Music is something that can have a real effect on you emotionally, and ballads are sure to do just that. They allow a singer to show off their true vocal talent with minimal interference from auto-tuners and other modern post-production pop music tools. They are also the songs most often used in our favourite K-drama series as they can often capture the most complex of human feelings and emotions and illustrate them with near perfect eloquence through their sound and lyrics. We have gathered a small selection of Korean ballads for you here, but be sure to comment with your favourites below the article. There are certainly a plethora to choose from!
Lets get ready to get emotional!
1. Baek Ji Young – ‘That Woman’
Ah, the famous Baek Ji Young! This woman certainly knows how to belt out a ballad and she has garnered much success and respect from doing so throughout her career. Her vocals really are beautiful, and this track from the hugely popular 2010 K-drama ‘Secret Garden’ is a such a heart-wrenching piece. Hyun Bin – the actor who played one of the drama’s main characters also gave his vocals for a version of this song, he also did an amazing job. Which version is your favourite?
2. K. Will – ‘Please Don’t…’
K-Will is another heavy hitter in the ballad sector! He is a very popular singer that has an awful lot of vocal talent. He also doesn’t seem to conform to the often typical attention-seeking musician theme and often gives his MV starring roles over to actors. This particular track manages to be emotional and yet catchy and slightly jazzy at the same time.
3. EXO – ‘Miracles in December’
There is no doubting that EXO are a very multi-talented idol group. However, their release of this ballad MV last Christmas seemed to surprise quite a few more casual listeners of the group who were more accustomed to their hard-hitting dance/pop releases. This song helped to prove that EXO are much more well-rounded entertainers than they might have initially seemed. Here is the Korean version of the song:
4. Kim Bum Soo – ‘Bo Go Ship Da (I Miss You)’
Kim Bum Soo is another artist that is commonly featured on K-drama soundtracks, and when you see this wonderful live performance of ‘Bo Go Ship Da (I Miss You)’, you can probably understand why. The performance is flawless and members of the audience – many of them famous faces – seem quite captivated and a little emotional…
5. Akdong Musician – ‘Melted’
These two YG Entertainment rookies are full of cuteness, but the ballad has also helped them to show their true versatility. This song still maintains their signature freshness with the very stripped back sound of their vocals and lovely orchestral accompaniment. Clearly, these two are more than a sweet-faced sibling duo.
6. Super Junior K.R.Y – ‘Promise You’
Okay, so this song is Japanese and not Korean, but ballads tend to do very well in Japan. This hints at the genre’s potential to speak to everyone universally on some level. Super Junior’s Kyunhyun, Ryeowook and Yesung are the main vocalists of the group, and it is no surprise that a sub-group was created for these members. Each of them have quite distinctive vocals that can often pierce through any music with perfect clarity, and yet, they still compliment each other so well as an ensemble.
7. Seo In Guk – ‘Broken’
Seo In Guk has been an incredibly popular actor since his role in the smash-hit 2012 drama ‘Reply 1997’, but he has also had a considerable amount of chart-topping songs and is a very established singer. In fact, whenever South Korean ballads are mentioned, you will probably be hard-pressed to avoid hearing Seo In Guk’s name mentioned.
8. Alex Chu – ‘Flower Pot’
Alex Chu is a Korean-Canadian singer and lead vocalist from the band ‘Clazziquai. In this solo song, Chu sings of wanting to become a flowerpot that sits on the windowsill of the woman he loves. Though this sounds like a fairly strange desire initially, the continued description of being able to remain in the woman’s company and be touched by her every once in a while is really quite romantic. It shows that idea of loving a person unobtrusively and from afar, appreciating everything about them quietly as they live their everyday life.
9. Shin Seung Hun – ‘Sorry’
Shin Seung Hyun has been around since the beginning of the 90s and is still a name commonly mentioned within the ballad genre today. He has a quite unique voice that is easily recognisable. This particular track’s sound is quite soothing and relaxing, but the lyrics tell of difficulty of letting go of a relationship (yes, that old ballad chestnut!) and quickly reminds non-Korean speakers of the real feelings and pain behind the song.
10. 2AM – ‘I Wonder If You Hurt Like Me’
The members of 2AM are so entertaining on variety programmes that it is often easy to forget that they are all great belters of the ballad. This playlist selection would not be the same without an inclusion of one of their tracks and ‘I Wonder If You Hurt Like Me’ is one of their most popular releases.