Brace yourself queers — If you haven’t stanned LOONA yet (indicating you’ve never been on twitter or don’t know any twitter gays…), the time to do so is coming: Old Forester’s Paristown Hall has booked the kpop group for it’s North American branch of their global tour after securing 2nd place and near victory on female kpop battle royale, Queendom 2, one of two confirmed acts including Dreamcatcher, who has the distinction of being the first kpop group to play locally, TODAY, July 3rd! With LOONA following up the month after, I should express to you why this is relevant here in the month of pride, and LOONA’s impact in Korea as a LGBT-supported and supporting group.
Beginning with the individual debuts of each member as a soloist and forming three sub-groups from their 12 twelve members, company Blockberry Creative collaborated with korean art and visual studio DigiPedi to create the LOONAverse: a cinematic storyline expressing how the members came together, which shocked Korea and LOONA’s international fandom by featuring an extremely elaborate lesbian love story that transcends the Garden of Eden and Earth — while sapphic or gay themes aren’t especially unheard of in Korea, they are usually selected by more defined artists and the artists rarely participate in the storylines themselves. What made this unique, however, is that this was their debut, and in a country still widely regarded as homophobic and conservative, a girl group debuting with a message of inclusivity, racial union, and global harmony across religion, sexuality, and belief is an extremely risky move that garnered them hatred and infamy amongst conservative netizens. Yet, LOONA persisted..
Member Chuu’s single (who unfortunately will be unable to participate in the North American tour), “Heart Attack” displayed a story of yearning and longing, as she follows another member, Yves, out of the Garden of Eden and gives into sins of envy and desire: she follows her classmate around, brandishing a green apple, that suddenly fills with red color as she gives into her fixation on Yves, and celebrates her “heart attack” with the other girl. The lyrics of the song are extremely candid, expressing “Pounding more and more, I’ll give it all, take my heart. Surely you’re my destiny, it shines fully in my heart.” as Yves shoots a gestural arrow at Chuu, causing her to clutch her chest and dive into a cascade of flower petals.
The imagery throughout is decidedly sapphic, and the love story that follows afterward through the rest of the sub-unit, YYXY’s discography follows that theme: member Olivia’s single expresses rejection from Yves, who gained fixation with Vivi on earth, and discarded Olivia (her song being about recovering from abandonment and finding empowerment in identity, filled with images of being ‘dropped’ by Yves. It is a complicated lesbian love story with betrayals, idealization, abandonment, and… murder?
While American artists may use such themes to queerbait, there is unfortunately nothing to be gained from doing so in South Korea: while the members themselves do not publicly identify as LGBT, Yves stated: ““When the song was being written and the video filmed, we didn’t see it like that,” she said. “For us, it was a story about yearning, but we were also thankful when it was translated that way.”
LOONA went on to the continue to display imagery and people unheard of in kpop at the time: with their single Butterfly being a female empowerment anthem, with the intent of ‘awakening’ women across the globe and uniting them, prompting them to make changes to go forward and ‘fly like butterflies’ and achieve their dreams. Rather than emphasizing the members through the video direction and narrative, LOONA themselves are only featured in the choreography for the dance, with the focal point of the video displaying women across the globe: black, muslim, fat, disabled and other bodies were displayed en centre, bodies rarely to never represented before in Korean media.
Butterfly is a visual masterpiece and should be streamed.
Continuing their prolific career, Chuu’s Heart Attack was used as the anthem for several Korean LGBT pride festivals, with Chuu rising to prominence on Korean media and featured in several shows, becoming more domestically popular. While LOONA’S international fandom grows and is more dominant in numbers, after LOONA’s 2nd place victory and solid performances throughout Queendom 2, their popularity in South Korea has increased, calling for domestic recognition as the girls prepare for their Global tour.
Practicing messages of inclusivity, empowerment, and fearlessness, LOONA are solid performers who consistently deliver picture perfect choreographies and visuals, even tackling gender-barriers in kpop with covers and performances of male kpop group songs and choreographies deemed “too ugly” for female dancers to do. I’m as shocked as anyone else that LOONA will be performing here, but hopefully they (and Dreamcatcher) will be one of many of Paristown Hall’s initiative to bring Kpop acts to Louisville.
Dreamcatcher will be performing at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall July 3rd, with LOONA following their act August 13th. Stan LOONA. Stream their songs and Queendom 2 performances to improve your life, because chances are you might not be able to get a ticket to the event — they’re already sold out and resale tickets are all that’s left girls and gays!