You recently marked 300 days since the debut. What’s the biggest change so far?
Jin: I think the boys’ faces have changed somewhat. I’d say everyone looks more sophisticated, probably thanks to being on camera often and getting the so-called “camera massage.” It’s surprising, though, that one person hasn’t changed - and that person is… Jimin. I think he looked the best when we debuted, and still does.
RM: Don’t you mean Jimin doesn’t look any better? (Laughter)
Jin: No, I mean everyone else has changed a lot, but…
Jimin: Don’t try and get away with it! (Laughter)
What are the things that are still hard getting used to?
J-Hope: Music programs are tough, of course. The pressure is on, and you need to know where the cameras are. Our dance instructor reminds us to remember certain parts we need to work on, and our leader tells us again.
RM: You can’t let your guard down. You think you’re gonna rap but the next moment you’re dancing (laughter). And since we’re newbies, sometimes our time on stage gets cut shorter. When we performed “The Rise of Bangtan,” the conditions changed on Tuesday, then on Wednesday – we really had to stay alert.
“Boy in Luv” was nominated for first place in music programs and got the best response since your debut. Did you get the dinner outing you hoped for?
RM: Actually we went out a few times when our PD, Si-hyuk Bang, took us to Garosu-gil just before we started promoting our new album. He said he was sure about the content and that it would take off, as long as we didn’t make any major mistakes. Talk about good foresight. We had a massive amount of beef that day, and even went for dessert to a coffee shop that you wouldn’t expect a group of guys to go.
Jin: But it wasn’t like we chatted poshly over a few slices of cake. We ordered a huge amount and ordered more as soon as we devoured it.
Compared to your previous songs about rebellion, resistance and conflict, your theme on love makes it look like you’ve made amends with the world, some say. (Laughter)
Suga: This time we weren’t able to make amends with girls. (Laughter). But we do support couples around the world. After all, we can write songs because people are in love.
With its strong beat and sound, “Boy in Luv” is as powerful as “No More Dream” or “N.O,” but it’s interesting how it’s also a love song confessing your feelings to someone you love. What was the making process like?
Suga: We wanted it to be simple, catchy, and easy to follow with just one listen. That’s why we included parts like “I want to be,” as well as “bad, bad, girl,” and “quickly, quickly, quickly” - to make it easier to sing along.
RM: We figured at least one of those would stick. (Laughter). Parts like “I want to be your oppa” or “you make me so angry and mad for no reason” look a bit childish, but we wanted it to sound intuitive. Even though we did establish our own color with our first two albums, we felt they lacked a popular element. We needed a breakthrough to make our name known, and we had decided to do “love” first in our trilogy, so you could say things kind of fell into place.
In the song ‘Just One Day’, you changed your concept completely with quite a romantic performance on stage. What was it like expressing the feeling of love in your dance moves as well as your facial expressions?
RM: On stage we’ve always been either angry or excited, but for ‘Just One Day’ we needed something more. It was our first time trying something sweet, so we tried to pretend the camera was the girl we loved.
Jimin: Yeah but it didn’t work haha. Thinking a girl was standing in front of me, I couldn’t stop smiling. Hahaha!
RM: That’s because you’re so obsessed. (Laughter)
Jin: For me, I thought I was kinda being loving with my eyes, but people told me it was too much.
Unlike most idol groups, you produce more albums than singles. Does that mean you have to think more about the general composition?
RM: A lot of people know us from “Boy in Luv,” and the next song, “Just One Day” was also a popular style, so we tried to put more of ourselves in “Spine Breaker” and “BTS Cypher PT.2: Triptych” to reflect who we are.
Suga: We wanted to keep a balance between songs that are easy to listen to and songs that reflect our identity. I wrote “Tomorrow” when I was a trainee, and I was aiming for something like Epik High’s “Fly,” which was the song that made me want to start music. In our album we basically record the music we want.
J-hope, your specialty is dancing, but you did more rap this time, and V, you started as a sub-vocal but you took the center staged this time. It seems like you are putting your new skills to use since your debut.
J-Hope: These guys helped me a lot to try harder.
RM: J-hope had never rapped before, but he is a fast learner when given the chance. When we allocated our parts, it was a pity he only got the bridge. So I proposed that I would take the bridge in ‘Where Did You Come From’ and give the bigger part to him. And V, he has a special talent. I think that in the beginning he unconsciously made up clever ad-libs and now he can do it on purpose to flaunt his stuff. We have a lot to learn from him.
