**What follows is merely a fan’s interpretation of the music video. Please leave your thoughts in comment and discussions are absolutely welcomed!
When I first heard that Jaejoong is working on a solo mini album, I was beyond excited. Jaejoong, being my bias for forever and always, has so much potential; I’ve always been torn between wanting him to do more and not wanting him to overwork/burn himself out. As expected, this mini album, “I”, certainly matched my expectation if not went above and beyond. And the music video, oh the music video. I probably died many times over while looping it for hours on end. And here comes an uncontrolled
and thus unbelievably lengthy interpretation post on the music video of ‘Mine’ as well as the song itself.
Let’s begin with my first impression.
Like most others, I thought ‘Mine’ was clearly directed at SM, and certainly the media and the public. Much of the lyrics (English translation of the lyrics from JYJ3) speak to what we perceived to have occurred between SM and Jaejoong’s road as a singer. At the same time, it is a statement towards the industry taking over artists’ lives and identities when packaging them for the market. I actually find ‘Mine’ to be interestingly similar to Junsu’s ‘Tarantallegra’. Not only are my initial impressions on their themes alike, the two music videos are comparable in their dark yet powerful aura. However, it was clear from the very beginning that there are so much more than just what was mentioned above in ‘Mine’ – the countless symbols of pain, death, rebirth, salvation and liberation all speak to the fact that Jaejoong is obviously trying to convey something much larger.
After talking (spazzing) with a friend (Jules <3) for hours on end, I have a lot of thoughts to flush out and some discoveries to share. I have encountered difficulty while organizing this post, so instead of listing off the themes as I did with ‘Tarantallegra’, the following is just a mere categorization of what I believe the music video is trying to achieve:
- The Dual Meaning of the Title ‘Mine’
- Scenes in ‘Mine’ and Jaejoong’s War Against His Confinement
- Symbols in ‘Mine’ and Jaejoong’s Desires as well as Goals
- Growth Instead of Rebirth
- Liberation and Self-Actualization
The Dual Meaning of the Title ‘Mine’
To begin with, it is very clear that the title holds the possessory meaning of the word. From the lyrics, lines such as “Don’t come here. This is my ocean” and “Don’t block the sun that shines on me” all convey a strong territorial sense. In addition, Jaejoong’s action throughout the music video screams his desire and effort to dominate and to have control over himself, both physically and mentally.
The conventional interpretation of the title is certainly the main meaning it carries. However, I want to boldly propose an additional reading to the title ‘Mine’ - as in an excavation in earth for extracting precious metals and resources, as well as the action of mining. At first it may seem bizarre to think of it that way, as I have doubted myself many times over when I first made the connection, but several scenes and images throughout the music video speaks to this theory.
Prior to the light bulb going on, there was one symbol that confused me to no end: the gemmed skull. It seems like none other than a mere connection to the luxurious and dark concept that Jaejoong was going after for this mini album. However, it made sense if we adopt this explanation of the title ‘Mine’.
Bones, or in this case a skull, is the innermost part of the human body. It is what survives for countless years after one’s death. The jeweled skull here would then logically represent the hidden treasure inside a person, which can be explained as a person’s potential, or “better self”.
Another time that jewels are used to explicitly point out the inner treasures is where Jaejoong is wearing a jeweled mask but has a giant black hood over it – a rather literal representation of a mine in which the black hood as the dirt is covering the precious gem.
Oh, and that magical moment when Jaejoong’s beautiful bare upper body appeared on my screen.
In all honesty, my first reaction to the scene where Jaejoong was showing off his tattoos was being relieved that he has finally gained some weight back
and then start spazzing everywhere. Ahem, anyhow. It’s long been known that Jaejoong inks himself with important things in his past and present, and he said so himself: “I have engraved on my body things that I don’t want to forget from my life so far, things that have comforted me, and things that I am thankful for.”
The fact that Jaejoong went topless is important, as this is another image of him stripping down to his innermost part, his barest self. In addition, as mentioned before, the things that Jaejoong has tattooed on himself are things he considered to be incredibly significant – apart from the important events (TVXQ, Yoochun and Junsu), he also left marks on his beliefs (Deferto neminem, The pleasures of the mighty are the tears of the poor, A song will outlive all sermons in the memory, etc); and all together, these are essentially Jaejoong’s identity. Faith, similar in meaning as the bones and skull earlier, is the most fundamental essence of a person. Beyond the well-known “Always Keep the Faith”, “Hope to the End”, the one finally revealed clearly in the music video, “Ohne Glauben bist du tot” (German) meaning “Without faith you are dead“, adds more to what I was going for – the music video is portraying another meaning of ‘Mine’, the one that refers to the precious potentials, treasured beliefs, and the better self.
