Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: Prologue

Continuing on with last week’s post on “I Need U“, we now turn to BTS’ Prologue video. This clip was actually a promotion video for the group’s concert, as well as a teaser for the next album, The Most Beautiful Moments in Life Part 2. The video extensively features the song “Butterfly” from the second album, as well as “Ma City” and “House of Cards” (which is mixed with the classic French song “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (No, I Regret Nothing)”, which you may know from this movie scene). The video linked below is from the official channel for BTS, but you may need an English sub to understand the Korean. I used this one as reference.

Last time we looked at the story of each individual member, as well as the time they spent together as a group. This was because the MV jumped around a lot. However, this time we seem to have a chronologically put together story, so let’s dive into it.

We start of with V in an alley, crying and covered in blood (seemingly a direct continuation from his story in I Need U). He attempts to wash the blood off his hands and shirt before pulling out his phone and making a phone call. He says into the phone “Hyung… I want to see you hyung”. Hyung is a term used by Korean males to refer to older males that they are close to (it literally means older brother, but is used for non-relatives as well). As V is the second youngest in BTS, the only person we know he can’t be calling is Jungkook.

The video cuts to V in an empty, abandoned pool, laying on the mattress in the sun. He is holding a photo of a woman with a baby (him and his mother?). Five of the other members head to meet him, and Rap Monster asks him what he’s doing. We then get the POV of a video camera filming the group and Jungkook points out that Jin has arrived separately to the rest of the group. He’s the one filming.

The words “You can smile as long as we’re together” appear on screen and we cut to the group having fun, playing games, spray painting, dancing, and so on. The whole time Jin is filming or taking photos with a Polaroid camera. Towards the end of the day, V climbs onto the kiosk next to the pool and surveys the empty pool and his friends.

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We cut to night time as Rap Monster writes a message in a mirror “You need to survive”. He joins the rest of the group around a campfire as they watch a projection of the day’s filming against a wall. Suga is playing with a lighter, much like in I Need U (side-note: doesn’t it look horrifying close to Jungkook’s hair when he lays in his lap?!). Jin holds out a photo, the last shot we saw in I Need U, and asks the others if they should go there, they all agree.

On the way to the pier, the group stop at a beach to play. Jin continues to film and take photos, and we get a nice shot of the seven members around the vehicle with the beach in the background.

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They stop at night at a petrol station (possibly the same one from Rap Monster’s story in I Need U?) and Rap Monster fills the car. After seeing Jin hanging out of the window, he asks for the camera to take a photo of him. Suga squeezes into the shot behind Jin. Rap Monster puts the photo into the glove-box to develop. After J-Hope returns from buying food (and presumably paying for the fuel), the car departs.

The next morning, it’s obvious the group has arrived at the pier from I Need U, and Jungkook sits alone before he is joined by Suga. After a moment, they go to wake the others still sleeping in the car. They sit along the pier to watch the sunrise.

V looks away from the group towards the scaffolding platforms, and standing, puts up his hood, and climbs up to the top platform. Jin is the first to notice him, and turns the camera to film him. Soon all members are watching him standing high above their heads, their reactions ranging from surprised to concerned. They motion at him to return (it does look they’re motioning for him to jump into the water, but the gesture is fairly commonly used in Korea when beckoning someone back to you). V smiles at his friends before readying himself and jumping. The screen freezes and the credits roll. But that’s not it.

Our final scene is Jin sitting alone in the car at the pier. He opens the glove-box for the photo taken by Rap Monster, but his expression changes as we see that Suga isn’t in the photo. Jin’s expression is unreadable as the shot goes out of focus and the video ends.

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Much like I Need U, we still seem to be dealing with themes of suicide and depression. However, the tone of this video is a lot more hopeful than the previous one, save for the final shots of V and Jin. Although I feel that the Prologue is more straightforward than I Need U, the chronology may not be as clear cut as it first appears. This video is a prologue to the second album, but does that mean that it’s a prologue to the next video, or could it be a prologue to I Need U, just released later? Obviously it looks like it begins with the next part of V’s story continued from I Need U, but from the abandoned pool scene onwards, it could well be a flashback (with perhaps, the exception of Jin by himself at the end). In that case, the timeline goes V’s story in I Need U -> Prologue -> the other members’ stories in I Need U (-> Jin’s solo shot a the end of Prologue?). Could it possibly mean that V’s suicide in Prologue was the trigger for Suga’s (and possibly J-Hope’s, Jimin’s and Rap Monster’s) suicide(s) in I Need U? Or does Prologue occur after I Need U, and V ran away after killing a man (his father?), and his friends try to find him? Let’s have a look at some new theories and our old theories from I Need U…

