Kim Taehyung: Meet The Soulful Singer/Dancer Helping BTS Achieve World Music Domination

Kim Taehyung aka V (photo credit: Big Hit Music / Article by: Tiffany Vogt)

Anyone who looks at Kim Taehyung is struck by his beauty and aura of mystery that he exudes. As a member of the world famous band BTS, Taehyung (known by his professional moniker V) has been casting spells over audiences for nearly a decade and that power is exponentially increased just as soon as Taehyung’s soft baritone voice is heard. There is a saying that a person is “all soul” meaning that they embody emotional depth and empathy. What gives Taehyung the power to captivate does not rest in his beauty or voice alone, it is that presence of soul that everyone sees and feels. That soulfulness is what enthralls and keeps fans and audiences wondering who Taehyung is and marveling at the power he holds over them.

Embracing Destiny

The intersection of fate and destiny is what ultimately led Taehyung to an audition for Big Hit Entertainment in 2011, when he was only 15 years old. Taehyung originally had accompanied a school friend to the Big Hit audition and, once he was there, was persuaded to audition as well. The young saxophonist’s natural beauty and presence won him a trainee spot for the upcoming hip-hop/rap group that would later be called Bangtan Sonyeondan aka BTS.

Unfortunately, destiny can be cruel, as Big Hit decided that Taehyung would make the perfect “hidden member” whose identity would be held and only revealed once BTS made its official debut in 2013. Two years of intense dance, choreography, and vocal training had to be endured and it had to be in secret. For a teenager, this was a tough time period as Taehyung watched his fellow trainees and to-be bandmates work to establish their public fanbases and interact with fans at events and through social media. Yet Taehyung quietly endured and pursued his training to be the best he could be in order to debut as he dreamed. While the decision to make Taehyung a “hidden member” was a tough one that Big Hit may regret now, it left an indelible imprint on the budding singer/artist. It pushed Taehyung to work harder and channel his fears and insecurities about his position and value as a trainee into tenacity and resolve to succeed no matter what obstacles he had to overcome, which was only strengthened by his underlying passion to create his own music and to perform as an artist.

Then, in twist of fate, a former schoolmate and childhood friend of Taehyung, Park Jimin, tried out for Big Hit Entertainment a year later and secured a trainee spot, which foreshadowed their friendship for life. Early on, both seemed to recognize their shared passion for music, dance and performance artistry in each other and appreciated the support and kindness that they saw in each other during their trials as trainees. Taehyung, as the “hidden member” and Jimin, as the dancer struggling to learn 2 years of choreography and dance training in 8 months, both tenaciously fought for the chance to be there on the day that BTS debuted.

By June 2013, the 2 years that Taehyung had endured and the 8 intense months that Jimin survived, proved to be a joyous occasion as their dreams came true and they debuted with BTS. The gleeful joy and steadfast friendship that Taehyung and Jimin felt is easily seen in the earliest BTS videos. So while destiny may have been cruel for a time, fate tempered and rewarded the hardships that Taehyung endured.

Fight for the Future

BTS’s initial debut was a modest success as the hip-hop and rap music worlds were curious about the new band with seven multi-talented members. Big Hit Entertainment seemed to sense the initial music world’s hesitation and quickly sent BTS out to perform showcases to help get the band in front of music audiences and help establish brand identity and connect the band members to the core fanbase that already formed prior to BTS’s debut through social media and fan meet-and-greet activities. So through the remainder of 2013 and throughout 2014, BTS toured and performed at every award show and concert venue that could be booked to help grain traction in the notoriously ruthless world of music. Throughout, BTS even traveled to perform as far as Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Stockholm, Sao Paulo, and Los Angeles to establish their global audience. It was a jubilant time period and, for the BTS seven members, they embraced every second of it.

In addition to their whirlwind global tour and emphasis on reaching a global audience, BTS rapidly released a series of mini-albums to get their songs and sound out in the music scene: 2 Cool 4 Skool (June 2013), O!RUL8,2? (September 2013), Skool Luv Affair (February 2014), Skool Luv Affair – Special Edition (May 2014), followed by their first studio album Dark & Wild (August 2014) and their first Japanese album Wake Up (December 2014).