The timing of the previous two scenes in the music video is crucial. Note that they occurred after the chained Jaejoong broke free from the wheel. It is after releasing himself from the confinement could he then begin to examine deep into himself and become a better man. And yes, it links back to the studio teaser.
Scenes in ‘Mine’ and Jaejoong’s War Against His Confinements
Another important aspect of the music video is how closely connected all the scenes are to different stages of Jaejoong’s career as an artist. I was very surprised to see how it practically mapped out Jaejoong’s struggles, determination, and freedom. I’ve found that Jaejoong’s action in the scenes of the music video generally depicts his past and external events whereas the symbols in the music video, which I will go over in the next section, describes his desires and internal beliefs.
As you may remember (who wouldn’t?) , the music video opens with Jaejoong standing in a snowing wintry forest. The trees are bare, there are no signs of life to be seen. Note that the scene in the woods convey a strong sense of desolation, and the expression that Jaejoong had as well as his physical gestures made him look like he is lost and at the same time hunted.
This could be easily interpreted as a reference to Jaejoong’s time under SM. SM has placed a lot of pressure on Jaejoong’s professional and personal lives during the contract – he was working constantly with very few chances to meet anyone other than his colleagues. In addition, the public and especially the sasaeng fans (excessively obsessive fans) kept an watchful eyes on them constantly. In this sense, the thing that is haunting Jaejoong are the public and SM, and these factors are keeping him away from his family and friends – therefore the desolation. The fact that in the very beginning his eyes look resolute and then the determination slowly fading away is also very important. Linking to the lyrics, the woods signified the “dream” that Jaejoong was in, the fake reality (or poison) that SM subjected him to.
Pay attention to when the Jaejoong in the woods weakened, knelt, and perhaps died. It is after that Jaejoong announced “I will wake up from the dream. Why, do you feel empty?” The fact that the Jaejoong trapped in the nightmare (cast by SM) dies suggests that he is waking up, and taking control of his own fate.
Weaved intricately in between the animals and the previous scene are the moments where Jaejoong is chained to a wheel. In these scenes Jaejoong is wearing a mask that covers his mouth as well as a choker while being confined both physically and vocally. All the related scenes to this particular set up are extremely significant in the music video. I will delve deeper into the props later, but let’s focus on how this series of scenes progresses throughout the music video for now.
In the first few scenes that this set up appeared, Jaejoong was quietly standing, as if tamed. In my opinion, the moments when Jaejoong remains chained all can be referred to his time during SM – being confined, punished, and in more ways than one restricted.
As soon as the verses begin, Jaejoong begins to exhibit his desire to break free from this prison. Pulling violently on his chains, straining every inch of his muscles just to get a few feet away from the wheel, Jaejoong struggles to regain freedom. Note that it is timed so that the majority of the struggles begin with the lyrics “Why does it scream out so loudly?” as if Jaejoong begins to realize that he was being subjected to the “Poison that I am already used to” (previous line).
The first time we see any progress on Jaejoong’s attempt to break free is immediately after the kneeling of the Jaejoong in the woods – the weak and trapped Jaejoong who succumbed to the nightmare has disappeared – the chained Jaejoong has now removed his mask. In addition, he gestures powerfully towards the camera and announces “Don’t come here This is my ocean”, exhibiting control and dominance for the first time. Another important part of this scene is that there is a bright light shining through the wheel. Previously when the camera panned over, it is a concrete wall behind the wheel, so theoretically there shouldn’t have been any light. However, Jaejoong making progress in releasing himself from his prison could only mean that he is getting close to “the sun that shines on [him]“. And this sudden light signifies such.
Then a few seconds later, when Jaejoong finally broke free of his chains and choker and starts running for his fate. I thought the transition between the two scenes is absolutely brilliant. The swinging of the chain, the clunking sound the choker made when dropped to the ground and the fact that Jaejoong left with resolution and never looked back. These signify that window of time when Jaejoong went into hiatus under SM, and transitioning into finding where he stands as Kim Jaejoong in the entertainment industry, instead of as a part of TVXQ. The scene where he runs through the ravens is perhaps my favorite scene in the entire music video.
The choice of raven here is so clever since both of raven’s symbolic references connect closely with other scenes in the music video. If we take on the other symbolism of ravens as a sign of death, then the later vampire scenes could be explained and linked easily. By running through the ravens, in this case death, Jaejoong is reborn, better and anew.
