The same idea used in different modalities: music videos and South Korean dramas

Written by Mengqi Zhang

The narratives in music videos mostly serve for the idea of the music. “The musical most often bows out from real-time narrative once the song takes over.” (Vernallis, 2013, p160). Thus, sometimes when being involved with particular technologies to change the timing and spatial concept and the narratives are even displaced, the meaning that music videos convey still make sense, or even better illustrated. For instance, instead of narratives, we explore a time-still spatial experience in Splitting the Atom.

According to Vernallis (2007), music videos are rarely structured around cohesive narratives. However, when the same digital technology is applied to narrative-based Korean drama, the purpose of presenting the idea of music changes. We see the same time-still conception being used in a South Korean television series My Love from the Star (Byeoreseo On Geudae)(Park Jieun, 2013). The spatial exploration, introducing the concept of time freezing, indicates the super-power of the character as the narration of the story, not the idea of the background music like a music video conveys.

It is interesting how attractive it is when applying a digital technology used in non-narrative idea from a music video to a TV series narration. Another example would be the English pop group A-Ha’s Take on Me and the 2016 South Korean TV series W—Two Worlds. They both use the idea of the characters travelling between the animation world and the real world. The former explains the idea without a coherent narration while the latter uses several episodes to introduce the idea to the audience, and successfully drew huge attention to TV series audiences worldwide.

If the lack of narration in music videos were a way of constructing the idea of music itself using digital technology, the modality of narrating in South Korean drama would be deconstructing the same idea. Would this be a potential way of making popular dramas? Or is it just applicable to South Korean drama about particular themes within limited eras?


Vernallis, C. (2013). Unruly media: YouTube, music video, and the new digital cinema. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vernallis, C. (2007). Strange People, Weird Objects: The Nature of Narrativity, Character and Editing in Music Videos. In: Beebe, R and Middleton, J. (eds.) Medium Cool: Music, Videos from Soundies to Cellphones. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 114-117.

MASSIVEATTACK.IE. (2010). Massive Attack – Splitting The Atom (2nd Promo Video). YouTube. Available from [Accessed 06 March 2017].

1theK (원더케이). (2014). [MV] Lyn(린) _ My Destiny(My Love From the Star(별에서 온 그대)OST Part 1). YouTube. Available from [Accessed 06 March 2017].

RHINO. (2010). a-ha – Take On Me (Official Video). YouTube. Available from [Accessed 06 March 2017].

Vien WithJS. (2016). [Teaser 3] W – Two Worlds 더블유 Korean drama The 3rd teaser (Lee Jong Suk & Han Hyo Joo). YouTube. Available from [Accessed 06 March 2017].


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