The Biggest Budget K-Pop Videos from Korea

K-pop band BTS at the 2017 American Music Awards, Los Angeles
K-pop band BTS at the 2017 American Music Awards, Los Angeles | © Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Established in the 1990s, K-pop burst into global consciousness in the early part of the 21st century. Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” released in 2012, was the first video to reach a billion views on YouTube. Today K-pop dominates music charts across East Asia, and is popular all over the world — thanks in large part to the genre’s slick production and emphasis on the visual. K-pop music videos are often outrageously lavish affairs, with dramatic storylines, wild special effects, and uber-tight dance routines. Here are some of the biggest budget K-pop videos out there.

T-ara — Cry Cry

Even though it’s nowhere nearly as crazy as many modern K-pop videos, this music video by T-ara cost nearly a million dollars to make. A 15-minute mini-drama set to music, the complicated plot is based on Korean crime dramas and is a tear-jerking exploration of familial love. The story is continued in “Cry Cry”‘s vengeful sister video, “Lovey Dovey.”

BTS — Fake Love

B.A.P — One Shot

The music video for “One Shot” reportedly cost one billion won to produce (approximately US$910,000), making it one of the most expensive K-pop videos ever made. The dramatic storyline features boats, planes, armed robbery and gang warfare — watch to the end for the twist in the tale!

EXO — Mama

The music video for Mama, by South Korean-Chinese band EXO, was rumoured to have a production cost of around US$270,000. It was released in two versions — one in Korean, one in Mandarin — both of which versions feature special effects galore, monastic chanting, a well-developed mythology and super-shiny trousers.

2NE1 — Come Back Home

The video for “Come Back Home” was rumoured to have cost between US$280-500,000 to produce, and it’s easy to see why — the elaborate storyline sets up a futuristic universe complete with huge sets, a detailed wardrobe, complicated CGI and lots of extras.

Big Bang — Love Song

Big Bang are known for their extravagant music videos, employing lots of special effects and innovative shooting techniques. As one of South Korea’s most established K-pop bands, their music videos are always fairly high budget, but the video for “Love Song” deserves a special mention — its film crew built not one, but two aeroplane runways for the shoot. Filmed in black and white, it’s deceptively minimalist, and cost up to US$200,000 to produce.

Infinite — Destiny

If you like aeroplanes and sleeveless military vests, this is the video for you. It cost almost US$900,000 to produce and was filmed in the US at locations including Universal Studios. It’s action-hero style and the guns are out in full force. The video also features an astonishing variety of gloves.

Super Junior — Devil

This music video was estimated to cost nearly US$300,000 to make. Taking inspiration from the silver screen throughout the ages, it features high-speed motorbike stunts, car chases, gambling and a West Side Story-esque street dance routine. Fire and explosions round it off nicely.

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