“Jeonwon Diary” – One year later.. A look back at T-ara’s most allusive and symbolic music video to date
T-ara is arguably known for three things: unique concepts, catchy hook songs and dances, and music videos with story lines. Often times, T-ara’s music videos are just condensed forms of typical Korean drama plots which can range from sci-fi, to action, and to stories with love triangles (or in the case of “Lies”, a six-way love triangle)!
Like their other videos, T-ara N4’s “Jeonwon Diary” has a drama music video version and tells the viewer a story. On the surface, the story is of four girls from the countryside who are tired of the same old routine and thus head to the town to try and become performers. But dig a little deeper and you will discover that “Jeonwon Diary” is quite possibly T-ara’s most allusive and symbolic music video to date.
Today is the one year anniversary of its release: April 29th 2014. One year later, let’s take a look back at T-ara N4’s “Jeonwon Diary”!
“Jeonwon Diary” was directed by Cho Soohyun (the man behind “Gangnam Style”). The music video details the struggles idols face, but more specifically, the struggles that T-ara faced after their bullying scandal with former member Hwayoung and their sequential drop in popularity.
This post will take you through a scene-by-scene analysis and interpretation.
*Please note that this is MY OWN personal interpretation.
The music video begins with an elderly man (famed actor Choi Boolam from MBC’s “Rural Life”) watching T-ara’s “Bo Peep Bo Peep” performance at their infamous Budokan concert.
Despite having thousands of performances to choose from, the choice to use the Japanese Budokan arena performance was a deliberate choice on the director’s part.
The Budokan performance was the peak of T-ara’s career — they performed two sold out shows on weekdays in the massive 20,000 seat arena and set a new record for Korean girl groups. The Budokan performance was also the beginning of T-ara’s downfall. The beginning scene of the music video is representing that during their peak in summer 2012, the whole Korean public knew who T-ara was and enjoyed them, including the elderly people.
The old man asks at the very end, “Who is T-ara?” and “Jeonwon Diary” begins playing. T-ara’s image was changed, so it is a must to reintroduce T-ara to the public and portray them as who they really are. The rest of the video tells us who T-ara is and gives us a look at their personal “Diary.”
After the music starts, Eunjung, Hyomin, Jiyeon, and Areum are shown working their hardest, but they keep falling down. Despite this, they kept standing up and they kept going forward. They are pushed to their limits and laughed at by others, but they do not give up.
Every idol is faced with ups and downs and T-ara is no different from the rest. Well, maybe the down parts for T-ara were a bit more extreme compared others.
Following, T-ara are given a break and this is the part where SPEED Taewoon‘s rap has lyrics about turning off your phone, wiping your feet, getting a good sleep and clearing your mind. T-ara literally did as the lyrics said and took a break after “Sexy Love”, and as Taewoon also says, they went back to the “Rural Life”.
T-ara’s agency Core Contents Media has stated before that the music video has messages taken from the MBC drama “Rural Life”. MBC’s “Rural Life” is about family, friends, and creating a happy atmosphere.
After “Sexy Love”, T-ara took that break. They went back to their family and friends, and they tried to live happier after the hard times they had overcame/were still trying to overcome.
The subsequent scene features T-ara dancing with a rabbit in the background. Rabbits are a symbolism for reproduction, family and springtime: new life, new beginnings and an undeniable current of growth. The rabbit represents T-ara N4: Brand New 4 and a Brand New Beginning. T-ara N4 was an attempt (and a success) for a new beginning for T-ara.
T-ara are later shown dancing in the background with their whole town dancing with them in the front. This represents T-ara’s past of creating national dance trends (“Bo Peep Bo Peep”, “Roly-Poly”). In addition, it’s a reference back to the idea of family and friends in the “Rural Life” drama. T-ara are truly joined here by their family — their Core Contents Media family consisting of 5dolls, SPEED, THE SEEYA, Gangkiz, and Lee Boram.
A quick flash to the following scene and they’re fighting and bickering with each other, but isn’t that normal and expected for girls who have spent nearly every day of the past four years of their lives together as sisters? And isn’t it normal for sisters to make up and move on?
The next scene flashes by, and they had already moved on from their rift. This scene is in regards to what is a common situation for sisters and what the netizens failed to understand: not everybody is going to get along with each other 24/7, but we are going to keep moving forward.
