The Young Knight
One look at Kim Seok-jin and you can easily see that he embodies the “knight in shining armor” qualities: handsome, young, vibrant, vivacious, fun loving and ready to meet any challenge. But what is not as easily recognized is the strength of the man beyond those initial impressions. Being born with beauty can be both a blessing and a curse, as beauty can open any door, yet can only do so for so long. It is said that beauty fades and all that is left is the memory of that blessed time when the entire world was captivated. For Kim Seok-jin, known under his professional moniker Jin — as one of the seven members of the South Korean band BTS (aka Bangtan Sonyeondan) — he was born with the perfect features and has been known as “Worldwide Handsome” for nearly every day of his life. Add in the factor that Jin was born into a successful and financially established family, Jin’s life has been inordinately blessed and bountiful.
Yet, there is so much more to who Jin is beyond his Worldwide Handsome features — because, while beauty can open any door, it takes talent, intellect, and the heart of a warrior which keep that door open.
Jin was literally recruited right off the street when a SM Entertainment employee saw him and rushed to persuade the handsome young man to audition. Jin thinking it was a scam, brushed it off. It was nearly 2 years later when he was approached again as he was getting off a bus, but by Big Hit Entertainment this time and Jin was open to the possibility, so he decided to audition — and from that point on, the rest was history and Jin joined BTS as its 4th member in 2011 at 20 years old.
Unleashing the Vocal-Line
BTS is comprised of 7 uniquely talented performers, who can sing, dance and create amazing music. The BTS recruitment and training process was longer than one may have thought, as the band’s first member RM was recruited and joined in 2010 and its 7th member Jimin joined in mid 2012. So, as the band’s 4th member, Jin was recruited and joined at the mid-point and unknowingly became a flashpoint for what would become BTS’s vocal-line.
BTS was originally conceived of as a rap/hip-hop band helmed by the rap-line trio of RM, Suga and J-hope. Yet the recruitment of Jin was an interesting addition because Jin was not a rapper or hip-hop dancer. Jin was studying to be an actor in college when he was recruited. Big Hit Entertainment may have thought it would benefit BTS to have a very strong visual appeal in the band and persuaded Jin to join the group. Jin’s handsome features got attention and that made him an appealing addition to a band about to debut. Then BTS did something more extraordinary, it decided to keep adding to its core beyond RM, Suga, J-hope and Jin — adding a 5th member Jungkook, followed by a 6th member, V/Taehyung. This later proved to be a genius move, as it not only bolstered the band’s strong visual appeal, it added more unique vocal talents to the band’s vocal-line, as Jungkook was a tenor (like Jin) and V/Taehyung was a baritone strengthening BTS’s vocals and visuals. The final stroke of genius was adding the band’s 7th member: Jimin, who would add his honey-tinged tenor vocals to the vocal-line and beautiful physicality in the dance choreography.
Initially, BTS relied heavily on its vocal-line and dance-line to draw attention to the talents of its rap-line. From the band’s debut in June 2013 through the 18-month period ending December 2014, BTS released 4 albums (“2 Cool 4 Skool” “O!RUL8,2?” “Skool Luv Affair” and “Dark & Wild”) comprised of songs incorporating their special blend of rap, hip-hop and some rhythm-and-blues style interwoven with bits of electronic dance mix. BTS’s early album song styles varied from: “We Are Bulletproof, Pt. 2” to “N.O.” to “Just One Day” to “Danger” to “Let Me Know”.
Then, in early 2015, BTS transitioned into relying more on its melodious vocal-line and began writing songs that showcased its 3 tenors and baritone, as seen in their 5th album “The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Pt. 1” (released April 2015), with songs like: “I Need U” “Hold Me Tight” and “Love Is Not Over” and the follow up album “The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Pt. 2” (released November 2015), with songs like: “Run” “Butterfly” “Autumn Leaves” and “House of Cards”.
This newfound emphasis on the sultry and soothing tones of the tenor and baritone vocals, continued into 2016, with the release of “The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Young Forever” album (May 2016), with songs such as “Young Forever” “Spring Day” and “Save Me”, and their “Wings” album (released October 2016), with songs such as “Boy Meets Evil” “Begin” “Lie” “Stigma” “Awake” and “Interlude: Wings”.
