The “K” in K-pop might stand for “Korean,” but the heart of K-pop music is very much in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul. So it’s no surprise that several K-pop artists have dedicated songs to Seoul, singing of romance in the city, exciting nights out, or their often complicated feelings about life in the sprawling urban metropolis. Take a (mental) journey to Seoul with these 10 songs and explore these artists’ thoughts about South Korea’s capital!
1. “From Seoul” — Block B BASTARZ
“From Seoul” is a breezy, atmospheric number brought to us by Block B’s BASTARZ subunit of B-Bomb, U-Kwon, and P.O. The cheery guitar riffs and lyrics encapsulate what it means to the guys to relax and kick it in their home city, as the music video explores not only sweeping, scenic shots of Seoul but also more intimate clips of the guys in alleyways, restaurants, and apartments.
2. “Seoul Night” — Teen Top
Seoul is a city that never sleeps, and the members of Teen Top convey this as they sing of an exciting, romantic night in the city. The track contains all the passion and heat that make it the perfect song for a summer night out on the town!
3. “City 127” — NCT 127
NCT 127’s name is derived from Seoul itself, with 127 being the longitudinal coordinate of the city. “City 127” is a laidback track from the group, walking us through a romance that feels especially vibrant at night, in “this city that has been with us every moment.”
4. “Seoul” — Lee Hyori feat. Killagramz
When K-pop queen Lee Hyori returned from her two-year hiatus from the entertainment industry in 2017, the singer’s first release was a contemplative look at the complicated feelings she had towards the city she grew up in. Hyori had moved from Seoul to Jeju Island to catch a break from the claustrophobia of the city, and while the MV’s contrasting imagery between a dark, dusty Seoul and the pristine nature of Jeju speaks volumes, the lyrics touch on Hyori’s yearning for the city even amid the peace of her Jeju home:
“I turned and went far away, yeah
But when I close my eyes, I remember it
I look back when longing washes over me, yeah
But it’s too late to go back.”
5. “Seoul Song” — Girls’ Generation and Super Junior
For some cute scenes of a few of the most famous places in the city, look no further than “Seoul Song,” a promotional number for Seoul’s 2009 tourism campaign. The combined powers of Girls’ Generation and Super Junior, a little romance, and an unlikely number of exercise scenes make this one undeniably cute!
6. “Seoul” — BTS’s RM (prod. HONNE)
Hyori isn’t the only one with mixed feelings about Seoul, as BTS’s leader RM also has a complicated relationship with the city. The rapper seems weary of the stifling concrete, dust, and smells of the city, but also admits to himself that he has grown fond of even these parts of Seoul.
“If love and hate are the same words
I love you Seoul
If love and hate are the same words
I hate you Seoul.”
7. “I Hate Seoul” — 2000 Won
“K-Pop Star 2” Top Four finishers Kim Hyo Bin and Kim Il Do joined forces to become 2000 Won, and the duo’s ode to Seoul is a breakup song with jazzy elements that will please the ear in spite of their melancholy notes. No matter how hard they try to enjoy it, the city just isn’t the same to these guys without their former lover:
“After you left, everything changed
Like an empty heart,
I came to hate Seoul without you.”
For its part, the MV explores Seoul from a more personal angle: playgrounds, cafes, and street food stalls.
8. “In Seoul” — Epik High feat. Sunwoo JungA
Always one for meaningful music, Epik High brought us “In Seoul” from their “Sleepless in __________” EP. The track is wonderfully mellow, belying the song’s lyrics that highlight the cutthroat nature that Epik High perceives: in a city where everyone is trying to make it, jealousy, blame, and anxiety seem to abound.
9. “Seoul” — B1A4
B1A4’s “Seoul” is a groovy, smooth track that is largely a love song, although the lyrics tell a slightly deeper tale of relying on romance for comfort and support in the loneliness of a big city:
“If you’re not here, I can’t breathe
It’s more suffocating than this city’s air.”
10. “With Seoul” — BTS
Following in Super Junior’s and Girls’ Generation’s footsteps, BTS also partnered with Seoul for this track to promote tourism in the city. And if this cheerful song weren’t sweet enough, the music video will melt your heart as it intercuts scenes of some of the most beautiful locations in the city with footage of the guys jamming out in the recording studio:
Hey Soompiers, which of these songs is your favorite? Have they given you a new perspective on Seoul? Let us know in the comments!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases. Follow her adventures in Seoul on Instagram.
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