Ah, K-pop. Love it or hate it, you just can’t ignore it. Especially when the Korean music industry has easily surpassed competitors in terms of production value.
Hefty travel budgets and nimble video editors—and not to forget, the intense training of K-pop artists—make for an addictive concoction being downed by the dozen. Seriously, India even has its own set of K-pop idols.
While some (or realistically, most of us) might spectacularly fail when it comes to recreating the fervour, a trip to select music video locations could make for a compelling itinerary. And let’s be honest—there’s enough Game of Thrones compilations out there.
Below are four immersive destinations seen in K-pop that you can visit with family, friends, or on a solo trip:
Treasure by ATEEZ, Morocco
‘Treasure’ traverses the length and breadth of Morocco, showcasing the vibrant architecture of Marrakesh’s Bahia Palace, the Berber-influenced medina in Agadir, and the ancient earthen buildings (called ksars) of Ait Ben Haddou in Ouarzazate. The nation’s rugged beauty is further enhanced by choreography set against river canyons at Todra George, plus an all-white routine against the Sahara. The video pays a respectful nod to local symbolism by incorporating the letter ‘yaz’ in certain shots—found on the indigenous Berber flag, it depicts the free man.
Getting there: Most long-hauls fly into Casablanca and Marrakesh. While India offers no direct flights, there are connecting options via international carriers such as Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines from Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.
Spend a few days in Marrakech, and then plan a day trip via train or bus to Agadir and Ouarzazate. If you detest road trips, national airline Royal Air Maroc offers domestic flights. From Ouarzazate, you can explore Todra George, the Atlas mountains, and the edge of the Western Sahara via rental cars, shared taxis or luxury buses. Like ATEEZ, enjoy a brief drive on the desert’s sand dunes, or camp out under the stars. Spring (March–May) and autumn (September–October) are the best times to visit.
Let Me In by LOONA/HaSeul, Iceland
The video for ‘Let Me In’ seems like a cross between the haunting watercolours of Aivazovsky, and a government tourism video. Iceland’s isolated countryside, with its wispy pastures, frozen lagoons and the warmth of the midnight sun is the ideal setting for this melancholic pop song. The black sands of Diamond Beach, as well as the eerie Sólheimasandur plane wreck feature prominently in the video. Singer HaSeul, delicate and wraithlike, fits right into the fairytale.
Getting there: International carries like Finnair, Icelandair, Aeroflot and Lufthansa offer affordable connecting flights from major Indian cities to Reykjavik. Diamond Beach (Breiðamerkursandur)lies near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in the south, and is a five-hour drive from the capital. You can visit its volcanic sands, nearby glacial lagoons and the entire southern coast at any time of the year, but winter trips mean less sunlight (and more woollens to pack), so plan accordingly.
The Sólheimasandur plane wreck lies between the town of Vik and Skógafoss Waterfall on the southern coast. It can be tricky to find alone, so best take a guide. Off-road driving to the wreck is now banned to protect fragile vegetation, so it’s a 4 kilometre walk from the highway. It’s one of the most haunting spots to view (and photograph!) the aurora borealis.
Wonderland by Jessica Jung, France
The phrase ‘postcard pretty’ is thrown around quite often, but it’d be difficult to top the diverse scenery of south-eastern France. Singer Jessica enjoys the charming nooks and crannies of the village of Yvoire in this video, with a gallivant or two amidst the Alps. Vine-laced cottages, medieval castles and rejuvenating waters contrast shots of snowy Matterhorn in this electropop number.
Getting there: International carriers like Alitalia, Etihad Airways and Kuwait Airways have several flights from Indian cities to Geneva, Switzerland. On reaching the capital, it’s a 45-minute drive across the border to Yvoire. Alternatively, you could drive from Geneva to Nyon, a Swiss municipality (35 minutes), and hop onto a ferry for Yvoire. Indulging in classical cuisine at restaurants La Traboule and Restaurant Des Pecheurs—both glimpsed briefly in ‘Wonderland’—is an option for attentive fans.
To explore Matterhorn and its surrounding ski facilities, opt for a train or car ride from Geneva to resort town Zermatt. Either will take about four hours, after which Matterhorn lies a further four hour drive away.
Potion by Eric Nam (ft. Woodie Gochild), Mexico
Cultural appropriation is unfortunately common in K-pop, but ‘Potion’ sets the bar zealously high for what future musicians could emulate. Nam romances a mysterious Hispanic woman in this flirty song, clearly drawn from current Latin pop. The video is an honest celebration of the colourful anatomy of Mexican culture; traditional art, folk performers and an authentic mariachi band anchor your attention, instead of the usual slideshow of scenic beauty.
Getting there: India has no direct flights to capital Mexico City, but a bounty of connections are offered by carriers like Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic, China Southern and Aeromexico. Before booking, make sure to leaf through exhaustive event calendars and make a note of festivals, national holidays, and spectacular photography opportunities.
Once you get past the cultural (read: language) barriers in Korean music, there’s a lot be savoured from these intense productions. Music videos offer an easy, up-to-date and free view of how your holiday could potentially look like; so if Pinterest bookmarks seem a little grey, you can always come home to Youtube.