MY PROPOSED THEORIES:
A. Prologue occurs after V’s story in I Need U, but before the stories of the other members in I Need U.
Explanation: Beside from the first shot of V calling someone, and the last shot of Jin by himself, everything else occurs after V’s killed a man. We see V being very reclusive before he’s found by his friends, but even then he seems to like wandering away from the group. He likes being up high, where he seems to be in deep thought, perhaps trying to think of ways to repent for his sins? He’s ashamed of his behaviour and crumples the photo of him and his mother. Rap Monster leaves him a note telling him that he needs to survive out of concern. The others decide to go on a trip with V to try and help him (apparently they’ve done this trip before as Jin has a photo of the location… perhaps this was their trip from I Need U?). V is thankful to have some final happy memories with his friends, but he can’t stand living knowing what he has done, and chooses to kill himself at the pier. This triggers suffering in his friends that are left behind. From here we can lead into the five theories proposed in I Need U (see below).
B Prologue occurs after I Need U.
Explanation: We start with a direct link from V’s story in I Need U to the beginning of Prologue. V’s has either been acquitted from the murder or has run away and is living in hiding. However, by the end of Prologue, the guilt of the murder (and possibly the guilt of dragging his friends into it) has gotten to him, and he commits suicide. For the in-between bits, you’ll need to check out the five theories proposed in I Need U (see below).
C. V doesn’t commit suicide at the end of Prologue.
Explanation: It’s entirely possible that V doesn’t commit suicide at the end of Prologue, regardless of where it occurs in relation to I Need U. While it’s clear that V jumps, there’s no definite scene to say that the resulting fall and landing in the water kills him. This isn’t a fully developed theory in itself, but something to keep in mind going forwards.

EVOLVING PREVIOUS THEORIES, AND COMBINING WITH NEW THEORIES:
1. Only Suga and Jungkook died in I Need U
1A Prologue Occurs Between’s V’s Story and I Need U: Moderate Evidence
This theory can still hold up. It’s likely that V’s suicide and Jungkook’s accidental death pushes Suga to the point of commiting suicide himself. This means that the order of events are; V kills man -> V commits suicide -> Jungkook dies in accident -> Suga commits suicide. The remaining individual stories of I Need U are J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, and Jin trying to deal with the deaths of their friends. Jin drives away to the place previously visited with the group to get away from it all. He remembers the photo of Suga and him that Rap Monster took, and tries to recreate it. However, he is left with just him in the photo.
1B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Weak Evidence
There’s isn’t much evidence to support the continuation of this theory. Apart from Suga not appearing in the photo with Jin, and Suga and Jungkook spending time together before the others are awake, there are no significant scenes that would suggest that both are dead whilst the others are alive. However, it could be the case that the other members are retracing a previous trip, and the memories of Suga and Jungkook are so strong that the other members can imagine them there with them, or, they feel the presence of the spirits of the two as they travel. But, as already mentioned, there’s not too much evidence to distinguish Suga and Jungkook from the rest of the group. 
2. Jin and V survive I Need U