Yet, even with a steadily increasing worldwide fanbase and modest album sales, BTS was struggling to secure traction (aka “stickiness”) in the larger music world and it was imperative to find the right sound and image that would help the band breakthrough as established musicians and performers. Fortunately, fate smiled upon them, and in 2015 BTS released what would become their HYYH TrilogyThe Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Pt. 1 album and The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Pt. 2 album, followed by their May 2016 release of The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Young Forever album.

The HYYH Trilogy signaled a turn of the tide in public perception and appreciation as the worldwide audience and music industry took keen interest in BTS’s new sound. No longer fully catering to the hip-hop/rap music scene, BTS had begun dabbling in a much more diverse musical sound and it was quickly gaining traction and interest. So by the time that BTS released their next 3 albums: Youth (September 2016), Wings (October 2016) and You Never Walk Alone (February 2017), fan and audience interest exploded. BTS’s cumulative album sales for its first 5 albums was less than 3 million. The HYYH Trilogy series doubled that amount, followed by Wings and its re-release album You Never Walk Alone, which sold triple the amount of the HYYH Trilogy. Within 2 years, BTS went from less than 3 million in sales to over 13 million in sales. So describing it as “explosion of interest” is putting it mildly.

BTS had also released a series of videos that sparked interest in their new image and sound in 2015: “I Need U” (May 2015), “For You” (June 2015), “Dope” (June 2015), “Run” (November 2015), followed in 2016 by the release of videos for: “Epilogue: Young Forever”, “Fire” (April 2016), “Save Me” (May 2016), and “Blood Sweat & Tears” (October 2016). BTS also strategically released individual videos featuring each of the seven members singing their first solo songs from the Wings album: “Begin”, “Lie”, “Stigma”, “Awake”, “Reflection”, “First Love” and “Mama” as well as “Intro: Boy Meets Evil” which paired well with the mystical themes explored in “Blood Sweat & Tears”.

The release of all these videos provided a visual spectacle that music lovers and fans embraced immediately. BTS was no longer just a hip-hop/rap band, it was a cultural phenomenon. They had delved deeply into the bandmembers’ psyche and dared to explore introspective and mystical themes that challenged and tantalized the auditory and visual senses. BTS-fever quickly spread to the far corners of every nation. Thanks to the newly available internet accessibility, BTS’s music, videos and performances could be watched online, shared, and savored again and again. The fervor for BTS concert tickets was continually growing, and venues could not book BTS fast enough to meet the rising demand. By 2018, BTS embarked on their 18-month Love Yourself Tour, which visited 62 cities around the globe and generated over $200 million in concert ticket sales.

Persona Exploration

Known as the enigma of BTS, Taehyung has made an art form of mesmerizing personas that he has displayed throughout his 8 year career as a singer, dancer, producer, director, composer, and lyricist. Being the “hidden member” of BTS, Taehyung was always intended to surprise. Interestingly, it seems that BTS were the ones ultimately surprised by Taehyung, who has turned out to be a multi-talented and multi-faceted artist and performer. Taehyung constantly surprises — and each surprise is more amazing than the last.

Recruited for his extraordinary features and visuals, Taehyung’s first surprise was, that as a sultry baritone, his voice could captivate an entire stadium. Then as his performance personas came to life from video-to-video or each subsequent stage performance, the multitude and variety of personas that he brought to life continued to invoke pure awe. Like a chameleon, Taehyung could enthrall through physical transformation or by subtle shifts of his stage personas. After nearly a decade of training and working with BTS, Taehyung’s singing and dancing skills are finely-tuned. Even more impressive is his ability to portray such an array of performance personas. Eight years on stage and in front of the camera has provided a rich canvas for Taehyung to create and portray hundreds of personas that he inhabits during performances. Just like he can shift his vocals within a song from deep sorrow to a loving caress, Taehyung is able to shift before your eyes into an alternate character or persona as each performance demands.

Recruited at the young age of 15 and debuting at 17 years old (Korean years), Taehyung was already an amalgamation of duality: he was resolute and tenacious in reaching his goals, yet still tender-hearted enough to hold his true friends close. This dichotomy made him an artist that could reach deep within his soul to sing in ways that would captivate and haunt those who heard him perform. Add in his natural ability to shift personas with ease, and it was riveting. The camera loved him and yet it also revealed more than he was ready to share. This infused each persona with extra layers of emotion — each fissure barely containing an eruption of rage, fear, confusion, yearning, or ecstasy. The personas fused with Taehyung’s performance so much that it can be hard to see the man beyond the mask.

