30 Sad K-Pop Songs

If you’re navigating life’s emotional downs and seeking the perfect soundtrack, why not dive into the genre that blends depth with dazzle—K-Pop. With stars like BTS, BIGBANG, Taeyeon, and G-Dragon serving as its modern-day maestros, K-Pop offers more than just catchy tunes.

Beyond the glitz and glamour, these songs unveil the vulnerable layers of emotions that we all experience but seldom express. Here’s our pick of top 20 K-Pop Sad songs that are bound to lift you, when life’s roller coaster decides to hit downwards.

1. “Butterfly” by BTS

Part of BTS’s transformative 2015 mini-album ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (Part 2),’ “Butterfly” dives into the emotional turmoil of fearing the loss of a loved one. Using the delicate and fleeting butterfly as its central metaphor, the song artfully explores the tension between cherishing fragile moments and the dread of them slipping away. It’s a hauntingly poetic ride that leaves listeners contemplating the bittersweet fragility of human connections.

2. “Will Be Back” by Im Sun Hae

This track was recorded by Sun Hae Im for an SBS drama titled ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. The lyrics suggest the longing for the return of someone held dear. Longing for something or someone is an unfulfilled desire that brings about a burning sensation in one’s heart. To all those who are familiar with this sensation and to those who want to comprehend this feeling better- this one is for you.

3. “Eyes, Nose, Lips” by Taeyang

Written by Teddy and Taeyang for Taeyang’s 2014 album ‘Rise’, this single went on to top the Gaon Digital Chart, made it to the K- Pop Top 100, and bagged numerous awards and nominations. The track is a slow-moving R&B style song and was inspired by the singer and lyricist break-up at that time and revolves around the paradigm of longing for lost love.

4. “Stay With Me” by EXO’s Chanyeol ft. Punch

“Stay With Me” is a hauntingly beautiful collaboration between EXO’s rapper Chanyeol and vocalist Punch. The song was part of the OST for the hit drama series, “Goblin”. The lyrics delve into themes of loneliness and yearning, capturing the emotional essence of the drama it was written for. If you’re looking for a song that encapsulates the feeling of wanting someone to “stay” even when they can’t, this is a go-to.

5. “Goblin” by Sulli

‘Goblin’ served as Sulli’s debut solo single in 2019 which was the singer’s last project before her death. The lyrics depict a person with dissociative disorder carrying multiple personalities. The music is rather contrasting, consisting of a blend of whimsical and haunting background notes. The song also highlights the ideology of how a person is seen through the varying perspectives of others which tends to bring about an emotional awakening.

6. “Fine” by Taeyeon

This alternative pop track was recorded as part of Taeyeon’s first studio album- ‘My Voice’ in 2017. Taeyeon’s exemplary vocal skills in the song were compared to that of America’s Taylor Swift. Substantially, the lyrics denote the overwhelming emotions that are experienced post-break-up.

Struggling to move on from your ex who cheated on you? Well then, you ought to give ‘Fine’ a keen listen.

7. “Timeless” by NCT U

Unveiled in January 2018 as part of SM Station, NCT U’s “Timeless” is a digital ballad that packs an emotional punch. It’s a rollercoaster of high and low pitches that perfectly encapsulate the post-breakup emotional landscape. With its potent mix of vulnerability and vocal power, this song isn’t just timeless—it’s a playlist staple for anyone who’s felt the sting of lost love.

8. “The Fool” by Jung Seung Hwan

This K-Pop ditty sung by Jung Seung Hwan and featured on Korean Ballad hits for 2016, questions ‘the Fool’ in this instance- the lover, for causing the emotional turbulence that makes the heart shudder. A phrase in the track translates to ‘You fool, I’m hurting because of you’, this demonstrates the throbbing pain the heart is snared in and goes on to blame the one he loves for his agony.


In BIGBANG’s emotionally charged track “LOSER,” the glitz and glamour of stardom peel back to reveal a universal human truth: even pop icons aren’t immune to feeling like zeros. The song serves as a powerful reminder that beneath the spotlight and the fame, stars too grapple with insecurities and vulnerability. With its raw lyrics, “LOSER” strikes a chord that resonates with anyone who’s ever felt decidedly, achingly human.

