Words Horea Amin, Photos Daisy Tsang
A Saturday afternoon walk off Sangsu Station Exit 4 can lead you through a bright neighborhood and eventually to a mid-sized coffee shop named Midaeruk or rather, MU.
MU became home to an art exhibit that fuses music, videography and photography together, titled I Don’t Want to Love You, which bears the same name as the song and music video collaboration released by Krystal (@vousmevoyez) member of SM Entertainment's girl-group f(x) and producer June One Kim (@kimjuneone) of experimental electro pop duo Glen Check. Throughout the coffee shop, blown up photographs of Krystal hang along the walls grouped together according to colour palettes and theme. Written on both the inside and outside the cafe walls, the text “I tried to burn the bridge but the chance of you being there on the other side turned me back into a helpless fool and I don’t want to love you”, continuously reappears.
Beyond the coffee shop, there is an annex drenched in sunlight and covered in plants and more photographs cover the walls. Some of these photos appear a bit more darker and risque than those on display in the coffee shop, featuring laminated photos of the idol submerged in a bath under a hue of blue light. Down a very steep flight of stairs, a red curtain draws the eyes to the many smaller photographs pinned to it, some of Krystal staring vacantly at the camera or gazing at a skyline. Past the stairs and inside the basement, which is only illuminated by a single lamp on top of a table joined by a stack of blood red I Don’t Want to Love You photo-books, you are drawn to another entryway where white curtains cover an unfinished room and inside the music video is projected on loop.
The haunting music video, released on February 14 2017, features dramatic black and white visuals that resemble imagery seen in films such as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) and The Eyes of My Mother (2016). The video is brought to life by the pulsing beats and the voices of Krystal and June One Kim repeating “I don’t want to love you”, as a dark figure violently pursues Krystal, until she finally surrenders and embraces their hand.
Neither the slow paced rhythm of the song, eerie video, or the indiscriminate style of the photo exhibition comes as much of a surprise to fans of Krystal, considering her eclectic taste in cinema and music. Her sometimes brooding Instagram account, where she usually posts her favourite jazz tracks and snaps of her latest trips and photoshoots, looks as if it was brought to life throughout the exhibit. June One Kim’s involvement in the project goes far as writer and producer of the song while SM Entertainment creative director Min Hee Jin directed the video and acted as photographer. I Don’t Want to Love You consequently fuses the contrastive Korean pop music world and indie scene, and though these types of cross genre collaborations aren’t quite as rare anymore they certainly have not been done at this scale in the past.
I Don’t Want to Love You challenges conventions through three different mediums and disregards any straightforward attempt at trying to make you love it. Standing on its own in a music industry dominated by public friendly melodies and formulaic visuals, it brought two artists with very different backgrounds to meet and create, which is definitely something worth loving.