Looking back at the two distinct personas that Taehyung portrayed in his solo performances for “Stigma” and “Singularity”, what we see is a man racked with guilt and pain as his actions brought punishment to another in “Stigma” and in “Singularity” the pain of regret for silencing one’s own voice and succumbing to a self-imposed prison. For his stage persona, in “Stigma,” Taehyung used a transparent phone booth or glass box to step out of; and for one of his “Singularity” performances, Taehyung awakens from sleep in a bed to find himself surrounded by masks and he struggles to break free of himself and the fate he finds himself drowning in. Each persona and performance is dazzling and stimulating on multiple levels. Yet watching how Taehyung seamlessly transforms for each version of those performances, his chameleon-like ability to immerse himself into a stage portrayals is fascinating because what you see and hear is the portrayal, but what you feel is Taehyung’s presence and soul throughout. It makes the performances feel warmer and not as devastatingly brittle and shattered as the songs would seem to imply.

Another facet to who Taehyung is can be seen in his interactions with young children and animals. Within BTS, Taehyung is known to be a bit of a “baby whisperer” as he is the one who his bandmates turn to whenever they need assistance with young children. He is also the one that animals will gravitate towards, as if instinctively recognizing Taehyung’s gentle soul. It is said that you can never fool a child or animal as they will always see what is in your heart. In Taehyung, all children and animals sense his warmth and genuine care and affection, which just draws them in and they enjoy just being around him. So, no matter what figurative or literal mask that Taehyung adopts on-stage or off-stage for his various personal and professional life personas, his soul draws everyone in. This is one reason why his performances seem to defy description or explanation; because no matter which emotion or theme he adopts or expresses, that magnetic pull is irresistible.

Actor’s Life

It is not known if Taehyung merely leapt at a chance to explore another area of visual artistry by pursuing and tackling the role of Seok Han-sung in the K-drama series “Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth” or if he had a deeper sense of how pivotal that character and filming experience would be in shaping his own self-perception and help him identify what he appreciates about his own life, both personal and professional.

Watching Taehyung so cheerfully and playfully portray a character whose fate was pre-determined by birth, status and family expectations, touches the heart in unexpected ways. What could have been a background or throw-away character became much more essential and beloved through Taehyung’s incredible performance. Every word he spoke on screen seemed to have been savored and appreciated, like Taehyung innately knew that how each word was uttered and spoken should convey an array of emotions and inner thoughts. Perhaps as a singer and budding-lyricist, Taehyung already knew the power of words and used infection, tone, and vocal delivery to ensure that his character would stand out and make a difference. In “Hwarang”, his character has a ripple-effect on the lives of numerous others and it leaves an impression that impacts every other character that he came into contact with. Taehyung must have wanted his character Seok Han-sung to be remembered long after the series ended, and for those who have watch it, he succeeded. The legacy of his character is that Seok Han-sung will be felt and remembered long after — Seok Han-sung mattered.

Taehyung’s exploration of stage and video personas clearly helped him embrace, portray, and bring life to his on-screen character for “Hwarang”. His performance felt effervescent and it made me wonder if I was seeing Taehyung (the real person) in those scenes because it felt so real. Yet, since the series aired in 2016, the Taehyung that is seen now feels different. Time has changed him, particularly the past 2 years as the world has been seemingly frozen in time due to the pandemic. Taehyung is the first to admit that this time period has forced him to think about what he wants and who he wants to be. BTS’s separation from their fans has been painful. That fan love and adoration fuels BTS and provides BTS with the inspiration and energy to keep moving forward on their arduous path as musicians and artists. Just like how in “Hwarang”, Seok Han-sung had to choose his path, Taehyung has been forced to evaluate his life and choose his own path — both as a member of BTS and his more personal journey as an artist working on his mixtape, as well as what his life is outside of music.

The BTS members are so driven and have worked so tenaciously to pursue their music and path as a band that there was rarely time for interests outside of BTS. Living essentially in lockdown during a pandemic gave Taehyung the chance to look at and chose the life he wants both within BTS and outside of it. It was probably startling and freeing. For the first time in nearly a decade, he actually had time to pursue other interests. He studied and finished his college degree. He worked on his mixtape. He wrote lyrics and searched for activities that interested him. That time of reflection and exploration surely led Taehyung to some interesting places. It is inspiring to see him choose the path before him, just like his character in “Hwarang”.

