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We Can Change (But Probably Won’t)

Allow me to negate any possible validity I may have as a feminist blogger by expressing my love for objectified, 17-year-old Asian girls.

The new year marks the solo debut of former Wonder Girl and member of 4Minute, Hyun Ah Kim (HyunA), with the song “Change.” You don’t have to understand Korean to get that the song is nonsense, or that the video is cheap and the choreography painfully simple even by K-Pop standards. But who needs all that song and dance when you’ve got HyunA, probably the most inherently and untouchably sexy girl in the Asian pop scene right now.

In 4Minute’s videos and promotions, the producers seem to hop back and forth on how to properly exploit Miss Kim, dampening her sex appeal with a purple wig one moment, and sticking her in denim shorts and letting her yank up her shirt the next. Even though their electropop sound was pretty fierce and their leader in truth, though not actually in name – Jiyoon, who will be coming out with her own solo debut shortly – could charm you off a cliff, HyunA gave 4Minute the edge they dearly needed, with both her chest forward, sexy-girl posturing, and her hunched shoulder, hood-up rapper mystique. Along with Jiyoon, she’s been the group’s hands down favorite, and she is aware of her effect on audiences in a way that only a 17-year-old girl can be, unable to hide her triumphant grin when a crowd of teenage girls (yes, girls) screeches after she rolls her jacket off her shoulders.

Naturally, a girl of HyunA’s magnetism attracts a lot of haters as well, and there’s been plenty of criticism of her shrieky rapping in tracks like “Hot Issue.” But I think the tone she adopted for her part in 4Minute has little do with her lack of ability as a rapper, and more with blending both the appeal of the group and what is so obviously latently in her. In the video for “Hot Issue,” the group’s debut, she bats her eyelashes dramatically and nods her head like many cute Asian girls have before her, but we all know she isn’t fooling anyone, and she knows it too. She isn’t trying to make her audience feel safe, the way Jiyoon so naturally does. She’s mocking them, even as they’re singing along and chanting her name. Each bat of her lash seems to say that she knows she’ll never be just Hyun Ah in the public eye, and that’s not a problem, because she’s willing to play the game, even if she’s not that good at hiding her knowledge of it yet.

In “Change” of course now its pelvic thrusts and chest popping instead of blinking, but its all the same. At least now HyunA can throw everything she’s got out there, which is a lot, without having to worry about bumping any slackers out of the way. Honestly, I can’t tell you what it is about this girl that makes my troubles fade, because it isn’t just her looks, and its not like I’ve never been acquainted with the “sex kitten” archetype before. You’d think I’d have figured it about by now, having gorged myself on videos of 4Minute’s live performances, memorizing every toss her locks (modeled after Natalie Portman’s color in The Professional, might I add) and sway of her hips.  Maybe its that as sexy and cute as HyunA can be (and she can be cute), there is absolutely nothing kitten-like about her. She’s an entirely different animal.

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