Celebrating: J-Hope

Welcome to a new segment where I celebrate some of my favourite Korean celebrities, not in order of how much I love them, but in order of birthday. All ages are international ages. -S

jhope

J-Hope

I only have one idol featuring in this fortnight’s post, and it’s none other than BTS’ J-Hope, real name Jung Ho Seok. I’m actually glad that he gets this entire post to himself, because I think he is the most under-appreciated member of the group, so I can dedicate more time to him here! J-Hope is the main dancer and a rapper in the group. There’s no surprise as to why he’s the main dancer; he moves with a lot of fluidity and ejects a lot of emotion into his performances. In fact, he used to be an underground dancer, and competed in dance battles frequently. However, he’s also known for his girl group dances, which shows he likes to have a lot of fun! In terms of rapping, I really love the way J-Hope plays with melody and rhythm as he raps. I also like his tougher sounding rapping voice. However, he can also sing, and has started to sing more and more in BTS’s songs. He showcases all of his talents in his recent solo song ‘Mama‘. Incredible musical skills aside, J-Hope is known for his bright, cheerful, and fun personality, which has earned him the reputation a being the group’s “Sunshine” and “Hope”. He loves making his members laugh, even if it means making a fool of himself. J-Hope is also known for being a bit of a scared-y cat, and his loud screams are often another source of laughter for his friends. J-Hope is also very kind and sensitive, and probably cries the most often out the group. Really, it’s such a shame that he’s so underappreciated, because he has so much to offer! Happy 23rd birthday on February 18th!

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Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: Conclusion and Wings

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Last time we were left with three theories following our exploration of I Need U, the Prologue, Run, I Need U (Japanese), Run (Japanese), and the Epilogue, after creating and discounting various others on the way. I’m going to take a quick moment to recap on them, and then tell which one I buy into the most, and why.

Our first theory proposes that, at the end of the HYYH series, Jin is the only member alive. During I Need U, the other members, besides V and Jin, die in various way and V kills a man. Jin helps him by going on a trip together, in which we see them retracing a group trip they previously went on when all the members were still alive. At this point, it’s possible that Jin was imagining his friends still alive. V, unable to live the same lie as Jin, eventually succumbs to his grief and jumps, committing suicide. Jin, however, continues to act as if his friends are still alive, but it is slowly starting to dawn on him that this is not the case. With the guidance of his friends, Jin eventually leaves the toxic head-space he was once in, coming to terms with his friends’ deaths, and is ready to continue with his life.

Our second theory suggested that no one died during I Need U, nor its following MVs. Instead, we see the group in turmoil, engaging in dangerous and unhealthy behaviours. The group slowly spirals more and more out of control, but realise in time to save themselves. They later look back, reflecting on their past lives, and perhaps regretting how they handled their problems. But now, however, they’re matured, and are ready to move forward, leaving their dark pasts behind.

Our third and final theory proposes that Jin was in fact the first to die, before even the Prologue or I Need U took place. Throughout the MVs, Jin is continuing to exist with his friends, struggling to stay with them, without realising his death. However, he starts to understand that he is the only on in a different world from the others, and after his desperation to stay with his friends, eventually lets go and moves on. Furthermore, his leaving allows his friends to move on with their lives as well.

jin-end

 

Personally, I find the first theory of Jin being the only one left alive to be the most convincing. Not only do I think there is a huge amount of evidence throughout the MVs, I also think it’s the smoothest of the theories, and the one that accounts for most, if not all, of the scenes and symbolism we see on screen. I also think that this clip, shown at the conclusion of the HYYH concert, cements this fact. Note I didn’t include it in the analysis formally because it was never officially released by Big Hit, BTS’ company, but I still find it incredibly relevant. Overall, I think the theme of Jin being stuck in the past with his friends, and needing to find a way to move on, is a really good theme to touch upon, and I like the way it was handled very much.