Borahae

In addition to what Taehyung learned from his experience of working on a K-drama series, Taehyung reflected on his relationship with his fans. BTS’s ARMY is legendary. From 2013 through 2016, ARMY was a ferociously loyal and loving group of fans working around the clock to assist BTS in achieving their dreams. To help identify what ARMY meant to him, Taehyung searched for the right word for ARMY to express his appreciation and reciprocal love, and he came up with “borahae” — which translates to “I purple you”. The significance of “borahae” was immediate as ARMY knew that Taehyung was trying to express the specific type of special love that he has for them. Words matter. Love is a word that is powerful, but it can be a bit all encompassing at times. Taehyung needed a specific word to express his love for ARMY and “borahae” was the word he chose. He named it, claimed it, and gave it to ARMY. In the “Let’s BTS” talk show appearance last March, Taehyung explained the meaning of “borahae” as: “At the time, ARMY — on the ARMY nightstick — they put a purple cloth over it so it looked purple. So I suddenly thought of a rainbow — if you thought of a rainbow as youth or life and since the last color is purple — it represents: let’s take care of, trust, depend on, and love each other until the last. ” “Borahae” is the love that BTS and ARMY share. It is their special love — a bond that cannot be broken. It tethers them together, infinitely, and Taehyung said that, to him, ARMY is: “I feel like it’s a friend like no other. They are people who love and care about even the ugly parts of me. So they are like a very precious friend.” He then added: “Without ARMY, there is no BTS.”

There is power in words. It is why each person is given a name. It is why bands have official names and also why fans collectively choose their own group name for themselves. Naming something conveys identity, emotion, and relationship. “Borahae” identifies ARMY, the special love and bond between ARMY and BTS, and the unique and unending relationship between them. For new fans or those uneducated to its significance, it sounds like a word used to express love between an artist and the fans. But for BTS, ARMY and Taehyung, the significance of “borahae” is much more. It represents the love is unending, infinite, and stronger than any other bond in their lives. It gives them a shared identity and a purpose — and there is power in that. Taehyung knew that when he created the word and gave it to ARMY, and once you finally learn what “borahae” means, you should be awed by it because it holds and conveys such power.

Lure of Lyrics

From the beginning, the BTS members were encouraged to write and create songs that reflected their inner turmoil, worries, fears, joys and aspirations because those young teen emotions were fertile sources of teen angst and societal frustrations. Yet for an artist like Taehyung, he used writing lyrics as a way to explore and express his emotions. Taehyung’s instinct for theatricality merged with personas was perfect for expressing an array of emotions. Adding lyrics into his craft and performance provided another layer of communication for him to weave into his artistry.

For BTS’s album The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Pt. 1, Taehyung worked with his bandmate Suga, co-writing the songs “Hold Me Tight” (LYRICS) and “Boyz With Fun” (LYRICS), which gave him a chance to explore the world of music lyrics and lyricism. Taehyung working with Suga was a natural collaboration, as in July 2013, Suga had noticed Taehyung’s contributions early on and said: “Sometimes he comes up with really good ideas and surprises us.”

Taehyung next went on to also contribute on BTS’s next album The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Pt. 2, co-writing the melody with his bandmate Jungkook on the song “Run” (LYRICS). And as if that year was not busy enough, Taehyung also released a cover of the song “Hug Me” with his bandmate J-hope in June 2015.

Then in 2016, Taehyung worked on the new releases for “Run” (Ballad Mix) and “Run” (Alternate Mix), and as well as the song “Introduction: Youth” for BTS’s Japanese album Youth. 2016 also offered the opportunity for Taehyung to co-write his first solo song “Stigma” (LYRICS), which was released on BTS’s Wings album, and to record the theme song “It’s Definitely You” for the K-drama series “Hwarang”, which he sang with his bandmate Jin.

“Stigma” (LYRICS) is a beautifully written song about a tormented soul searching for forgiveness:

Deeper and deeper, only the wound gets deeper
like irreversibly shattered glasses
Deeper, every day, only the heart gets more hurt
You who used to be punished for me, who used to be only so fragile
I’m sorry, I’m sorry . . .
It can’t be erased even if I hide it and conceal it . . .
That light, that light shines on my sins
The irreversible red blood flows down
Deeper, every day, I feel like dying
Please let me be punished
Please forgive me for my sins

Watching Taehyung perform “Stigma” is a marvelous juxtaposition of heart-aching lyrics combined with a sorrowful persona. Everyone probably sees something different, but no one is untouched by his incredible performance.

