Since his debut in 2015 with Up10tion and especially since his participation in Produce X 101, Lee Jinhyuk has been keeping very busy with everything from acting projects to solo releases. Now, four months since his latest release this spring, Lee Jinhyuk is back again with his fourth EP Ctrl+V and title track “Work Work”. “Work Work” seems to show Jinhyuk at his most relatable moment as a twenty-something man who loves to hate his work.
In “Work Work”, Jinhyuk explains the reason why he’s so unavailable to anyone trying to reach him: work. His life is consumed by his work, and apparently he can never catch a break. The MV contains no convoluted storylines or delicate sets, and it sticks close to the story the song tells. Due to the nature of the song, “Work Work” first seems like Jinhyuk trying to have fun despite his circumstances. However, “Work Work” is actually all about Jinhyuk having fun as he enjoys his busy lifestyle but most importantly, getting to complain about that lifestyle.
At first glance, the MV for “Work Work” is all about Jinhyuk trying to avoid his work. The introductory scene seems serious; Lee Jinhyuk the celebrity goes through the daily motions of his job, jaded and unimpressed. Though the tone of the MV quickly transitions and the energy factor is upped, the theme of not wanting to work remains the same.
Jinhyuk tries to get some work done in his studio, but he is uninspired and distracted. Eventually, he gets a call from Work Bear, which he ignores. Of course, ignoring your responsibilities will not make them go away, and Work Bear, a giant purple animated gummy bear, shows up and refuses to leave him alone.
There are distinct differences in sets and outfits to differentiate when Jinhyuk is working versus not working. For example, his off-work set is a playground, a symbol of fun and a responsibility-free childhood, amongst colourful and lush flora. His off-duty outfits are just as colourful, and he sports casual outfits but bold patterns.
At the playground, where he is trying to hide from his responsibilities, he can’t escape Work Bear. In real life, after all, it’s incredibly difficult to be completely free of responsibilities for an extended period of time. Indeed, Work Bear soon shows up, and while Jinhyuk attempts to engage it in some fun, Work Bear refuses to cooperate. We even watch him through Work Bear’s point of view, as Jinhyuk tries to hide from it. His attempts are meaningless, as Work Bear will always find him no matter what.
I gotta Work (work work!)
Even if you can’t reach me, don’t rush me (work work!)
I haven’t changed, please understand me (work work!)
I’m Workin everyday yeah Please leave me alone
Perhaps he’s addressing Work Bear and asking it to leave him alone, or the other intended receiver of his message is perhaps his partner. He’s explaining himself, and why he’s not picking up his phone or calling them back. Perhaps the lyrics themselves veer on the serious side, but regardless, the MV for “Work Work” doesn’t take itself seriously.
In fact, despite how much he complains about working, most of “Work Work” is Jinhyuk ignoring his work. Of course he needs to blow off some steam, which he acknowledges, but the MV quickly becomes much more amusing when you realize it can be interpreted in a different direction.
Instead of taking a brief respite from his duties, “Work Work” is all about Jinhyuk loving to complain about working hard as he hardly works at all. It’s hard to deny that Jinhyuk keeps busy in real life, but “Work Work” pokes a little bit of fun at hustle culture, in which working constantly without time for self-care is seen as desirable and something to be bragged about.
Given the narrative playing out on screen versus the lyrics of the song, Jinhyuk is someone who is talking the talk but not walking the walk. We get a brief glimpse at Jinhyuk doing his work at the beginning of the MV. However, even in the studio he slacks off by playing dominos. At the playground, he’s burdened by the ever present threat of work to be done, yet he’s still having fun goofing around.
Despite his complaints, for the most part, Jinhyuk enjoys keeping busy:
I work errday
Making money is the most fun
When the water comes in, I need to paddle more
Getting up and doing his job is a daily routine, but one of his favourite parts about it is getting to complain about it.
Jinhyuk’s “Work Work” playfully describes the feelings of so many people who work. It’s never ending, it can be all-consuming, and one of the bright sides of having to do it is being able to grumble about it.