The next scene shows the average “every day man” chopping wood and then hitting Hyomin in the back of the head with a ball on purpose. Swiftly, he turns around and gives her a heart symbol with his hands which Hyomin returns. KARA’s Gyuri is famous for saying, “Haters only hate you online, but they will actually ask for your signature in person.”
This scene is a representation of that. T-ara is bashed online every single day behind their backs by random users of the Internet, but those random users of the Internet are the same people who watch their dramas, sing their songs and went right ahead and put their money into getting T-ara’s “Sexy Love” to #3 on the Billboard charts right after the scandal.
T-ara was, and still is harassed every day on the Internet, but when there is a “call to action” to harass and bash them in front of their faces and in real life, nobody shows up and nobody does it.
Eunjung is then displayed as being unable to kick well because of her leg. In actuality, Eunjung has had injuries with her kneepcap (multiple times), her ankle (multiple times), and her leg, yet she has still always had a “fighting spirit” and performed her best no matter the circumstances. She even performed during “Lovey-Dovey” with an ankle brace – and a huge smile on her face!
T-ara is always off getting those famous celebrities for their music videos… from today’s stars Yoo Seungho to Cha Seungwon and even to Jeon Youngrok (Boram’s dad)! For this video, former teen star Kim Wansun was cast, and the character she plays represents Jiyeon.
Kim Wansun debuted when she was only 17, but is known throughout Korea for her beauty and catchy songs. Jiyeon debuted when she was 16, and she (as well as T-ara) is known for her beauty and catchy songs. Following Kim Wansun’s character’s introduction, the elder woman tells Kim Wansun that her eyes are “so scary” — this is something that anonymous users of the Internet have constantly berated Jiyeon with as well.
Next up is a few quick scenes that show T-ara’s true selves. Don’t forget that T-ara is a group of regular girls, who like to have fun with their friends and family, but they and other idols alike have also worked so hard to prepare for their debut. They had to leave their friends and family (thus the part of them crying while leaving the countryside for the city) to follow their dreams.
The next part is arguably one of everyone’s favorite scenes in the music video. The girls are in the locker room where they are acting funny and goofy: this is who T-ara really are. As shown earlier, they want to have a good time and do have lots of fun with each other behind the scenes, but the lyrics represent how they really feel inside.
Areum sings, “My heart is getting hurt / My heart is bruised / You know, we all have broken hearts too,” but the “cold wind shall pass too.” They are hurt, they are wounded, but they get up because they too know that the hard times will pass.
They are shown as the T-ara we know them as today.
The same man who made fun of T-ara earlier in the day comes back now, and he came back just to torment and harass Jiyeon more. Jiyeon is shown as her young adult self in the first scene, but when she turns around, it is an image of Kim Sumi who represents Jiyeon as 60 years older.
This amounts to T-ara having that knowledge that the haters and the harassment they get in the public limelight will sadly never stop; even when they are old, they will receive hateful comments online. Jiyeon just has one thing to say to those netizens: “Mind your own business!”
After that, Davichi’s Minkyung is captured dancing to T-ara’s “Lovey-Dovey” choreography and having paper thrown at her by everyone — except one fan. Even with one fan supporting her until the very end, she is still happy. T-ara always says how important their family, friends and FANS are. Despite the hate, they still have the fans that support them no matter what. They do not need the support from the whole audience, as long as there is just one fan there still supporting them, they will be happy.
Minkyung is also wearing a similar outfit that she was criticized for in this scene. T-ara and Minkyung are able to look at their past blunders and laugh about them. This is sending a message to everyone that not everything has to be taken so seriously all the time; life is about having fun.
All while this is happening, the girls watch from backstage with sad looks for their friend who is having the papers thrown at her. Other artists wanted to support T-ara during their scandal, but they couldn’t because of the fear of backlash. Despite barely any support from other celebrities, T-ara still went out on stage with smiles and performed to the best of their abilities.
The very end represents the future: in the end, everyone is still watching T-ara and T-ara will once again be loved by everyone — even the elderly.
And that’s it! That is my personal interpretation of T-ara’s greatest music video of all time, ever to be released, stunning cinematographic masterpiece, metaphorical narrative “Jeonwon Diary”.
What do you think about T-ara N4’s “Jeonwon Diary” music video and do you agree with my analysis? If not, what do you think the meaning behind “Jeonwon Diary” is? Leave your thoughts below!