The K-pop group Boyfriend debuted in 2011 with six members (two of whom are identical twins) under Starship Entertainment. They were initially known for their cute concepts that involved bright colors and upbeat songs. However, in 2014 they emerged with a concept change filled with strong synth beats and a dark storylines. They introduced their own spin on three well-known fairy tales: Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, and Alice in Wonderland. Despite disbanding in 2019, these three songs have made their mark in K-pop with their concepts.
"Obsession" was released first in October 2014, featuring the story of Peter Pan with a dark twist. It is the most complex of the three fairy tales with visual and storytelling elements. The lyrics of this song are from the point-of-view of a person who loves someone in a relationship with a partner who treats them badly. The video begins with the girl, who we can understand as Wendy, reading a book that is titled Peter and Wendy, the original novel about Peter Pan published in 1911. We are then introduced to the members of Boyfriend who are the Lost Boys.
Unlike the Disney version that we are used to hearing, in the original story Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan actually keeps Neverland a place of children by killing the Lost Boys when they get too old. This music video follows the original story and Peter Pan is the mysterious man in green we see throughout the video while the story focuses on Boyfriend’s leader, Donghyun, as the main Lost Boy who falls in love with Wendy.
Realizing Peter Pan is a threat, the Lost Boys make a plan to save Wendy by creating a bomb to kill Peter Pan, which ultimately backfires. The final scene is Donghyun putting on a hook, signifying the Lost Boys becoming pirates (a reference to Captain Hook in the Disney version) who will take their revenge on Peter Pan.
"Witch" is the second release in the trilogy that introduces Red Riding Hood as its fairy tale with the supernatural element of werewolves. The song features amazing choreography including red curtains as a prop, both on stage and in the music video.
The video begins with Donghyun investigating a crime scene marked off by caution tape. The members of Boyfriend read a newspaper that says: “A corpse with BF mark has been discovered again, and the red riding hood also found on the spot." One of the members is out alone when he is approached by a girl in a red-hooded cloak who attacks him. In retaliation, Boyfriend band together and we see their transformations into part-wolves with sharp canines and different colored eyes. They surround Red Riding Hood on the rooftop and attack her, but she sends them all tumbling and jumps off the roof to escape.
This music video is less straightforward than "Obsession," but one way to think about it is as Red Riding Hood’s revenge story. She is someone who hunts supernatural creatures (perhaps just werewolves) to keep the city safe. However, we are not given any indication that Boyfriend is actually harmful werewolves; in fact we see Donghyun reading a book called How To Be A Human, which indicates that they may just be trying to fit into human society.
The lyrics of the song are a bit more difficult to align with the music video. They are singing about a witch who they know is dangerous yet enchants them and hurts them. These lyrics introduce a second possible way to think about the story: Maybe Boyfriend is the “good guy” of the story and Red Riding Hood is more sinister. She could be the witch they are singing about who ensnares and ultimately disposes of them.
Up until this music video, we’ve seen Boyfriend play similar roles as a band of friends who are forced to take on some kind of threat that appears. They balance their duality of lighthearted kinship and the emotional desperation of fighting for someone with the darker elements such as transforming into werewolves. In this final video released in March 2015, the members take on a whimsical character from Alice In Wonderland. We can see that they are now more mysterious and cold, no longer human at all.
The members are as follows:
- Donghyun = White Rabbit
- Minwoo = Mad Hatter
- Hyunseong = Cheshire Cat
- Youngmin and Kwangmin = Tweedledum and Tweedldee
Jeongmin = a knight
- This role is probably a reference to the card knights of the original story, but he doesn’t have a red color scheme and is seen holding a black Nutcracker dressed like him so it's is a bit more ambiguous
In the beginning of the video, we see a girl enter Wonderland through a door... wearing a red cloak. This is a direct tie into their previous release "Witch." The members of Boyfriend are doing various things related to their characters, and we see the girl interacting with them in flashbacks. In a reversal of the previous two videos, it seems like she’s entered Boyfriend’s world. However, she steals the White Rabbit’s pocket watch and jumps down a hole.
Following, they end up in a room looking through a keyhole where they see a red eye. This is the most straightforward video with the least amount of plot that focuses on the aesthetics of Boyfriend’s Wonderland: a blue dimension featuring a center table where the members drink tea.
The story remains similar to the one seen in "Witch;" Boyfriend becomes involved with a girl who takes over their world and leads them astray, showing no matter what world they are in Boyfriend, will always lose their hearts to a girl.
Of course, both this analysis of these music videos and speculations about the lyrics are just one way consider Boyfriend’s interpretations. Let us know in the comments if you have your own take on these!
Cover Image: Boyfriend (Starship Entertainment)
Written by Annikki Leppa