It was through this newfound reliance and appreciation of the band’s distinctive and addictive vocal-line that BTS began to capture and hold the global audience’s attention. The band’s expansion into solo songs on its 8th album “Wings” was pivotal in securing a rapt listening audience from every country around the globe. By emphasizing the individual key attributes (visual, physical, vocal), BTS achieved what can be called an “all-kill” — they had reached the hearts of fans and kept hold of those hearts in a way that is not replicable. Music is unique that way: it can be appreciated by many for a time, but to truly hold attention and the hearts of its fans, it requires a “stickiness” — and for BTS, that “stickiness” factor was its individual members, as each is able to “woo and win” the hearts of a segment of the fans and has managed to keep them enraptured for the past 8 years, and that became the secret to BTS’s success.
Heart of a Warrior
Jin is one of seven essential members of BTS and the band depends on all seven of its members just like the human body depends on 7 essential elements to sustain life: brain, heart, air, blood, electricity, fuel, and foundation (skin/bones). Jin is not only critical, he is a life-force within the band, as without Jin, the band would feel incomplete. From the very first, Jin was seen not only as the visual face of the band, but as the “fun one” or the one who was funny and who would keep everyone entertained. He even admitted in the BTS docu-series “Break the Silence” (episode 7 on WeVerse): “Even though I like to laugh and may not look that serious on the outside, I want to be a person they can rely on emotionally. I want to energize the team and console the members when they are down. You know, good vibes that aren’t too grand, but make people happy.”
Jin, being the oldest, was automatically in an tricky position. He could have demanded to be addressed and treated in a manner that he had a right to in accordance with Korean culture, as those who are older are to be treated with the utmost respect and deference, which includes being addressed with honorifics. Yet, Jin did not demand or expect such deference or treatment from his younger bandmates (12:52 mark). Instead, Jin chose to just be one of the band where they would be equal parts of the whole. During BTS’s appearance on “Let’s BTS” (12:07 mark, March 2021), J-hope insightfully said: “Jin as himself is such a great hyung to us. His face is handsome, his shoulders are broad, his voice is beautiful and he is older, so we expected him to pull rank. We thought that’s what [Jin] would be like, but he is not that kind of hyung at all. He is the one who sets the tone for our team. As the oldest hyung, he must have responsibilities and he honors them well. But he does it in a gentle way and brings the team together. He is an important pillar for all of us.”
Jin setting aside of class distinctions and age-rank was decisive and key. It set the tone for the band as equals, no matter their ages or social positions. This would prove to be an essential reason as to how BTS survived the past 8 years as a band and as musicians. For if they were not equal, trusting and relying on each other, they could not have continued to function as seven equal parts of the whole, which is why many bands fracture and disband over a period of years. But, for BTS, they have survived and thrived together by setting aside cultural expectations and allowing each to interact on the same level.
So Jin’s decision to just be one of the band, regardless of station, status or age, set the tone for the entire band. It showed his willingness to do anything and everything necessary to succeed. Jin not only deferred to the leadership of his bandmate RM, who was almost 2 years his junior, he also willingly received instruction from J-hope in the areas of choreography and dance, and singing cues from Jungkook on how to strengthen and tailor his vocals for Jin’s parts of the BTS songs. Each BTS member has a pivotal role and area of strength and it was only by recognizing and deferring to those strengths that BTS has continued to create and perform such extraordinary music and deliver such incredible dance/concert performances.
What was then Jin’s key contribution? Jin may like to think of himself as being the visual-attractor and is quick to use his Worldwide Handsome nickname (21:31 mark) to describe his role in the band. But, ultimately, it is Jin’s heart of a warrior that really made him essential to BTS. Jin is handsome and he can sing like an angel, yet he is more akin to an archangel who stands constantly ready to defend his bandmates.
Being born into financial-comfort and privilege has afforded Jin with an innate sense of confidence as he knows that the world will bend and accommodate those who have wealth, power and beauty. Whether consciously or unconsciously, Jin knows how to wield power and that confidence allows him to move through the world with a strength in his posture that only those with money, looks and power exude. Power recognizes power and it defers to it and respects it at all times.