Before I leave, I want to quickly touch upon Wings, the 2016 album by BTS. This album is very special in many ways, and what I particularly liked about it is that all seven members have a solo song, something that isn’t seen very often in the K-Pop world. The album was initially promoted by teasers featuring each solo songs; Jungkook’s Begin, Jimin’s Lie, V’s Stigma,  Suga’s First Love, Rap Monster’s Reflection, J-Hope’s Mama, and Jin’s Awake, before the group song Boy Meets Evil and the title song Blood Sweat & Tears. Throughout these videos there are clear references to the HYYH videos through both flashbacks and symbolism. However, I personally don’t think Wings is linked to HYYH for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Wings has an obvious source; Hermann Hesse’s Demian. Not only is this story quoted throughout the videos (in Rap Monster’s pretty impressive self-taught English, although I always giggle with his pronunciation of ‘realm’ and ‘egg’), but there is a lot of symbolism comparing the members to the characters. Secondly, Wings is very obviously thematically different to the HYYH series, and I just think the contrast between the two is to great to be linked. Finally, I strongly, strongly doubt that the creators behind HYYH thought far enough ahead to Wings. I think the links to the previous MVs is just to smooth the transition into a new theme. But hey, that’s just my opinion, and there’s plenty of people out there theorising them together.

wings

I’m not going to do a post series exploring Wings, partly because I don’t find it as interesting as HYYH, and partly because I had enough German psychoanalysis in my years of psychology undergrad. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m not pumped for the second part of Wings, due to come out on the 13th February! Overall, HYYH has had a significant influence on launching BTS into the limelight, showcasing their talent across a range of skills, and introducing some interesting concepts. I wish BTS all the best in their future that I will continue to support!

-S

bts-end

 

Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: Epilogue (Young Forever)

And finally, the last instalment in the HYYH series, the introduction to the final album in the trilogy. Will we finally know what is going in?!

We obviously have a lot of clips in this MV that are taken directly from I Need U, the Prologue, and Run, but there are other ways in which the previous MVs are referenced; the lighter in Suga’s hand, the pill bottle at J-Hope’s feet, and even Jimin’s wet hair. There’s also several photos that seem to be taken at the time of previous MVs, and a strong focus on the feeling of friendship within the group. However, the group obviously spends the majority of their time in a large, wire fence maze. All of the members are in the maze, and as the MV progresses, they run around, seemingly looking for a way out. We see the lyrics “dreams, hopes, forward, forward” emphasised on a TV. Finally, it seems that V is the final member to leave the maze, and the group walk away on a runway together. A plane flies overhead and the MV fades out to black, this time with no extra scene at the end.

Overall, I think this MV has the feeling of finality and ending. Whatever it is we’ve been dealing with over the past couple of MVs has finally come to an end. Once out of the maze, everyone is calm, out of the turmoil they’ve been experiencing. Have our members finally found peace?

 

THEORIES:
1. Only Suga and Jungkook died in I Need U: No Evidence
2. Jin and V survive I Need U; merged with Theory #5 (Jin is the only member alive)
2B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Strong Evidence
Timeline: 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, committing suicide -> Jin imagines all of the group still alive OR the souls of the departed friends remain. Although we don’t get a clear cut ending to this theory in this MV, I still think that, along with previous evidence presented, this theory is still supported well. Exiting the ‘maze’ is symbolic of Jin finding a way out of his madness (of pretending his friends still exist). We still see Jin with the group at the end, because his friends will always be with him, but the toxic, chaotic head space that he was in previously has disappeared. Instead, Jin has come to terms with his friends’ deaths and is ready to live his life onward and upward.
3. No one died in I Need U
3B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Weak Evidence
This theory hasn’t got much support from previous MVs, particularly the Japanese ones which involve a lot more symbolism than the Korean ones. However, throughout the current MVs, the members seem to be reflecting on their earlier days, regretting their actions and reminiscing the times spent together as a group. Are we perhaps looking at a group of friends who have faced various personal problems, but have now matured and are moving ‘forward’? This conclusion certainly fits well with the MV, but it’s questionable with the previous evidence.  
4. Jin died before anyone else: Medium Evidence
Regardless of the time-line in terms of I Need U and the Prologue, we have Jin in the MVs not realising that he’s dead, and trying desperately to remain with his friends. However, he’s starting to realise that he’s no longer alive. I feel like this theory would have the most support if there was a heavier focus on Jin in this MV, and perhaps him finally fading away from the group as he moves on in death. We’ve had pretty strong support for this theory previously, so it’s hard to write it off straight away, and the feeling of finality and being at peace would represent both Jin, and the group as a whole moving on, but I find evidence lacking in this MV.

