I’m continuing on with my own little deep dive into each BTS member- via their interviews with the social media platform WeVerse- with a look at what Jung Hoseok a.k.a jhope has to say about BTS’s massive success as well as his individual ambitions and desires.
The interview opens with questions in regards to the success of the single “Butter” in the states, which – at the time of writing- has topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the US for the ninth week in a row. jhope has an interesting perspective on the bands success, suggesting a maturity in his approach to his fame and global stardom. Whereas he would once gladly accept the achievements (he doesn’t say it in so many words but it seems like he feels that he once took their accomplishments for granted), he now feels differently and questions himself when it comes to dealing with the fame and success:
“In the past I would just humbly accept it, and it was something I worked hard for so I was happy to accept it—and that was somewhat immature, I guess, but now it’s different. I’ve been working constantly for over eight years, and it hasn’t been easy to achieve so much in that time. So from now on I’m tacking a question mark onto how I should carry on and maintain things the way they are and what attitude and stance I should have right now. It’s homework I haven’t been able to figure out yet, basically.”
With the way that the whole world has embraced BTS, it would be very easy to let all of the attention, adoration and memorable achievements either completely overwhelm and envelop you or just go straight to your head. jhope’s method of coping with the intense fame suggests a certain maturity and level headedness that would be difficult to find in most people, let alone a 27 year old superstar. This maturity is emphasised by his attitude towards his job as a performer. He takes his role very seriously, as he discusses when the interviewer queries as to how this attitude towards his fame effects how he expresses himself artistically. He goes into detail as to how he will never underestimate the importance of repetitive practices and attention to detail in their performances, particularly the dancing. Even though he notes that the band are more naturally in sync with one another now- meaning that they are more “efficient” and it doesn’t take as long as it once did to learn the moves (they used to practice for around 10 hours a day) – he still maintains the importance of practice and the necessity for him and his members to always do their best:
“You don’t want to under deliver on a performance when that many people are sending out their love to you. Each and every one of the members thinks so, and I think we’ve created an atmosphere for our practices where we are able to see how important these things are. After all, even if we don’t show it to one another, we all know how important it is to practice our performances.”
He even takes on a level of responsibility for the dance aspects of the performances, likely due to his role as the main dancer of the group alongside Jimin. Whilst the group’s dances are created by a profession choreographer, jhope has played an integral role in the dances since their debut and has provided key movements and suggestions for tons of their music videos and performances. His continuing dedication to the dance aspect of BTS is a testament to his skill and devotion to dancing as an art form as well as a highly admirable aspect of jhope as an individual.
You don’t have to be a fan to know that BTS change up their style as often as the weather and jhope gives a bit of insight as to why this is and how changing the visuals of the group is an important factor. jhope states that he wants his look to “blend naturally with the song” but that there is a balance to be found so as not to “go overboard with the visuals”. As well as for every song, he makes sure that his visuals are “adjusted” for each performance. If you consider their performances then you can tell that as effortless as it seems, a lot of thought has clearly gone into their looks for each and every single moment they are on screen. To name just a few examples: jhope’s bright yellow hair for the promotion and music video for “Butter” to match the title of the song; the various kinds of disco and retro looks that the entire band pulled off for all of those “Dynamite” performances last year; the carefree cowboy look for the happy and bubbly song “Permission to Dance”. It isn’t something that you tend to think about when considering music but visuals are a hugely important aspect that is clearly well thought out by both jhope and BTS as a whole. He also notes how much he has learnt from his fellow members in terms of style and visuals, suggesting a sense of camaraderie and support within the group.
Sharing the Spotlight
When considering the inner workings of one of the biggest bands of our generation, it’s hard not think about whether there are any egos behind the scenes that are constantly vying for centre stage. Of course, we can never really know the whole truth about what goes on unless you just so happen to be there back stage. However, jhope’s answer when asked about what goes through his mind when the spotlight is solely on him suggests a hardworking, humble attitude wherein he sees each performance as opportunity that cannot be wasted:
“When the spotlight’s on me, that’s an opportunity for me, in a way. It’s a chance for me to shine among our team and its seven amazing members, so I’m always on the lookout to make good use of such opportunities by doing my best.”