To connect back to Jaejoong, I believe the vampire represents Jaejoong as a member of JYJ. Vampires are mostly associated with rebirth, and in this case, Jaejoong’s journey as a part of JYJ is essentially a beginning of another chapter of his life as an artist. The vampire is something I would like to save for a later portion, so I won’t discuss it further here.
However, there is one scene where the candle is blown out and, almost immediately, the vampire Jaejoong follow up with putting on fire around the altar. This sequence, from my perspective, is closely connecting with the lyric “Don’t try to block the sun that shines on me”. Let us suppose that the blown-out candles signify the act of SM attempting to block out the sun that shines of Jaejoong, then Jaejoong’s action of putting on fire is essentially saying, “fine, I will supply myself warmth and light.” The fact that JYJ, after being banned on Korean television, turned their eyes to the global stage and fought their own way to the public as well as receiving overwhelming success speaks much to this sequence of scenes.
I have to admit, the scene where the angelic wings slowly extends from the back of the vampire and begins to shed glitter is the only scene that left me stunned and speechless in the entire music video. The whole composition is overwhelmingly beautiful, and a sense of salvation is certainly conveyed. I understood this scene as a reference to the end of JYJ’s lawsuit with SM. Going back to the line “Don’t try to block the sun that shines on me”, a screen of light was directly shining on the winged vampire, which means that Jaejoong is now standing in the light of the public and SM’s control of him is finally over. The action of spreading his wings in this scene can be taken fairly literally – since SM’s pressure and control are over, Jaejoong can now spread his wings and soar.
Symbols in “Mine” and Jaejoong’s Ideals and Desires
Throughout the music video, an extensive amount of symbols were displayed. Interestingly, I’ve read several conspiracy theories on the internet regarding what Jaejoong is trying to convey, and all of them have been fascinating interpretations of the music video
but I find some to be slightly outrageous. However, no one could deny that the symbols presented in the music video carry special connotations with them.
In my opinion, the scenes were constructed so that Jaejoong’s actions describe his past while the symbols illustrate his desires and goals.
Let’s start with the animals featured in the music video.
- Owl: Owls are generally a symbol for wisdom and knowledge in most cultures. The first scene of the owl was shot in a fashion that focuses in on its piercing eyes. Combined with their nocturnal habits, owls could be interpreted as Jaejoong’s desire to understand and see through deceptions and facades, which certainly fits with the woods scene in the beginning. The owl also first takes flight during the first verse’s “Don’t come here This is my ocean”, particularly noting the initiation of Jaejoong’s said desire; it also lands after Jaejoong has been reborn (i.e. the vampire scene).
- Black dog: Dogs are perceived to represent loyalty as well as guardianship. Again, the way that the black dog is portrayed in the music video is incredibly important. Note that in all three shots of the dog, the camera focuses on its canine features and nearly vicious features, presenting a powerful and nearly vicious aspect of the animal. This links well with the beginning of the video, where these two shots were weaved in, as Jaejoong began to aggressively seeking freedom and protecting himself. And thus the dog is a representation of his desire to actively fight for himself.
- Rhinoceros: In South Asian nations such as Burma, Malaysia, and India (where Jaejoong visited not too long ago), rhinoceros are viewed as guardians as legends has it that when a forest fire occurs rhinoceros will come and stomp it out. Similar with the symbolism carried by the dog, rhinoceros take on a more passive protector image instead of the aggressor image like the dog. Rhinoceros, in this case, would signify Jaejoong’s goal of protecting his faith and his identity.
- Ravens: Though I’ve already mentioned the ravens in the previous section, I want to talk about other scenes involving the animal here. As explained above, ravens are associated with nightmares and deaths, and I have linked them with SM as well as the Korean music industry for this post. The first sight the audience has of a raven is immediately after Jaejoong breaking free from the chains – the raven launches itself aggressively towards the camera.
And very soon after, the second time the audience encounters a raven, the camera places a lot of emphasis on its claws. The position that the raven takes on is also very crucial: it is a predatory position with its claws sticking out, ready to dig into the next prey it encounters. These aggressive appearances could be interpreted as SM and the industry’s reaction towards Jaejoong’s awakening – to deny him ways to promote his music, to create difficulties when trying to find sponsors and record companies, etc.