Finally at the end of all of the MVs, I’m down to my final three theories. Next week I’ll be doing a final comparison and drawing my conclusions. What about you? Are we on the same page (at all), or have yours taken a completely different turn? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

-S

epilogue

 

Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: Run (Japanese)

Not long after the Japanese version of I Need U was released, the Japanese version of Run followed. Just like Japanese I Need U, Japanese Run is choreography focused instead of plot focused like its Korean counterpart. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a source for confirming or developing theories, so let’s take a look…

Just like for I Need U, we get cut away to individual members, so let’s take a moment to see what’s happening with them all;
V: We find V in a tiled room with all sorts of writing in the background. Now, I’m not going to take the time to read everything, but I can tell you from the brief flashes we get, many of the words reference songs in the album(s). We later discover that this tiled room is flooded with water, although not much deeper than his ankles. We also see V mucking around with a spray can of paint, something he’s no stranger to. As the song progresses, V seems to get more and more distressed in the room, having some sort of meltdown, reading the writing on the walls. V eventually collapses in the water, laying on his back and staring up into the camera.
Rap Monster:  Rap Monster is in a public phone box, which is also covered in graffiti. He drops the phone, sinking to the floor. Not much seems to happen with him, except for gazing directly into the camera.
Suga: Suga appears to be in a hall in which the floor is covered in broken mirror shards. He later picks up a piece to look at his reflection. Again, like Rap Monster above, we don’t see much happening with Suga, but he does seem to get more despaired throughout the clip, sitting on the floor and holding his knees at one point.
Jin: We see Jin in a large, tiled room, where there is a pattern of water reflections on his face. He looks uncertainly into the camera, and we later see him fall to his knees. After a flash of unreadable words across the screen, we see Jin watching black butterflies flying upwards while an ink spot has suddenly appeared on the tiles behind him, forming the shape of a butterfly.
Jimin: We find Jimin laying in a shallow tub of water, completely submerged. He is initially laying there, hugging himself, however he later struggles in the water, opening his eyes. Later in the MV, Jimin is out of the tub, standing beside it, and we see the words “Youth is not coming back” scrawled on the tub in the background.
J-Hope: We find J-Hope in a room where the floor is covered in feathers, which later start flying around. Like some of the other members above, J-Hope doesn’t do much more, but later falls back into the feathers.
Jungkook: Finally, Jungkook. We don’t see too much about the background of the room that he’s in, but he’s revealed to be holding a scrunched up piece of paper in his hands. He later drops the paper, but it seems to have changed to torn up pieces or, perhaps, small pieces of something else.

Along with the individual stories and dance scenes, we also get a lot of flashes of graffiti throughout the video, both flashed across the screen and in the background of the rooms. The most prevalent line we see, especially in the second half of the MV, is “Youth is not coming back”. Another scene I’d like to point out is the final shot of the group, forming the shape of the butterfly, a symbol that’s been with us for a while.

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I feel like you can tie in a lot of this MV to previous ones; V in a place full of water references his jump into the ocean at the end of the Prologue; Rap Monster at a phone box could be a reference to V trying to call his hyung at the start of the Prologue; the broken mirror pieces around Suga references him smashing one in Run; we’ve spoken about the symbolism of butterflies around Jin previously, but I also think the water reflection could be a reference to him looking out into the ocean after V jumped into it; Jimin’s shots are an obvious reference to the bathtub in I Need U; we first see feathers in the Run MV, and they appear after J-Hope hits Jimin on the face with a pillow after waking up in a hospital bed, perhaps a reference to his possible overdose; and I think it’s possible that Jungkook is dropping pieces of mirror, which links him to Suga and the fight in Run. Of course, I think it’s possible to argue that most of these are a bit of a stretch (particularly Rap Monster’s and Jungkook’s), but I can’t see what else they could be referencing.

THEORIES:
1. Only Suga and Jungkook died in I Need U
1A Prologue Occurs Between’s V’s Story and I Need U: Weak Evidence
Timeline: V kills a man -> V commits suicide (or at least attempts)-> Jungkook dies in an accident -> Suga commits suicide -> the others try to deal with the death of their friends (I Need U and Run). We get a (possible?) link between Suga and Jungkook in this MV, but with what we’ve seen over the two Japanese MVs, I think this theory is getting more and more unlikely.  
2. Jin and V survive I Need U

