The 8 Best K-pop Music Videos of 2013

Last week we looked at some of the most disappointing K-pop music videos of 2013. However this week we’re going to be focussing more on the positive side and exploring the some of the best video releases of the year. So without futher ado let’s have a look at 8 of the best music videos the Korean music scene has offered us in the past 12 months:


IU – The Red Shoes

Can we just take a second to appreciate how fabulous the Peppertones look here?

Can we just take a second to appreciate how fabulous the Peppertones look here?

If we were to give out a prize for best Art Direction in a K-pop music video this one would wins hands down. Having set the bar high with IU’s previous visually stunning videos Good Day and You&I, LOEN Entertainment clearly went all out to make this video even more impressive than previous ones, and they achieved it. This video has it all: beautiful art deco set pieces, fabulous costumes, a brilliant celebrity cast and fantastic props. All this might have put the video in danger of becoming a busy mess but they manage to all come together to make a great video – the sets and costumes are pleasing to the eye while the attention to detail in the props bring the scenes to life and the chemistry of the cast fills it with energy.

They say less is more but, for The Red Shoes, more is most definitely more.

EXO – Growl (Dance Version)

At the other end of the spectrum, EXO gained a lot of attention this year (well, let’s be honest EXO get a lot of attention just for going to the bathroom but this was a little more than usual) when they released this video for Growl. While you could say this was just another one of SM Entertainment’s box videos, I think it manages to set itself apart from all the many, many, many others. Being shot in an actual warehouse, rather than in front of some space-age looking box set, in just one take using a steadicam, it is much more entertaining for the viewer. Watching this video feels like watching a real live performance rather than the heavily edited and perfected constructions we’re used to seeing in SM videos.

It’s simple, it’s engaging and it shows off the group’s strengths.

J.Fla – Stupid Story

The song itself is fairly uninspiring but the video more than makes up for it. It’s fair to say it’s been quite a turbulent year for North-South relations on the Korean peninsula but this video manages to cut through all the tension. Stupid Story proposes a simple but genius solution to the diplomatic problem between the two administrations: dance! Really the video speaks for itself but make sure you check out the interaction between fake Park Geun-hye and fake Kim Jong Il, it’s simultaneously hilarious and adorable.

TOP – Doom Dada

This is famous artist Whanki Kim. Can you see the resemblance?

This is famous abstract artist, and relative of TOP, Whanki Kim. Can you see the resemblance?

One of the most unique videos of the year from one of K-pop’s most unique characters, this video manages to do something almost unheard of in K-pop: combining low and high artforms. K-pop videos are characterised in general by their lack of interaction or even acknowledgement of the outside world but TOP well and truly breaks that convention with Doom Dada. If you look for them, references to all kinds of art can be found throughout the video, Stanley Kubrick to Salvador Dali, and all with a distinctly Dadaist aesthetic. He even delves into his personal history and art collection, using his own furniture collection and a painting by pioneering Korean abstract artist Whanki Kim (who also happens to be TOP’s great-great-uncle) to furnish one of the set pieces.

If you like a little bit of intellectualism with your K-pop this is the (only) video for you.

Lim Kim – Goodbye 20

2013 has been a busy year for Lim Kim (one half Super Star K3’s Togeworl) who released two EPs and one album in the space of less than 12 months. The title track from her album Goodbye 20 explores the feeling many young adults have when the reality of their life doesn’t match up to the idealised versions of young adulthood we see all around us. By combining images of toys and youthful antics with glimpses of melancholy this video manages to perfectly encapsulate the simultaneous feelings of carefree fun and suffocating existentialism of the ‘petty days’ of the transition from childhood into adulthood.

BNR feat. Ann – Did Not Say Anything

There’s not much to say about this video. It’s just a really simple single camera set up and yet it manages to use series of clever visual tricks and effects to make sure the viewer is never bored. Check it out for yourself to see what I mean.

G-Dragon – Who You?

In her previous article, Sasha listed the reasons why she didn’t like Crooked and I must admit I wasn’t much of a fan of his two earlier releases from the year MichiGO and Coup d’Etat (one I found problematic and migraine-inducing, the other pretentious and slightly clichéd. Guess which is which!)

However it was fourth time lucky this year for the ever hard-working Mr. Dragon with a simple but inspired idea brought to life in an expertly-executed video. Taking his cues from David Blaine, G-Dragon enclosed himself in a glass box and then asked a thousand of his fans to come along and witness a unique spectacle. Intentional or not, the glass box full of expensive toys but no one else with while thousands of eyes look on from outside provides an interesting metaphor for the life of an idol. Thankfully, G-Dragon never allows the audience to ponder that thought for too long with an energetic and captivating performance which few other idols could match. The use of fantaken footage was a nice touch which allows the viewer to experience the performance from the crowd’s point of view.

Crayon Pop – Bar Bar Bar

We tore into the ‘global version’ remake of this video but that was because it is completely unnecessary. The song already had a video that suited it perfectly.

‘Bar Bar Bar’ was the surprise hit of the summer because the group’s silly style, fun, easily imitated dance and catchy song captured the imagination of a huge number of people in Korea and got them to the top of the charts. This video showcased all of these things perfectly by focussing mostly on the dance intercut with quirky shots and angles which highlighted Crayon Pop’s funny, down-to-earth and likeable performances.

If you watch this video and don’t fall in love with Crayon Pop, I think you had better call the doctor because you might just be missing a heart.

This list is just 8 of the many great music videos that have been released in Korea in the past year. Let us know which ones you agree with and what videos you would have added in the comments!

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  • Asela Cheung

    Definitely IU and TOP have interesting MVs! I would like to add Zion T (Babaay), U-Kiss (She’s Mine), VIXX (G.R.8.U), Younha (Run – Subsonic Ver.), Brown Eyed Girls (Kill Bill – brilliantly funny!), Junsu/XIA (Incredible), and Lee Hyori (Miss Korea). 😀