Thus, when Jin joined BTS, he brought his presence of power and confidence to the band. Similar to how his handsome visuals and glorious voice capture and hold attention, so does his natural aura of power. Even when BTS was subject to press and social media attacks, those attacks were more like jabs as Jin’s social status, while not quite a knight’s impenetrable shield, can protect his bandmates from the harder press/social media attacks.
Jin may not have consciously thought to himself that he would act as a shield, warrior or defender of BTS when he joined; but he certainly is aware of his position in the world and how he can use his power strategically, when he needs to. From the moment that Jin steps out on stage or into a public event, Jin’s posture shows his natural born confidence and his silent-warning to those seeking to attack that he will quickly defend.
Do not be fooled by Jin’s natural and easy smile and light-hearted eyes. He is a gifted performer who has trained his whole life to be impenetrable to scrutiny. Jin knew this ability would be a natural asset as an actor and it would allow him to easily conquer the world of acting. Yet, Jin chose to raise the bar and decided to join BTS.
It was an unexpected and yet insightful choice. It revealed Jin’s instinct to take on the unexpected and willingness to challenge himself. Not trained in either dance or singing, allowing Big Hit Entertainment to recruit him to join a hip-hop/rap band was unexpected, it was Jin challenging himself to conquer an area that he had not trained in before. That choice proved to be the hardest thing that Jin would ever do in his life. Yet, it is also the most fulfilling as joining BTS offered rewards that even Jin could not have dreamed of.
It may have been foreseeable that BTS could be successful as a band and would ultimately be profitable, but the odds were against it. Thus, each achievement and goal that BTS reached has been remarkable, and Jin was probably elated at every stage since it validated his unexpected choice for his life path.
Talent & Tenacity
Think about it: when Jin joined BTS, his parents and his social peers were probably shocked and surprised. Jin was well on his way to being a successful actor while attending a university in South Korea when he decided to join a hip-hop/rap band. Jin then had to train for 2-3 years in singing and dance choreography, things that he had not previously done before or, if he had, not to the extent demanded of to train with BTS. Yet, despite that lack of prior training, Jin worked hard and was able to debut with BTS in 2013. Jin then stuck with BTS and its rigorous training and performance schedule throughout the next 3 years. The glimmer of BTS’s stratospheric success was not really visible until late 2016, which is when Jin’s gamble on his future began to payoff. 5 years — what young man turning 20 with a bright and brilliant future ahead in acting would embark on a career with that uncertain of a future ahead. Jin is not the gambling type. But he was willing to invest his time, energy and future in BTS because he saw something in his bandmates.
Like many people born into power, Jin recognized something in his bandmates that guaranteed success: talent and tenacity. It takes both, as without one, it is nearly impossible to achieve success. Yet Jin recognized that his 6 bandmates were extraordinarily talented and driven. He had seen it up close in the dance practices, in vocal training classes, and in everything that they did. He saw when they debuted and toured. He saw it in every waking moment of their lives. While Jin had initially chosen not to reside with his bandmates in the dorm rooms at the Big Hit building, he eventually moved into the tiny dorm rooms with them where he had a front-row seat to their talents and tenacity. Jin could instantly feel their inner “drive” and talent, and it sparked his interest and curiosity. Thus, it was not a gamble to him, but rather a keen, strategic decision recognizing that he would never have this opportunity ever again and that perceptiveness paid off in amazing ways.
BTS is what is known as a “unicorn” in the world of entrepreneurs or, in Hollywood, it is called “lightning in a bottle.” It is something that happens so rarely, that when discovered, everyone wants a piece of it. People are willing to invest billions of dollars in it or will pay huge sums of money just to watch such a group perform. Jin must have felt that like a tingling in his fingertips or a shiver of anticipation down his spine because everyone has some kind of visceral reaction when in the presence of something that extraordinary. Whatever Jin felt, it was powerful enough to persuade him to join BTS heart, body and soul. It pushed him to train his body and voice in ways he never expected and it delivered a lifetime of amazing opportunities and achievements.
