Kpop’s Seven Best: Cinematography

Welcome to my new series! “Kpop’s Seven Best” will focus on showcasing the diversity of Kpop by choosing seven candidates that best embody the chosen theme. In this edition, we’ll look at MVs with exceptional cinematography.

If you are wondering what cinematography is, exactly, allow me to share a brief description. Cinematography is the part of making a film or video that is concerned with the visual aspect of the story. Some of the key components are lighting, camera work, and composition.

Whether you are a rookie or a veteran viewer of Kpop MVs, you will notice that there is a tremendous amount of effort put in to make the MV look good. This means that the standard is high across the board! With that in mind, here are some cinematographic MVs that truly stand out.

Honeymoon – B.A.P

In contrast to much of B.A.P’s early work, which features dark and gritty palettes, Honeymoon is a celebration of vibrant colors and soft tones. Full of grand, sweeping aerial shots, this MV could easily be a travel advertisement for its filming location, the island of Jeju. However, there are elements incorporated throughout – Zelo’s solo shot in an empty building, blood red paint, pill capsules – that maintain a more classic B.A.P feel.

Tell Me You Love Me (좋다고 말해) – Bolbbalgan 4

Tell Me You Love Me is a whimsical journey of imagination that follows the protagonist through locations that feel cozy and familiar. By switching between realistic naturally-lit scenes and some that are grainier and less defined, the MV easily conveys the feeling of Jiyoung daydreaming her way into the heart of her crush. Soft colors complete the look and make Tell Me You Love Me feel like a storybook come to life.

Crooked (삐딱하게) – G-Dragon

Often at the leading edge of Kpop trends, G-Dragon has never been afraid to push boundaries, and no MV demonstrates this quite like Crooked. Although the storyline is straightforward, with GD breaking rules and crossing lines, the quick editing provides the emotional undercurrent as it jumps between highs and lows, revealing the insecurity that can hide behind a reckless attitude. The shaky camera angle slipped in at intervals threads a sense of instability throughout.

Shine Forever – Monsta X

For a story built around concepts of light and blindness, you would expect amazing lighting to be a feature, and Shine Forever does not disappoint in this regard – look no further than the stunning circle of lights at the end. The true genius of this MV, however, is the way it uses nature to evoke the senses and underscore the theme, whether it be wind ruffling the members’ hair or fog obscuring their sight. Each moment is beautifully captured with dynamic close-up shots and creative angles.

Don’t Wanna Cry (울고 싶지 않아) – Seventeen

Filming a thirteen-member group in a way that doesn’t feel crowded can be a daunting task, but Seventeen’s production crew rises to the challenge every time. Don’t Wanna Cry is particularly skillful, showcasing the incredible choreography with wide overhead shots and seamless overlays between each scene. The transition between the cracked desert and the sharp city skyline stands out visually, while the snippets of black and white add a melancholy flavor to the piece.

I Am You, You Are Me (너는 나 나는 너) – Zico

Unlike most of the other MVs on this list, I Am You, You Are Me is filmed on a set – and a tiny one at that. This is turned into an advantage by the clever camera work, which plays with a spinning motif and shots that zoom in and out on Zico to create a defined sense of space. Add in the saturated colors and the bright neon lighting and you have the perfect fantastical convenience store setting for the two mirrored characters to interact in.

Spring Day (봄날) – BTS

Time, friendship, and growing up are all common topics in BTS’ music and MVs, so it’s no surprise that Spring Day is full of imagery surrounding these themes. The perspective chases after RM and Jungkook as they move through doors and hallways but pauses to share snapshots of the members gathered together, as though flipping through memories of the past. The wistful yearning of the lyrics is especially well represented by the scenes that appear in slow motion.

Kpop’s Seven Best:
Part I: Cinematography
Part II: Choreography
Part III: Legends
Part IV: Anthems
Part V: Debut Songs

2 replies »

  1. Hello Kelsey,

    This is Jay Kim, a news reporter of This Time, a Korean news paper in Calgary. We met at Spring Korean Food Market on 7th of April. Hope you remember. : )

    I’d like to discuss with you on the potential collaboration between Korea-Canada Blog and This time. If you are interested in, please contact me at my email. My email address is madpen106@gmail.com.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Jay! Yes I do – it was very nice to meet you! I will hopefully have a post up soon about my experience at the Spring Korean Food Market, including our meeting. :) And I will send you an email! Thank you.

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