Hello fellow ARMYs! Last month, we began a journey breaking down the Bangtan Universe (BU) one word at a time. There are theories from all over the world, and although we’ve been given a few answers, nothing is completely confirmed. However, one thing that defines us as a fandom is how many ARMYs are experts at connecting the dots, so let’s continue on this adventure.
Once more, we would like to mention that the BU deals with topics and themes that might be sensitive and possibly triggering for some readers. None of the BU content is associated with real events or the members of BTS besides their names and ages, and so mentions of the members’ names below are only related to their BU characters.
Now, let’s get into it!
Flowers - The BU doesn’t shy away from using flowers throughout the storyline. In fact, flowers are an intricate part of it. There are various flowers that we see throughout BTS content, so it’s not surprising that these flowers carry deep symbolism. In the I NEED U (Japanese Ver.) music video, the boys are surrounded by colorful flowers. A flower that is highlighted around Jungkook is the white rose; this symbolizes innocence, youth, and eternal loyalty. It isn’t a surprise that Jungkook's character is linked to it, as his character is forever loyal to his hyungs and cannot stay apart from them.
Another flower highlighted is the white calla lily. The calla lily symbolizes purity, innocence, resurrection, and rebirth. These are all close themes in the BU, as Seokjin seems to time travel often. Within this timeline, some of the others die. Each time Seokjin returns to the beginning of the timeline, they are “reborn” to have another chance at a happy life.
A very important flower is the smeraldo flower, a fictional flower that means “the truth I couldn’t tell”, which shows up throughout the storyline as well. One notable time is in the FAKE LOVE music video in which Jin is seen protecting the flower but ultimately failing. For the BU the calla lily and the smeraldo flower are closely associated with Seokjin as he is the one who goes through time trying to save them.
First Love - This is the title of the short film from the “WINGS” era that is associated with Yoongi. The film showcases Yoongi breaking into a piano store after hearing a whistle. He later goes out into the road and almost gets hit by a car. A popular theory is that his film is connected with Jungkook’s short film, Begin, as Yoongi and Jungkook seem to be really close in the BU. The piano symbolizes their bond. Being that it is burning in the short film “First Love,” it also shows the separation between the two. The two bonded over the piano as Yoongi played with Jungkook. Thereafter, Jungkook tries to imitate Yoongi’s playing when they are no longer in each other’s life. The film also depicts Yoongi’s guilt over Jungkook being hit by a car; he feels guilty for not being there to protect or help him. This film truly represents Yoongi’s personality, as he is one that is extremely riddled with guilt and doesn’t know which path to take.
Fake Love (Extended Version & Teaser) - This MV gives a lot of information for the BU, but the information mostly pertains to the characters’ downfall. In the teaser, they are seen trading things in the ‘Magic Shop,’ which is defined as “a psychodramatic technique that exchanges fear for a positive attitude.” So, they all trade in a fear that they had. For instance, Hoseok gives a candy bar that is associated with his mother leaving him, and he receives a cake that represents a happy time for him. They all trade in something except for Jungkook, who is seemingly shoved into the trading room. When he approaches the shop, he is given a key that opens a disheveled room, a man standing across the floor. Some believe it is Jungkook himself, which would mean that his happiness is finding himself. This idea links to the conclusion that Seokjin has in the BU. In the MV, we see them all face their fears and the things that had once caused them harm. Jimin is in a room that is later filled with water, but it doesn’t touch him nor drown him. Yoongi is in a room that is lit on fire, but he smiles at it. Namjoon faces his reflection in the mirror and goes in. Hoseok is in a room full of candy bars that he lays over. Taehyung watches a phone in his hands turn into sand, representing the call to Namjoon that he didn’t answer which changed his life. Seokjin faces the fact that he couldn’t protect all of them in the way that he hoped; he has to help them instead of sheltering them. Jungkook faces and finds himself on his own. This MV set them up to face the harshest realities of their lives all while giving them strength, because they realize they couldn’t get by with fake types of love. They have to learn to face and love themselves. Seokjin seems to figure this out, and so he could find the timeline in which they could be happy together.
Fire - This element shows up many times in the BU on various occasions, but it is one that is intimately linked with Yoongi: he symbolizes fire. In FAKE LOVE and I NEED U MVs, Yoongi is seen in rooms that burst into flames. Yoongi is quite troubled with heavy emotions and disorientation, and he sets his hotel room ablaze as a suicide attempt in I Need U. It might be his way to purifying himself of his sins or guilt that he carries. This is something Seokjin attempts to help Yoongi with in different timelines. There is also a lighter shown in different films with Yoongi.
Fear - This is one of the most important elements in the BU. The characters face their fears, and they are sometimes beaten by their fears. It is something they are always seen trying to overcome on their own and together, leading to multiple paths that have a variety of ideal and poor outcomes.
