One thing to know about K-pop is that its music videos are on another level. With extravagant and colorful sets, glamorous outfits, and intense choreography, they’re as important as the songs themselves in establishing an identity for the biggest acts. “Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS, “Come Back Home” by 2NE1, and “Lovedrunk” by Epik High ft. Crush are just a few examples of music videos that are basically mini movies. They rake in millions of views online but sometimes, these productions get turned down by national TV networks.
The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) are three of South Korea’s largest television networks. They’re known for their strict guidelines, usually banning music videos for controversial lyrics and imagery. But, every so often, fans are left a bit perplexed by the rationale.
From a video banned because of an excessively long credit roll, to one that shows a singer kicking a traffic cone, here are some K-pop music videos that were not aired on certain networks for seemingly random and strange reasons.
“Kill This Love” - Blackpink
Considered one of the biggest girl groups in the K-pop scene today, Blackpink dropped the music video for its single “Kill This Love” in 2019. But one tiny detail led to its eventual ban from broadcast on KBS. About a minute into the video, Blackpink member Rosé is seen driving a car while not wearing a seatbelt, which is a violation of South Korea’s Road Traffic Act.
However, some fans were more concerned that the song was glorifying domestic abuse with lyrics like “but you plus me sadly could be dangerous,” and “gotta kill this love before it kills you too.” Eventually, one of the producers behind the hit single explained in an Instagram post that the song was meant to empower those who have gone through toxic relationships.
“Turn It Up” - T.O.P
Rapper and Big Bang member T.O.P released the music video for his song “Turn It Up” in 2010. Although the song contains suggestive lyrics such as “I’m the official pimp” and “this is a message to seduce you,” MBC banned it for the indirect advertisement of branded products. In one of the verses, T.O.P mentions a list of brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, and YSL.
“Gentleman” - PSY
A year after PSY went massively viral for the song “Gangnam Style” and became one of the most iconic internet memes, he dropped the follow-up single, “Gentleman,” with a music video that set a record in 2013 as the most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours, a rank it held for four years. Despite the title “Gentleman,” the video shows PSY being anything but. He is seen playing pranks on women, including untying one’s bikini top, and causing another to fall to the floor by pulling her seat out. KBS banned the video, not for those scenes, but for the two seconds of PSY kicking a traffic cone in the opening, which was seen as abuse of property.
“Beep” - Park Ji-yoon
In 2014, singer Park Ji-yoon paid tribute to the iconic American music and dance television program Soul Train with the music video for her single “Beep.” The video has Park dancing and singing with a crowd of people, all of whom are in retro-inspired looks — flared jeans, colorful patterns, and big hair. The video even incorporated clips from tapings of Soul Train. What didn’t quite make the cut for KBS was the credit roll at the end, which lasted about a minute, and was deemed too long.
“Catallena” - Orange Caramel
Released in March 2014, “Catallena” by girl group Orange Caramel is a Bollywood-inspired disco tune about being enticed by a woman who is picky and immature. The music video is comical and bizarre, featuring the trio dressed up as sushi rolls in plastic packages with price tags of 4,000 South Korean won ($3.60) on each of them. This was deemed unsuitable for KBS as it “made light of human life.”
“Lotto” - EXO
Although the music video for EXO’s single “Lotto” contained scenes of the group gambling and a cockfight, it was the song’s title that warranted a ban from KBS and MBC. Lotto, which refers to the lottery, was deemed a brand name. EXO ended up changing the title to and singing “Louder” during live performances broadcast on KBS and MBC.
“Instagram” - Dean
“Instagram” by alternative R&B artist Dean topped Korean charts within two days of its release, with fans praising the singer for highlighting the youth’s unhealthy relationship with social media. But KBS banned its music video because it mentions the brand name Instagram.
“Dreaming I” - F.CUZ
Hours before its scheduled premiere on local television in 2012, the music video for “Dreaming I” by boyband F.CUZ was banned from broadcast by KBS. The music video is set in a high school and depicts the group as a bunch of rowdy teenagers. As the song begins, member Yejun puts on earphones to listen to music despite being in the middle of a class. He eventually storms out when the teacher reprimands him. Some of the members also had dyed hair, which wasn’t allowed in high schools then. According to KBS, the video could have negatively influenced teenagers.