— ellie perla TAKE-KR (@ellieperla) August 28, 2017
As I set out to write this post about G-Dragon I am uncertain on what should be my focus. Originally I planned to write about the collision of two of my biggest weaknesses, Miami and GD. It was to be a stellar collision. A sunny city meets a bright star… how romantic and grand. But then… I met G-Dragon, and all changed.
Now I would like to write about first impressions. About what a first glance at a man, generations apart from me, can tell us at a moment in his life when his very public private life is going through an identity reconsideration; a time at which the illusive idol opens his heart more often than not to bare and adjust himself in the glass bowl of his existence.
How I met GD? I’ll tell in a bit. First, I would like to share my first impression. So many people asked me questions about his height and appearance, but this is not what I looked at. Yes, he is rather tall and very handsome, all-right. What will stay with me forever is the gentleness of his demeanor and his calm gestures, his sincere curiosity and genuine looks in his eyes, his hidden smiles and moments of stolen childishness.
G-Dragon or Ji Yong, whichever one he might embrace to be, or both, is a truly gifted and heart-felt artist; each step of his is a dance move, each posture is a cover photograph, his whispered words are like barely perceptible echoes that make everyone around him oblige like an orchestra under a genius conductor. And when he turns away from their gazes, his eyes smile mischievously like a child who is now allowed to spend some little time playing unsupervised. In those moments, he truly plays. That G-Dragon is tender, calm, apologetic, timid, and very endearing. That G-Dragon must be JiYong, as he was when he has little, under his mother’s care.
During the unbelievable concert performance I witnessed the next day, GD projected a long video in which he spoke to the audience (in English, for his international fans) about the moment he is going through in his life right now. The video showed many of his family and friends explaining who he is to them. From his father who said…”well, he is my son”… to Taeyang who considers him closer than a brother … to his sister who said that “he talks too much when he drinks”… I got the feeling that they all see him exactly as I felt him to be at first site. A man with no secrets.
His identity reassessment right now must be a direct reaction to this simple fact: he does not have secrets. He lives in a glass bowl, in which he is not allowed by the world to have any privacy, which he yearns for desperately. He steals moments of hide-and-seek, plays when nobody looks at him, but he does not have a private life. Wanting to be JiYong instead of G-Dragon must be the result of this human longing to have a world of his own.
I hope that he finds this privacy; that his fans will allow him to develop it. But also I hope that he will embrace the fact that he will always be G-Dragon as much as JiYong, the same way as we all keep all our roles and times in our lives under one book-cover. The life of “me”.
Having turned 30 in Korean years is a milestone for a Korean man. Military enlistment looms around the corner. Wanting or not, life will throw him some helping curve-balls; he will not have a choice but to pause and reflect. I hope he can gain from it. Gain some privacy and time for reflection about what other goals and dreams he has in life. Meanwhile, the loss will be ours. Although I believe I can easily listen to Untitled 2014 for about two years straight, not hearing any new songs by and from G-Dragon will be our loss for sure. I hope though that he has a few more things under his sleeve for us until he enlists.
One by one the BIG BANG members are announcing the group’s hiatus. Daesung did it during a concert in Japan, as well as Taeyang during his tour, if I am correct. Taeyang is currently celebrating a super successful world tour that will once again propel him to the top of world charts. T.O.P. is dealing with the aftermath of the case against him and hopefully has recovered health-wise. It was a big scare – knowing he is getting better is all that matters. Seungri is also stirring the news; and let’s hope they all have fun in the process. This is one of the hardest-working groups of artists I have ever known.
So now, let’s gossip. How did I meet G-Dragon?
