BTS’ eldest member and vocalist Kim Seok-jin is a bit of an endearing enigma for ARMY. He possesses the razor-sharp wit and ability to hit back with sardonic retorts—or as his fans say, he is the epitome of savagery, perhaps outshining Suga as well. His hilariously angry rants make history on YouTube just like his solos, some of the instances including the time RM did not appreciate his gift of wet tissues, or when he was tasked with teaching Jungkook and V how to cook. He’s also the protective older brother, always looking out for his members, bringing them birthday cakes and destroying it with grapes. Simultaneously, he is also the introverted individual who hides at parties, while the rest of the members take centrestage on the dance-floor. In short, like a fan noticed—if you look through Jin’s Instagram account, you would be rather flummoxed about his actual profession if you didn’t know him –is he a tennis enthusiast or a chef — who is he?
But that’s not all. There’s the Jin on stage — the person who can effortlessly switch between falsettos in Dionysus and stare the audience down during the power-packed tracks. He’s also the person who can tug at heartstrings with moving tracks. Jin explores a different emotional vocal range with his songs –ranging from gentle wistfulness about self-love like in Epiphany to upbeat and cheery ones (Moon) and tracks tinged with hints of heartache (Abyss, Yours and Astronaut). These are also sung by the same person, who can sing Super Tuna, a one-minute song about him looking for his favourite kind of fish.
BTS’s history over the past decade has been divided into ‘eras’ by ARMY—with each member having a distinct personality and look with each album or solo single. However, there’s one chapter in the history that continues to spawn theories and much confusion. That’s the ‘HYYH era’ with Jin as the emotional crux. It’s ironic, even without being the actor that he always wanted to be, HYYH Jin is one of the most complicated roles in BTS’s story.
What was the HYYH era?
Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa or The Most Beautiful Moment in Life is one BTS’ most complicated concepts. Referred to as the Youth Trilogy, BTS released three parts of the HYYH saga over the course of 2015 and 2016. With Jin at the center of it all, this alternate universe storyline chronicled the complications and hardships of youth. The storyline seems simple at the surface—seven individuals who are close friends, struggling with life as well as the memories of their fractured friendships. Each of them explore different emotions of adolescent life, self-hatred and pain (J-Hope), grief and depression (Jimin), rage and rebellion (V), angst (Suga), and survival (RM). It’s only Jin who does not have a tragic backstory here, and one common explanation is that these varying emotions from the other members are part of Jin’s psyche. In short, the HYYH trilogy is about the process of Jin’s transition from boyhood to adulthood. It’s about how Jin reconnects with himself.
This era has spawned many theories that melded later into the Wings period as well and has now become a bottomless pit of theories and interpretations with no correct answer as such. Ironically, it was the song I Need U, the first in the series that saved the band from disbanding and set the stage for the band’s public perception on the international stage.
There has been enough literature on social media and other ‘notes’ released by Big Hit adding to the speculation surrounding this mysterious era and the numerous music videos. While it seems like a rabbit hole of deep theories and interpretations, something that all ARMY has understood, is that Jin is the emotional glue who brings the friends back together and saves them from themselves.
The time travel theory as seen in Run, I Need U
Clearly BTS storylines are a lot more complicated than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And like ARMY mournfully agreed, HYYH Jin really deserves a better conclusion. One of the most common theories for the alternate universe storyline (specifically I Need U, Run, Butterfly and Euphoria)—is that Jin has drifted away from his friends after a fight, and several years later, he gets stuck in time loops as he attempts to save each one of them from death (as seen in the I Need U video). Another assumption is that he makes sure that the members save the other, including rescuing V from drowning after killing his abusive father, Jimin reaching J-Hope in time, making sure Jungkook doesn’t jump from the building (Euphoria). It’s unclear whether he succeeded or not, which is one of the reasons why ARMY obsessively keeps discussing the HYYH era and keeps hoping that the band returns to complete the story and give them a definitive conclusion, and hopefully a happier one.
It’s always interesting that Jin was the center of this storyline, which was nothing less than a sci-fi K-drama. It further established his image as the ‘big brother’ of BTS to fans and the public and fuelled the belief that indeed, he is always looking out for the rest of the members.
Jin’s heading off to mandatory military service nine days after his birthday, and ARMY is struggling to reconcile with the fact that they won’t be seeing his wacky VLives, snarky comments on Weverse, or generally spamming his fellow members. But like they say, it’s Jin, he might just find a way.