Anyway that you look at it, BTS is a huge success. It may have started off slowly, but once they reached the tipping point, BTS’s successes have accelerated at an unbelievable rate. The sheer number of album sales, digital song sales, chart topping success, sold-out concerts, and constant demand for more of their time and presence is mind-boggling to behold. Calling BTS the most successful band on the planet is accurate and earned.
Sacrifices Versus Rewards
Jin’s instinctive and strategic choice to join BTS has been a fascinating look at both the cost and rewards of success and fame. On one hand, there are huge financial rewards and, on the other, there are awards and accolades as BTS has won over 300 awards in the past 5 years and keeps winning more with each year. There are also the rewards of being able to travel around the world and perform in countries to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of fans, with that adrenaline rush of the applause and roar of the crowds providing validation of one’s success and achievement. If there were one common denominator in BTS, it would be their addiction to live performances — there is no replacement for that adulation, adoration and appreciation. Jin describes it as: “Even if we are having a hard time, when we hear them shouting as we open the concert, that makes our blood boil and we feel that fighting spirit . . . it feels like all your senses are coming alive and it fires you up.” (“Let’s BTS” March 2021, 3:19 mark)
To be a pop-star is akin to being a “god” in our modern times. Interview after interview, each of the BTS members has acknowledged their inability to see their fans in person during the current worldwide pandemic, which has prevented them from traveling to see their fans in concerts, has been tough on them as the live-streamed concert performances (while seen by millions) does not afford the ability for the band to actually see their fans and feel that physical and emotional wave of love. Entertainers, by nature, feed off the appreciation of their fans and audience. It is why many actors prefer theater over film and television — the rush of adrenaline and the energy that they feel from the audience, which is exactly why musicians and singers love doing concerts and why artists love exhibitions. Being able to walk amongst an adoring fanbase and hear firsthand the praise of appreciation and adoration is addictive. It is the life-blood of an actor, artist, or musician.
But fame is a double-edged sword: it can both harm and protect. Fame is wondrous when it is welcoming and restrained. Fame is scary when it draws in people who act unleashed and out of bounds. Being born into a financially-stable family, Jin is more accustomed to having to watch for the deceptive side of people who want to use and abuse, or just be in proximity of BTS for their own benefit. Jin knows from a lifetime of watchfulness that one has to protect themselves and those that they love from such opportunists and those who would exploit or take advantage, and fame brings another element, rabid fans or those who would twist or spin stories to extort or harm. So, probably from his first day, Jin has had to keep up his guard to not only protect himself, but also his bandmates from such negative elements.
It means that Jin is constantly in protection-mode. Thus, his image of a “knight in shining armor” is fairly accurate since there is more truth than perhaps people are aware. Just by his presence alone, there is a level of protection that Jin extends to his bandmates. His beauty can be used to attract and distract. His position of power provides an invisible shield keeping jabs at bay. His presence holds such confidence that it creates an invisible barrier that others may hesitate to cross. He can also be a literal source of protection when his bandmates are in close proximity to fans with boundary issues. Jin also understands that humor is the perfect shield. It disarms and deflects in interviews or in-person events. It gives the sense that things are at peace and comfortable. But humor, for Jin, is both a weapon and shield. He uses it advantageously to strike unexpectedly and to protect himself and his bandmates. Humor and good natured spirits is a fantastic tool. It hides its true motive and can be seen as mere entertainment. It can diffuse a tense or awkward situation and it can be used to issue warning when needed. Watching Jin interact with press in interviews is fascinating. Even his bandmates seem unaware at times at how strategically he uses humor to verbally fence and parry — though occasionally his bandmates do catch it — and seeing their reactions is also fun as they take it in stride — and other times, they seem surprised by it.
BTS, as a whole, have perfected the art form of navigating public personas. Jin is just better at it than the rest of them. His facade as the “funny man” or “Worldwide Handsome” is worn with such ease and used so casually, it is very effective.
