When you hear “K-Pop music videos” no doubt flashy outfits, colourful set designs and—of course—well-coordinated dance routines come to mind, and you wouldn’t be wrong. K-Pop groups have built a reputation for catchy, often difficult, dance moves and iconic choreography.
But over the years, many groups have opted for a different concept for their music videos; namely fun, interesting and sometimes intricate plot-lines that make fans feel as if they’re watching a short film rather than a three to four minute music video.
The following K-Pop MV’s have all been recognised at some point as standing out from all the others, whether it be because they had a moving and emotional plot, an entertaining concept, an action-packed storyline or a surprise plot-twist at the end that completely derails viewers’ expectations.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers.
MAMA | Power by EXO
EXO are known for their chic music videos and eye-catching choreography, but many might not be aware that all their music videos are, if sometimes rather loosely, based around a fun, intricate storyline. The two most obvious EXO MVs that follow this story is their MAMA (2012) and Power (2017) videos.
Their debut music video MAMA and the teaser trailers introduce the twelve original members of EXO to their fans as “superhumans from another planet”, whose powers included control of the elements, such as fire, water, frost, lightning, earth and wind, as well as teleportation, flight, rapid healing, super-strength, time-control and telepathy—all of which can be seen throughout MAMA.
Although not every EXO music video has stuck with their original storyline, the group returned to their roots with their Power MV—which featured them playfully fighting off a giant robot in some distant, futuristic realm.
The Power music video pays homage to their original concept, showing the members trying to get back their powers after they were stolen by the robot—which is controlled by their enemy; the red force. Once they defeat the robot, they regain their respective powers by collecting mysterious glowing orbs.
Other EXO music videos have stuck with this storyline, though some more subtly than others—Lucky One and Monster (2016) show the members using their super-abilities to escape from their captors, who were likely using their powers for experiments, whereas Ko Ko Bop (2018) subtly show the members using their powers to have fun.
SCI-FI REBELS & ROMANCES
Come Back Home by 2NE1
Come Back Home is set in a futuristic society where citizens choose to spend their lives hooked up to “Virtual Paradise”, a virtual-reality program that lures people towards the idea that they will be happier in the VP than the real world.
The story follows Dara as she struggles to accept the fact that her partner is choosing to abandon her and live in Virtual Paradise—in the hopes that he will live a happier life.
This prompts Dara to join Bom, Minzy and CL who, in true Matrix-style, enter the virtual-reality program themselves in order to destroy it and “free” everyone hooked into it from becoming enslaved by technology.
Using heavy and expensive amounts of CGI and stunning scenes filmed around the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Come Back Home is a stunning music video with an interesting concept about technology and human relationships—almost making you feel as if you’re watching a Sci-Fi movie.
Error by VIXX
Another Sci-Fi-themed music video that we love is Error by VIXX—who are known for their interesting MV storylines and unique concepts.
After having plots such as voodoo dolls, Greek gods and vampires in space, it’s no surprise that VIXX has a music video about an inter-galactic cyborg romance.
The MV follows Hongbin and his love interest played by Heo Youngji. After Youngji dies, Hongbin turns himself into a cyborg (half-robot half-human) in order to rid himself of the pain.
Afterwards, he tries to bring Youngji back to life by turning her into a cyborg too, and although Hongbin succeeds in bringing her back she doesn’t remember him or their relationship.
Eventually, Youngji remembers Hongbin and her old memories, and for a brief moment, the two are happy again—but this sweet reunion is shortlived. Since the government considers Youngji to be “illegally made”, special forces attack the couple and try to take them both away.
This prompts the two lovers to sacrifice their lives by willingly getting dismantled by the same machines that created them—wanting to die together rather than be separated forever.
FRIENDSHIPS & STRUGGLES
Run | I NEED U by BTS
Fans of BTS will fondly recall the group’s early days when a few of their music videos focused around the story of seven friends—all of whom shared their struggles with each other, whether it be family problems, addictions or mental illnesses. This storyline can be best seen in Run and I NEED U, as well as the prologues.
In Run, we initially see the members spending time with one another and enjoying themselves as they try to “run away” from their problems together—but their methods aren’t always healthy since the video shows members fighting with one another and getting in trouble with the police.
Despite all the ups and downs they face, the group still stick together and try to make happy memories.
I NEED U, on the other hand, shows a darker side to each of the members as we get a glimpse into what they struggle with.
Throughout the video we see Jungkook repeatedly getting into fights with strangers, RM feeling dissatisfied with his life and Taehyung trying to run away from his unstable family life whilst Jimin, Suga and J-Hope tackle their depression and suicidal thoughts—which J-Hope tries to fight with pills, but this only makes him sicker.
Throughout all this, Jin is at a loss for how to keep all his dear friends together and safe from these problems, which only seem to get worse as time goes on.
Although the content is much bleaker, I NEED U is similar to Run in the sense that it shows how strong the friendship is between each of the members and how, even in the worst times, they will always have each other’s backs.
There are many fan-powered theories that come with this BTS storyline. Some even involve ghosts and time travel which make the music videos even more complex and interesting to watch.
Although they are only a few minutes long, the following music videos feel as if they’ve come straight out of a K-Drama—tugging on our heartstrings with emotional scenes and surprising us with twists that leave us wanting more.
One More Day by SISTAR
SISTAR’s One More Day begins with two women—played by model Song Haena and actress Hong Soo-Hyun—dragging a heavy suitcase through the streets, as the rest of the MV follows them throughout their close relationship that tiptoes on the line of friendship and romance.
Despite having feelings for Soo-Hyun, Haena keeps staying in the toxic and abusive relationship with her boyfriend, who eventually attacks the two women near the end of the video—prompting Soo-Hyun and Haena to fight back, killing him in the process.
The last scene returns to the beginning of the music video, and we realise that the suitcase the two women are dragging carries the body of the now-dead boyfriend—which they leave in the boot of a car before setting it on fire.
Although it’s not the happiest of love stories, One More Day was still interesting to watch and definitely felt more like a mini-drama than a music video.
Please Don’t by K.Will
K.Will’s music video Please Don’t is, without a doubt, one of the most famous and cited K-Pop music videos when it comes to moving concepts and a shocking plot-twist that changes the entire storyline.
The MV follows three characters, played by singer-actor Seo In-guk, former SISTAR member Kim Dasom and actor Ahn Jae Hyun, and their friendship.
Dasom and Jae Hyun appear to be in a happy relationship, but throughout the music video we see In-Guk visibly uncomfortable with the couple’s romance—with many signs indicating that he also has feelings for Dasom, but doesn’t want to ruin things for his dear friends.
Eventually, Dasom and Jae Hyun get married and In-Guk—of course—is asked to be the best man. Although he’s obviously heartbroken, In-Guk puts on a brave face and supports his friends, setting aside his feelings for Dasom.
But the final shot of the MV reveals the twist that, rather than Dasom, it was actually Jae Hyun that In-Guk had feelings for. This shocking reveal catches many by surprise since it derails the standard love-triangle cliche—making Please Don’t one of our favourite music videos
- Sherlock (Clue + Note) by SHINee
- Love by Kevin Oh
- 있지 by Jaurim
- Flower by XIA
- Cry Cry and Lovey Dovey by Tara
- One Shot and Skydive by B.A.P
- Why So Lonely by Wonder Girls
- Spring Day by BTS
Feature Image Source: ©EXO Power by kmvs, 27.06.2019, tumblr.com