Kpop Music Video: Day 14
I Don’t Need a Man by Miss A under JYP Entertainment
CC included in this video
Miss A is a 4 member girl band that debuted in 2010. Two of their members are Chinese and are among the most famous Chinese celebrities in Korea. Their youngest member, Susy, was recently in a very famous Korean Drama, making Miss A more famous but conversely removing a lot of the spotlight from the other 3 members.
Koreans have an issue where women will be fairly dependent on finding a man to date and eventually marry. It’s not like Victorian style where they can’t survive on their own dollar, but it’s very post world war II America, where it was far more desirable for the men to make the cash in a relationship. In a country that doesn’t have a lot of room or capital, but the standard of living is exorbitant at the top, Korean women are pressured not only to work hard and get a good job, but to marry well. It is well noted that rarely does a woman marry a man in Korea that is shorter than her or lower in socioeconomic status. Since Koreans are also transitioning from a older matchmaking style engagement set up, where the family would find a suitor for their offspring to date, to a more Western dating style, family approval is also extremely important in finding a suitable life partner, and surely contributes to the aspirations to date a wealthier or more influential man.
Taking this in mind, this music video really goes against what Korean culture has to say about dating, while still maintaining the values of Korean society as a whole. Koreans are very work focused, and believe that the only way to be successful is to work hard. This music video’s goal is to tell women that as long as they work hard they should feel good about themselves. The first few lines of the first verse are about how proud she is about living paycheck to paycheck providing for herself, and paying her own rent. An important aspect of Korean culture is to note that renting an apartment by yourself is extremely hard, because “key money” as its called in Korea, is not first month’s rent but can be up to 2/3 of the worth of the location being rented, which would be paid back at the end of the lease (no rent is taken month to month in this system). What many locations elect to do is have their renters pay 1-2 years worth of rent up front as “key money” and then have a monthly rent from there. It requires a lot of saving and planning to be able to afford a location to live by oneself and therefore is a sign of affluence even though a person may be living a plain lifestyle as a result. This is why Min’s verse takes place in a jewelry store; she’s laughing at the people who look extravagant but are living a “comfortable” (boring) life.
Since it’s so hard to rent a space by oneself, many young men and women live with their parents. This is acceptable in Korean society, because like other Asian societies, Korea has just recently transitioned from a “clan” or “family” first mentality. As a result, young women have a tendency to rely on their parents for the purchase of items, as shown in Jia’s first verse. The girl with the Kangaroo card keeps sucking up to her father to get items that she wants.
Going back to traditional marriage ideals, Fei’s section of the video shows a bar where women and men are hooked up by bartenders, like blind dating meets speed dating. We see the ladies crowd around one guy who might have a great personality, but the guy on the left (who is taller than the guy on the right) waves a pile of cash and the ladies come running over.
Suzy’s section has two meanings for me, one that seems to be showing a negative portion of world society as a whole, and one that is showing a positive side of female empowerment. The later is easier to see; the three ladies throw a whole heck ton of cash in the general direction of the male stylist and then he is forced to bend down and gather up all the cash. The negative spin to this is that Korean women may feel that it’s necessary to spend a heck ton of cash on beauty products and styling when they already have makeup on. Based on the body positions and facial expressions, I’m thinking that the goal was to show the positive side of female empowerment, however, it would fit with the general theme of the music video if the boxes were showing negative aspects of society, so my mind always spins it in the “why do you need so much damn makeup?” direction.
There’s also the added factor of being able to see “behind the scenes” in the music video, that you as the viewer know each room is a set and some camera crew was filming it. This is to represent media’s influence in the Korean dating scene. As media themselves, Miss A go in a Lipstick Feminism direction, and don’t give up traditionally feminine items throughout most of the music video as they are allowed to wear dresses and makeup. They even have giant beauty products dispersed throughout the video. It’s their lack of reliance on a man to purchase items for themselves and their disinterest in the dating scene that goes directly against the theme of most Kpop music videos and Korean Dramas.
Then at the end of the video, the rap scene showcases the 4 girls being their own men in terms of bread winning. All the ladies are dressed up in business attire and mustaches are a heavy theme. While too much of this can scream of Freudian themes, the fun they had during the filming of this portion got rid of any “penis envy” notions that immediately popped into my head when I saw the mustaches.
The last portion of the music video is the dancing. The hip hop style is perfectly suited for this song, as it doesn’t attempt to be overtly sexual, and leans more towards simple powerful dancing maneuvers. I feel that this is an excellent decision, because for once I can do a Kpop dance without making myself look like a fool, and that I don’t feel like I’m attempting to seduce my mirror when I try to do this in my bedroom at night. Sexy dances have their time and place (and appropriateness -.-), but this music video was well thought out in terms of all the parts syncing together.
To an American fan, this may look like Destiny’s Child’s kid sister, in terms of independent ladies. You might dismiss this video as being just another empowerment video, but in Korea this is a newer music video concept, so I encourage you to watch this video and use it as a reminder of what type of music video the kpop scene manufactures. Also, make sure that you watch this with the close captioning English translation on. So much of this music video is enhanced by the lyrics and you’ll miss out on a bit of the message if you don’t use them. Wishing I had posted this for all the ladies on Valentine’s Day, but this can serve just as well as a post Valentine’s day reminder. Go out and do you!
PS. JYP, a famous Kpop star and the President of Miss A’s label is well noted for saying his name in his Kpop star’s music videos. It’s interesting to note that he does not say his name in this music video, which is what he says he does after he thinks his groups have made it big enough to be known by their own name and not the label (his label is one of the top 3 in Korea), but he is still in the music video. The money in the opening section thrown onto the table has JYP’s face on it.