10. “Sailing’ by Girls” Generation

Released on the 5th of August 2015 in time to mark their 9th Anniversary, this ballad written by group member Sooyoung, is Girl Generation’s way of paying homage to their loyal fans. The lyrics begin with a walk down memory lane and inspires hope after defeating struggles and hardship. If you’re the type who believes in the ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ saying, this one promises you good vibes.

11. “Wasted” by Younha

Suffering the pangs of heartbreak, shattered by unkept promises- this song depicts post-break-up emotions. This track was released in 2014 and is assessed to have a fast tempo- isn’t exactly the type you’d want to sway to but might be a perfect companion during a light exercise session or when you need a good cry to burn all that bottled up hurt.


12. “Goodbye” by 2NE1

‘Goodbye’ serves as 2NE1’s farewell track as it went on to become their final digital single that was released in January 2017. Singer CL revealed that the lyrics were based on a message to their ‘x’ group member Minzy and denotes a plea to return and not fall prey to the prevailing dangers. The acoustic guitar coupled with the melodious, yet emotional voices of the vocal artists lend to creating the perfect curtain closing for 2NE1.

13. “If you” by BIGBANG

This Gaon Digital Chart Topper entered the K-Pop world in July 2015 and went on to steal over five million hearts just across Asia. The lyrics portray a sense of helplessness that fills your heart as you witness something vanishing or going further away from you. It also reminds one to treasure your loved ones and cherish the moments you spend with them.

14. “Hush” by Lasse Lindh

Though Swedish singer-songwriter Lasse Lindh might not be a K-Pop artist per se, his song “Hush” found fame in South Korea as part of the soundtrack for the drama “Goblin.” “Hush” beautifully blends Western musical sensibilities with the emotional depth that Korean dramas are known for, making it a standout track.

15. “Rain” by Baekhyun & Soyou

Featured in the collaborative album, “Rain,” this evocative song is a masterpiece by EXO’s Baekhyun and soloist Soyou, formerly of Sistar. The song talks about the sadness that often follows a breakup, comparing it to the never-ending rain that seems to pour down from the sky. Not only does it show off the incredible vocal range of both artists, but it also provides a therapeutic experience for anyone going through a heartbreak.

16. “Promise” by EXO

This soul-stirring ballad is an explanation of the downs the EXO group experienced after three of their members left the group, breaking their ‘promise’ to be united in all circumstances. The track was released in March 2015 under the SM Entertainment banner and serves as an apology to EXO fans for not living up to their band mission.

17. “Memories” by Super Junior

Moments of happiness and sadness that are shared with a loved one are often edged in our hearts forever are can sometimes be impossible to erase. Super Junior sheds light on these memories in the song ‘Memories’. The song conveys that the singer is searching for his loved one in vain. The pain in his heart is musically notated throughout the song in an apparent way.

18. “Untitled” by G-Dragon

Dubbed the King of K-pop, G-Dragon doesn’t disappoint with this soul-stirring track. Through his velvety vocals, slick musical arrangement, and poignant lyrics, he crafts a compelling plea for love’s second chance. In the song, G-Dragon acknowledges past wrongs but yearns for a dreamlike reunion where love is rekindled. It’s a heart-wrenching confession that showcases his mastery in capturing complex emotions through music.

19. “Let Me Out” by Jonghyun

Released in 2017, this enigmatic song dives into emotional limbo, capturing the struggle of a person caught in indecision and yearning for love as a lifeline. While some critics interpret the lyrics as an exploration of suicidal thoughts, the song ultimately leaves room for personal interpretation. What’s clear is its potent message: love serves as a crucial anchor in a chaotic emotional landscape.

20. “I Miss You” by Soyou

Former Sistar member Soyou is no stranger to conveying deep emotions through music, and “I Miss You” is a testament to that. This ballad is laced with a subtle piano accompaniment, allowing Soyou’s soulful voice to be the star of the show. As Soyou sings about cherishing memories and yearning for the past, the listener is drawn into her emotional landscape, making it one of those songs that can evoke tears almost instantly.

