S KOREA - In the advent of the release of his third EP album, hallyu star Kim Hyun-joong not only unveiled a new look, but also introduced a new approach of infusing Korean traditional culture with his latest music video, "Unbreakable."
Kim, who became an international sensation thanks to his role in the smash hit Korean drama "Boy Over Flowers," as well as being the leader of the popular K-pop idol group SS501, released his comeback album "Round 3" on July 22 after nearly two years.
Widely known for his "pretty boy" image, the star caused quite a stir with his new tough guy look, sporting various Asian culture-inspired tattoo designs including a large tattoo on his chest of a traditional dragon head goblin pattern ― a mythical creature which appears in many Korean folktales.
"I thought about the meaning of genuine K-pop," said Kim at a press conference last week. "I think I can have a lot of influence on hallyu and this time around I wanted to try to harness the image of Korean beauty through my music."
After the tremendous success of the 2009 KBS drama "Boys Over Flowers," Kim became widely known as the poster boy of hallyu for his pretty face. However, the 27-year-old singer-turned-actor stated that he is happy with his new look and simply wanted to pursue something new in promoting the true beauty of Korean culture and art through his music video "Unbreakable."
As opposed to the other singles off his new EP, Kim claims that "Unbreakable" stands out in that he considers it more of a "visual song," while the other tracks were just made for listening.
The music video to the album's early release dance hip-hop single, also featuring Korean-American hip-hop idol Jay Park, encompasses a heavy mix of various traditional Korean cultural aspects including b-boy versions of sangmo ― a "long string hat" dance that features hats with a long ribbon attached to them that dancers spin around by moving their heads to make aerial patterns ― and martial arts. The video also includes depictions of people wearing tal, or traditional Korean dance masks, as well as playing Korean drums.
"The concept behind this album is simply Korean," he said. "I did lot of research about Korean goblin patterns as well as traditional colors. The point of the music video is the fusion of the past and the present."