body. There’s even a fantasy sequence from her perspective.

Carly Rae Jepsen Call Me Maybe funny review

K.Will’s “Please Don’t,” however, is theoretically filmed from Seo In-guk’s character’s perspective…and yet the focus is very unequally on Dasom. In his fantasy car ride, for the majority of the video, it’s Dasom sitting there with him acting all depressed. There are all these lingering shots of Dasom. Don’t get me wrong: she’s gorgeous! But if the camera is supposed to represent In-guk’s gaze, it’s unclear why he’s focusing so much on Dasom instead of Ahn Jaehyun. For the first minute of the video or so, for example, we hardly even see Jaehyun’s face in focus, much less as the center of attention.

K.Will Please Don't Dasom Jaehyun

Then hints that it’s not quite as simple as it seems start creeping in. The first moment is at 1:45, when Jaehyun is greeting the wedding guests and In-Guk is at the end of the hallway shooting him these sidelong glances.

K.Will Ahn Jaehyun Seo In-Guk Please Don't gay

But then that’s immediately undermined by a radiant Dasom coming down the stairs in her lovely wedding dress. There’s a relatively long shot of Dasom’s legs in her high heels coming down the stairs…

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom wedding pretty legs

And then a bunch of frankly gorgeous shots of Dasom in her wedding veil:

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom wedding pretty

I mean, Dasom is totally gorgeous, but is that really what In-guk’s character would be focusing on at the time?

Finally, at the actual wedding, it becomes much more clear that In-guk’s focus is Jaehyun, not Dasom. Notice that in this shot, Jaehyun is in focus, while Dasom is now blurry:

K.Will Please Don’t Jaehyun wedding pretty

This is underscored by the car fantasy scenes, when Seo In-guk reaches for Dasom, then she disappears and becomes Jaehyun.

K.Will Please Don’t Seo In-guk Dasom car

K.Will Please Don’t Seo In-guk Jaehyun car

So, then, I see at least three main ways to interpret what’s happening here:
  1. In-guk’s character loves his friend Dasom’s fiancé, Jaehyun. After the wedding, In-guk drives in his car and fantasizes, imagining himself explaining to Dasom how he feels and finally attaining his goal of being with Jaehyun, but he’s still unhappy.
  2. Jaehyun is secretly in love with his friend In-guk but afraid of his feelings. He betrays In-guk and marries his fiancée, Dasom. But he immediately realizes what a bad idea the wedding was and instead runs off with In-guk. In-guk tortures himself by thinking about how Dasom would react to her new husband leaving her for a man.
  3. In-guk is in serious denial about having feelings for his friend Dasom’s fiancé, Jaehyun. In-guk feels intense jealousy about their upcoming wedding and desperately tries to convince himself that he is in love with Dasom. As he drives by himself after the wedding and imagines each of them in the passenger’s seat, though, he realizes his feelings are actually for Jaehyun and that the man he loves has just married someone else.
I think (1) is the basic reading and (2) is a more subversive reading that makes me feel devastated for Dasom’s character, but (3) is the most creative one by the filmmakers, and also the one that fits the video best. However, it does tend to underscore the idea that being gay is somehow a bad or unnatural thing, and that In-guk’s character currently has no chance at happiness, which is…unfortunate, to say the least. Predictable, but unfortunate.

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
Seo In-guk’s character is in love with his male friend, Ahn Jaehyun, who is getting married to his female friend, Dasom. In-guk is understandably rather depressed about this.

K.Will Please Don’t Seo In-guk Ahn Jaehyun gay wedding photo
Seo In-guk’s character’s fantasy wedding.

As an actor-trivia sidenote, apparently in the recently-aired drama Answer Me 1997, which Seo In-guk stars in, there is a similar storyline (a love triangle in which one character is gay) between A Pink’s Eunji, Infinite’s Hoya, and Seo In-guk himself. I haven’t personally seen the drama, but here is a review if you’d like more details. :)

Answer Me 1997

The point is, it’s good that more gay characters are being featured in media, but it would be nice if more of their storylines ended happily instead of in sadness. This is something that both Korean and American media still seem to be struggling with. It’s easy to just say “it gets better,” but I think it would be more convincing if our media backed that up with more examples of happy gay couples.

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom Jaehyun Seo In-guk wedding photo threesome

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
There was nothing! Not even a traditional couple’s dance at the wedding.

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom Jaehyun couple photo
The happy, if oblivious, couple.

Do the members look good?
Of course! They’re dressed for a wedding!