Let’s talk about Peaceminusone. For the ones who don’t yet know, Peaceminusone is G-Dragon’s fashion label. It includes pieces he actually wears himself on a daily base, from oversized sweatshirts, baggy pants, long belts, caps with hanging cords, and the clever Peaceminusone CLIP. What is even more clever is that GD reuses symbols who speak for themselves. The PEACE symbol, for example is his logo, except that one line is missing, hence peace minus one. Aside from the meaning he wants to convey, the graphic is genius. His favorite accessory is the clip… an old style clip-board clip that he revamps – the Miami series was hot-pink – and uses as promoter of his brand name. Clever beyond words. And, to top it all, the limited edition in Miami/USA was in a multi-colored re-styled tie-dye print, while his sneakers by Nike were graffiti-ed. So let’s recap: peace sign, paper-clip, tie-dye and graffiti. G-Dragon is a genius fashion designer that has a sixth sense about what to recycle from the past in order to place himself at the forefront of fashion. Simplicity is the key. Just like Untitled 2014.
So, to my amazement, while I was sipping an Aperol spritz at my favorite hangout in South Beach, Segafredo Lincoln Road L’Originale, I see on my Insta that peaceminusonedotcom announces MIAMI. What, when, how? I find out that it will be a GD pop-up store/fashion installation at… Alchemist. As I sip along I lift my gaze to the 5th floor of the building ahead of me on the left… the 1111 Lincoln address, the so-called House of Cards parking lot by Herzog and Meuron. The lot has only one store called Alchemis, and it is literally a glass box. Why not? GD likes glass boxes. He filmed a MV in one. To make the long story short… I went to the Alchemist and introduced myself as Take-KR.com’s writer and I was placed on the VIP guest list for the evening before the concert, when GD was going to make an appearance and set up his fashion installation, clothes, sculptures and all. No press was actually invited, but I made the cut since I knew more about G-Dragon than anyone else alive in Miami, lol.
In truth, my wine glass was shaking in my hand as I realized that the black giant SUV that just drove up the ramp was carrying no other than GD in it, and I was just one of less than 40 folks around. I took a few pictures. He ended up turning literally into my face while he curiously admired the unique architectural structure he had chosen as location for his pop-up store. In the shuffle, I was left alone and at leisure to admire all what he has doing while setting up. During that long hour we took pictures together. He smiled and played along, making faces to my phone camera and laughing at my uselessness. He was very familiar to me but I was a stranger to him. Nevertheless he made me feel like a friend. A total professional, a total gentleman, a humble human, with great respect for his fans and his environment. First and last impression was the same.
He left a good while later. But before he left, he asked to walk to the corner of the building and look at the island of Miami Beach from there. Since I photographed it many times from there, day and night, I know each inch of it by heart. It is my home. He looked at it, left, right, took it all in in less than five seconds, and went back to the car. That was his only private moment that evening. He stood there alone at that corner, steps away from everyone else. It was heartbreaking to realize how little privacy he has. I was very happy then that Miami has an ego bigger than itself and does not quite care for celebrities. Our sunny city afforded G-Dragon a few instants of loneliness in broad daylight. I hope he enjoyed them.
He visited a few spots in Miami. He stayed or stopped at the Faena hotel, and posted a photo with a golden dinosaur… I guess it was a Dragon allusion. He also visited an art gallery, where he looked a bit bored in company of an Einstein portrait. And he took a deep-sea speed-boat tour that he enjoyed greatly by the looks of his posts. In Miami he had the liberty to actually tag his location and probably marvel at the fact that nobody was bothering him! You see, my dear GD, Miami is the home of Enrique and Ricky, of Bailamos, Vente Pa Ca, and the likes of Despacito. As the song goes, we do everything slowly, despacito, in our own little world, surrounded by sun, sand and blue waters.
The crowd that showed up at the concert the next evening was beyond colorful, although I expect that many flew in or just booked out of curiosity. I, for a change, was ecstatic; I knew every song and can say for certain that I converted a few to GD-ism during those days. I flew out of Miami International Airport the same day as G-Dragon. He went to New York to finalize his US tour while I was embarking on a new adventure in my life – heading to my new home in Seoul. It remains to be seen if Seoul or Miami wins me in the end.