V: Wow, now I feel embarrassed. (Laughter)
You guys seem a lot better at being extra cute (aegyo) on TV and from your blog. Who’s improved the most?
Jimin: Sugar never used to be great at being a cutie, but these days he fires finger hearts without even hesitating (imitating him) and says things like “Sugar is...,” ‘Sugar, Sugar” really well.V: Even in fansign events all he used to do was smile, but now he goes (imitating) “Sugar, Sugar!”
Suga: That’s because you need to be professional!
You were a real professional in the SBS MTV “Rookie King” mission, dressing up as a woman.
RM: Man… There are still photos of me dressed up as Sailor Moon online.
Jungkook: But you really looked like a girl. It was sexy.
V: I was shocked because I had to be a ladybug fairy. I think Sailor Moon is way better. Or maybe Rapunzel?
Suga: I seriously freaked out because I didn’t want to wear a maid costume. It was hard to understand why fans would want me to! I mean, guys don’t really want to see girls dressed up as men, but why do girls like us dressed up?
Jimin: I could tell everyone was embarrassed seeing themselves like that, but I think I would look very pretty. I once wore a hanbok dress at a school festival and came first. Not that I necessarily want to... seriously!
Suga: I think we can all look forward to the headline, “BTS Jimin likes wearing women’s clothes.”
Jungkook, the youngest, just entered high school this year and you all went to the opening ceremony.
Jin: We were looking down at the hall, and even objectively Jungkook stuck out.
Suga: I thought Jungguk was the best looking. And we all did our best to look good that day.
V: Not to suggest the other students didn’t look great! But Jungkook stood out maybe because he is tall and all.
J-hope: After the ceremony, Jungkook took us out for a big meal of Jjajangmyeon and Tangsuyuk. I think it was to pay off what everything we’ve done for him in the past.
Jungguk: I had to use some money from my savings. (Laughter)
Did the members provide any advice about high school life?
Jimin: I told him before the midterms that it’s best to pick number 2 and 5 where you don’t know the answer. But RM, who was top 1% in the country, said number 4 is the best shot, so I think he’s listening to him. That being said, I reckon you shouldn’t take this sort of advice from the top student. RM might have guessed for the few questions he didn’t know the answer to after doing the rest, but I have more experience in the guessing department!
You seem reach out to your fans through various channels other than just TV. SNS, in particular, can be a platform where you can make mistakes easily. But it seems that have no problem sharing a single Twitter account so far.
Suga: We definitely need to be careful what we say. And we only use it to show our lifestyle, which our fans want to know. Mostly about our current situation like where we are, what we’re doing, that kind of thing.
V: Yeah and if one of us is tweeting, we try and fix a time and wait our turns so that we don’t overlap. You can see the effort we put into it!
Jimin: We all like taking selfies and showing it to people. I think these days, our youngest member is the the top selfie-poster. He is pretty cute. I used to come last in the selfie ranking but with a lot of practice I think I can say now I come in 6th. Suga is the 7th now. (Laughter) Back when we were trainees, we used to kind of compete who got the most retweets. Maybe it was just me. Even if it was just 6 tweets difference I would sulk by myself, thinking “Urgh… I lost!” Hahaha.
With “School Trilogy” complete, you are now looking at your 1st debut anniversary. How far do you think you’ve come?
Jungkook: I can’t believe it’s been close to a year already! I guess I counted on improving real fast and making a massive difference, but it didn’t work out that way. There’s so much more I haven’t been able to show compared to what I have, and so much more to learn. I feel like I need to do more.
Suga: I’d say we’ve only just reached the start line now. Things that used to be okay as newcomers won’t cut it anymore.
RM: Sometimes I feel like we’ve come too fast, but then again we still have so much to go. At times we think “we’re doing great” but then we attend an award ceremony and realize we’re just a tiny “spot.”
Jin: So it’s complicated, but the answer is to try our best at all times. Not too slow and too fast, but gradually, in line with our rhythm.
<아이즈> 와 사전협의 없이 본 콘텐츠(기사, 이미지)의 무단 도용, 전재 및 복제, 배포를 금합니다.
이를 어길 시 민, 형사상 책임을 질 수 있습니다.
인터뷰 | 최지은(Choi Ji Eun), 황효진(Hwang Hyo Jin), 한여울(Han Yeo Ul)
사진 | 이진혁(Lee Jin Hyuk)
번역 | 심국비(Gukby Sim)