- Snake: Generally a symbol of guardianship, rebirth and poison in traditional cultures, snake presented itself as a symbol that carries multiple meanings in this music video. The rebirth and poison aspects go without saying – they are mirrored in the lyrics and with other symbols such as vampire throughout the music video. The only time the audience encounter a snake (and not a white one) is when it slithers around Jaejoong’s shoulder and neck. I interpreted the snake in this scene as a symbol of guardianship (similar to that of a rhinoceros). Jaejoong did not show any sign of concern or struggle against the snake (props to him for being brave!), and the way that the snake wraps itself around the jeweled mask in an almost protective fashion screams guardianship. Even in the later scene where Jaejoong holds the snake, it was not an act of aggression but examination. Again, like the rhinoceros, the snake here symbolizes Jaejoong’s determination to not forego his faith and his value.
- White snake: In Grimms’ Fairy Tales, there is a story titled “The White Snake” (Wikipedia link). In short, a servant stole a small piece of white snake’s flesh from his master’s plate and discovered that he had the ability to communicate with animals. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but the white snake in the music video slithers on what appears to be a dining table and around dinnerware-like items. And thus, I have interpreted the white snake as a symbol of communication, and it resonates with Jaejoong’s desire to be able to communicate with his fans, as well as the world, freely without any restrictions.
And moving on to the props. I mainly want to cover two significant props in the music video: the wheel that Jaejoong was chained to and the mask he was wearing while chained.
The pattern on the wheel is reminiscent of a bird with fully extended wings. In addition, the bird is illustrated in a fiery pattern which led me to believe that it is portraying the image of a phoenix. Phoenixes are considered to be a symbol of rebirth and bravery in East Asian cultures as they are believed to bathe in fire and rise from their ashes, much like a snake shedding its skin. If we approach the scene where Jaejoong is chained to the wheel from a different perspective, we can say that the phoenix is chained also – to Jaejoong as well as to the cold concrete ground. As Jaejoong breaks free from the wheel, the phoenix is also liberated from its bindings. The phoenix analogy also follows through with Jaejoong’s action in the next few scenes: when Jaejoong runs through the flock of ravens, it correlates to a phoenix bathing in fire, courageously facing its violent challenge; when Jaejoong is reborn as a vampire, it mirrors a rebirth of a phoenix from its ashes.
My first thought towards the mask was that it represents the lack of freedom Jaejoong has with his words. It is a simple explanation and it makes sense as it only covers Jaejoong’s mouth and nose. However, Jules, my dear friend, made a very interesting discovery.
The mask is practically identical to Bane’s mask in the movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises (2012)’.
In ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, Bane was designed to be ”a militant revolutionary portraying himself as a “liberator”…He was originally a member of the League of Shadows, before being excommunicated…the character wears a mask that supplies him with an analgesic gas to relieve pain he suffers from an injury sustained “early in his story”…Bane proclaims that his revolution’s enemies are the rich and the corrupt, who he contends are oppressing “the people”, and fooling them with myths of opportunity.” (Cr. Wikipedia)
In nearly every way, Bane represents Jaejoong’s desire to break free. Bane’s identity as a liberator can be equated to Jaejoong’s deviation from the conventional K-pop idol trend; in addition, in the process of JYJ’s lawsuit against SM, JYJ has essentially liberated numerous idols from the “slave contract” by shortening the maximum duration and improving the conditions of these contracts. The League of Shadows can be taken as the Korean broadcast media, from which JYJ was practically “excommunicated”. Bane’s mask, in the movie, is meant to feed him a pain reliever whereas Jaejoong’s mask can be viewed as a tool that SM is feeding him the poison through so that he could not recognize the pain/condition he was in. Jaejoong’s action of ripping off his mask could then be interpreted as his desire to wake up from this delusional facade and truly feel the pain and perceive the reality clearly. And finally, Bane’s enemies, “the rich and the corrupt” that are oppressing the public and fooling them with an alternate reality, mirrors the media, who are Jaejoong’s enemies in this case, as they also are the ones in power and creating a facade of information to deceive the public as well as directing public opinion so things will play out as they please.
Regarding symbols in the lyrics, the main ones I noticed are Poison, Ocean and Sun. I’ve already covered poison in different sections above (utilize your Ctrl+F if you want to re-read them ^^). With the term Ocean in the lyrics, I was immediately reminded of the Cassiopeia red ocean – which fits in to the possessory meaning of ‘Mine’: It’s my Cassiopeia, it’s my fan club, it’s my ocean.
