IU certainly knows all about it, having been at the coalface of dealing with creepy baby-doll concepts for years. It's helpful to finish off this post by looking at "Twenty-three", because here IU does a fair bit of deconstruction of her own. People think I exaggerate IU's disdain for her old career path, but I don't - in reality, we know that she's sick of it and she hates it, because she told us. IU with the help of her video director recently did something completely unprecedented in all of k-pop, and exposed k-pop's dishonest pedophile-pandering dog-whistle approach, turning it completely on its head. Unfortunately, she did it in a way that k-pop's legions of dummies were largely too stupid to understand.
Do I really actually need to explain the meaning of IU's "Twenty-three"? I would have hoped not, but since the song and the entire "Chat-shire" album was misunderstood by so many, and so many continue to bang on incorrectly about IU's "lolita concepts" or whatever, it's probably worth briefly highlighting a few key scenes, so you can understand how IU's deployment of the dog-whistle works in reverse.
On top of all that there's the lyrics.
- Before the song starts, IU reveals a birthday cake, with the name of the song "23" on it. She blows out the candles, as it's her 23rd birthday. The cake is cute, and decorated with girly pastel colours, but IU isn't happy, she doesn't smile or act cute, she can't bring herself to celebrate her career. IU cautiously tastes the cake and then collapses into it, exhausted.
- At 1:00 IU is dancing with backup dancers, giving a huge, fake grin, then quickly becomes annoyed with the facade and shoves the microphone away. The microphone transforms into "spilled tard cum", i.e something that there's "no use in crying over" because it's the path she's chosen, she's trapped. The next time we see her singing, she's smiling less.
- Chasing the rabbit is a reference to the book Alice In Wonderland (written by Lewis Carroll, also a target of pedophile accusations) and as the video progresses IU goes deeper into a succession of "rabbit holes", implying again that her situation is one like Alice's in the book, something that she's trapped in until resolution.
- At 1:47 IU emerges from one such hole into a birthday party room, but the decor and table arrangement suggests a child's birthday party, not an adult's. Instead of celebrating politely, she rips the party treats off the table and trashes everything, destroying the childlike image. It's the only time she genuinely smiles in the entire video.
- The famous "baby" scene at 2:04 is exactly the opposite of what netizens idiotically pretended it was. IU is on a high stool, and pet food bowls on the floor symbolise her servitude, that her position has been forced on her. IU glares at the camera and does not smile. She starts off sucking the bottle and holding the doll, playing the game of the infantilised pop star as she's told to, then gets quickly bored, trashing her doll and then eventually collapsing in her seat, exhausted once again, so "absolutely over it" that she can't keep up the facade for more than a few seconds.
"I want to be a child forever,
No, I want to be a moist woman
Yes, I will live silently as death
No, I will turn everything inside out
Try to guess - which one?"IU's image historically through the early portion of her career has been that of a "child forever" (forced into baby-doll dresses and pandering to pedophiles) who "lives silently as death" (was not allowed to speak up about it). However now she's the "moist woman turning everything inside out". She then asks the listener sarcastically and rhetorically "am I still the child or am I an adult now? Guess which one!" - the answer's obvious enough as it's the title of the song.
"you cannot tell by my face
making a facial expression opposite to the heart is really simple" IU would know all about that. Remember that the image IU was made to carry through her early career got so creepy that she was even disgustingly called the "Nation's Little Sister" at one point by Korean media and fans alike, a title she has since openly spoken out against.
Here's the full blog post if anyone wants to read the whole thing. https://kpopalypse.com/2016/09/24/healthy-porn-for-men-deconstructing-dog-whistle-concepts-in-k-pop/