21. “Everyone Has” by Chungha

“Everyone Has” is another song released in 2017. This one was from Chungha’s album, Querencia. There are various perspectives offered in the lyrical meaning of the song. The most acclaimed out of them is that the songstress is conveying the lack of romance in the world and how mundane living can be without some love in one’s life. The voice, the music, and the meaning go parallel to bring out how hard it is to be in a world without love.

22. “Falling Blossoms” by Min Kyung Hoon and Kim Hee Chul

Dropping in 2018, “Falling Blossoms” by Min Kyung Hoon and Kim Hee Chul is a masterclass in emotional storytelling. While the music video explores a different narrative, the song itself dives deep into the universal ache of love realized too late. Echoing themes from Jonghyun’s “Let Me Out,” its melancholy melody makes this track an enduring favorite on any list of soul-stirring K-pop ballads.

23. “Breathe” by Lee Hi

Penned by the late Jonghyun of SHINee, “Breathe” is a poignant track that dives deep into the emotional struggles that many of us face but find hard to articulate. Lee Hi’s emotive vocals bring the song to life, capturing the raw essence of struggling with mental and emotional exhaustion. The lyrics encourage listeners to take a breath and realize that it’s okay not to be okay.

24. “House of Cards” by BTS

Everything in the world is fragile. “House of Cards” by BTS talks about the fragile nature of a relationship. There are many perspectives one can see the lyrical meaning of the song in. However, at its core, the talk about how people try to make a relationship work just because they are not ready to give up.

Released in 2018, the song is still trending for its deep meaning and also because this scenario is really common in the world.

25. “Downpour” by I.O.I

This song is the last single from I.O.I. The song is about all the hardships, memories, and achievements they had as a group. Even though the main idea of the song lyrics was that, as listeners, we all have the creative right to connect the lyrics with our imagination.

26. “Lonely” by Jonghyun

The late Jonghyun, a former member of SHINee, left behind a treasure trove of musical works that encapsulate various human emotions. “Lonely” is one such gem. Listening to “Lonely” is a bittersweet experience, but it’s a poignant reminder of Jonghyun’s ability to delve into the human psyche.

27. “Apology” by iKon

“Apology” is a beautifully crafted R&B-infused track by iKon that takes you on a rollercoaster of regret and sorrow. Laden with bluesy undertones and anchored by the group’s emotive vocals, the song navigates the guilt and remorse that come after a relationship has ended. The evocative lyrics, combined with the haunting melody, make “Apology” one of iKon’s most emotionally resonant tracks.

28. “Stay” by BLACKPINK

Diverging from their usual high-energy bops, BLACKPINK’s “Stay” is a heartfelt acoustic ballad that shows a different side of the group. The song is a tender confession of the fear of loneliness and the desire to hold on to a failing relationship. “Stay” proves that BLACKPINK isn’t just about girl power and sass—they have the emotional depth to match.

29. “Beautiful Pain” by BtoB

The seven-member boy band BtoB is known for their strong vocals and heartfelt ballads, and “Beautiful Pain” is no exception. The song delves into the complexity of heartbreak, describing it as a “beautiful pain” that becomes a part of life’s journey. If you’re in the mood for a song that captures the ambivalence of heartache, “Beautiful Pain” will fit the bill perfectly.

30. “It Was Love” by Zico Feat. Luna

Crafted by rapper Zico and sung beautifully by Luna of f(x), “It Was Love” is a powerful ballad about the pain and nostalgia that follow the end of a romance. Luna’s haunting vocals meld effortlessly with the piano-led instrumentation, elevating the song’s emotive weight. With its lyrical depth and resonant melody, “It Was Love” is a timeless classic that never fails to tug at the heartstrings.


So the next time you’re in the mood for some soul-searching or need a good cry, consider giving these sad K-Pop songs a listen. They offer a more vulnerable look into an industry that’s often seen as being all about glitz and glamour, proving that K-Pop can be just as emotionally resonant as any other genre.