Next, perhaps fueled by his desire to keep crafting songs that reflected more of his inner-self, Taehyung then worked on “4 O’Clock” with his bandmate RM in 2017, as well as recording his two new solo songs “Intro: Singularity” and “Singularity” (LYRICS) which were released on BTS’s 2018 albums Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer.

“Singularity” (LYRICS) conjures such vivid imagery:

A crack on this frozen lake, yet again
You know I threw myself in that lake
You know I buried my voice for you
On the winter lake I threw myself in
a thick ice has formed

Even in the dream I briefly went into
the phantom pain that tortures me remains still

Have I lost myself
or have I gained you
I suddenly run to the lake
Oh, in the lake there is my face

This song and Taehyung’s performance persona also reach right into your soul. Such beauty woven through the lyrics conveying uncertainty and longing at the same time. That elusive search of self and empowerment just reverberates through you.

Then in 2019, Taehyung wrote, recorded and released online his new songs “Scenery” (LYRICS) and “Winter Bear”, which he wrote for fans, and then collaborated with J-hope and Zara Larsson on the BTS World album’s song “A Brand New Day”.

“Scenery” is powerfully infused with sadness and longing:

My heart feels sad, having missed the very scene at the very moment
I regret it and hope that the very moment comes again
Gathering the moonlight piece by piece,
I will make a lighting
So, just like yesterday,

please come in front of me . . .
If you leave, leaving your footprints behind,”

I will keep their warmth
I will keep them in black and white

Taehyung’s fascination with writing song lyrics and exploring the colors of his vocal abilities continued into 2020 when BTS released its Map Of The Soul: 7 album, which featured Taehyung’s latest solo song “Inner Child” (LYRICS) and his collaboration with Jimin for the song “Friends” (LYRICS). He also managed to find time to co-write, record, and sing the theme song “Sweet Night” for the award-winning K-drama series “Itaewon Class”.

2020 fueled Taehyung’s fascination with lyricism, and he offered his mixtape song “Blue & Grey” (LYRICS) to be included in BTS’s album BE, a song that immediately climbed the music charts to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Billboard Global 200. Then to further celebrate the end of such a tumultuous, yet surprisingly rewarding year, in December 2020, Taehyung released another exclusive online song “Snow Flower”, for which he collaborated with Peakboy.

“Snow Flower” (LYRICS) is a Christmas lullaby that offers hope and a promise:

In this cold season,your coming to me is a special event
To the warm you who will melt my blue and grey
Christmas without you would just not be Christmas at all
Bright mistletoes up above us, it’s just you and me
‘I love you’ . . .

This year, there are many white angels all over
Take a deep breath and look at those flowers that look like you
Please feel the warmth next to me
Please hold me with your cold, gentle hands

I’ll continue to keep you safe
Forever, with you, I’ll let the white snow fall on me

Lyrics seem to ignite a deep emotion in Taehyung’s soul. His early years may have been devoted to mastering the saxophone, but the lure of lyricism seems to have claimed his soul in ways that still transfixes him. During this year’s Festa celebration with ARMY and fans, BTS answered a series of questionnaires about themselves and Taehyung happily shared that while composing music is still a challenge for him, that he likes writing lyrics. It is that lure of the power of words — Taehyung is in constant search of words that convey the rich and complex emotions in his heart.

Hitman Bang once told Taehyung that he thought Taehyung’s introspective and soul-searching lyrics were a bit dark, but the willingness by Taehyung to reach into his soul and share a piece of it through his lyrics is admirable. Everyone has dark times and dark days, and music and songs that help comfort those in pain or which serve to remind them that they are not the only ones struggling is vital in today’s world. Song writers should not wear “rose-colored glasses” when writing songs because a song that reveals a shared pain can be comforting and healing. Taehyung seems drawn to writing songs which are a balm for tortured souls. BTS has never shied away from difficult topics and emotions, and that is what its fans have appreciated over the years — they embrace the pain, share it, and encourage breaking free of it. BTS serves as a beacon for the lost, lonely and hurting. Taehyung wanting to continue down that path and be that person who walks with others in pain and searching for answers is commendable. It takes strength and wisdom to offer oneself that selflessly and willingly.