Another aspect that would seem obvious is Jin is a born singer. Yet, that was not always the case. It seems like even Jin was a unaware at how beautifully he could sing when he joined Big Hit Entertainment as a trainee. As an actor in school, Jin may have had chance to sing during his stage performances and felt confident enough that he could sing. But, to this day, there are glimpses of Jin being surprised at how easily and beautiful his voice sounds. Like most artists, there are levels of natural talent versus talent which can be enhanced and honed through practice and training, and Jin has benefited from both. What Jin may have perceived as “good enough” as to his singing ability has risen to a level of heart-achingly beautiful. Just listen to Jin as he sings his solo songs “Awake” “Epiphany” “Moon” or “Abyss” and you will hear it. There is a haunting quality to his voice that caresses the soul and lingers long after.
Jin is a natural born singer. Maybe he suspected it growing up or during his teen years, so when afforded the opportunity, he leapt at the chance to pursue a career as a singer. The pure joy he seems to have while on stage singing is a sight to behold. He blends in beautifully singing the BTS songs with his bandmates, but when given a section to sing alone or when he performs his solo songs, Jin’s voice takes on a quality that the world recognizes instantly as otherworldly. It captures your attention. Jin seems just as transfixed when he hears himself as there is that momentary surprise and joy that flashes across his face.
Jin on stage is a paradox as he is both the most at ease and yet the most uncomfortable of the BTS members on stage. When he is alone, Jin seems to thrive, but in a group, his confidence seems to slip from time to time (1:48 mark) as he worries that he is not keeping up or is straining to do the complex dance sequences. Jin’s ability to command attention and occupy an entire stage illustrates how natural he is when singing and performing, and his instinctive stage craft is perfect for live performances. He also shines when filmed for BTS’s music videos and filmed segments because, for Jin, adopting stage or theatrical personas is second nature to him and he is able to slip in and out of characters and/or personas with ease. Like many people who have grown up in the public eye or in financially comfortable family, Jin is finely attuned to being watched, assessed, judged and valued based on what others perceive about him visually or in specific settings. So a performance stage is just as comfortable for him as being in an interview room because he is used to being watched.
Jin is also a pianist, which is a fantastic skill that he uses to full advantage in his live performances of his solo song “Epiphany.” Jin’s performance of “Epiphany” during the BTS concert in Sao Paulo, Brazil is a prime example of merging his pianist abilities with stage persona and with theatricality that will leave you breathless while watching. Another time that Jin used his theatrical instincts to beautiful effect was at the end of BTS’s special performance of “Black Swan” at MAMA 2020, where Jin sets the bird free. He also makes kissing a life-sized statute seem like a natural expression of self-love and exploration in the video for BTS’s song “Blood Sweat & Tears.” His ease and comfort in surreal and heightened circumstances work well to draw in the audience during these instances.
Truly, one of Jin’s special gifts is in making the unusual and unexpected seem normal and welcomed as confidence just seems to envelop him.
Shift of the Kaleidoscope
Jin embodies the elements of being a human kaleidoscope as, depending on the situation, Jin shifts his personas to accommodate and react as needed. He can be the comedian, actor, singer, dancer, stage performer, media darling, Worldwide Handsome for fans, best mate to his fellow band members, young lord to his family or peers, or the Renaissance Man of everyone’s dreams. Some may describe this as having a chameleon-like quality, but that is not entirely accurate as Jin does not change his appearance, but rather shifts his personality or persona while looking exactly like himself the entire time. So that is more like a shift of a kaleidoscope.
Curiously, Jin seems content to be all these things at once and that just accentuates the persona shift. It is as if he relishes having all these facets at his disposal and employs each when and if necessary, without a second thought. Each serves a purpose and can be used time and time again. What I find tantalizing is how all of those kaleidoscope shifts are used to hide a deeper, truer side of Jin and seeing beyond those facades is intriguing. That is when you start to see his defender side and the more sentimental side.
At his core, Jin cherishes his personal relationships — those are the most precious to him and he will defend them. Whether it is his family or bandmates, Jin values those bonds and relationships more than anything in the world. This may seem surprising as Jin comes from a financially successful family and seems to enjoy acquiring assets that his career and status have afforded. But my guess is that he would willingly sacrifice every bit of that to protect and cherish those he holds closest in his heart.
