a closer kpop reading of sunmi’s tail

delve into the visuals of sunmi’s newest music video

Since it was released on Monday, Sunmi‘s new music video, Tail, has racked up more than 3.5 million views on YouTube. The video is super sexy, and it’s easy to get lost in the visuals because of that. When you take a step back and really analyze what you’re seeing, there’s a lot more to this MV than sex appeal.

What is Tail by Sunmi About, Anyway?

Tail describes two people who are hooking up when they’re drunk. They get caught up in one another and have a passionate encounter. It seems that the person being addressed by the song may be having second thoughts, though, as she tells them “it’s too soon to be sorry.”

Without the video, the song can just be interpreted as describing a reckless romp where two people feel in love in the heat of the moment but likely will regret what happened come morning. In my opinion, the video gives the song a whole new meaning as we’ll see.

The Story

At the start of the video, we find Sunmi sitting at a table across from a man. That old-fashioned looking equipment on the table between them is a polygraph machine or lie detector.

It seems that this important looking man is questioning Sunmi about something, and apparently, he doesn’t like her answer because soon we see him watching calmly through the open window as she falls to her death.

Sunmi‘s lifeless body is shown in an alley where she is found by black cats.

But wait! She isn’t dead! Somehow, Sunmi gets up. She is distraught, going through a mix of anger and emotion until she gets herself together and limps away. It seems that she’s getting another chance at life.

And what does she decide to do with it? Go after the man who killed her, of course. Sunmi seduces him and then somehow captures him. She ties him to a train track and waits for the locomotive to come and take care of him for her.

Later on, we see her waking up in a morgue, suggesting that she has died again and is about to go and kick some ass once more.

The Inspiration

There is no doubt that the idea for this video came from the 1992 film Batman Returns directed by Tim Burton. In it, we meet Selina Kyle played by Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s a meek, mousy secretary who overhears something she shouldn’t at work. When her boss, played by a really creepy Christopher Walken, realizes it, he pushes her out the window.

In the movie, stray cats run and start licking and biting Selina’s body. Eventually, her eyes open. She staggers home in a daze, drinks milk straight from the carton, murders some stuffed animals and then creates a costume, becoming…

Catwoman! Her alter ego is a cat burglar who is looking for revenge. She’s not entirely evil as she falls in love with Bruce Wayne AKA Batman. But she is traumatized by what happened to her and determined not to put up with men’s shit anymore. She is going to live her life how she wants to and get revenge, even if it makes her the bad guy.

It’s important to note that Catwoman has nine lives in the movie. She has many near death experiences only to survive them all.

The video for Tail has many shots similar to the Catwoman origins scenes in the movie. I don’t think that’s accidental at all. The story of Sunmi’s character and Selina Kyle are the same. Both of them were innocent women harmed by men. They were given another chance at life, and they use it to live how they want to. And sadly, they continue to get hurt by men’s actions, only to wake up ready to fight again.


A few times during the video, we see snakes slithering around Sunmi. We never see their heads, only their tails. On its surface, that seems to be a reference to the name at the song. But did you notice what kind of ring the murderer is wearing?

It’s a snake. Considering that the man was gripping her hand before she fell, that ring might have been one of the last things that Sunmi saw during her first life. But is she afraid of snakes now because of her trauma?

Nope. She sits there calmly while they slither around her. It’s like she’s saying you’re a snake, but I can be one too. You don’t scare me.

The Cake

At one point, Sunmi is shown in front of a cake with some dangerous looking tools around it. The cake doesn’t look very appetizing. It’s gray for one thing, and instead of flowers it is decorated with mounds that to me look like breasts.

Baking a cake is often thought of as a feminine act. It conjures images of the sweet little housewife, making something tasty for her husband to have for dessert.

Sunmi’s unappetizing cake turns this stereotypical convention on its head. She’s saying, I made you a cake, asshole. Looks real good, huh? Come closer and try to have a piece. I got my weapons ready. I dare you.

The Broken Mirrors

At one point, Sunmi is shown lying on a fur blanket in a sparkly leopard print dress with broken mirrors around her. She looks like she’s dressed to impress, to be pleasing to the male gaze. But she’s not out seducing a man. She’s at home, caressing her own body. This seems to say that her beauty is her own. However she dresses, it’s for her, not for anyone else.

The broken mirrors are significant, too. In the reflection, she’s staring back defiantly. This shows that even though someone has made an attempt to shatter her self image, she’s still strong.

Final Thoughts

As I said, the imagery of this video gives Tail new meaning to me. How many times have we heard stories about women getting drunk enough that they are unable to consent to sex and then becoming victims of rape? Although the lyrics say “it’s okay,” they also say “I’m not much of a drinker.” And it’s clear that there are already thoughts of remorse in the middle of the act.

Because video for Tail clearly depicts a woman who’s been wronged finding her strength. In light of that, I think the song can also be read as describing a potentially unwanted sexual encounter.

You can also even read it as being a subversion of the story. Normally, the woman is meant to be seduced and taken by the man. Here, Sunmi has become the aggressor and is pursuing her prey.

What did you think of the video for Tail? Drop me a comment and let me know!

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