Is BTS Making a Political Statement in Their New "ON" Video?
Watch it here!
The beautiful boys of BTS are back with a new cinematic feat.
The group released the"Kinetic Minfesto Film" on February 21 and are now back with the second official music video for Map of the Soul: 7's lead single, "ON." The video for the new barn-burner features Jungkook, RM, J-Hope, Jin, Jimin, V, and Suga going on separate spiritual journeys. We watch as Jin saves a dove (possibly a biblical allusion to the dove that brought Noah an olive branch), which then ties in nicely to the next scene, where we see RM shipwrecked with an ark full of animals. We also see V lead a blindfolded girl to safety.
Overall, the music video seems to explore themes of freedom and liberation—that is until the beatific images give way to darker themes. As the beat drops, we see all the group members together, (of course) dancing. They're surrounded by torch light and what appears to be a ceremony of some kind. Soon, everything catches fire. The music video ends with the group summiting a massive cliff on the other side of a large gate they passed through earlier in the video.
There are so many symbols woven throughout the video that it's difficult to definitively say what message BTS is trying to convey. But we see a lot of imagery of perseverance in the face of obstacles and constrictions. It's not a stretch to think that perhaps BTS is referencing the explosion of Korean culture into the wider world. For example, maybe the image of the wall opening is a comment on the world opening up to Korean art thanks to trailblazers like BTS and Bong Joon-Ho.
Or maybe it's more political than that. BTS has been known to engage with cultural conversations criticizing the K-Pop industry as well as myriad other issues within South Korean society, particularly through their lyrics. Perhaps this powerful new video is meant as a critique of the societal pressures many South Koreans struggle with every day. For example, the video opens with an image of a dove pierced with an arrow, a powerful symbol that could be taken as a comment on South Korean culture's tendency to smother individuality and promote the illusion of personal perfection—often at the expense of people's mental health. At another point, we see Jungkook running away from a walled city, his hands tied with thorns, obviously an image meant to show an outside force hampering someone's personal expression and autonomy.
Whatever message BTS hoped to send with their new video, it's certainly a powerful piece of art that fans will be moved by and picking apart for weeks and months to come.
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