Brand Ambassador

Another key aspect to Taehyung’s artistry is his strategic use of fashion and costuming. In his professional and personal life, Taehyung is aware of the millions of eyes watching and assessing every piece of clothing and accessories he wears. It is powerful and valuable, and can be used as a way of influencing fashion trends. Celebrities, singers, artists, and performers can alter, shape, and influence perception of fashion by what they wear. BTS has carefully chosen its costuming and clothing brands that they associate with, and Taehyung is just as selective in the brands that he chooses to endorse and to be an ambassador for outside of BTS. He also seems to relish expressing his appreciation of style through fashion.

Taehyung has been a brand ambassador for Gucci and, as a member of BTS, Taehyung also wears fashions from top designers such as Louis Vuitton, Celine, Gucci, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Lemeteque, Tom Ford, Chanel, Kim Seoryong, Bottega Veneta, Fear Of God, Haleineshop, Ader, Juun J, Jacquemus, Sefr, Tailorable, Bode, Moonsun, Valentino, Saint Laurent, Wales Bonner, Lanvin, Marni, and Desigual x Esteban Cortazar. Even his casual workout wear and athletic wear as sponsored by FILA are a reflection of his carefully-curated image of taste, refinement, and passion for life.

Kim Taehyung aka V (photo credit: Big Hit Music)

Curiously, Taehyung is also a bit of a rebel in fashion. He does not hesitate to wear gender-bending styles and clothing that challenges perceptions of identity. As seen in BTS’s most recent promotions for their songs “Butter” and “Permission To Dance”, Taehyung wore an array of clothing styles and fashions that looked effortlessly stylish and visually arresting. For “Butter”, he wore an orange tailored-suit by Lemeteque, contrasted to a black skirt over black pants with white sleeveless shirt by Saint Laurent while clenching a pearl necklace in his teeth. He then later later wore a split skirt over jeans with boots and leather jacket, and casual chic attire for both the “Butter” photoshoots at the beach and a car wash.

Kim Taehyung aka V (photo credit: Big Hit Music)

For “Permission To Dance”, Taehyung wore a custom-designed red jumpsuit with cowboy hat and then shifted to a modified jean shirt and pants outfit, giving his two personas a feeling of casual sexiness. Each fashion choices is visually stimulating.

Each pushes against typical conventions of gender norms in fashion, as if defiantly stating that he can literally wear anything and can make it look amazing and it works because he does. That confidence in his masculinity no matter what color, style or form of fashion is bold, daring, and are an example of a man so confident in who he is that all one sees is him. The clothes do not make the man, the man makes the clothes. Taehyung has made men’s fashion so much more expressive and available just by his example.

Advocate

Taehyung is the epitome of soulful because everything he does feels so full of life, emotion, thought, and action. Thus, it is no surprise that Taehyung chose to be an advocate to include those who are hard of hearing. Once Taehyung realized that some of his fans were hard of hearing or deaf, he chose to learn sign language, and has been instrumental in BTS incorporating sign language in their most recent video for their song “Permission To Dance”.

Kim Taehyung aka V
(photo credit: Big Hit Music)

The fact that Taehyung chose to learn sign language to communicate with fans is remarkable, but to then push for inclusion of it in BTS’s official videos is extraordinary. BTS did not promote their new song to target the hard of hearing or deaf communities, instead, BTS simply released their video along with the song and let viewers discover it for themselves. With nearly 100 million fans across the globe, everyone watching the video for “Permission To Dance” were astonished and there were immediate excited exclamations from fans that are hard of hearing. They were over-joyed to find that BTS had remembered to make their music inclusive and accessible for them by incorporating sign language as part of the choreography for “Permission To Dance”. Inviting fans who are hard of hearing was BTS putting its advocacy into action. It is one thing to say that you stand up for and advocate for inclusion and appreciation for a specific group of people, it is another to simply take action and include them.

BTS has been an advocate for marginalized and oppressed groups dating back to their earliest days as a band, which led to the band’s formal invitation by UNICEF to participate in its #ENDviolence Campaign in 2017 and to bring BTS’s message of “Love Myself” to the United Nations in 2018 and 2020. Advocacy is a core tenet of BTS’s philosophy and chosen path. The saying “you never walk alone” is not just words of encouragement, it is a belief that BTS puts into action as they invite and welcome fans from every nation, every culture, and every classified or oppressed group to share in their music and artistry.

