Despite their short time together, The Rose had an immediate impact on the K-pop scene with their debut song, “Sorry.” The MV kept a focus on the group playing as a band, but also contained dramatic scenes like Dojoon sitting in a bath with rose petals. As they progressed, The Rose continued with the band scene in every MV, but incorporated metaphors as they did with the color red in the MV for “Red.”

While still promoting with the group, Woosung debuted as a solo artist in 2019 with “Lazy.”. He still played band instruments in “Lazy”, but he also introduced some simple choreography that set “Lazy” apart from his band’s releases. Overall, Woosung’s MVs as a solo artist put the focus on him as a K-pop idol versus being a member of a group.

After Woosung’s solo debut, The Rose entered a dispute with their agency the following year and consequently went on hiatus. Even after resolving the dispute, the members are currently completing their mandatory army enlistment. Woosung, who is Korean-American, is currently working as a solo artist as he waits for his members’ return from their army enlistment.

On top of his album and single, Woosung finished a tour where he was the opening act for the iconic hip-hop group, Epik High. It was during this tour that he introduced fans to his upcoming single, “Phase Me.” The single is written and produced by Woosung himself and is entirely in English. The single is part of his second EP as a solo artist, Moth. Woosung takes his MV a step further with the incorporation of the concept of metamorphosis. While MVs in the past were used to enhance the song, Woosung uses this MV to develop the overall theme of his album as well as his own journey as a musical artist. Using the metaphor of a moth, Woosung expresses his own transformation into a K-pop idol.

Right at the beginning of the MV, Woosung crouches next to a broken cocoon, suggesting he has emerged from it. In a process most of us are familiar with, caterpillars undergo a complete transformation by first wrapping themselves into a cocoon. This theme of metamorphosis runs through the MV, with Woosung emerging with wings just like a moth. Instead of the favored, more clichéd image of the colorful butterfly, Woosung chooses the neutral-toned moth, which is not often viewed as beautiful. By doing so, Woosung places more focus on the act of transformation, instead of suggesting that he has become better or more attractive. It is clear that the moth’s metamorphosis is symbolizing his own inner change as an artist. 

The MV’s sets, which are dark and mysterious, seem to draw inspiration from the muted colors of the moth. The lighting also takes its cue from this metaphor. Moths are nocturnal and tend to be attracted to light. Fittingly, many of the scenes are dark, with only a few rays of light that help illuminate the scene. There is a pop of color every now and then, but even the dancers are dressed in nude-colored clothes. Overall, the setting enhances the sultry and mystical tone of the MV.

Aside from the set and props, the styling choices also reflect Woosung’s transformation as an artist. Although The Rose did not get to release many songs, their music showed strong pop-rock influences. Aligning with this sound, Woosung’s wardrobe often had a more casual and laidback vibe when he was part of the group.

Now as a solo artist, Woosung is still exploring other facets of pop but is also dipping into R&B. With this change of genre, Woosung is also displaying a more sultry side to his fashion; he is shirtless in most scenes, showing off his tattoos. He also wears a biker jacket in one scene and a regal coat in another, both adding to his new persona. His hair is slicked back, and he even wears a graphic eyeliner design, giving him more of a K-pop idol look that he rarely wore before. It is clear that with these choices in appearance, Woosung is taking this opportunity to distinguish himself as a solo artist from who he is as part of The Rose.

Although it’s not exactly a full dance routine, the choreography scenes feature a crew of female dancers that expand on Woosung’s sensual image. At times the dance between them is sexy; at one point, the backup dancers surround Woosung and touch him seductively.  However, their movements soon become chaotic, like moths fluttering around a lamp, as they circle Woosung. In this part of the routine, the dance can be described as more artistic and interpretative. When combined, the two dance styles bring together both the song and the MV: while the song is about moving on from a break-up, the MV is more about Woosung’s transformation.

The song and the MV may seem to have completely different concepts, but they converge in some aspects. In the lyrics, the persona explains that they no longer have feelings for an ex-partner. They reminisce about how deeply in love they were at one point in the relationship. Now, however, they are completely unaffected by their ex-partner’s actions, suggesting they have changed and moved on. This marks a transformation in the persona’s emotions:

Do you miss it?
I was all in and committed
Thought you would change but you didn’t
And it doesn’t hurt like before, uh, mm
Used to breathe you, see you in my drеams
Now I wake up, you don’t cut as deep
You can try and cry and kick and scream

It is this idea of transformation that the MV reworks into an extended visual metaphor of metamorphosis, incorporating the imagery of a moth’s life cycle. “Phase Me” conveys the message that Woosung is making a transformation into a K-pop idol, separating himself from his previous rock-pop persona. Not only do the various artistic choices in this release help to set Woosung apart from his band’s image, but they also showcase his talents as both a writer and producer. With his recent opening performances for Epik High‘s recent tour, it’s clear that Woosung is interested in gathering an international audience and making a name for himself. “Phase Me” arrives as a timely showcase of the talents he can still yet offer as a solo artist, even as we anticipate his reunion with The Rose.

(Youtube [1] [2] [3]. Lyrics by Genius. Images via Woolfpack.)