2B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Strong Evidence
Timeline: 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) -> Jin (and possibly V) imagines all of the group still alive OR the souls of the departed friends remain. We are stuck with not knowing V’s ultimate fate. I think that this theory continues to get support, even from this MV. We are still getting references back to how some of the members died. We’re getting the butterfly symbolism around Jin again, which I think is more supportive of the fact that V died as well. The Japanese version of I Need U also supported this with Jin’s individual shots.
3. No one died in I Need U
3B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Weak Evidence
As previously, there’s nothing in this MV to support or deny this theory. However, I think this speaks for itself with the already weak evidence for it.  
4. Jin died before anyone else: Strong Evidence
Regardless of the time-line in terms of I Need U and the Prologue, we have Jin in the MVs not realising that he’s dead, and trying desperately to remain with his friends. However, he’s starting to realise that he’s no longer alive. Just as the butterfly symbolism around Jin could support him being the only one alive, it can also support him being dead. We see all the members collapse in the MV, perhaps out of exhaustion of keeping up the front that Jin is still there?
5. Jin is the only member alive: Strong Evidence
Again, much of 2B also supports this theory. We’re starting to see the evidence for that theory pointing towards only Jin being alive, which is bringing it together with this theory pretty easily.

-S

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Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: I Need U (Japanese)

To anyone not accustomed to K-Pop, it’s not uncommon for groups to re-release songs in a different language, usually Japanese but sometimes Mandarin (depending on the company’s preference). This was the case with BTS’ I Need U. With a new song comes a new MV, and although this MV is dance-focused, as opposed to the story-focused Korean MV, I still think it fits into the HYYH series and is worth looking at;

Despite the choreography, we still get cut-away individual scenes of all of the members. Like we did with the Korean I Need U, let’s have a look at each member one by one;

J-Hope: We find J-Hope in a bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror. This is much like how his individual story in the Korean I Need U starts. We later see him sitting, leaning against the wall, pills spread around his feet. He also appears to be crying at one point.
Jungkook: Jungkook spends all of his time in a hallway filled with flowers, either sitting on lying down in them. We later see Jungkook crying as well, and he sets fire to the petals of white lilies, which look very similar to the ones from the Korean MV.
Jimin: Just like in the Korean version, Jimin continues to stay around a bathtub, although this time he doesn’t enter the water. The bathtub is full of flowers and petals, and Jimin holds up and examines a lily petal.
Rap Monster: We see him standing in a room with a fogged mirror behind him. There are words written into the fog; the same ‘You need to survive’ from the Prologue. However, he later seems to have his hand covered in black ink, and he wipes the words off the mirror.
Suga: He seems to spend most of his time in a room as well, although he is seated next to a picture of lilies. When Jungkook sets his lilies on fire, we also see that Suga’s picture has caught fire.
V: V spends his solo shots inside a hole in a wall, where he’s seen hugging himself. He also throws a handful of lily petals towards the camera.
Jin: Jin is the last member to get his solo shots in the MV, not appearing until almost two thirds of the way through. He is laying on a bed which is bathed in white light, surrounded by lily flowers. Interestingly, he spends a lot of the Korean version of the MV on or near a bed. In his first shot, we see him blocking his eyes from the light and sitting up. At no point during his solo shots does he leave the bed. At the very end of the MV, Jin seems to let go of a butterfly, which flies up and away from him, revealing that the bed is surrounded by darkness, the light far above his head.

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This MV has obvious tie-ins to I Need U and the Prologue. However, we don’t get a solid link to Run. I think that this MV is meant to be much more symbolic than the other ones; it’s not telling a story, it’s just aiding in understanding the one already told. So, let’s take a look at all of our theories to figure out which ones are and aren’t supported…

THEORIES:
1. Only Suga and Jungkook died in I Need U
1A Prologue Occurs Between’s V’s Story and I Need U: Weak Evidence
Timeline: V kills a man -> V commits suicide (or at least attempts)-> Jungkook dies in an accident -> Suga commits suicide -> the others try to deal with the death of their friends (I Need U and Run). The last time I looked at this theory, I concluded that there was weak evidence supporting it due to the lack of special symbolism surrounding Jungkook and Suga in the MVs following I Need U. Although we do have the link between the two with the lilies being set on fire, combined, I still don’t think there’s a lot of evidence overall for this theory. 
2. Jin and V survive I Need U

