Unusual Themes in Kpop MVs

Kpop groups showcase their talent and style through MVs that dazzle and delight, but sometimes these videos include elements that may surprise you. Whether it’s something that you never expected to see or a trend that is strangely popular, here are a few unusual items to keep an eye out for.

Making a music video is a huge creative undertaking, and production teams put countless hours and details into perfecting their work – all to present a final product that is only three or four minutes long. In appreciation of their efforts, I like to be an “active” viewer of Kpop MVs and look for these nuances as I’m watching. This desire, combined with the sheer number of MVs I have seen, has led to some very interesting observations – not the least of which is an idol holding a phone while it is on fire (that would be in this video).

In celebration of these quirky motifs, I’d like to highlight some MVs that you can check out to see them in action.

School Buses

You may think that school buses are not an exciting topic to choose, but hear me out: these are not the school buses of your childhood. Whether you are going for a stylish look like Red Velvet in Dumb Dumb, or a dreamy feel a la Written in the Stars by John Legend and Wendy, a school bus – of all things – can deliver. If you would have preferred to drive the bus yourself or wished you could use it as a playground, you can see your hopes come to life in Right Here (The Boyz) or No More Dream (BTS). And if you want to go all out, look no further than Stray Kids in their District 9 video, which sees the familiar vehicle transported into a dystopian future to carry them to freedom.


Although taking a bath is nice and relaxing, Kpop has decided to move beyond the traditional and right into the abstract when it comes to bathtubs. Astro turns a bathtub into a ball pit in Baby, while BTS steps it up by throwing a whole party with a tub at the centre in Run. For Mamamoo’s Egotistic, a bathtub is simply another place to dance; in Sorry, The Rose expresses a deep sorrow in a petal-filled tub that’s not even in a bathroom. Best of all, if you’re Sunmi, your bathtub can even be used as a method of transportation – see Gashina below.

Shopping Carts

This particular prop has a long history, started by the iconic Big Bang. In their video Lies, the female protagonist’s grocery run gets a lot more interesting when the members round a corner with a rapping T.O.P inside their cart. Since then, Kpop has taken their shopping carts on a bit of an adventure. If you’re Seventeen, you might push a cart in the parking lot (Healing) or on a rooftop (Very Nice), while Red Velvet prefer the desert (Ice Cream Cake). You could also simply paint it a beautiful pastel pink and turn it into an accessory, as NU’EST W does in I Don’t Care (and you can spy a similar pink cart in Block B’s HER). For the ultimate upgrade from Big Bang’s 2008 video, however, B.A.P adds members to their cart like groceries for Feel So Good.

Colored Smoke

It’s easy to guess why colored smoke is a common addition to MVs, but I still appreciate the multitude of ways directors choose to use it. One popular choice – that I’m sure also makes group members very excited – is to let some of your stars hold the smoke canisters themselves, whether artfully (Astro’s Always You) or dramatically (Pentagon’s Like This). You might even tag them onto some scooters for maximum impact; see Lee Gikwang’s What You Like. Or, if you’re more about aesthetics, colored smoke can be used as the focal point of a scene as in EXO’s Love Me Right, or even combined with slow motion and boomerang effects to really set the mood as in Amber’s High Hopes.

Glass Boxes

Perhaps the most mysterious of all MV themes is the ubiquitous glass box. I cannot pinpoint the pioneer of this trend, but somehow having a person enclosed in a transparent glass box has become one of the most prolific ideas in Kpop. Whether the box is full of plants for a greenhouse feel (VIXX’s Chained Up) or stylishly lit (SF9’s Now or Never), it always ends up having at least one member featured within – or if you’re NCT, more than one (The 7th Sense). Even the scale has no limit when it comes to glass boxes; FT Island decided to shoot their whole band – instruments and all – inside a large glass box for Pray, and before that, G-Dragon had a room-like glass enclosure set up to film an entire MV in, surrounded by a live audience. GOT7 liked the concept of a glass box so much that they tied it into the plot and used it in two videos: Hard Carry and Never Ever.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of strange and exciting elements in Kpop, and that it inspires you to seek them out for yourself! To get you started, try to find the MVs mentioned here that use more than one of these five themes – there are several!

7 replies »

  1. So many of my favorite MV’s are included on this list! Can’t wait to spend a day watching Kpop to see if I can spot any bathtub and glass boxes.

    • Yes! Since writing this post, I continue to see new MVs with these same themes too. Kpop loves trends!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s