It’s no secret that killer dance moves and vibrant visuals play a huge role in what makes our favorite K-pop music videos so iconic. But what about the music videos that take a different approach and value a great story over eye candy? They can often get lost in the haze of usual flashy editing. So, we’ve rounded up a list of the top ten most outstanding story-based music videos in K-pop. But be prepared: they’re full of feels.
10. The Ark – “The Light”
Rookie girl group The Ark makes a significant splash in the K-pop scene with their touching tale of a mother’s love in this debut music video. The mother’s love for her daughter is unconditional, and she structures her entire day around her daughter’s happiness. But when tragedy strikes halfway through, they must learn to cope in a way they never imagined.
This emotional music video is so well put together that you barely even notice that we never actually see the girl group’s faces, and it’s definitely an unconventional debut that sets them apart from several other rookie groups.
9. Ailee – “Singing Got Better”
Ailee’s voice alone is enough to make for a powerful music video, but she truly excels in “Singing Got Better.” Former MBLAQ member Lee Joon plays Ailee’s songwriting boyfriend here, and we see their amazing chemistry through their mutual bond over music. Like any other relationship, Ailee and Lee Joon face major problems, but it’s what Ailee does to take on those problems that really makes this music video a standout.
Coupled with Ailee’s bold lyrics and her even more lively voice, this music video shows exactly how to bounce back from a bad situation, and make the best of your own life.
8. HI SUHYUN – “I’m Different”
Definitely one of the cuter story-based music videos in this list, HI SUHYUN’s “I’m Different” showcases the duo’s youth with this sweet tale of puppy love. Lee Hi and Suhyun fall head over heels for the new boy in town (iKON’s Bobby), and both girls hilariously struggle to pique his attention—ranging from affectionate daydreams to even stalking him around school.
It’s a quirky “expectations versus reality” type of music video, and it’s four minutes of your time well spent.
7. MBLAQ – “This is War”
We can’t talk about the best story-based music videos without mentioning this gem, right? MBLAQ crafts a full-fledged action film with their music video to their 2012 hit “This is War.” Former members Lee Joon and Thunder play the leads here, but their friendship is thrown on the rocks when both members fall for the same girl — catapulting us into a short film complete with massive guns, fight scenes, and a pretty epic final image.
While the plot holes make this one pretty hard to settle on one specific story, the tragic end definitely punctuates this music video’s appeal and sets it apart from many of its competitors.
6. Verbal Jint – “You Deserve Better (feat. Sanchez)”
Verbal Jint’s rap paired with Sanchez’s sweet vocals tells the story of a girl who deserves better than the man that she’s with, and this serious music video definitely highlights these lyrics with its portrayal of an abusive relationship. Verbal Jint plays the girl’s friend, and it’s not until the end of the music video that we fully understand just what kind of “friend” Verbal Jint is.
This music video adds a great twist on top of Verbal Jint’s meaningful lyrics, and it shows the support that everyone deserves to cope through bad situations.
5. BTOB – “It’s Okay”
BTOB has finally started getting the recognition they deserve, and with this touching music video, it’s no question why. While most group music videos focus the story around one member, BTOB’s “It’s Okay” crafts a heartfelt, standalone story for each of the boys. The music video features a variety of plot lines—from Minhyuk’s difficult financial situation to Peniel’s struggle as a rookie fireman. We watch all the members struggle, and it’s a huge relief when things finally start to work out in the end.
This one is an intense ride of feels, so make sure to grab an extra box of tissues before you press play.
4. BIGBANG – “Haru Haru”
Is any list complete if we don’t include BIGBANG? “Haru Haru” is an early BIGBANG classic, and its music video was (and still is) a game changer. At first, it seems like another three-way love story, with G-Dragon and TOP fighting over the same girl. But as we delve deeper into the music video, the conflict gets even more intense, and we realize that the girl suffers from a terminal illness and doesn’t want G-Dragon to know.
“Haru Haru” will always be a classic, and its plotline continues to break our hearts several more years after its release.
3. K. Will – “Please Don’t”
K. Will is no stranger to beautiful story-based music videos, but his “Please Don’t” video is arguably his best one to date–especially considering the music video’s mega star power. This music video starts with a stereotypical love story, and we think we know exactly how it’s going to end. But the video takes a detour, ending with a love story not often seen in K-pop music videos.
2. Taeyang – “Wedding Dress”
A masterpiece that still has us crying six years later, Taeyang takes a direct aim at our hearts with the music video for “Wedding Dress”. In it, Taeyang is irrevocably in love with his best friend — but the best friend has no clue. What makes matters even worse is that Taeyang has to play piano at her wedding, trying to be happy for his best friend when his heart’s completely shattered.
One-sided love is definitely something we can all relate to, and that’s why this music video will forever be a relevant and legendary fave.
1. B.A.P – “One Shot”
Let’s just stop and admire this one for a second, because the performances here definitely deserve quite a few Oscars. “One Shot” is definitely one of B.A.P’s most emotional music videos (excluding the feels trip that was Himchan in “1004”).
In the music video, B.A.P plays the role of a gang. But when member Youngjae is kidnapped and beaten by a rival gang, B.A.P must come up with enough money to pay the rival gang’s ransom and save Youngjae. More of a short film than anything, this B.A.P music video sets the bar when it comes to quality story-based K-pop videos.
What music videos did we miss? Tell us your faves in the comments!
brookenicole is a creative writer with a huge love for K-pop and an even bigger love for playlist creation. You can find her on Twitter here.