On the other hand the term Sun is a bit more complicated, I’ve gathered Sun to hold the dual meaning of Jaejoong’s desire for recognition and ultimate freedom. The Sun is what makes things visible and thus one meaning the sun holds is the recognition of the public as well as the ability to promote/broadcast freely. This, along with the line “Don’t try to block the sun that shines on me”, can be directly linked to Jaejoong’s desire for said things.
The fact that only the vampire Jaejoong was able to bathe in sunlight is significant. Traditionally, vampires are believed to be vulnerable to sunlight, thus the vampire Jaejoong should not have been able to bask in the sun. The fact that these two elements, the sun and the vampire, coexist in this scene illustrates Jaejoong’s liberation from his confinements – breaking that final binding and now able to be free without restriction.
Growth Instead of Rebirth
My brain is so fried right now, I apologize for what is about to happen next.
As I have mentioned before, much of the music video conveys rebirth and transformation. I do believe instead of a complete transformation, Jaejoong is attempting to speak about growth while accepting and retaining the past as a part of one’s identity. In multiple parts of the video, the viewers can see how the past has left a mark on Jaejoong and how he carries those things forward with him as he grows.
I’ll begin with the most trivial illustration, the scenes in the middle of the music video where Jaejoong shows off his
beautiful body tattoos. Tattoos are generally permanent and a person needs go through a lot of pain to acquire them. As previously mentioned, Jaejoong once said that, “I have engraved on my body things that I don’t want to forget from my life so far, things that have comforted me, and things that I am thankful for.” By inking his past and beliefs onto his body, Jaejoong is literally carrying his past with him as he progresses in life.
Previously I have associated Jaejoong’s chained scenes to his time in SM and how he was confined both physically and mentally. Of course, such restriction will leave marks on Jaejoong – and the music video illustrates this rather clearly. When Jaejoong breaks free from the wheel and unbound himself from the mask and the choker, we can see the deep scars across his forehead and on his cheeks. This close up shot appears yet again after the vampire transformation, showing that the scars from his past with SM remained with him throughout his journey of growth and will accompany him as he moves on.
In the previous section I have mentioned two animals that symbolize rebirth in this video are the snake and the phoenix. It is extremely important to note that neither symbolize rebirth as a fundamental change but a transformation with continuation. Snake’s molting is what make it a symbol for rebirth; however, though it shed its skin, the snake itself does not fundamentally change – it is still very much what it was prior to the transformation. Similarly, as a phoenix bathes fire and rises out of its ashes, its identity remains the same – it carries its past from its previous “life” and grows with it.
One other major scene that supports this theory is that of the vampire. Though vampires are closely associated with eternity, conversely we can consider such eternal life to be a prison, not to mention all the traditional limitations that vampires are believed to have. Among the limitations, sunlight is perhaps the most prominent; and as I have discussed above, it is traditionally impossible for Jaejoong to bask in sunlight as a vampire and the fact that he does means that Jaejoong has broken free from his limitations.
I want to further this idea a bit more by pointing out the fact that Jaejoong did not completely transform into another being and remained this combination between a vampire and an angel. Instead of an utter metamorphosis, Jaejoong retained his vampiric features while growing and evolving to gain his sunlight.
Another important detail that I found is Jaejoong’s wings are not pure white as they should be if they are complete angelic wings – instead the coverts, flesh and bone area of the wing are grey, which are areas closer to his vampiric self – and only the primaries and secondaries, the parts furthest from Jaejoong, are white. Let us suppose that the transformation here is from his vampire form to that of an angel, not only is this transformation extremely gradual, Jaejoong is retaining much of his old self while growing beyond it.
Liberation and Self-Actualization
Throughout the music video, there are undoubtedly countless symbols and meaningful scenes. Overall, Jaejoong is telling a dark, powerful and beautiful tale of liberation and self-actualization. This video traces his determination to break free from the oppression of SM, desire to liberate himself from the deceptive media, to walk his own way and to grow fearlessly. Never throwing away his past, Jaejoong views those chains and limitations as challenges he must overcome and uses them to help him become a better man.
In the process of breaking free, it is often much easier to drop everything in the past and move on to begin a new chapter in life. However, instead of denying and shedding your past completely, you should embrace your identity, regardless of how painful it may be, as you grow and soar beyond the reach of your nightmares.
———————————————–Finally the end of all this madness.
To those who have actually made it through the post, thank you so much for bearing with me. I hope I didn’t bore you with my nearly obsessive dissection of the music video. Please feel free to discuss in comments, I would love to hear what you think! ^^
P.S. Happy early birthday, Jaejoong!
Gifs cr: raiha-kasep @ tumblr