2B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Strong Evidence
Timeline: 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) -> Jin (and possibly V) imagines all of the group still alive OR the souls of the departed friends remain. We are stuck with not knowing V’s ultimate fate. I think that this MV supports this theory. We see throw backs to they way some of the members died (such as Jimin and the bathtub and J-Hope and the tablets). We also get special symbolism around Jin, surrounded by lilies. Perhaps the lilies are the representation of his dead friends, and he’s beginning to “wake up” (bed) to the knowledge that they are no longer with him. This heavily supports the idea that V is also dead, as he and Jin appear separately in the MV when we might expect them together. Furthermore, Rap Monster wiping away the words previously written to V would suggest there’s no point in telling him to survive, since he already passed away. And, V is hugging himself, perhaps cold from his jump into the ocean during the Prologue? This ties in with Run, where I began to suspect that Jin was the only one still alive.
3. No one died in I Need U
3B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Weak Evidence
There’s nothing in the MV that really goes against this theory, but there’s also nothing that really supports the theory. Hence, it’s left in a sort of uncertain, weak place. 
4. Jin died before anyone else: Strong Evidence
Regardless of the time-line in terms of I Need U and the Prologue, we have Jin in the MVs not realising that he’s dead, and trying desperately to remain with his friends. However, he’s starting to realise that he’s no longer alive. I think that this theory is still strongly supported in this MV. I interpret Jin’s solo scenes as having a lot of funeral/death symbolism around them; the lilies, the way Jin is laying is like he’s been “laid out” for burial, and the white light shining above him at the end of the MV looks awfully like light shining down from a grave’s opening. I discussed butterfly symbolism previously in Run, and here it’s likely it represents the death of a loved one. In this case, it’s Jin’s death, the loved one of the others in the group.
5. Jin is the only member alive: Strong Evidence
As we progress, this theory starts to look a lot like 2B above. As such, most of what I said above applies to this theory. As I mentioned in the Run post, it’s likely in this theory the butterfly continues to represent transformation in Jin as he needs to learn to accept his friends’ deaths and move on.

As we progress with the MVs, we’re starting to get theories that are more and more solid. As usual, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

-S

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Bangtan Boys HYYH Series: Run

Onto the next MV in the HYYH Series, and one of my favourite BTS songs; Run.

We have in Run a MV that is much more like I Need U than the Prologue we looked at previously. By this I mean it’s more haphazard with no clear chronology. However, let’s take a moment to see what’s happening with everyone and see what we can discover;

The clip starts with V falling backwards into water, but before we can discover his fate, we cut to Rap Monster. He’s at the train tracks (perhaps the ones from I Need U?) and he knocks on a carriage door, as if he’s expecting someone to open it. It does open, but rather expectantly, it’s Jimin opening the door to a party, obviously in a different venue. The whole group is at the party, dancing, chilling, and having fun. Jin has his video camera out. We suddenly jump to V struggling in the water, something that occurs throughout the MV. Back at the party, V pushes Jin against the wall and spray-paints over him. This becomes a segue into V and Rap Monster using spray paint to graffiti. Unfortunately for them, they caught by the police, but try to run away. Cutting back to the party, Jin builds a house of cards (interestingly; ‘House of Cards’ is the name of a song on the album), but V knocks it down as soon as it’s complete. Jin looks directly at the camera uncertainly, and we cut back to V struggling in the water again. We later learn that V and Rap Monster were caught by the police, although they honestly don’t look too concerned. We get a completely different set of shots now, with J-Hope waking up in a hospital bed (although it doesn’t appear to be a hospital room) with Jimin standing above him. The two look at each other before J-Hope hits him with a pillow. Again, we segue, but this time back to the party where there’s a massive pillow fight. We seem to jump again, this time back to Rap Monster and the train carriage; he finds a card with a butterfly on it, surrounded by feathers. We cut again to new scenes; this time it’s a (possibly drunk) Suga having a meltdown, with Jungkook trying to comfort and/or calm him. Suga doesn’t take too kindly to this, pushing Jungkook against a wall. Hurt, Jungkook retaliates by punching Suga, who then throws him against the couch and continues his destruction.  With the smashing of a mirror, we have V looking directly into the camera followed by the house of cards falling again. Jin is staring at the fallen cards, drink in hand, confused. He seems to be alone. We return to the party once again, zooming in on Jungkook sitting on the floor. We zoom out but the room is now empty. We get more new scenes, this time Jin has blocked off a tunnel with his car while the other members go a little bit crazing harassing the line-up of cars. When a man yells out the window, the group takes off and Jin follows closely in the car. He slows for the group to pile in, and they stand jeering at the cars while they drive off. Another new scene, with Jimin going to the bathroom, where the party seems to have moved to. Jin pulls him into the room and throws him in the bathtub, similar to the one associated with Jimin in I Need U. The group splash him before jokingly pushing him under the water. Finally, at the end of the MV, we get solo shots of V and Jin before an interesting shot that seems to have been taken through a car windscreen. The members, minus Jin, are walking in front of the car. Jungkook looks back to wink and smile at the camera. The scene fades to black and we see V stand up in the water. The MV cuts to credits with behind the scenes footage from the Prologue and Run, but of course it isn’t the end yet. This time we re-visit the shot of the group at the beach we saw in the Prologue. As the scene changes to a photograph, Jin disappears from it. Jimin is holding the photo and sets fire to it, almost exactly like he did with the note in I Need U.

