By Nadine Kam I
I’ve been waiting for April to get here. It’s an exciting month for Kpop, if you happen to stan BTS, set for another record-breaking year with the debut of a new concept following the group’s phenomenally successful “Love Yourself” trilogy that started with “Love Yourself: Her” in September 2017, leading up to “Love Yourself: Tear” in May 2018, and “Love Yourself: Answer” in August 2018.
Already, fans are trying to decode the messages behind “Map of the Soul: Persona,” based on the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who divided the psyche into the conscious and unconscious—the persona, or image of ourselves that we present to the world, vs. our shadow selves, the hidden anxieties, repressed thoughts and unpleasant memories we try to bury and hide from the world and ourselves.
BTS’s music and videos are always full of references to art, history and philosophy, linked to their experiences and personal battles. No matter how far we progress, human beings are destined to live through the same torments, trials and tribulations as every individual since the beginning of human existence. We learn and grow only through the firsthand process of experiencing joy, fear, sadness, pain, that no one can escape. In illuminating their own experiences, good and bad, they aim to provide comfort by suggesting no one endures these battles alone.
The group’s agency Big Hit Entertainment teased fans with the tantalizing release of four sets of concept photos that have the boys showing the bright personas they present to the world, then later dripping with jewels and holding up bunches of grapes and fruit. The first image has Taehyung with a serpent bracelet, perhaps a suggestion of forbidden fruit and the eternal battle against temptation as they become more successful?
I am so excited for this release that I imagine will be the group’s most mature work to date.
“Map of the Soul: Persona” drops April 12, and to make sure it gets attention beyond the BTS Army stateside, the group will perform on “Saturday Night Live” on April 13.
?: Chen’s “Beautiful Goodbye,” his first solo effort beyond K-drama OSTs
Also this month comes the first solo mini album, “April and a Flower,” from Chen (Kim Jongdae) of EXO.
He is one of the best singers in the industry and the first song and MV to be released is a tear-jerker, “Beautiful Goodbye.”
He sings with so much emotion, and I’m so glad he can get this recognition outside the nine-member group.
It’s still unusual for K-pop band members to make solo recordings because Korean society values group endeavors that build camaraderie and community, as opposed to the strong individualistic culture of the West.
This has long been his dream. While other members of EXO pursue film, television and modeling jobs, Chen is dedicated to music, and this path toward a solo career was already cleared at SM Entertainment by the successes of SHINee’s Taemin and the late Jonghyun.
Jonghyun’s birthday is coming up April 8, and I am hoping to commemorate it in a special way.