Up next in this series of deep dives into the BTS WeVerse magazine interviews, we take a look at Jin- the eldest member of the group- and learn that he might not be quite the overconfident guy that he makes out to be.
All Images Courtesy of WeVerse Magazine
Easing the Pressure
Jin is first asked about his feelings about BTS’s song “Butter” staying firmly planted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 but he states that he finds it difficult to gauge responses to the song due to all awards and performances being online as of late. He also says he does not go on the Internet too much either (probably for the best to be honest) and so it’s more difficult to “feel the vibe”. However, he does say that this has led to less pressure and that he “enjoyed the promotional period itself a little better”. The amount of stress that all of the members endure has got to be difficult to manage at times. Each time they are successful, the eyes of the world are on them waiting for the next achievement and then the next one and the next. Expectations must be unbearably high sometimes and so whilst the remote manner of performing has its downsides to gauging reactions- as Jin suggests- the lessened pressure has got to be healthy thing for all of the members. This becomes even more apparent when Jin discusses some of how his routine was affected after the success of “Dynamite”:
“When I had to keep working without a single day off, I was sometimes really tired because I had things of my own to do after work before going to bed, but now after cycling through this routine for a while I’m a little healthier and I’m getting a little more sleep, too”.
Maintaining some kind of healthy balance is necessary for all of us, including worldwide handsome superstars, so it is encouraging to hear that Jin has gotten into a better routine as of late.
The interviewer goes on to discuss the solo song that Jin released on December 3rd 2020 (the day before his birthday) which was a personal insight into his feelings of despair in a way that we haven’t really seen much before from him as he is known for being a somewhat goofy and playful person. Jin states that he was “depressed” when the song came about and that “Abyss” was a raw and emotional way of discussing his true mood without feeling the need to make the song “sound pretty”. Jin calls the release of the song a relief as he spends so much of his life trying to keep his fans smiling, so much so that he often feels the need to hide his true feelings:
“I felt a kind of relief. I want my fans to picture me as being happy and I don’t actually want them to know that I feel that way, but now and then I feel the need to talk about what’s inside me. It’s been a few years since I expressed it in a song or explained anything about it so I feel a tiny bit relieved.”
It must be difficult to feel like you constantly have to put on a brave face and keep smiling, even when you would rather do anything but. BTS have always been known to have a deeper connection with their fans then most artists and this sense of responsibility that Jin has taken on in regards to sacrificing his own happiness- or at least the ability to be honest with his feelings-proves just how far the members go to make their fans realise how important they are. Jin was able to vent his sadness via the personal project that was “Abyss”- in which he managed the composition and direction alongside producers Kye Bumzu and Pdogg (who directed)- and relieve some of the pressure that he puts on himself to always be positive. Not only that, but he was able to do this whilst providing the fans with a new song. It seems as though there is always thought put towards the fans more than anything else from the BTS members and whilst this is of course a positive thing, I can’t help but wonder if the group will sometimes put the needs of the fans before their own happiness due to feeling as though they constantly need to please us. Speaking as a fan, I have to say that whilst we do appreciate the way that the group treats us, we don’t want you to feel like you have to keep up a certain image just to make us happy! “Abyss” was clearly a brilliantly therapeutic experience for Jin so it is promising to know that these kind of creative outlets can take away some of the pressure. “Abyss” is a great song by the way! I’ve posted it above so make sure you go listen to it
Concerns with Confidence
When reading the interview- and with a lot of the interviews that Jin does- I couldn’t help but feel like he isn’t quite as confident as he makes out to be. Yes, he is very handsome. Yes, he is very charming. Behind that bravado though, there seems to be a man who constantly feels the need to highlight what he considers his weaknesses .Later on in the interview, he openly discusses his lack of confidence when he was a trainee and it sometimes seems like there are still remnants of that worried and uncertain young man left within him. He mentions his nerves before performing.
“I get nervous for every performance, but some make me especially nervous. I feel it sometimes whenever I do those performances”
Nerves are in no way a weakness but Jin’s anxiety suggests that even after eight years of performing, he still feels immense pressure before performing and feels the need to give himself pep talks beforehand. When discussing the groups dance practices, he states:
“Practice is honestly a burden, though. Usually when we practice, I’m slow at learning the moves. So I’m not very good at it”
If you’ve watched any of the dance practices that the group post on their YouTube channel, you will see that Jin is no different to the other members. He doesn’t seem to struggle or be slower to learn than the rest of the band and yet he still considers himself weak when it comes to practicing. He notes that the performance director- Son Sung Deuk- was concerned for him as he struggled with the “Butter” choreography initially but after a couple of weeks of performing the song, Song Deuk was very impressed with him,
“Whoa, is this Seokjin, the guy getting all that hot feedback lately? (laughs) He said I was dancing great”.
It’s clear to see how talented he is when you watch the “Butter” performances but even with the positive feedback from both the public and the performance director, he still reacts humbly and doesn’t seem to be entirely convinced, as suggested by his response:
“He said, “No, everybody’s saying you’re dancing great.” If that’s really true, it’s all thanks to him.”
Seokjin seems to be unable to hype up certain aspects of himself as much as he should, such as his actual performing and dancing abilities. Even when the rest of the world is praising him, he humbly brings it back to the performance director and can’t help but be somewhat sceptical to the truth behind the praise, suggested when he says “If that’s really true”. Emphasis on the use of the word “If” there. Stop iffing and butting yourself Jin! You are insanely talented and just as worthy as anyone else.
