This is a guest post by Courtney Presley.
BTS, the highest paid boy band in the world, according to Forbes, are a seven-piece band from South Korea who have recently performed at the Grammy Awards, been on two world tours, and have spoken at the UN. BTS released their most recent album ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ on February 21st and scored No.1 in the world’s top five biggest music markets.
Common in the world of Kpop, BTS’ music videos are often extremely complex, with an abundance of symbolism and hidden meanings. Fans often develop ‘theories’ around these music videos to attempt to connect them all and understand their messages. Their music video for the single ‘On’ references multiple aspects of popular culture, most noticeably its allusions to dystopian fiction including Lord of the Flies, and The Maze Runner series (The Maze Runner itself was inspired by Lord of the Flies).
In the music video, Jungkook enters a lake with his wrists tied by what seems to be a restraint made of thorns. He lowers his hands into the water and when he brings his hands back out, the thorns have gone and in his hands he holds a conch. Jungkook sounds the conch and the video immediately switches to a scene on the beach with what looks to be the entirety of the community shown in the music video, suggesting that the use of the conch has brought everyone together, just as in Lord of the Flies. In this scene, we are shown a ‘dance break’, a common theme in Kpop in which the group dances during an instrumental part of the song. The group dances in the black of night, the area lit due to fire in the background. This references the moment in Lord of the Flies in which the characters dance and chant around a fire at night, just before the murder of Simon. The background characters in BTS’ music video definitely add to the atmosphere of a ritual/chant type of environment. Furthermore, a scene featuring Jungkook running through a woodland area is almost identical to a scene in The Maze Runner film and has links to Ralph running away from Jack and the hunters.
BTS, quite literally, have the conch…