This is the seventh article in a series that explores the driving forces behind hallyu and the global rise of Korean pop culture. --Ed.
Seong Won-mo and Park Sang-woo of Digipedi (Digital Pedicure) have risen to become one of the most sought-after K-pop music video production teams, ever since they produced and directed their first music video for Dynamic Duo’s single “Complex” in 2007.
The two, who have been best friends since elementary school, have taken their airtight bromance and love of art and technology to unexpected success as one of the country’s leading figures in video producing and directing.
K-pop music video directors Seong Won-mo (left) and Park Sang-woo. (Digipedi)
The duo have worked on TV commercials, including local advertisements for big companies such as Beats by Dr. Dre, Samsung and LG Electronics. However the creative minds of Digipedi are best known for their work in the K-pop industry.
Since their debut music video with hip-hop megastars Dynamic Duo nearly a decade ago, Seong and Park have worked alongside nearly every other big name in the K-pop industry, including Psy, Epik High, SHINee, Orange Caramel, IU, Kara, Zion.T, Busker Busker and EXID.
Last year alone, the duo was behind more than 15 K-pop music videos including Psy’s highly anticipated “Daddy” and “Napal Baji,” along with Infinite’s “Bad,” Beenzino’s “Break,” Mamamoo’s “Ahh Oop!” and Seventeen and Ailee’s “Q&A.” Digipedi’s music videos have garnered a combined total of more than 205 million views on YouTube.
Psy’s music video, “Daddy” (YG Entertainment)
“When it came to Psy’s latest music videos, we know he’s this massive hallyu star and it’s not just local fans that are excited and waiting for his new videos. He has fans all across the world watching,” Seong said, during an interview with The Korea Herald at a cafe in Gangnam last week.
“And although this may have added to our nerves a bit, I don’t think it changed our approach to the production at all,” Park added. “Especially when you compare the nerves and the burden that was on Psy’s shoulders. We did not feel the pressure. Colorful, humorous and memorable were still our main objectives and I think we achieved that.”
One of the duo’s most famous music videos to date, is without a doubt K-pop girl group Orange Caramel’s 2014 music video “Catallena.”
In what is still widely considered an unexpected and bizarre concept, the music video features the girl group’s members dressed like pieces of sushi. But the directors’ out-of-the-box oddball thinking paid off.
Orange Caramel’s 2014 music video “Catallena” (Pledis Entertainment)
Within the first 24 hours of the music video’s release in March 2014, the clip received more than one million views on YouTube. Even those who were not fans of Orange Caramel would have at least seen or heard about the sushi-inspired K-pop video.
“I think over the year we’ve definitely developed this reputation for coming up with, I guess you could call it unusual concepts and ideas for our videos,” said Park. “I think a lot of people recognized and got a taste of that with Orange Caramel’s ‘Catallena,’ but for us, it is not all about the shock value. I would say that we do really place at lot of emphasis on color. Colors that are eye-popping make for more memorable and stimulating productions.”
“When it comes to our creative process, we still consider ourselves artists. And while we do receive some input from a group’s managing agency, for the most part, we rely on our own imaginations,” Seong added. “We don’t really have any specific formulas. We sit and listen to the track and from there, inspiration hits and ideas just begin to flow.”
While their creative process seems arbitrary, Digipedi still manages to crank out an average of three music video productions every month and shows no signs of slowing down.
Girl group EXID’s music video “Hot Pink” (Yedang Entertainment)
The producers recently expanded their megastar client list to include Conan O’Brien, one of the most influential and popular late-night talk show hosts in the U.S.
While in Korea last month, the American talk-show host took part in a hush-hush collaborative music video project with JYP Entertainment’s head Park Jin-young. Although no details have been made public, Park and Seong confirmed that they were behind the filming of the upcoming video.
“We can’t release any details, but we did film a music video with Conan O’Brien,” Seong said.
With hallyu continuing to advance across the globe, Digipedi admits that the possible reactions of international fans always cross their minds now when working on a new project.
“When we first started our music video careers, hallyu was unheard of and we never really thought about producing something that could translate well on an international level,” said Seong. “Now every time we create a new video, there’s always that thought of hallyu in the back of my mind. I’m not saying that we consider ourselves as having some kind of responsibility to only create ‘foreigner-friendly’ videos, but for sure K-pop’s global popularity is always something we try to keep in mind when producing.”
“It’s a bit unreal to see our videos on YouTube with comments from people from all over the world and in so many different languages – granted I have no idea what most of them are saying,” Park added with a smile. “But I really think hallyu has changed the game for K-pop and the Korean entertainment industry in a fantastic way.”
By Julie Jackson (email@example.com