Formed in 2001 by singer and songwriter, Yoon Jong-shin, Mystic89 is one of the smaller record labels out there that is on the brink of becoming a major force in Korean music. With a growing list of noteworthy artists, and an emphasis on songwriting (and a recent merger with Family Actors Entertainment, the effects of which remain to be seen), Mystic89 is already producing some incredible work. The future is very bright for Mystic89, and that’s good news for everyone. Here are three videos that show you why.
Park Ji Yoon - Inner Space
“Inner Space” serves as a catalog of artist Park Ji Yoon’s life. Though not nearly as popular as her hit, “Mr. Lee,” which was a sophisticated, funny, and classy deconstruction of love (with another beautiful video), “Inner Space” is special for being equally sophisticated but also far more introspective. The lyrics, if one were to take the time to look up (which we recommend), are clever and personal: “I’ve stolen a friend’s friend before. I’ve appeared before a guy who hasn’t gotten over me yet.” Park Ji Yoon has been in the business for some time; she famously had a falling out with JYP because she felt she wasn’t allowed to express her true self as an artist. With Mystic89, years later, she has the freedom to delve into the different possessions that make up her life. We see old sneakers, cameras, pictures, phones, an old stuffed bear, headphones, even a bra, all holding a history, a piece of memory. “The color of my soul is pink, I’m warm but cold,” sings Park. Can possessions really hold such significance? With them, are we getting a privileged glimpse at this cold, pink soul?
The song itself is beautiful and deceptively simple. When Park Ji Yoon sings the chorus, “Welcome to my inner space,” the music builds, with accompaniment, into something hypnotic. With the lyrics and the possessions, Park Ji Yoon is inviting us, the viewer, into the spaces that she occupies. Not many artists let their fans get so close. Who knows the amazing places Kpop could go, if more idols were like Park Ji Yoon, and if there were more companies like Mystic89, who let these artists be themselves?
Puer Kim - Manyo Maash
One of Mystic89’s newest artists came out swinging earlier this year with “Manyo Maash.” In this video, Puer Kim likens oppressive record labels to a death sentence, when she’s taken to a recording studio in chains: Dead Idol Walking. Appropriately enough, her producers/wardens are all mannequins, human-looking but empty on the inside, consumerist shells. Puer Kim is placed on the electric chair, strapped in, blindfolded. She is given a demonic microphone, her execution is her song. Like all Mystic89 artists, Puer Kim has a unique voice and perspective. She wrote this song and has more personality by simply sitting still than most idols do with multi-layered dance sequences. Eventually the wires and cables used to control Puer turn against their operators, twisting and tangling the mannequins as Puer is freed, proving, once again, that true music will always conquer manufactured banality.
There are many times that we feel like we analyze some Kpop videos with interpretations that may in no way represent the artist’s original intent. Not so here. This video is rippling with intelligence, littered with commentary, chock full of easter eggs (look at the barcode on the neck of the mannequin at the 2 minute, 59 seconds mark!) that encourage repeat viewing and discussion. Everything in this video is a decision, all to prove an intended point. Puer Kim and Mystic89 are giving us a message about music and the industry, and how they will fight to forge their own way, a new way, a better way.
Lim Kim - Rain
In 2013, Lim Kim became a star out with hits “Voice” and “All Right.” But “Rain” really stands out for us. Let’s talk a bit about the cinematography. Any image in this video can be frozen and hung in an art gallery. The close up of the record spinning madly. The dew on leaves. Water seeping between bricks. And then Lim Kim does something she didn’t do in “Voice” and “All Right,” she leaves the house.
Red Umbrella in hand, her dance with the accessory quickly turns surreal, think magical realism, think Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon. Lim Kim walks through a field of umbrellas, floats in the air, while serenading us with her somber and undeniably powerful voice. This is the type of video you get lost in on a Sunday afternoon, or right before sleep, or, obviously, during a rainy day indoors. The video, Lim Kim’s voice, and the subtle music sync perfectly together to create something startling: A work of art.
And, really, many of Mystic89’s pieces can be considered works of art. With their focus on highlighting the personalities of their stars, singing songs they’ve written and had a hand in producing, Mystic89 isn’t just creating a unique aesthetic, they’re changing the very face of Kpop.