jungkook

Okay, the cut between the party scenes, the scenes of specific members, and V struggling in the water is certainly confusing as hell. Sure, we could be just getting clips of the group hanging out partying, but I think that this late into the series it’s a little naive to take the party scenes at face value, so let’s dive in. Just like the previous group shots and trips we’ve dealt with in I Need U and the Prologue, the party could represent a flashback to happier times. However, these party scenes could also represent something more sinister. Although the group looks they’re having fun, there is a sort of destructive nature to their partying; a drunk Suga fighting it out with Jungkook, J-Hope ending up in a hospital bed, and Jimin’s friends pretending to drown him in a bathtub is a couple of examples. Are we watching the group spiralling downwards after a life of partying or a life of turning to alcohol to drown emotions? Or are we witnessing the constructed, imagined world of one of the members, desperate for his friends who aren’t there? It’s certainly something that’s left up to the viewer to decide.

It’s also in this MV that we start to get more butterfly symbolism. Throughout the world, butterflies have been associated with souls, endurance, hope, the death of a loved one, and life. In Christian religions butterflies are usually symbolic of resurrection, but they are a symbol of transformation worldwide. I think the symbolism of the butterflies in the HYYH series could easily represent any of these things, depending on your interpretation of the series. Is it symbolic of the souls of the departed? The transformation or journey through life? Or hope for a better future?

butterflyFinally, the age-old question for this series; where does Run fit in in relation to I Need U and the Prologue? I think Run is even harder to place because of its chaotic nature. With V falling into the water at the beginning of the MV, it’s tempting to say it occurs immediately after the Prologue. However, just like the Prologue, it could be that the bulk of the MV is actually a flashback. Alternatively, Run could be the memories of V struggling in the water. We can even have a split situation where some scenes are flashbacks (such as the individual cuts of the members), some are occurring in “real time”, and some are imagined. Confusing, isn’t it?

MY INTERPRETATIONS AND PROPOSED THEORIES:
Previously in the Prologue I offered different theories based on where I thought the Prologue occurred in reference to I Need U. However, I’m not going to do that for Run. Instead I’m going to clarify what I think (A) the party scenes mean, and (B) the relation of Run to the other MVs.
A. The party scenes represent something more sinister than the groups’ time together.
Explanation: I think that there’s enough of a destructive undertone in the party scenes of the Run MV for it to not simply be flashbacks to happier times. However, I think the actual nature of the scenes changes according to interpretation (see below).
B. Run occurs after I Need U.
Explanation: There’s a couple of reasons why I think Run occurs last from the MVs we’ve seen so far. Firstly, there was a good chance that the Prologue could occurs before I Need U because of its title. There’s nothing about Run’s title to support it occurring before anything we’ve seen so far. Secondly, I find little evidence in the Run MV to support it occurring before I Need U (in fact, there’s evidence to support it occurring afterwards due to the references) or, in the possibility that V’s story occurs first, between V’s story and I Need U. For this I am talking specifically about the party scenes. As for the individual shots of the members, their occurrence varies according to theory.
C. V’s death?
We still don’t know if V survived his jump from the scaffolding at the end of the Prologue. Although we see him struggling in the water, we also see him exiting it.