The best example that illustrates this is the fact that Jin chose to join BTS. It was not just for the chance to sing and perform before large crowds, which he does love, but what really matters to him is being a part of the band. Being one of the boys in the band — being included in the fun — being close enough to be family with this extraordinary group of young men aligned by fate and destiny to become BTS and embark on this remarkable journey. Similar to the bonds that formed in the J.R.R. Tolkien novels among those who chose to come together and save the world from darkness, what BTS has done is no less miraculous or less arduous. Rather than a quest in search of a golden ring to toss into a fiery pit, BTS has chosen a path to create beautiful music that touches the soul and inspires listeners to embark on their own powerful journeys. Jin felt that calling. He knew destiny beckoned and he answered it by joining BTS. It is a profound journey that has taxed and rewarded him in amazing ways.
During the January 2020 MTV interview (0:55 mark), when asked what he would tell his younger self, Jin laughingly answered: “Don’t dance.” It was a humorous response with a ring of truth to it because now that Jin is 28 years old, he can already feel the toll that nearly a decade of dancing has taken on his body. Unlike his younger bandmates, Jin had not trained in either street or professional dance until he joined Big Hit Entertainment at the age of 20. It meant that Jin had to work extra hard to strengthen his muscles, tendons and ligaments to bend, stretch and respond in unfamiliar ways at an age when one’s body is less malleable. Jin has subsequently kept pushing his body’s limits to accommodate the rigorous dance choreography that BTS uses in its stage and live performances. It is a price that he is undoubtedly paying for every day when he gets up each morning and finds more aches and pains than the day before. Yet, the lure of being a part of this amazing journey as part of BTS is too powerful and too addictive to give up.
Timeliness and Relevancy Tests
Dancing, singing, and performing are part of the time-clock constantly knocking on Jin’s meta-physical door as Jin is acutely aware that there is a built in countdown to obsolescence. For most South Korean idols, that figurative door seems to close around the age of 30. It is more true for male idols as they are required to fulfill mandatory military service by the age of 30. This requirement has already been extended once in 2020, when the South Korean government voted to extend the age of service from 28 to 30. So Jin’s time is nearly up.
While his bandmates and Big Hit Music have assured Jin that his place in the band is secure, there must be a certain inner fear that questions if such a promise can realistically be kept and, even if it can be, what about the fans? Will the fans be as faithful and keep a place in their hearts for him? These self-doubts are hard to keep at bay when one is looking at an 18-month absence away. Combined with the fact that Jin has been unable to see the fans face-to-face or in-person for the past 18 months due to a worldwide pandemic, that time period extends from 18 months to 3 years, simply by the cruel twist of fate. Jin is the first to admit that all these concerns have taken a toll on his mental health and he has taken advantage of getting mental health counseling with a professional to help navigate and endure through this difficult time. It also compelled him to help write and release the song “Abyss” (lyrics) so that he could share a bit of his experience with fans who may find themselves in similar mental crisis. He wants people to know that reaching out for help is never anything anyone should be ashamed of and should feel encouraged to do.
For a public figure and performer such as Jin, the timeliness and relevancy tests are even more extreme. Idols are pressured to perform at younger and younger ages in order to extend their time as entertainers longer. But, in Jin’s case, he joined the entertainment world as a singer and dancer later in life and it has been a race against time to do as much as he can before that door of opportunity closes. Intriguingly, BTS’s career is still on an upward trajectory after 8 years and it appears that BTS’s career will only continue to rise over the next 5 to 10 years as the sky is the limit for them given their momentum in the entertainment world today.
Pursuit of Dreams
The question for Jin right now is: what does he want, because the world will surely deliver it and he just has to ask. Looking at BTS’s most recent releases of “Butter” and “Permission To Dance”, Jin has whole-heartedly embraced his larger than life performance personas, revealing a sexier side and more romantic side than he has displayed in the past. Perhaps aging has emboldened Jin as he certainly seems happy to show off a bit and appears to have fun doing it. In “Butter” and “Permission To Dance,” Jin has never been sexier. He practically oozes sex appeal and yet it appears effortless. Confidence has always been his strong suit, but this is a new level of assuredness that offers an allure not yet seen from Jin before. It is as if Jin vowed to live his life to the fullest and he is claiming that now.