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom Ahn Jaehyun Seo In-guk full cast
Our full cast: Seo In-guk, K.Will, SISTAR’s Dasom, and Ahn Jaehyun.

Which member stood out the most?
Seo In-guk’s acting was so convincing, but in the end I have to give this to Dasom. Man, she was impressive. Her reactions were spot-on: deliriously happy for her upcoming nuptials…

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom wedding veil gorgeous
Just have a look at this! Doesn’t she look like she’s on the cover of a bridal magazine?

…Then almost sadly accusative in the car scenes, which were my favorite for her acting. Look at this:

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom in car

I really get her sadness and pain here: she’s even starting to tear up, but it’s not over-the-top. I imagine this would be her reaction if Seo In-guk’s character told her how he wasn’t actually as supportive of her marriage as he had originally appeared.

Do you like it enough to buy the song?
Eh, not really. I like it, and it’s more distinctive than I’m used to for ballads, but not enough that I would want to purchase it and listen to it all the time.

Any ending thoughts?
Check out the amusing parody of this song where K.Will pleads with drivers to be more careful. :)

Also, right now this file name is “Please Don’t Review,” but filename, I am disregarding your plea!! Take that!

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy with an engagement ring in a heterosexual relationship before—weird.” My note—it’s not weird! They are becoming more popular, and it just depends on the guy. *glares at boyfriend*

K.Will Please Don’t Dasom Jaehyun engagement rings
BAM! Non-traditional engagement rings!

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments below. :)


  1. NOW I understand the 1st minute of the video... he hated Dasom all along. My guess is the whole Car ride was him trying to find some reason to like her, and by the end maybe he found one(or so he thought) but that wasn't enough. The song itself is good, I might get it later. Or not, I made the mistake of watching the MV 1st, so that face will haunt me every time I listen.. 

  2. It is kind of haunting, isn't it? Very sad, at any rate. I think there are several possible interpretations for the video--thanks for sharing yours! :)

  3. I really liked this song as well, which surprised me, considering that I'm not a huge fan of K. Will.

    You brought up a couple interesting points in your review:

    Rings: Guys in Korea will typically wear couple rings (along with the girl) when they are in a committed relationship.  So, it's not unusual to see guys walking around with rings pre-marriage or even pre-engagement.

    Homosexuality: Homosexuality is still far from universally accepted in Korea.  I'm pretty sure that if a music video or tv drama portrayed kissing or more between two people of the same sex, it would be promptly banned by the major networks (KBS, MBC, SBS). 

  4. i like this song very much
    i love it

  5. I think that the third option is more likely the one they are trying to get at. It's probably ending sadly because it reflects how Korea is now. If there was a guy in Korea he would go through a simliar situation where he would most likely try to deny being gay and act interested in girls because Korea doesn't seem as accepting of homosexuality.

    Thanks though. I didn't really think there would be any other options. 

    The song and the video was really good though.

  6. Ooh, what a great comment. Thanks so much for your insights. I don't live in Korea, so it's hard to know what the standard is over there. I like that guys will typically wear couple rings.

    I wonder if attitudes towards homosexuality are possibly changing and becoming more accepting? That would be the ideal. I suppose in the meantime, more open portrayals of homosexuality like this music video can't hurt, especially if they're not condemnatory in tone.

  7. Thank you for your thoughts! I really hope that attitudes toward homosexuality are becoming more open and accepting in Korea, but it's hard to say.

  8. I actually only discovered this song recently (although I've known about K. Will for a while now.) I think the third story line fits the MV the best too, although I wondered if (here comes the plot twist) Dasom was in love with In Guk and knew In Guk loved Jae Hyun and Jae Hyun loved her. But like In Guk rejected Dasom, so she got revenge by marrying Jae Hyun or something...a bit far fetched, IK, but the idea popped into my head while watching the scene in the car where Dasom and In Guk are in the car because it kinda reminded me of a rejection from like a childhood friend love story manga kinda thing. Crazy right?

  9. I'm totally up for your no. (3)! It's really creative! And I personally would love to think of that way... for an ending's interpretation! ;)

  10. Hi Isabel... What you have mentioned here actually did cross my mind too! It's so crazy but logic too, right? Coz of Dasom's sadness expression in the car... she got what she wanted... to see Im Guk suffering in pain, alright! But she isn't happy, after all... I like the idea of it... Dasom wanted to make In Guk feels how it feels like to lost someone he loves in someone's else's arms... OMG! This is so twisted! But I like the idea...! ;) Secretly hoping that K.Will would have something 'extra' for us on this MV... :)

  11. I thought In Guk chose his friendship with Jaehyun instead of her love for Dasom...