His honesty when discussing the difficulties of their latest song- “Permission To Dance”- also suggests this humbleness and desire to discuss the elements of his idol life that he struggles with:
“I really like the song, but when we perform it, I wish I’d had more time to prepare. We had a comeback in May with “Butter” and then a fan meeting concert in June, so we got ready for “Permission to Dance” at the same time we were filming performances of “Butter.” We didn’t have anything else we had to work on before “Butter” so we had plenty of time to practice it, but we had to practice “Permission to Dance” and get ready for the fan meeting simultaneously. Time’s always tight, but I think I could’ve done even better if I could’ve taken a little more time. I wish I had had more time to put a little more effort in.”
There is obviously a lot of pressure put onto BTS to constantly keep performing and keep entertaining and the lack of time to practice between “Butter” and “Permission to Dance”- as well as the Muster Sowozoo event in May and the various promotion in between-means that the expectations are ridiculously high considering the time they have to prepare. Jin says he wishes he could have done better but it is clear from any of the “Permission to Dance” performances that he- and the rest of the group- have worked very hard and do an excellent job. All of the group- Jin included- shouldn’t feel like they haven’t done well enough purely because of time constraints that are out of their control. Not only that, but Jin also mentions his struggles when it comes to learning lyrics:
“I’m not good at memorizing lyrics, for instance. I think some of the other members can catch on real quick, but it’s not like that for me. So if we do something like a new song or a special one at a fan meeting, I have to spend more time preparing than the others. When a new song’s coming out, I have to practice for at least 4-5 days to get the hang of it.”
Again, Jin never seems to show any difficulties when it comes to learning lyrics, always nailing their live performances. Despite this, he clearly has his troubles with juggling everything that is needed to give a good performance. Having to learn the rap segments for SUGA’s song “Daewchwita”- under the guise of his alter ego Agust D- and jhope’s solo “Chicken Noodle Soup” during the Sowozoo fan event was also difficult for him because of his struggle with lyrics:
“It was so hard. I had to do “Daechwita” and “Chicken Noodle Soup,” but it was only about a month before the concert when the set list was decided. During that time, I’d come home after finishing work, turn on the music for “Daechwita” and practice it for 15 minutes, then do “Chicken Noodle Soup” after that, and then go straight to sleep. The next day I’d wake up, go to work, come home and do another 15 minutes of “Daechwita” and more “Chicken Noodle Soup.” I kept repeating that for a really long time. I’m terrible at memorizing lyrics so that kind of took a while.”
He proves his talent as a performer and a showman by never giving less than his absolute best even when he struggles. Watching the “Daechwita” and “Chicken Noodle Soup” performances, it’s hard to believe he had trouble in any way. It is a testament to his skill and his desire to put on the best show that he can do and it’s safe to say that he succeeds. Questioning yourself is something that we all tend to do and it is refreshing to see such a global superstar do the same thing. He’s clearly a humble and level headed guy who- just like the rest of the group- constantly pushes himself to be better. Just don’t be quite so hard on yourself, Jin. You’re doing amazing, sweetie.
Playing to His Strengths
Jin might have a little less confidence then he makes out but is also ready and willing to talk about his strengths and where he has improved. He tells the interviewer that he is currently most satisfied with himself with the song “Butter” at the moment, but that it changes often depending on their new releases. Even though he is open to discuss the parts of “Butter” that he had trouble with, it is good to know that he is able to see the positives as well as the negatives. He also mentions how his dancing has improved greatly since the band started, taking less time for him to adjust to each dance and to match up his moves with the beat. He even discusses how one of the group’s best dancers- jhope- praises him:
“I was also happy this time around when Hobi (jhope) told me my dancing really improved.”
Jin’s argument is that his other skills compensate for the areas that he lacks in, which is a brilliantly positive way to think about your personal strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has something that they struggle with, no matter how smart or experienced they are. Knowing where your expertise lies and being able to work on the things that are a little more difficult for you is a positive step towards becoming one of those rare creatures I’ve heard about only in fables and fairy tales: the functional human being. Jin is acts as an example to those who might not always have an abundance of confidence but still know where their strengths lie.
Expectations within Korean Culture
There is an interesting segment of the interview where Jin discusses the expectations that are placed on Koreans that are his age (Jin is 28, 29 in December) and how this adds to the already significant pressure that he faces:
“Koreans my age have no choice but to self-improve these days. You have to improve your qualifications, learn things, and people even tell you your hobbies have to be productive, even though they’re hobbies. After being taught that way since I was young, I think I need to follow through on that somehow. I feel like I have to do something productive, even when I’m trying to take a break.”
This relates back to what both Jung Kook and jhope say in their interviews, about this constant need to keep going and keep building on their skills and having trouble actually relaxing during down time. It is an interesting insight into the Korean culture to know that these kinds of expectations are placed on all young adults, not just famous idols. However, Jin goes on to say that he has learnt that being unproductive can be satisfying and is necessary for all of us to relax sometimes,
“I think everyone needs days like this.”
This is such a valuable lesson for every single person on this planet and Jin’s ability to acknowledge this is refreshing, particularly as a man who comes from a country where people his age have this necessity for productivity drilled into them from a young age.
To finish off this look at Jin’s interview, his message for ARMY is simple and sweet: he just wants us to be happy. He wants to make us laugh and smile with his social media posts and performances. As a fan, I can say that he certainly succeeds with this. His desire and efforts to make his fans happy is summed up with his interview conclusion:
“I go out of my way to make funny posts or leave funny replies on Weverse to make them happier. I just hope anyone who likes me is happy. And I don’t want them to see anything bad. That’s how I feel about my work”.
On behalf of all of the ARMY, I have to say thanks to you Jin for your constant positivity. I know for a fact that you have definitely made me happier since I became a BTS fan last year and for that, I- and the rest of the ARMY- are eternally grateful.
Check out the rest of my deep dives into the BTS WeVerse interviews below and make sure to read the entire Jin interview over on WeVerse Magazine here.