2A Prologue Occurs Between V’s Story and I Need U: No Evidence
This theory wouldn’t continue under the current assumptions made in interpreting the Prologue.
2B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Strong Evidence
It’s likely that V contacted Jin after killing someone and the two decided to trace the group’s previous trip to the jetty. (This isn’t necessarily the call V makes at the beginning of the Prologue video). As they travel, they relive past memories. However, once arriving at the pier, the grief over losing his friends, and the guilt from killing someone, is too much for V and he attempts to commit suicide. Hence the timeline is something like: Other members die in various ways and V kills a man -> V and Jin go away together (retracing the group trip shown in the Prologue) -> V jumps (either committing suicide or not). If V did die, Jin finding the photo of him without Suga is symbolic of the realisation that he is truly alone.
3. No one died in I Need U
3A Prologue Occurs Between V’s Story and I Need U: Weak Evidence
This could further go on to state that V doesn’t die from his jump, although this doesn’t give us an explanation for the other’s behaviours in I Need U nor Jin with the photo at the end, and also means that we don’t know what V was doing during I Need U. Hence, if we assume that V did die in the Prologue, the other members are left trying to come to terms with his death. Some turn to suicide attempts and/or medicine to deal with it, but ultimately they pull through and survive thanks to relying on each other. However, this still doesn’t explain Jin and the photo at the end of the Prologue. 
3B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Moderate Evidence
The other members come to V’s help after they call for him and they take him away to distract him. However, it gets to much for him and he jumps (possibly dying or not). However, this version of the theory isn’t as smooth as others (e.g. 2B above) as it doesn’t explain Jin finding the photo without Suga in it. 
4. Jin died before anyone else: Strong Evidence
Throughout the Prologue we either have the other members of the group imagining Jin is there or Jin’s spirit being there, believing that he’s still alive. Jin is the one who is filming and photographing the others throughout the Prologue, meaning that he directly interacts with them to a lesser extent. It could be easy for one of the members to say “Jin’s not dead, look, he’s right there filming us!” or for Jin’s spirit to believe he is with his friends, filming them. However, when Jin finds the photo of himself at the end of the video, he realises that he’s the only one dead as Suga isn’t there (this doesn’t hold up too well if the other members are imagining Jin there). When it comes to I Need U, we have Jin coming to terms with the fact that he is dead. This fits with the fact that Jin is confined to a room and he has the lily symbolism around him. This theory stands aside from the whole Prologue/I Need U order dilemma, as Jin is dead throughout.
5. Jin is the only member alive
5A Prologue Occurs Between V’s Story and I Need U: Moderate Evidence
This changes our timeline to: V kills a man -> Group trip and V commits suicide -> Dealing with V’s death, the other members turn to dangerous behaviours and die -> Jin is left by himself. This explains why Jin has death symbolism around him in I Need U, not because he is dead, but because everyone else around him is. The Prologue occurring before I Need U cements this theory as it gives us an explanation for why V isn’t alive. Jin finding the photo at the end of the Prologue is again symbolic of him being alone. 
5B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Strong Evidence

So here we have Jin dealing with insanity as he retraces the groups steps but imagines the group there with him. He could be so attached to his cameras because he can better imagine his friends there if he is looking through the lens rather than at the scene directly. Whether V travels with Jin during Prologue or is already dead by this point isn’t too important for this theory. If V was alive and jumps to his death, his suicide causes Jin to realise that everyone else is dead, or Jin imagines V jumping which triggers the realisation. Either way, Jin has imagined Rap Monster taking a photo of him and Suga during the trip, and when he goes to find it in the car he realises that it’s a photo he’s taken of himself and the other members are dead. This explains the earlier symbolsim we had of Jin in I Need U.

That was very lengthy but I’m hoping it largely makes sense. Now that we’ve got two videos to piece together, we can start to really build up some theories. What do you think is going on in these two clips? Do you agree with my theories and assessments of evidence strength, or is there something I’m obviously missing? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

-S

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Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: I Need U

Alright, folks, let’s jump straight into the analysis with the first MV in the HYYH Series; I Need U;

This video seems to be telling us several stories at once; the individual story of each member, and the story of the group as a whole. Individually, we see the group struggling with various things, such as addiction (?), an abusive home environment, or just general unhappiness. However, as a group, we see them laughing and having fun together. These sad and happy moments interspersed throughout the video led me to the conclusion that the story is about having people there to take care of you when you need it. The sad endings to each character that we see; such as Jungkook being hit by a car or J-Hope fainting on the bridge, is what the members would have come to if they didn’t have each other. However, getting that support means that they don’t get the sad ending we would otherwise expect. For example, we see J-Hope tipping his pills into the fire. The seven of them spending the night together and the final shot of them sleeping around each shows that because they have each other, they can survive.

It’s simple and neat, right? Pity it’s not the whole story. A different MV, entitled “I Need U (Original Version)” was also released, and it’s actually this one that we’re going to have a closer look at, because the addition of a few scenes changes the story;