Much like Jung Kook in the previous interview, there is also a sense of always working harder and harder and yet never feeling completely fulfilled, constantly wanting to do better and seeing any criticism as a chance to grow:
“If they (ARMY and the public) have something to say about it, I have to accept and correct it, I think. I want to say that I developed my own type of growth for myself by repeatedly correcting and practicing and correcting and practicing. I’ve been dancing a long time, but I always feel like I could be doing more, so I put in the effort and I take pleasure in when I make something that turns out really well.”
jhope clearly has insanely high standards for himself- just like Jung Kook- and it’s difficult to imagine how someone as hugely talented as he is- particularly at dancing- can feel like he isn’t doing enough. I said it about Jung Kook and I will say it again now: don’t ever let that voice in your head tell you that you are not enough jhope! He also emphasises how important it is to respect his other members during their moments to shine but keep performing in a subtle fashion “setting the mood in the background in order not to interfere…is an extremely important part of a good performance.” You have to respect a group that are as famous worldwide as BTS but can still understand the importance of allowing everyone their turn to show their skills. This can’t be easy with seven members and yet BTS manage to pull it off during their performances and jhope demonstrates just how much of a team player he is with his answers here. On top of that, he mentions that he has a lot of fun hyping up his band mates, which is a really sweet suggestion of the friendship the group shares.
Along with his stage name jhope, Hoseok also has a few other nicknames from fans. One of these nicknames is “Sunshine”. This is thanks his positivity, his outgoing nature and his constant bright and sunny disposition. In terms of the group dynamics, he is definitely considered the overtly happy member who is constantly smiling and laughing (with a highly infectious grin at that). The interviewer mentions a YouTube video in which jhope refers to himself as the “vitamins” of BTS due to always trying to keep the energy going and maintain positive vibes amongst the boys. This is very obvious if you watch any of the music videos, interviews or general videos as jhope always stands out as a giant ball of light and energy. It’s rare you see an interview where he doesn’t get up and dance or do something to make the others chuckle. He clearly views this as his role within the band and though he does admit to getting embarrassed about it sometimes, he no longer pressures himself to maintain that attitude. He goes on to say that his mixtape- 2018’s super cheerful hip hop infused Hope World-was the turning point for his desire to express himself and show his “personal identity” without putting too much stress on himself.
Despite his cheerful attitude, he also discusses his differing approach when it comes to discussing more negative emotions such as in “Dis-ease” from the 2020 BTS album BE and “Blue Side” released in March of this year (a full version of the Outro song of Hope World). “Dis-ease” may have a fun and energetic beat but the lyrics- written during lockdown- portray frustration and anxiety due to the being stuck in once place. “Blue Side” relates to a concept created by Hoseok called the “blue area”, which he describes as follows:
“a place I consciously escape to avoid things. It’s a place I escape to that I could safely live in and be swallowed up by, but I don’t want to do that.”
He compares this “blue area” to a diary; a place to acknowledge this hidden sadness as well as channel his emotions and give himself the willpower to overcome these “blue” feelings. It is interesting to get an insight into jhope’s inner depths eeland the sadness he can outside of his happy and smiley persona (not that we don’t love our sunny Hobi!). We get to see that despite being a famous star, he is also just a human being who has their own coping mechanisms when it comes to feelings of sadness. Side note: jhope states in the interview that he actually wrote “Blue Side” when he had been drinking. Can we take a moment to appreciate someone who can write an awesome song whilst drunk? That’s talent.
Won’t Settle For Less
Hoseok clearly shows in this interview that he is a person who won’t settle for less, nor will he settle for life as it is. Again, this seems to be a prevalent theme in the interviews with all of the members as they demonstrate a significant amount of ambition and the continuous need to improve themselves. jhope’s personal goals include getting better at English (he points out that this would make communication with English musical artists better and allow for smoother collaborations) and grow BTS’s music globally. I think it’s safe to say that this has already been achieved and personally, I can’t really see how they could get more global than they already are. jhope concludes his dreams for himself with a message of positivity that he would offer to his past self (because of course. I expect nothing less from our Hobi):
“As a joke, I’d say, Hey, listen to this melody: “smooth like butter”—write that. If you do that, you’ll be number one on Billboard. I could do it that way, right? (laughs) But for me, even the parts of my life that weren’t good became opportunities for growth. So rather than telling my past self to fix something, I’d just tell him to believe in himself and move on with his life however he feels like, and keep working hard, keeping things the way they are. Other than that, I’d have nothing to say to him.”
I can’t finish this without a little note about jhope’s thoughts on the ARMY. Not only does he consider us as “icons”, he notes that we- the fans- give as much energy to him as he does to us and comments on how grateful he is. He is particularly inspiring to those ARMY who might have faced some prejudice in the past due to enjoying BTS, saying,
“It might sound obvious coming from a member of BTS, but if I were ARMY, I’d never be ashamed to call myself a fan of BTS.”
I feel like this not only shows that he is fully aware of the judgemental attitudes that are often cast upon BTS, but also that he wants to uplift the ARMY into feeling proud of being fans and being who they are. At the end of the day, that is BTS’s major message across all of their music. Be yourself. Don’t be scared. Never be ashamed. Fly your colours- whatever they may be- proudly and express yourself no matter what others think. With the world the way it is, this message feels more poignant than ever.
Check out the rest of my deep dives into the BTS WeVerse interviews below and make sure to read the entire interview over on WeVerse Magazine here