K-drama Flashback: 12 Classic K-pop Music Videos Featuring K-drama Actors
An essential selection of hit music videos starring superstars from the worlds of K-pop and K-drama
Our K-drama Flashback series is a modest effort to create a space with cues to recall memories. It’s an attempt to gather recollections of this rich trove of classic Korean content – K-pop, K-drama, Korean variety shows or Korean movies – that I periodically delve into. Consequently, while considering what to publish for the series this weekend, I felt like rehashing a dozen iconic K-pop music videos starring some of the best K-drama actors. I believe that this selection of nostalgic music will lift your mood.
Park Seo-joon in “I Remember” by Bang Yong-guk (with Yang Yo-seop)
The critically acclaimed duet of South Korean rapper Bang Yong-guk and Beast vocalist Yang Yo-seop was panned by the Korean Broadcasting System owing to the extreme violence depicted in this music video. However, the hip-hop track with rock elements fared really well in terms of traction. The most intriguing aspect of the MV is that it introduced actor Park Seo-joon, who made his entertainment debut with “I Remember.” I’ve always thought this actor to be an ace at expressing himself. Be it in romantic scenes, in tragedies, in comic timing, or whatever else, his portrayal of emotions is on another level. This video, without a doubt, confirmed Park’s acting prowess and his status as a rising star. Although it has been more than a decade since it was first aired, listeners and viewers continue to revere it.
Lee Min-ho in “Kiss” by Sandara Park
“Kiss” was performed by South Korean idol singer Sandara Park aka Dara, a member of the girl group 2NE1. The track served as the background score for a Cass Beer commercial film starring Dara alongside Lee Min-ho. Oriental Brewery stated in 2009 that it had selected the artists as the faces of its beverage brand Cass 2x, and the song was utilized as a result of that. The initial kiss sequence between the two was dubbed one of the most memorable events of the year. A brief sequel was made in reaction to the positive response to the music video. Dara, who works as a bartender in an elite restaurant in the sequel, is taken aback when she learns that Lee works there as well. Unlike “Kiss,” the video concludes happily with the characters reconciling. By the way, you may have noted that Kim Woo-bin also appeared in the video – it was one of his maiden acting projects, before he made a name for himself as a K-drama star.
Song Joong-ki in “Men Are All Like That” by Kim Jong-kook
The track “All Men Are Like That” belongs to the album Journey Home, where the intensity of the lyrics stands out the most. The presence of Song Joong-ki, in addition to Kim Jong-kook’s excellent vocals, adds another unique selling point to the MV. The story depicts the ebbs and flows of a romantic relationship. When it begins, hearts flutter, and lovers stay and care for each other. However, with time and increasing obligations, sentiments gradually fade into insignificance. The song conveys this from a man’s perspective, with lyrics like “I held hands tightly for fear of losing it/ I was sorry to part with you/ I looked back over and over again/ I’m walking ahead of you/ I don’t look into your eyes when I talk/ I don’t love you.” The orchestral arrangement with Kim’s powerful voice expresses the melancholy that Song Joong-ki emphasizes on screen.
Ji Chang-wook in “I Need You” by K.will
“I Need You” is a song by South Korean balladeer Kim Hyung-soo, better-known as K.Will, from his third mini-album of the same name that was released on February 14th, 2012. The music video features South Korean superstar Ji Chang-wook, SISTAR Bora, Yeo Jin-goo and Kim Bo-ra, in addition to the dramatic instrumental and passionate singing. The ballad depicts the heart’s desire for the beloved, and one of its most notable features is its rhythmic progression. While the build-up to the chorus is executed deftly, making the sorrow underlying the lyrics apparent, the romantic notes make for a beautiful love song, and Ji’s charm further adds a unique touch to the grandeur of the tune.
Choi Woo-shik in “Congratulations” by DAY6
“Congratulations” is one of the most well-known songs by South Korean pop-rock band DAY6. A morose Choi Woo-shik is seen in the video sitting in a train and ruminating about his ex-girlfriend. Beautiful memories of the past turn excruciatingly painful in the present when he finds her sitting in the same train with another man. I love the interplay of the past and present, especially in terms of the tone that aligns with the atmospheric details. While the colors of yesteryear are warm with a grainy texture, the present comprises a desaturated color palette in tandem with the somber mood of the song.