I said previously that anyone can join in on this analysis, even if they’ve never heard of BTS before. So let’s take a moment to figure who is who, and what’s going on their individual story on screen;
Jin: Jin is the first person we see in this MV. Apart from when he’s with the group, he seems to spend the majority of his time in one room. Throughout the video, Jin is holding white lily petals; he arranges them on the floor and also sets them alight. At one point, a lily is projected onto this chest, above his heart, and he clutches at it. In another scene, he hurriedly pulls back the curtains to look up out of a window, but no other actions seem to follow (i.e. he doesn’t call out or anything). Interestingly, Jin is also the only member to look directly into the camera (we also get a close-up of his eye), and is seen crying at one point.
J-Hope: We see J-Hope next, staring into a mirror in a bathroom. He later slides back the mirror to reveal a cabinet full of tablet containers. He takes one container and swallows a handful of pills. J-Hope is later outside, walking across a bridge, and we see him collapse to the ground, although he does open his eyes later.
Jungkook: We first see Jungkook walking around aimlessly. That is, until he bumps into the wrong people on the street who seem to beat him up afterwards (2 against 1, ouch). We later see him accidentally step out in front of a car, and that’s the last solo shot we get of him, although we do later see him with the group.
V: Our first shot of V is sitting outside on a balcony (at an apartment block?) next to some bottles. He looks back towards the entrance way sadly. He later gets up, puts on his hood, and walks away. Like Jungkook before him, we see V wandering around before (presumably) returning home. Here he oversees someone (his father?) beating up somebody else (his mother? although she looks young, so she could be a sister or he may have even gone to a friend’s house?) and he takes a glass bottle and hits the man on the side of the head. After the bottle breaks, he stabs the man multiple times before the woman pulls him away. The remaining solo shots of V focus on his bloodied hands and face as he cries.
Suga: Similarly to Jin, Suga spends most of his time confined to one room, and it appears to be a hotel room.He starts off on the laying on the bed, touching the pillow next to him (is he expecting someone else? missing someone?), but changes positions a few times. Throughout the clip, Suga is clicking a lighter on and off, perhaps he has a bit of a pyromaniac streak? From his body language he seems to be both frustrated and unhappy. We later get a shot of him returning to the room with a petrol can and pouring the contents over the bed. The last solo shot we get of Suga has him standing in the middle of the room, watching the flames dancing around him.
Rap Monster: We see Rap Monster (yes, non-BTS fans, it is his actual stage name) leaning against a wall, sucking on a lollipop. The headlights of a car catches his attention and he walks out to meet it. We later see that he’s an employee at a petrol station, filling up the tanks and collecting money. It’s apparently not the best job; the particular car that’s just pulled in throws money out the window at him before driving off. He later drops his lollipop onto the notes, and we see it’s actually a cigarette he’s been smoking. However, it doesn’t cause a fire at the petrol station, as our last solo shot of Rap Monster is him looking down at the ground.  
Jimin:
Just like Jin and Suga, Jimin is confined to one room throughout the MV, spending most of his time in the bathtub. We get shots of him setting fire to a note, over-filling the tub, and splashing around in anguish. At one point, when the water in the tub is a milky colour, Jimin does dip below the surface. We later see him crying in the tub when the water is the same colour.

If that’s what’s happening in each of the individual stories, should we take a moment to look at the times we see the group together? Most of it is just general friend stuff; going out driving, playing on trains, running around, and eating out (although I wouldn’t want to be the employee cleaning up that mess). We get V and Rap Monster laying side-by-side (in a parking lot?) before the others join them in a car, driving around in circles and just hanging out. Are these two closer to each other than the other members? Another significant shot is J-Hope destroying his pills in the fire. Our final group shots have all seven members visiting an old commercial pier of some kind. We get a close-up of V’s and Jin’s faces only as the group looks out to sea. Our last shot is their view; the muted colours of the water and sky.

beach

So what exactly is going on in this MV? We have themes of suicide, death, desperation, and frustration, as well as themes of friendship and survival. But we don’t exactly know what order everything is in. Are clips of the boys in a group happening before or after the individual stories? Or do the individual stories represent a “what could happen” dimension like I first supposed? If the individual stories actually happened, and the group clips are memories, then whose individual story happened first? Or are they happening at the same time? Finally, although the individual stories of J-Hope, Jungkook, V, Suga, and Rap Monster seem to unfold in a straightforward matter, Jin’s story and Jimin’s story seem to jump around a lot more. For example, we see Jimin burning the note both at the beginning and at the end of the MV. I think the interpretation of order of events is entirely up to you, but I’m going to walk through my understanding and propose a couple of theories.