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: Weak Evidence
Timeline: V kills a man -> V commits suicide (or at least attempts)-> Jungkook dies in an accident -> Suga commits suicide -> the others try to deal with the death of their friends (I Need U and Run). In this case, the party scenes represent the remainder of the group (Jin, J-Hope, and Rap Monster (and possibly V?)) spiralling out of control as they continue acting as if their friends are alive. The shot of Jin sitting by himself could be him realising that they are, in fact, dead. However, the shot of Jungkook in the empty room is harder to interpret, as is the fight scene between Jungkook and Suga. Although I like this theory, the fact that there isn’t any special symbolism around Jungkook and Suga suggests that they aren’t dead. In fact, if anything, it’s V and Jin who seem to be getting the special treatment.
1B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: No Evidence
With only weak evidence to support this theory in the Prologue, and no evidence here, I’m going to discard it.  
2. Jin and V survive I Need U

2B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Strong Evidence
Timeline: 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) -> Jin (and possibly V) imagines all of the group still alive OR the souls of the departed friends remain. As mentioned, we are stuck with not knowing V’s ultimate fate. However, I think that with what we’ve seen so far, there’s enough evidence to set Jin apart from the other members. In Run, the scene with Jin alone after the house of cards falls is significant. Previously, we saw him with his friends joking around him as he built the house which V knocked down, but now he is alone and confused. Is he starting to realise that he is actually the only one alive, something that may have started at the end of the prologue? We see the other member’s deaths referenced throughout Run (J-Hope in the hospital bed, Jimin in the bathtub, Jungkook in front of the car), coupled with V struggling in the water (but again, we’re not too sure of his fate). Furthermore, in the scene in the tunnel, the people in the car take a long time to react to the members defacing the cars. The man who yells out could have been yelling at a dazed Jin, blocking off the tunnel and imagining his friends there, or being the only one able to see them. Finally, the scene with Jungkook in the empty room is something like him realising that he is dead. This leads to one of the final shots where Jungkook looks back to smile and wink at the driver of the car. The driver is likely to be Jin (the only one we’ve seen driving so far), and Jungkook could be reassuring him that everything will be okay. The evidence is leaning more towards only Jin surviving, with V having died when jumping from the bridge.
3. No one died in I Need U
3A Prologue Occurs Between V’s Story and I Need U: No Evidence
This theory could still hold up as I have interpreted Run as taking place after the other MVs. Hence, the members have survived their dangerous behaviours from I Need U (as well as V from the Prologue), but have started down (or continued?) a destructive path of partying and misbehaviour. However, we’re still lacking an explanation of what V was up to during I Need U, and the motivation for the other’s behaviour in the same MV. Furthermore, this theory doesn’t explain some very specific scenes that seem to have a significant meaning; the photographs, the focuses on V and Jin, and so on. Hence, I’m going to discard this theory as it is lacking too much. 
3B Prologue Occurs After I Need U: Weak Evidence
This theory faces the same problems as the one above it. Although plausible, it doesn’t explain enough.
4. Jin died before anyone else: Strong Evidence
Regardless of the time-line in terms of I Need U and the Prologue, we have Jin in the MVs not realising that he’s dead, and trying desperately to remain with his friends. However, he’s starting to realise that he’s no longer alive; the scene with Jin looking at the falling cards symbolises this. This is also why Jin is not present in the photograph at the end of the MV; he had passed away when it was taken. Jimin burns the photo while trying to deal with the loss of his friend. In this case, the butterfly symbolism we’re starting to get could represent Jin’s soul and the other members continuing to change without him. However, this doesn’t fully explain the references back to I Need U and Prologue in this MV (if his friends had died in the earlier MVs, we would expect some kind of symbolism that the other dead members can interact with Jin), or the party scene with Jungkook.
5. Jin is the only member alive: Strong Evidence
This shares a lot of similarities with 2B above, such as the party scenes and the individual shots of Jin and Jungkook. As Jin is living in an unhealthy mental state (either imagining his friends or seeing their souls), the party seems destructive and dangerous. V struggling in the water could represent what Jin thought he went through when he jumped off the scaffolding. The photo at the end is actually a flashback; Jin’s not in the photo because he took it (since he’s always the one with the camera), and Jimin is burning it because he’s saddened by the group memory of friends no longer with him. In this case, the butterfly symbolises transformation in Jin as he needs to learn to accept his friends’ deaths and move on. Note: This theory was split into 5A and 5B in the previous post, but in this MV it doesn’t matter too much. 

These posts are getting lengthier and more complicated, but hopefully you’re still able to follow along. We’ve covered the main MVs now, and only have a few more until we’ve reached the end. Going forward, we should see more and more theories getting cut, and more making sense! As usual, if you have your own interpretations, please feel free to share in the comments ^^

-S

btsrun

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.

vuphigh

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.

beachgroup

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.

jin-photo

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

v-jumps