This Hidden Gem In BTS’ BE Isn’t A Song At All

Photo: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images.
BTS’ fifth studio album, BE, which dropped November 20, is a euphonic buffet, cooked by the South Korean septet in classic BTS-style, and fans are savoring every bite.
While you’re enjoying BE's eight vibrant and textured dishes — I mean tracks, (spoken word “Skit” included) — you may miss a very important part of the album that isn’t a song at all: the acknowledgements. While some artists tend to use this section of the physical album as a name dump, BTS took the time to write in-depth, heartfelt thank you notes that punctuate, underscore, and expand on their songs. Each member’s “Thanks To” shows their character, but many have been especially struck by that of RM, née Kim Namjoon, BTS’ fearless leader.
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“A year which really suits the word ‘위축’ [“to shrink” or “wither”] for a variety of reasons,” RM writes in Korean (as interpreted by fan translator Wisha). “This of course accounts for our bodies that had to spend a great deal of time indoors, but it’s also a year which, above all, shrunk our wills and withered our souls.” When the global pandemic struck, BTS were in the midst of promoting Map Of The Soul: 7 and gearing up for a stadium world tour. But when those plans were put on hold, the group was upset about not being able to see ARMY in person as planned. RM speaks directly of his emotions during this turbulent time.
“I, too, was busily overcome by anger, frustration, and sadness,” RM writes, “And yet. I, as RM, and we, in the name of Bangtan, recalling the many stars turned toward us, we resolutely rise once more. This album is a record of us rising up. We could not be 위축 forever, and we, after all, did not want to be that way.” Instead of wallowing, the group decided instead to create this new album, and take even more involved roles in its creation than they had on their previous work. BE contains moments of anxiety and gloom (“Blue & Grey”) but also of joy (“Dynamite”) — and most importantly, resolve and hope (“Life Goes On,” “Stay”). It’s thus very much a reflection of this time, but it’s also BTS' most detailed fingerprint, because they literally did everything themselves, from designing the physical album to helming the lead single’s music video.
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But it’s the end of the thank you note, in which RM acknowledges ARMY and all those who listen to BE,  that is the most touching and thought-provoking. He finishes with a sentiment that has always been at the heart of BTS’ music: to bridge divides — cultural, lingual, and ideological — and unite people. “And to the one who protects me in the day like the sun and budding plant, and in the night like the moon and lakeside,” he writes, “To the one who watches over me, who is currently reading these words – to you do I desire to send my greatest love and thanks. In the hopes that these sounds pass over boundaries and gaps. That they’d pass over person and person. That they’d pass over ‘Bangtan’ and ‘ARMY’ and get through to you. I would like to be your pebble.”
RM offering himself as a “pebble” to listeners is such an RMism — his mind tends to find metaphors and meaning in nature in very unique ways. Pebbles are small, light and can be skipped over water, across far distances; they’re strong and unchanging in shape and won’t “shrink” or “wither”; they’re resilient and immovable as they let water rush over them. And while he is a tiny pebble, the rest of us are his sun, moon, and stars.
“I love you,” he adds. Well, that needs no translation.

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