MY PROPOSED THEORIES: 

All of my theories will be based off the following understanding of the timeline: All of the group shots are memories of the past. The solo shots of members are their actual stories, although they’re not necessary playing out at the same time.
1. Only Suga and Jungkook are dead
Starting with probably the most-clear cut evidence. Suga and Jungkook are both dead, from suicide and car accident respectively. The other members are mourning their deaths (Jin, Jimin, J-Hope) or trying to move on with their lives (Rap Monster, V).
Evidence: Both members are in dangerous situations (Jungkook in front of a car, Suga in a room that’s on fire). Neither get solo shots after we last seem them in this situations.
There’s a subset to this theory;
1A Jungkook died first
Evidence: Between Jungkook and Suga, we see Jungkook’s death first in the MV. Suga seems to be thinking of someone and waiting for them in the hotel room. Suga and Jungkook were exceptionally close, and Suga can’t handle not having the other there, and so commits suicide.
2. Jin and V are the only members
alive
Evidence: We see all of the other members getting into dangerous situations. They all perished in these situations (even J-Hope, Rap Monster, and Jimin… what we later see with J-Hope opening his eyes, Rap Monster standing at the petrol station, and Jimin sitting in the bathtub is a vision of their ghost), although we don’t necessarily know the order (i.e. this theory could piggyback the first theory). However, as we don’t see V and Jin in these situations, they are still alive. This is why we get a close up of these two, and only these two, at the end of the MV.
3. No one is dead
Evidence: J-Hope opens his eyes after collapsing. Jimin is seen in the bathtub after sinking below the water. The petrol station doesn’t ignite for Rap Monster. Suga could still leave the room. We don’t actually see Jungkook getting hit by the car. V and Jin are never in dangerous situations. The video just represents the group at the lowest points in their lives. They’ve had each other to rely on before (e.g. J-Hope got over an addiction or psychological issue as symbolised by him destroying his tablets in the fire), perhaps they need each other again to survive?
4. Jin is dead
Evidence: His individual story is very different to everyone else; they all seem to have a purpose in their actions, while Jin’s actions seem to be more symbolic (e.g. burning the petals). Jin also seems very isolated; even Suga leaves the room at some point (to get fuel) and Jimin is linked to other people through the note he’s burning (assuming the note has writing from, or about, another person). Furthermore, Jin is the only member to look directly into the camera, and this is the only interaction he gets in his solo shots. He’s crying because he’s left his friends behind. He’s seen with a lily on his chest, a flower that’s associated with funerals and death (at least in Western countries). The other members are trying to deal with his death. This theory could piggyback onto the first theory, since we don’t know the chronology of the MV.
5. Jin is the only member alive
Evidence: Jin is seen holding six lily petals, representing the six other members. As already mentioned, he is seeming isolated and his actions are more symbolic than the other members. This is because the other members have all perished (see point 2), and Jin is trying to adjust to life without his friends, but is having difficulty.

Do you agree with any of my theories, or do you have your own to propose? What’s your thoughts on the MV? Does it make sense to you? What do you think happened?  Did you like the song? Let’s get some discussion happening in the comments section… I’d love to hear your thoughts!

-S

Note: For fans of BTS who have seen all videos associated with the HYYH series, please leave discussion of the other videos for later posts… at the moment we’re just focusing on I Need U!

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Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: Introduction

 

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If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may have discovered that I am a massive K-Pop fan. I follow several groups, but the one that I’m going to be talking about in this post, and in several upcoming posts, is the 7-member boy group Bangtan Boys (also known as BTS from their Korean name). BTS debuted in 2013, but really started to gain fame in 2015 with the start of their Most Beautiful Moment in Life triology. It was with this album that I first heard their music and started to follow them.

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Their Most Beautiful Moment in Life (“Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa” in Korean, and often referred to as HYYH by fans) trilogy includes three albums; HYYH Pt.1, HYYH Pt.2 and HYYH: Young Forever. What’s interesting about this trilogy is that the music videos of the title songs are all connected. And they’re telling a very symbolic, twisty, dark story. This story has sparked a lot of discussion amongst fans of the group, and have led to a large number of different theories. Although I’m admittedly a little late to the party, I’d like to add my own too. And I’d love it if you joined me.

Whether you’re a BTS fan yourself, you’ve heard of them through K-Pop, or you’ve previously had nothing to do with Korean music, I invite you along with me. I’ll be introducing each video and breaking down what’s going on, what I think it means, and how it links to previous videos. I’ll be sure to point out which member is which, so even if you’ve never heard of BTS before, but you’ve got an interest in analysing and interpreting, you’ll be able to follow along. I would love to hear other’s interpretations of the same videos, and who knows… you may just discover new music that fits your taste…

-S

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Plus… look at these dorks!