There is also a sense of appreciativeness, like Jin has perhaps not fully appreciated how amazing his life was until now. He seems to currently be relishing his role in BTS as a dancer, as a singer, as an entertainer, as one of 7 men who have this amazing life and they should seize every moment of it and appreciate it. That heightened sense of appreciation underlays his current performances and interviews and it infuses his singing and dancing with a spark of excitement. I see it. I am certain the fans see it. Everyone can feel it. Jin is enjoying his life and he should because life is fleeting in the best of circumstances and when blessed with an extraordinary life like Jin has, he should savor every moment of it.
Jin’s Love Language
Reflecting on what drives Jin, what stands out is the a series of things that matter most to him: food, fun, family, friendship and fighting for those he loves and for what he wants. Love languages are typically categorized as physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, and quality time. It is fascinating how Jin has carved out a specific “love language” combined out of words that begin with “F” as a way of expressing his love for others.
Jin loves food, so much so that he has a video series known as “Eat Jin” where he talks about restaurants and foods that he appreciates. Jin also uses food as a form of “love language” to express how much he cares for someone, such as sharing a meal with Hitman Bang or cooking for his bandmates because he knows how much they value (and need) good food. For Jin, there is nothing more loving than sharing food with someone and, thus, he idolizes those who can cook amazing meals.
Jin also values having fun experiences or having a fun time more than just acquiring accolades, such as attending award shows and doing interviews are nothing to really think about unless it is somehow made to be fun. So if anyone is going to play along or instigate some mischief, it will be Jin as he instinctively knows that if it is fun, even difficult or boring tasks can be made better with just a little bit of humor or a change of perspective. For example, Jin actually understands English a lot better than he ever lets on and he likes to use the appearance of a language barrier to not answer questions during interviews or to deliberately steer interviewers onto less intrusive topics and keep the atmosphere light and fun.
Additionally, vital to Jin’s well being is his family and friends. Like many entertainers who live large public lives, what is even more precious to Jin is time spent with family and friends. He makes time for it and treasures it. He realizes that he should not take those precious moments and memories for granted and makes the most of it.
Finally, Jin knows that protecting those he loves and values is important and he will fight to protect both. His fighting spirit may not be readily apparent, but everything he does is to ensure he is doing all he can to protect himself, his band and those he loves. He will fight for what matters.
Thus, the secret to who Jin is and how he pursues his life can be seen clearly through his unique “love language”.
Laying Down Burdens
Looking back over BTS’s extensive discography and through their “Love Yourself” album trilogy, BTS has always emphasized the importance of self-love and making that a priority in your life. It is personal for them as they also have to work hard to remind themselves to live their own best life and to cherish themselves. In the March 2021 interview special called “Let’s BTS” (5:23 mark), when asked which of the BTS songs that Jin found comforting during the pandemic, he said it was “Fire” which says:
Live however you want, it’s your life anyway.
Stop trying so hard, it’s okay to lose.
In that interview, Jin explained: “I think I changed a lot listening to those lyrics. At that time, I was not living a fun life because of burdens and inhibitions. So I tried living the way I wanted and I think perhaps that is the song that caused the most change in me.” Discovering that he could just choose the life he wanted and not worry about it was entirely freeing for him and it compelled Jin to work with his bandmate RM and Bumzu to write his solo song “Abyss” (released December 2020), which says:
Myself in that sea —I’d like to go find him and tell him
that I’d like to know more about you today . . .
I’ll be there
Today as well, like this, I close my eyes to get to you
Thus, every day, Jin chooses himself. He is living his best life. He has even said that his current goals are to rap better, dance better and be happy. This conscious choice is illustrated also in the BTS song “Anpanman” (lyrics) which says: “Even if I’m hurt, I’m a hero. Put that fear behind.” That message continues through BTS’s newest song “Permission To Dance” which says: “We don’t need to worry ‘cause we when we fall, we know how to land.” No matter what trial life throws, it can be confronted and conquered. Choosing happiness above all else is empowering and freeing. It is also a shining example to all of us. We should all endeavor to live our lives full of happiness. That is the ultimate message the Jin wants to convey: happiness is a choice, so choose happiness.