On May 25th, Kim Wooseok of Up10tion and the now disbanded X1 from Produce X 101 made his solo debut. His title track, “Red Moon”, off of his mini album Greed, describes the transformation that he undergoes as he gives into animal instincts for a passionate time with his lover. The accompanying MV does not follow a distinct plot, choosing instead to intersperse scenes of Wooseok dancing with scenes hinting at the transformation that is taking place. Wooseok, prior to his change, has a suffocating innocent persona which his lover helps him break out of. However, once he is freed, Wooseok undergoes a dangerous, irreversible transformation. The MV for “Red Moon” is a dark, sensual reflection of Wooseok’s metamorphosis into a passionate, wild lover and person.
Wooseok, pre-transformation, has a pure image that his lover eventually helps him break free from. In the MV, this wholesome side of him is expressed through bright colours, as well as nature. Though most of the sets have a darker colour palette, there are two that are brighter and stand out in the video. The first of these sets is an indoor garden. Wooseok sits on top of a white pedestal, surrounded by greenery; the garden symbolizes an untainted and untouched version of Wooseok.
The second bright set is Wooseok sitting at a desk with white roses in the display behind him. White roses are commonly understood to represent purity and innocence, further emphasizing Wooseok’s pre-transformation self. However, in the same scene, a quote from a poem by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud sandwiches Wooseok onscreen. The quote, which translates to “I pounced on every joy like a ferocious animal eager to strangle it”, suggests that Wooseok is not as innocent as he looks, and he has a wild side that is being contained. The contrast between the pastel tones of the set and Wooseok’s outfit, as well as the aggressiveness of the quote indicates a stark difference between him before he met his current lover, and him after their encounter.
This feeling of being trapped is also emphasized through the other sets. At one point, Wooseok lies on a white floor that has black outlines of rectangular shapes. When he stands up, we can see that the black outlines are now in front of him, effectively creating a cage of sorts. Indeed, yet in another set, he sits in front of a red marble background, though below him are white, spikey cones which surround him and prevent him from descending. The use of colour in this scene is obvious: red to signify his newfound passion and desire, and the white barriers to show how he was previously caged. The innocent outlook he posseses prior to his transformation that he feels trapped by is effectively portrayed using bright colours and props.
However, his scenes involving his pre-metamorphosis self could have been incorporated earlier in the MV for greater focus on this process of change. The song starts with Wooseok singing about the gradual onset of the red moonlight; if the bright sets and nature scenes had appeared earlier on in the MV, the transformation between his two selves could have been highlighted further.
Once Wooseok starts to break free from his virtuous persona, he transforms into someone full of desire and passion, and clearly passes the boundary of no return. As Wooseok sings fairly sexy lyrics about his lover, the new dark and passionate Wooseok is mainly represented through the colour red. One of the most striking uses of the colour is when Wooseok dances solo in a giant, flowy, white tent that is bathed in hazy red lighting. It is a striking comparison to when he was dancing in the same tent with other dancers.
Many of the sets that represent Wooseok prior to his change appear, but this time featuring red. When the indoor garden is shown again, we can see that half the plants have turned red; everytime Wooseok touches a plant, it turns scarlet. The colour taints the plants like a red toxin, suggesting how Wooseok himself has been tainted.
In the set with the white desk, the white roses in the display behind him have turned red. Red roses, in contrast to white ones, signify love and passion and the MV illustrates how these qualities have changed him. Roses continue to make an appearance; in one scene Wooseok has rose petals scattered across his face, and in another scene roses are burning up.
Though flickers of a flame were shown throughout the MV, the eruption of roses into flames shows that Wooseok has taken his transformation one step further. Though his lover may have assisted in his change, Wooseok wants more:
Even though I already have it
I’m already getting more and more thirsty
As the song draws to a close, we can see Wooseok through a peephole that is bordered by flames. The use of fire, which is all consuming and dangerous, clearly indicates the permanent metamorphosis that he has undergone and does not want to undo.
The MV for “Red Moon” offers a dark and sensual experience for a song that documents Wooseok’s change into someone almost dangerously full of passion and desire. The colour red, as the title of the song would suggest, is a significant part of the MV in symbolizing this shift. As his first solo release, the MV and song perhaps also indicate a change in Wooseok himself as a solo artist.