Feathers - Feathers are present in Run MV, and they are closely associated with Hoseok and Jimin. Feathers are said to represent spiritual connection and hope, and it serves as a reminder that one is loved by infinite people. It makes sense that feathers are linked to these two characters, as they become each other’s hope when they are both abandoned by their families. When they connect with the rest of the boys, they find connection and love.
Freedom - Freedom is what all the characters are seeking throughout the storyline. Sometimes it’s freedom from those who abuse them, and at other times, it’s from themselves. They are young, finding their way and the freedom to be who they want to be. Birds, which appear in several shots of the BU, also represent freedom. This group of boys wants a chance to acquire their wings and fly away.
Greek Mythology - This mythology is commonly referenced in the BU. There are several paintings and stories that are referenced to tell this tale. Greek gods have also been appearing more recently, and they might be closely linked to the BU as well. Many ARMYs have brushed up on the subject to better understand some plots.
Good - As stated before, there is a fight between good and evil in the BU. The characters face an internal struggle to see themselves as good or bad. All of them aspire to do and be good, but ultimately they believe that they are not. It is the main theme of the story for them to figure out that just because they make mistakes, it doesn’t mean they aren’t good people.
Girls - In a few short films referred to as the “Highlight Reels,” released to initiate the beginning of the “Love Yourself” era, the BU characters are seen with different girls. The theory is that these videos show a timeline in which Seokjin leaves the others alone to find their own way. They meet these girls and things look good, but eventually misfortune comes to the girls, and each character loses their way again, as if it was an illusion. Through another theory’s lense, it is believed that the girls are each boy’s anima, meaning the feminine aspect of a male’s personality.
Graffiti - Graffiti is often seen in the BU, mainly associated with Taehyung but also with Namjoon. Graffiti is understood as vandalism, and at times it is, but many graffiti artists use it as a way to express themselves as another form of visual art. In the BU, the graffiti seems to be used by Taehyung for rebellion and a way to express his emotions.
Green - The BU uses many colors, but one prominent color is green. This color is used a lot in the Blood Sweat & Tears MVs as well as in other videos. Green is usually associated with positive motifs, such as growth and harmony, but since green was used in these dark-themed music videos with characters surrounded by temptations, its negative aspects might be more appropriate to reference. Green is negatively associated with greed and jealousy. Green is also the color of absinthe, the drink that is consumed in the Blood Sweat & Tears music videos. Absinthe is a drink with very high alcohol content, which may cause hallucinations, euphoria, and arousal. It fits right in with the theme of temptation that the characters succumb to.
Glass - Glass represents fragility. In the BU, shattered glass shows up quite a few times. It might represent how fragile all their lives are, especially when time travel becomes involved. One very important time it showed up is first in the Blood Sweat & Tears -Japanese Ver.- MV, where an ending scene exhibits glass shattering in front of Jin. This can represent the fragility Seokjin carries with him, because he ultimately holds everyone’s lives in his hands. Secondly, fragility is also apparent in the FAKE LOVE MV, as Jin is collapsed in a room while glass shatters all around him. The glass of the lantern that holds a flower immersed in sand also breaks, representing the protection that he wanted to provide to the rest of boys. The flower then disappears, which could represent the loss of innocence they all suffered as they faced their hardships. The protection Seokjin gave is weak, because he hadn’t realized that the path to loving oneself is most important.
Guitar - The guitar is associated with Yoongi. When seen in any BU content, it represents him.
Gas Station - The gas station Namjoon works at is a significant location in the BU. It is a place that sees many facets of the group, and it also witnesses the worth Namjoon sees in himself. This same gas station is one of the last few stops that they make before they head out to the sea, which happens to be one of the happy times that they seem to have together.
HYYH - This is an abbreviation of “Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa,” which translates to “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life,” the era that seemingly started the whole BU.
HYYH On Stage: Prologue - This film shows the happier times of the group before everything goes south. It starts with Taehyung making a call to Namjoon, one that Namjoon doesn’t pick up, defining both of their lives. In the film, we see them enjoy themselves, closing with a trip to the sea. They share what seems to be their happiest time as Seokjin films it all. The video shows Taehyung wanting to jump twice, but only the second time he does so. Some believe he died after jumping, but others believe that it only represents a change in time, literally and figuratively. Taehyung is about to drown in darkness, and Seokjin soon finds out that he can time travel.
