Seulgi: Dichotomy

There’s just something about Seulgi. She is, to me, the first K-pop idol — the one who first fascinated, with her bonkers off-stage persona and friendly, appealing demeanor. These, of course, are surface details, so what struck me with time was not only her deeper talents, but how much those talents clashed with the surface details. This is a bubbly idol girl and a woman who communicated to me that dance is an artform. You watch any given Red Velvet music video or see her on stage touring the world, and she’s so fierce and confident, and the second she steps off that stage she becomes clumsy, bubbly “Ddeulgi,” as the fans have called her. It’s something that still fascinates me, and I’d like to attempt to replicate it here, in images.

Figure 1

Here we have Seulgi’s appearance in the “Monster” MV, which cranked the dark theme of “Psycho” and the homosexuality up to 11. Very edgy. Note also, the black lipstick and the eye makeup sharpening her eyes. The choreography is suggestive. Below that is a stream they did to promote “Red Flavor,” and Seulgi’s trying a POV of feeding the viewers. By the boos and hisses of her fellow members, it isn’t working.

Figure 2

I dream of the day Seulgi stars in a K-drama, because she has the anime energy for it. If you call music video performances “performances” in the acting sense, the snippets of Seulgi I’ve seen are quite eye-catching. Here in “Psycho” she looks into her reflection and then looks back, but it’s actually the expression on the reflection’s face that sticks with me. Look at how subtly sad appears. In our second photo, we have Seulgi’s inability to wink. She ends up doing both eyes, and scrunching up her face — it’s a whole thing.

Figure 3

A difficult-to-capture still from “Bad Boy” has Seulgi firing an imaginary gun at the audience. Dangerous! But as we quickly discover, she’s often the butt of Red Velvet’s physical comedy. So if we’re supposed to cross the street when we see Seulgi coming, apparently everyone — including Yeri — didn’t get the message. Also, a funny story about that key “Bad Boy” move. Red Velvet performed in North Korea, with the dear leader in attendance, and accordingly, that move was modified to be a kiss. Seulgi forgot, and ended up going halfsies, firing a pistol at the audience. So in addition to being particularly prone to pokes or hits on the arm or whatever, Seulgi almost started World War III.

Figure 4

But she’ll always find a gun, one way or another. This is from “Monster” once again, and the second is from I believe the second season of Level Up Project, where Seulgi gets drunk on wine. A very expressive face.

Figure 5

The video for “Peek-a-Boo” is one of Red Velvet’s best, telling a cautionary tale about delivering pizzas in Hollywood. As part of a murder ritual, Seulgi leans back to accept a razor from Irene, anticipating all that Irene-on-Seulgi violence in “Monster” (and in real life), some of which was so extreme it was cut. And then we have the behind-the-scenes on “Monster,” where the homosexual part gave these two the jitters.

Figure 6

Seulgi is definitely a fan of food, and the camera’s learned that. Fans point out that when the rest of the table has finished the meal and are talking, Seulgi will be poking around, still eating. The above images are from the blowaway video for “Naughty,” which features the most intricate dance routine I’ve ever seen. People will often comment on mukbangs like “I can’t believe she/they eat all that food and yet she/they remain so skinny!” Well, it may look like a lot of food at the moment, but how many moments do you think they get? Seulgi also has to train insane-brain choreo like “Naughty,” and she’s always in the gym. Something about Seulgi I won’t be posting here is her infamous abs, and that’s not just “skinny,” it’s sculpture. That kind of discipline makes my head spin.

Figure 7

For our final figure, we have a still from the garish “Russian Roulette” video, wherein eye color and hair color run the gamut of “awful” to “horrendous,” but it’s on purpose, so I guess that makes it okay. The direction here remains “suggestive,” despite everything. And you know what? Seulgi’s got a pretty steely gaze when she wants it. Mostly, she doesn’t seem to, and Seulgi in repose always gives that big smile — and the smile eyes.


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