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Throughout recent years, more K-pop groups have released music videos that are connected through narrative—the now quintessential trilogy. It’s east to understand why; by creating a narrative that results in multiple rewatches to understand various themes and scene beats, MV views are raised and a connection with fans is created. As a result of this type of music video packaging, there are singular music videos and trilogy MVs with strong visuals, lore, and narrative.
For this month’s Roundtable, we ask the writers: which K-pop MVs would make good dramas or movies? How would you convert the visuals and lore into a strong dramatic narrative?
Pat: I bring to the class two options, both founded on my love for fantasy.
First, I would love a mini-series based on the epic lol-tastic intro for Exo’s “Mama.” The lore-heavy intro from the group’s official debut basically imprinted on me since 2012. It has the foundation for an intricate portal fantasy or urban fantasy, where twelve people, called “legends,” (let’s not limit this to boys please) are split into two groups—one in each world, where they “shall now see the same sky but stand on different ground, shall stand on the same ground but shall see different skies.” Very Stranger Things-esque except we don’t have a Vecna or film in a former concentration camp during the Nazi times. And the link between the two opposite worlds? The Tree of Life, of course.
This would be more plot-driven (vs character-driven, think the difference between A Dead Djinn in Cairo vs The Night Circus, or Jasmine Throne vs His Majesty’s Dragon). Our “Mama”-fantasy would feature the twelve forces selected to protect the Tree of Life from the evil of the “red force” sucking the Tree dry. Thematically we could tie this into environmentalism and climate change.
Secondly, in the same vein as animes Darker than Black and Witch Hunter Robin but with themes of violence and girl-hood as seen in Gunslinger Girl, I’d like to propose a ten-episode run based on f(x)’s “Red Light.” I envision a coven of witches with magic that is more sinister—one thriving in the gray area rather than light or dark, allowing characters to explore various philosophical conundrums. Bring in some critique of societal expectations of girls and women, and it would be perfection for me.
Janine: I am going through a serious horror phase. For the past two years, I have been knee-deep in slashers, thrillers, and ghost stories. It should not come as a surprise that I would love to see a high-school horror drama based in Enhypen‘s Decelis Academy. The vampire trilogy of MVs that begins with “Given-Taken” has references drawn from many horror and supernatural genre sources including The Shining, vampire lore, and superpowered youths which would translate effortlessly to a drama.
I think what would draw me in would be the focus on friendship and the late 90s/early 00s aesthetic. I have always loved shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its subsequent spinoff Angel not only for the fangs but also for the cute outfits, and commentary on contemporary social dynamics. I think the MV for “Drunk Dazed” has a lot of that kind of energy.
In a similar vein, I would be feral for a movie based on Dreamcatcher’s “You and I“, “Good Night” and “Chase Me“. The group’s initial concept was a memorable one that established a detailed multiverse of Gothic themes, witchcraft, and beautiful sinister visuals. The many references to Korean horror films and the scale of the group’s mythos would be a rich source for adaptation. It is a bit of circular reasoning to say a group heavily drawing from genre material could be adapted to a genre film but I think Dreamcatcher has added enough uniqueness to make an adaptation more than just retreading old paths.
Karrah: I am a sucker for shows that revolve around morally-grey characters who have traumatic backstories that garner them sympathy. Thus the cinematic gold which is Triple H’s debut MV “365 Fresh” would make the perfect storyline for a mini-series about strangers finding temporary comfort in each other. The drama would follow the tale of three individuals — all suffering in their own ways — stumbling upon each other. Together their broken pieces complete each other thus forming a bond that gives them something to live for. As a crew, they have a short-run adventure blowing the money they found in a stolen car.
However, since the ending of the show is fixed with the trio’s demise, what the show lacks in seeing the group all together it makes up for with flashbacks of the character’s past. Revealing Hui‘s character’s backstory would explain why he became unable to express his feelings and his nonchalant attitude towards the sight of blood/violence. Dawn’s past would give the audience an insight to why he is so keen on ending his own life. While the other two character’s flashbacks would be more tragic, I would like to see Hyuna’s character to have a bright and loving upbringing. The contrast in losing her loving support system to having to rely on two men struggling internally would add another interesting dynamic to how the three interact.
Exploring the character’s past would not only add depth to the characters but also highlight their differences. It would also offer commentary on how people are the products of their environment. The show would follow the footsteps of shows like Euphoria that use various color schemes to represent the emotional realism and sentiments of their characters — a nod to the colorfulness of the drama’s origins.
Youtube     ; Images via SM Entertainment, Dreamcatcher Company