Love Language

Beyond the glittering array of personas, Taehyung is a man known for his friendship and integrity. In fact, Taehyung’s closest friend and bandmate Jimin has described Taehyung in the March 2021 “Let’s BTS” talk show appearance (10:04 mark) as: “When I first saw him, he was unique and playful. We never knew in which direction he would bounce next. I’ve thought a lot about what Taehyung is like now and I think that perhaps he’s the most humane of all of us — you know, how someone just gives off being decent. He is honest, consistent. He is such a good friend to me.” The rest of his BTS bandmates have further described Taehyung as: marvelous, charming guy, good looking, little brother who has grown up so fast, and friend.

Taehung and Jimin’s fate was sealed from the start as childhood friends reunited as idol trainees. That trainee period seemed to bond them closer together, and Taehyung and Jimin have only become stronger and more devoted supporters for each other over the years. Of all the labels that can be attributed to Taehyung, perhaps the most important is: friend. Friendship seems to be the one thing closest to his heart and he holds it close because he recognizes its priceless value. Looking back over the long road to BTS’s monumental success, the bonds of time forged something even more valuable: friendships that will stand the test of time.

In getting to know Taehyung as an artist, performer and musician, it was essential to understand that underneath the carefully-constructed personas and protective facades that he instinctively wears, there is the heart of a man who is attune to the only thing that really matters in life: the people who we love, care for, and befriend along the way. No matter where Taehyung travels or which adventure he embarks on, he treasures those close relationships. Ingrained in every fiber of his being is the understanding that life is only rich by the relationships because, in the end, it is those you shared your journey with that really matter. What Jimin realized was, in getting to know Taehyung, he was seeing the soul of a man who wears many masks on-stage and off, yet who still tries to be true to himself.

So in determining at what kind of love language that Taehyung appreciates and values, it is two-fold as he appreciates words of affirmation and he values friendship more than anything else. Taehyung needs the words of support and encouragement from his bandmates as a balm to soothe his inner worries. Yet, is is those bonds of acceptance and appreciation from his friends and his bandmates are what give his life meaning.

Soulful Poet

Some see a provocateur and mischief maker, some see a Greek god, some see a man who is art incarnate, and some see a mysterious being who beckons from stage or screen, yet when you look carefully enough, Taehyung is more of a soulful poet. His world is consumed with words: the lure and power of words and the need to find ways to communicate through lyrics, songs, or any form of language which breaks barriers and reaches across the divides to unite, educate, and promote understanding and love for everyone. Self-love, selfless love, and embracing love are messages that BTS brings to the world through their music and artistry, and for Taehyung, that desire to share all those forms of love is something that pushes him every day of his life. Taehyung’s desire to communicate and be understood is what compels him to pursue his art in all its forms — from song writing, to composing, to adopting and portraying personas, to performing — all by which to communicate who he is and that which he wants to share.

Essentially, what Big Hit did by making Taehyung a “hidden” member was imprint on Taehyung the need to be seen, heard, and appreciated. Once Taehyung was revealed as a member of BTS, and throughout the eight years since, he has continued to seek out any and all ways to create understanding and to share his art with the entire world. At his essence, Taehyung wants to live as he wants and have the world appreciate him as the man and artist he is. Thus, he acutely feels and understands the pain of those striving to be seen, to be heard, and to matter in the world — for those who may think that they are voiceless or who feel that they are not being seen or heard, Taehyung wants to encourage them to claim their voice, their identity, and to strive for the life that they want.

In the August 2021 Vanity Fair interview (4:24 mark), J-hope described Taehyung’s life motto as: “To live happily” with Jungkook adding: “And to live life to the fullest.” Taehyung then admitted that for him: “I think if my life is not fun and I’m unhappy, then I don’t consider that living life. I only have one life to live. So I would like to spend it having a fun and happy time.”

There is nothing more important to remember than that — you only have one life to live, so you should live it with as much fun and happiness you can.

Each person needs that validation in their life and that is what Taehyung craves. He has fought for these things in his life and he encourages everyone to do the same. Each person matters. We all matter. Speak up. Be seen. Be heard. Be appreciated. Matter. Pursue your bliss. Life is worth demanding that. Demand and claim your identity and life. That is why we live. After all, that is what “Hwarang” taught: live freely.

Kim Taehyung aka V (photo credit: Big Hit Music / Article by: Tiffany Vogt)
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