Sept 16, 2022
Wooseok is out with his third solo, and I'm going insane again. If Yoo Kihyun is a man written by a woman, Kim Wooseok is a queer-coded villain.

I first saw Red Moon when my partner and I first got our Kocowa subscription and realized we could just stream music shows. During one viewing, I remember him and his Produce X 101 friend Woodz, I believe, showing the hosts how to do his iconic heart-grabbing key choreo from Red Moon. Honestly, the song wasn't an immediate favorite, but I was interested and wrote down the song name to check out the music video later. This is where it all began.

I cannot possibly tell you how many times I've watched this music video. It is so violently erotic for me, specifically. I've spent so much time doing drawing studies of this MV: Wooseok rolling around on the ground, grabbing his own neck, tracing his chest down to his crotch, tracing his neck up to his lips. His face and proportions are as if he was designed by CLAMP in the 80s. He's got broad shoulders, a tiny waist, and long legs. As if following CLAMP guidelines, his wardrobe people dress him in wide shoulder pads, accentuating his alluring manga boy proportions.

After watching Produce X 101, I'm realizing: was this supposed to be a type of Love Shot? I've got bad news. Even as an EXO-L, this is better than Love Shot (first of all, I'm a Tempo supremacist). The point is concise: in Red Moon, Wooseok is a demon, a vampire, calling to you as he lies on the ground, gazing half-lidded up at the camera, "Come and take me now."

When I got Very Into Lee Dongwook last year, I started going through the entirety of his filmography. Fortunately for me, this meant the meeting of two moons: Wooseok and him had starred in now-admonished Produce X 101. I never finished the season, but I got far enough to see something from Wooseok that planted the poison in my brain. Let me explain.

Wooseok was originally Wooshin of the new boy group Up10tion. I'd definitely heard of them, but none of their music grabbed me, and I moved on. To this day, they seem to have a steady fanbase, but no huge success to their name. In an incredibly spartan move, Wooseok changed his name and joined Produce X 101. I've seen Up10tion fans who are devastated by this betrayal.

On this reality show, Wooseok is pretty quiet and reserved. But an eventual moment comes in which he seems to snap. He's older than most of the younger guys appearing on the elimination show. Where they're frantically nervous and overflowing with enthusiasm, excited to possibly debut, Wooseok has a chip on his shoulder, an elegance and cool confidence, perhaps even arrogance, in how he holds himself compared to the others. In his first revealing confessional, he bitterly acknowledges that he has nothing in common with the other boys. He's already debuted. And his group failed. Like, he's really saying "I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win." He knows what it's like to try and fail, and he is not interested in failing again.

I'm obsessed with this moment. Even my partner, who did NOT care for Produce X 101, was struck by this confession. It's good television!!!! You've got all the drama baked in!!! Added to this are the two complicated truths: Produce X 101 was a blatant scam, and Up10tion is still around, seemingly abandoned by Wooseok as he continues to get wins on music shows.

Damn, the lore is good.

I have a very particular relationship to each one of my favorite idols. Usually, I care a lot about who they are: whether or not they're good people, whether or not they're happy or satisfied with their lives. It becomes some weird practice of self-reflection. Pieces of me become pieces of them; they help me think about my own self and life.

I am deeply sorry to admit, I frankly don't care about the quality of Wooseok's character.

Did he really abandon Up10tion in cold blood, in pursuit of his own success? We know now Produce X 101 was a scam...was he somehow in on it? Some part of me wants to believe he's part of the orchestration. How is it that such a seemingly unnoticed solo artist has multiple wins? Are the wins on music shows a scam, too? Are they timed just right, with like some insider knowledge of when the bigger comebacks are happening, so that Wooseok can gather awards in the downtime? Does he have some mysterious backer in the industry unfairly helping him? Better yet...did he seduce someone to help him?

I saw someone on twitter bitterly describe him as a "turncoat." God. I hope he is.

There's something about Wooseok that makes me want to write deranged fanfic. He's clearly a villain, wise beyond his years, playing the part of handsome young idol. Behind the scenes, he's cold-blooded and calculating, burned by his former dashed hopes. He seduces people to help him, like the demon he plays in Red Moon, and pretends to be the cute boy among teddy bears like he is in Sugar, his second comeback. And finally, in Switch, he openly talks about this duality.

Also, like. Come on. Switch? Do you see the point hand choreo here? It's called SWITCH and you're physically moving the positions of the hands so that the top is now on the bottom????? And there's an extended finger tracing upwards??????????? HELLO?????

When people tell you who they are, listen to them.

The concept is clearly duality. In the song itself, Wooseok sings in his honey-sweet, innocent high tone, but mixes in portions where he's speak-singing in his alluring, deeper natural voice. In various stages, he's dressed in cropped padded blazers, high-waisted pants. My favorite stage outfit is the most CLAMP of all, with a sparkly beret and matching Chanel style coat, but when he reaches his arms up, he reveals a midriff of sparkly mesh, stomach fully visible.

And this white princely outfit among the masked backup dancers, dressed in all black and chains?? Wooseok is a angelic prince among his team of menacing devils--the face of false innocence.

It's all exactly what I want from him: an adorable cute boy veneer hiding an evil sluttiness.

This post has been sitting in the drafts for quite a while now. I'm delighted to announce that he's run into some scandal territory and some fansites who made these gifs have closed because of it. Nothing too serious, I believe, just adopting too many cute small dogs and having his staff take care of them. Honestly, it makes him sound like a spoiled little prince. I expect nothing less.