Highlight Reel - These are videos in which a theory suggests that viewers see a timeline where the boys do not interact, with the exception of Jimin and Hoseok. This is the timeline that is thought to be the one in which Seokjin decides to leave things untouched and let everyone unravel their own destinies. In the reels, they show a positive aspect; they meet girls in different ways, whose meaning is different to each character, leaving a strong, affirmative impact on their lives. However, things then become terrible again. It might be a way for destiny to tell Seokjin that this way isn’t their path. Instead, he should figure out a way to bring them all together, as they are the strongest that way.
Hephaestus - The god of fire, and who is linked with Yoongi based on the 2019 MMA’s performance. It makes sense as Yoongi is already strongly associated with fire in the BU. This god was also a blacksmith to the other Greek gods, which might represent the support Yoongi’s character will give to the others.
Hospital - The hospital appears a lot in BU, as it is linked to Jimin and Hoseok. Jimin has suffered from seizures since he was young and eventually is permanently hospitalized. Hoseok accompanies him there as he is in the hospital because of an illness as well. The hospital represents abandonment in most of the BU.
Hoseok - He is a character in the BU. His story is one full of hardship. He was abandoned next to a carousel by his mother; she told him to count to ten, and when he opened his eyes, she was gone. He later went to an orphanage, but because of the trauma his mother caused him, he even has a hard time counting to 10. Once he passed out in class when he started to count. Hoseok suffers from Munchausen Syndrome, a mental disorder in which a person acts like they have a physical or mental illness when they actually do not. In the storyline, we see him battle this and consume large amounts of medication. He meets Jimin in a hospital and holds a close bond with him. He also shares a close bond with the rest of the characters.
Hallways - Hallways appear multiple times in the BU. It could symbolize that the characters do not have many paths, or they have a narrow vision of which path to take. Sometimes, a straight hallway can lead them to the right path like for Seokjin in Awake.
I Need U - The I NEED U MV is a milestone in the BU as well. The MV is what officially kickstarted the BU and allowed ARMYs to follow a story full of heartbreak, love, and hope. The MV shows snippets of the friendship they all share. They have happy memories and seem to be the happiest with each other. It soon becomes dark, as it shows all the problems these boys face. One of the most impactful scenes is where Taehyung kills his father, as this is what sets off many things in all of their lives. The events of this MV is what Seokjin wholeheartedly tries to change to give his friends another chance to live their life happily.
Icarus - He is a figure of Greek Mythology and is important in the BU because of his story. Icarus was the son of master craftsman Daedalus who taught him how to fly with wax wings. When Icarus flew too high his wings melted, and he fell. It’s a fable, warning readers to not become too much of anything; don’t go too high, because one will instead crash and burn. In the BU, Icarus is linked closely to Jungkook and Taehyung. In the Blood Sweat & Tears MV, there are paintings in frame that both depict the fall of Icarus. This is a warning to all of them though, as it tells them they shouldn’t want to go too far ahead of themselves or their capabilities and reach a point where they cannot return from.
Identity - The characters are always seeking for ways to figure out who they are. Many things identify them, their friendship being one, but even so they all still seem lost.
Jung - Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist. His name is important and familiar in the BU, because his theories on the human mind and behavior are used later in the storyline.
Jungkook - His character is the youngest of the group, so he relies and looks up to his hyungs immensely. This is both a blessing and a curse of sorts. When he is with them, he is happy, but if they are not around, he becomes hopeless. Generally speaking, he seems to be a lost character. He is always depicted to be a boy who lost his wings early or hasn’t been able to get them. This represents his need of independence that he can’t seem to fully achieve. He has a strong bond with all the characters, but is closely linked with Yoongi.
Jimin - His character suffers from seizures, and like the rest of them, his life isn’t easy. He tries to hide the fact that he is sick, but ultimately he is hospitalized and abandoned by his parents there. Jimin suffers from loneliness the most, but when he finds the other boys, he becomes happy since he found the love he desperately needed through their friendship. When they separate, he suffers from loneliness once again, trapped in a very dark place. He is also a character who suffers trauma that seems to have caused his seizures. Jimin is depicted as hidden from reality and tempted on multiple occasions. He is close to everyone but shares a very close bond with Hoseok.
Jumping - During the “HYYH On Stage: Prologue,” Taehyung jumps from a high platform into the water and some believe he dies. In the “Save Me” Webtoon, Jungkook also considers jumping from the rooftop but stops when Yoongi calls him. Jumping seems to be a way for these characters to find some freedom because they do not see another way to escape their internal battles. The BU storyline allows these characters to rethink these types of decisions, finding that the bond they have created can help them overcome any obstacle.
We hope you are enjoying this run through of the BU with us. We encourage further discussion about what is on here or anything we might have missed. The best part of the BU is the interaction and theorizing ARMY has come to know and love, even when all our heads feel like they might explode. We’ll see you next time, but until then check out part 1 of this series here!
Written by: Lizette
Edited by: sno
Designed by: Judy
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