Apink has made their long-awaited return with their special album Horn. The album celebrates the group’s 11th anniversary and contains nine songs including the title track “Dilemma.” For the last four years, Apink has adopted a more mature sound and “Dilemma” is no different. Created by the same team (Black Eyed Pilseung) that produced “%%,” “I’m so sick,” and “dumhdurum,” “Dilemma” mixes synth tones, guitar, and Apink’s vocal color to produce an addictive hook and an attractive melody that listeners cannot escape from. The lyrics follow a story of someone whose partner has lost the love for the other and the predicament of deciding whether or not they should give up on their lover. Although the MV goes beyond the confinements of a toxic love story and dips into the group’s current situation.  

On April 29 of last year, it was revealed that Son Naeun decided to leave IST Entertainment and focus on her solo acting career under YG Entertainment. Despite being the only member to not renew her contract, Naeun will continue to be an active member of the group. However, even though Naeun was a part of the album preparation, she will not be promoting with the group during “Dilemma”’s promotional period. 

The MV of Dilemma, though colorful and sensuous, also reflects the group’s new career development. The first solo shot of the MV is Chorong looking at a painting, which can symbolize Naeun due to Naeun’s known love of art. The very same painting is shown as a puzzle the members are assembling which can represent putting together the 11 years of memory they share. There are later scenes where the other members are shown trying to support Chorong by giving advice and consoling her, possibly over how she now has to deal with the complications of having a group that has members split up in different entertainment companies. 

In the next scene, Chorong looks like she is having a tough time and as the leader of the group, this would not be far from reality. It is the leader’s role to motivate and encourage their fellow members; dealing with the dilemma of Naeun’s choice to not renew her contract brings another layer of worries onto Chorong’s plate as the leader. There are also possible complications of getting the members’ schedules to align now that they are no longer under the same company together. 

Hayoung is also shown to be having difficulties in this new arrangement when seen gazing upon the painting. In the following scene, she looks troubled as she is holding onto an hourglass.  This scene has the darkest tone of the MV, which could represent the fear of losing time with Apink and their fans. Along with the desire to stay together for a long time, however, the fear comes to fruition when the hourglass gets shattered. The breaking of the hourglass then alludes to the possibility of everything going awry with Naeun’s departure.  

Naeun’s solo scene shows her staring into a mirror and trying to put on a facade of happiness. However, the facade breaks eventually. Leaving the company you’ve been with for a decade is a serious and difficult decision to make. The emotional toll portrayed to viewers in the MV can be synonymous with the emotions Naeun went through when making the decision to sign with a completely different agency and figure out how to carve out her own acting career while maintaining her idol status in Apink. 

In the latter half of the MV, the members appear in the same room in various manners. It is as if they are gathering to talk about what it means for the group to have Naeun leaving the agency. She is also the only one to be seen in the room with another version of herself. This is a likely representation of the conversation Naeun probably had to have with herself because it is her own decision to make at the end of the day.

Even though Naeun will be embarking on a new solo path, hence the final shot of the MV showing her by herself, she will forever remain an Apink member. Thus, Naeun’s solo shot is followed by the group in its entirety. Apink has made it past the horrid 7-year curse that plagues most girl groups and made it to their 11th year within the industry. If they can get past this ordeal, then they can surely make survive despite the members being separated and continue releasing amazing music that preserves their sound of maturity. 

(Naver [1][2][3], Genius, YouTube. Images via IST Entertainment.)