As the sole BIGBANG member currently not serving in South Korea’s mandatory military, Seungri’s musical comeback was set to make a big splash on the pop scene. While the message of the singer’s recently released “Where R U From” video has earned international attention for its parodying of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un’s summit earlier this year, there’s also an empowering message about the growing, global influence of K-pop and one of its leading companies.
A CNN “Breaking News”–esque shot opens the video announcing “Representatives from each country entered the conference hall,” moving to Trump and Kim lookalikes shaking hands before Seungri himself riding in on a horse — a dark horse, at that — to enter the confab of nations featuring some of 2018’s biggest intercontinental players like the U.S., the U.K., China, India, France, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, North Korea and more. At the 1:10-minute mark Seungri struts into the conference, takes a seat at the table and sets down his nameplate not as his native South Korea, not even as Seungri, but as YG Entertainment — his longtime record label, management agency and entertainment brand that also houses the likes of Epik High, CL and BLACKPINK, among others.
While the South Korea has undoubtedly established itself as a major player on the worldwide political and economic scene, Seungri setting his place at the international table for YG Entertainment — which also boasts business in sports, fashion and cosmetics — is a statement on how the country’s pop culture has made it an undeniable global player.
Seungri continues to be the man in control of the video with imagery specifically referencing the K-pop world. While he playfully sings holding a bamboo shoot and boasts a furry black-and-white coat (seen at the 3:50 mark), Seungri makes many references to his “panda” or “baby panda” nickname that was given to him by BIGBANG fans due to the somewhat dark circles under his eyes.
Meanwhile, Korean comedian Yoo Byung Jae makes a cameo as Seungri’s BIGBANG band mate G-Dragon and one can YG Entertainment logo cleverly peppered throughout the visual. This particular decision emphasizes the confidence YG has in its global viewpoint, which isn’t far off considering it was the home that brought PSY to global attention via “Gangnam Style” (though the rapper exited the company after eight years in May), and holds records including the highest-charting K-pop girl group on Billboard’s main charts in BLACKPINK, the first K-pop girl group to hold a U.S. arena tour in now-disbanded 2NE1, among other firsts.
When the United States has its leader in an entrepreneur-turned-reality-star-turned-politician in 2018, a K-pop star proclaiming his country’s presence via the music and pop culture that’s led to chart-topping bands, sold-out world tours and thousands of diverse fans isn’t so wild. Seungri’s song’s title “Where R U From” makes this idea all the more relevant in that if someone says they are from South Korea, the world may find themselves more and more likely to first think about K-pop and the country’s pop-culture exports over anything political or international contentious.