Behind the Scenes in K-pop: YG Music Video Director Dee Shin Interview pt. 2

A couple of days ago we released the first part of an interview we recently did with Dee Shin, a music video director who is currently working with YG Entertainment. In that article we discussed Akdong Musician’s Melted and what it is like to work for YG. If you missed out, you can read it here.

In this second part of three, we will be focussing on her thoughts on the video for Come Back Home which she directed for 2NE1, music videos in the Korean indie music scene and balancing budget with creative freedom, something most directors come up against.

Her answers are frank and highly interesting and give all kinds of insight into the creative process at YG.

The music video you directed for 2NE1’s Come Back Home video is so different from the stereotypical K-pop style. How did you come up with that concept?

With Come Back Home, I really loved the song but the lyrics were pretty plain. YG said ‘Make it something sci-fi, make it interesting and make it sad’.  He gave us these hints and obstacles and I had to take that, solve the puzzle and make it something.

For me, it’s a sci-fi so I didn’t want it to just be a love story so it’s a ‘Come Back Home’ dystopian kind of thing. I wanted to mix a lot of sci-fi clichés together and make it something fun. At first, we actually shot it to be two videos – one for the original version and another for the acoustic version.

Wait, you shot two videos? How did that work?

They were supposed to each have their own full storylines that followed on from each other. But when YG saw the two videos he felt that they weren’t tight enough to be two full music videos. So we re-edited and mixed the two stories together and made this rather avant-garde video with puzzles to be solved.

dara come back home

A still from Dara’s tragic love story in Come Back Home

In an interview, YG CEO Yang Hyun Suk described the video as a commentary on people’s growing obsession with smartphones and the virtual world and how this disconnects them with the real world. Was that your original intention when you made the video?

For me, the challenge was to mix the two familiar themes. The virtual reality concept we’re all familiar from watching sci-fi films and the tragic love story we always hear in pop songs. I didn’t think of it as having a moral message like ‘Stop living in your smart phones!’ but I think people connected more to the story of the video after that explanation from YG.

You also made a music video for respected Korean indie group 3rd Line Butterfly which was well-received at a number of international film festivals. The video has quite an experimental visual style that seems to match the group’s experimental sound. Do you take a different approach when making videos for indie and alternative musicians?

I haven’t been able to do indie this year because so many things are happening with YG but I’m definitely going to start making them again. I guess, the music is different and we have to get inspired by the music. But I don’t see it as ‘It’s an indie thing so it should be cool’ or ‘It’s an idol thing so it should be this way’, I don’t think that way. It’s about the music. With K-pop, there’s a lot of money and pressure so I can’t just do whatever I want but, with indie, it’s more about the musicians and the music rather than the budget.

3rd Line Butterfly – Sexy from dee shin on Vimeo.

So do you think it’s a pay off between more budget and more creative control?

Yeah but with YG, as I said, they’re giving me the perfect amount of creative freedom. It’s not like ‘We’re giving you this amount of money so you have to make this’. No, it’s almost the same as indie videos. People don’t believe this but it is like total freedom. I put pressure on myself thinking about the fangirls and what they’re expecting so I guess I have to be careful not to make stuff that’s too artsy-fartsy and indie. Because, you know, their music is not indie, it’s K-pop.  There are certain things that are so unique to K-pop and I need to respect them.

Do you think well-produced music videos could help Korean musicians outside of the K-pop scene receive more attention nationally and internationally?

Hyundai Card invests heavily in promoting Korean indie music in Korea and overseas including last year's Korea Rocks UK tour.

Hyundai Card invests heavily in promoting Korean indie music in Korea and overseas including last year’s Korea Rocks UK tour.

Definitely. The 3rd Line Butterfly one was sponsored by Hyundai Card to do that exactly. I think they’re doing it every year and our team is also trying to do that too. We have to make money so we do the big projects and then spend our own money producing music videos for our favourite bands. There are so many good ones and they don’t have the budget for proper music videos. It’s a definite yes but so far I haven’t done anything to make it happen but we will do it eventually. Now we’re building our names because we’re the second-generation of directors, compared to other directors, and we do listen to indie music.

We hope you found this interview as interesting to read as we did to conduct and keep an eye for the final part of the interview which will be released in the next few days. If you want to know more about Dee Shin and her work, check out her website.

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  • Nic (MyKoreanHusband)

    Love these interviews!