Language and speech are more than just a simple combination of letters and words.
As shown in many literary and poetic works, a word or phrase's meaning can be much deeper than it first appears. Some artists also make use of these literary devices to add deeper meanings to their songs, and BTS is one of them.
Although there is some English in some songs, the majority of their lyrics are primarily in Korean, and their meaning often ties into cultural and societal issues. With the hundreds of thousands of international fans all over the world who do not speak Korean much or at all, do they really understand these deeper meanings hidden in the songs and lyrics?
What are some examples of these deeper meanings, you ask? Let's take a look at just a few examples.
In BTS's Baepsae, the title itself and the idiomatic expressions throughout are used to describe BTS and society in general fighting to keep up with the big leagues and make a name for themselves. "Baepsae" is the name of a small short-legged bird and is commonly used in a Korean idiom. By only looking at the literal meaning of the word, this song would seem much less meaningful.
There is also the song Dope, where BTS makes use of the new coined term "3(sam)-po sedae" and its similar equivalents, referring to the generations that have to give up on 3 (or more) main life goals, such as dating, marriage, and having kids due to the difficulties confronting younger people these days from hardcore studying, getting accepted into a good school, finding a stable job, and still managing social relationships. This song gives a unique insight into the current generation and the societal issues they are facing.
The last example we will give here comes from Ma City, which mentions the number 062-518, with 062 being the phone area number for Gwangju city, and 518 standing for May 18th, 1980 during the democratic Gwangju Uprising against the authoritarian government at the time. The whole ordeal was an impactful event that will go down in Korean history.
As mentioned above, BTS really packs a lot of meaning into their song lyrics. There are no doubt many fans who are simply learning the Korean language because of or through BTS lyrics, but more than that, fans who really look into the deeper meaning of these lyrics are able to learn so much more about Korean culture and current issues.
We at VoomVoom encourage you ARMYs and BTS listeners out there to look up song lyrics if there is ever something that you do not fully understand. Understanding the true meaning of these songs can open up your eyes to so many more things about the country that BTS stands for, and give you a new appreciation for the work that BTS puts into their songs.
By Bongbong and Malina Fairchild firstname.lastname@example.org