Kim Hyun-joong in “Unbreakable” by Kim Hyun-joong (feat. Jay Park)
“Unbreakable” is a crossover hip-hop song with stunning orchestration and traditional Korean instruments. Additionally, hip-hop artist Jay Park’s rap verses attract attention. Kim Hyun-joong and Park’s marriage is masterfully integrated into “Unbreakable,” which captivates listeners. The music video – which includes supercars, martial arts, sword dancing, and wild animals – demonstrates unprecedented artistic beauty by harmonizing images from the East and West, offering a spectacle in the process. The choreography that reveals Kim’s strong muscular physique is a departure from his soft-natured characters in K-dramas such as Playful Kiss or Boys Over Flowers. “Unbreakable” is a killer track, confirming the artist’s dedication and the rigorous production process. Kim is said to have heralded a cataclysmic transition in the music industry with this number.
Park Min-young in “Haru Haru” by BIGBANG
Park Min-young‘s presence in BIGBANG’s 2006 superhit music video “Haru Haru” increased her notoriety. G-Dragon appears in the video, claiming that his fiancée (Park) is cheating on him with his friend, T.O.P. In actuality, Park (presented to be suffering from a terminal ailment) and T.O.P deliberately misrepresented themselves. G-Dragon realizes this too late and arrives at the hospital to discover that his girlfriend is no longer alive. The music video was well received and is considered a classic due to its emotive premise.
Seo Yea-ji in “Let’s Not Fall In Love” by BIGBANG
Lyrically, this pop-rock-infused dance track incorporates material that tackles the underlying concerns that come with teenage love – more self-centered and defensive than caring. The song gained excellent reviews, with many praising the track’s distinctive and affective composition as well as the band’s dexterity with emotional and complicated subjects. The music video follows the BIGBANG members running around a school courtyard, each taking on the role of boyfriend to five different girls, with actress Seo Yea-ji enacting G-Dragon’s lady love.
Han So-hee in “Tell Me What To Do” by SHINee
The repackaged edition of SHINee’s album 1 and 1 was released on November 15, 2016, with five additional tracks, one of which was “Tell Me What to Do.” The band members, as well as actress Han So-hee, were cast in the MV. Billboard’s Tamar Herman wrote about the song in an article, “While the lyrics succeed in conveying desperation and confusion amidst a tumultuous relationship, it is the strong vocal performances from the members, particularly Onew and Taemin’s sonorous belts, that make ‘Tell Me What To Do’ SHINee’s most emotive single of the past few years.” The group is known for its unique musical style and the members are some of the best live performers in K-pop. So, if you like this song and the music video, I highly recommend viewing its live performance which is, in my opinion, one of SHINee’s most beautiful stage acts.
Kim So Hyun in “I Yah” by BOYFRIEND
The famed Zanybros (a South Korean video production company specializing in music videos and commercial film production) created the song video “I Yah,” in which Kim So Hyun (a child actor at the time of its release in 2013) collaborated with BOYFRIEND members to portray a beautiful and endearing love story.
Park Bo-young in “Only I Didn’t Know” by IU
The title track of Yoon Sang’s album REAL+ is “Only I Didn’t Know.” The composition and melodic arrangements of the song, which include his characteristic wistful chord work and melody, differ from conventional ones. The song, featuring the amazing Park Bo-young and IU, exudes a delicate feel due to the simplicity and refinement of authentic instrumentation while also blending well with the latter’s exquisite voice and tonal quality.
“Gyopo Hairstyle” by Peakboy (featuring Choi Woo-shik, Park Hyung-shik, BTS’ V, and Park Seo-joon)
Even though this isn’t an old song and was released recently (2021), I wanted to include it here. It has a one-of-a-kind cast that includes Park Hyung-shik, Choi Woo-shik, BTS’ V, and Park Seo-joon from the famous Wooga Squad, while Han Hyun-min, a South Korean model and actor, also appears in the video. The song is by Kwon Sung-hwan, aka Peakboy, a South Korean rapper, record producer, and singer-songwriter. His tracks lyrically express his daily thoughts and sentiments, which we can see in “Gyopo Hairstyle.” It’s a tune about a simple slicked-back side-parted ’90s hairstyle with an underlying message to be oneself.