Decoding : BTS (방탄소년단) “ON” Official MV

Decoding : BTS (방탄소년단) “ON” Official MV


The MV is spectacular, enigmatic and surreal. The video showcases the members in a medieval, dystopian world and references several works as well which prompted many theories to rise as a result – all from biblical themes to Bird Box and even Lion King!

During the beginning of the video we see the members in a disconsolate state of being. The MV opens into a battlefield where Jin kneels down in front of an impaled white dove. Jungkook is running away from a fortress, his hands tied with thorns. Jimin as a drummer boy and V as a man trying to find a better place commencing the song, before panning to a shot of RM surrounded by animals while J-Hope and Suga also appear in biblical settings.

The fallen white bird in Jin’s part may be representative of Jungkook’s character. This is because Jin brings back the bird from the battlefield, places it in a cage which he covers with a cloak, only to have it come back to life.

Jungkook collapses mid MV while his body is picked on by a black bird that symbolises death but also magic, life and even prophecy and his ‘Ego’ that is J-Hope, prophesies Jungkook’s resurrection in a sense when he raps “Even if I fall, I come right back up…”

It is right here at this moment when Yoongi, representing Jungkook’s ‘Shadow’ appears. This shadow represents a transformation because without the darkness there is no light.

This theme is furthered by Jimin’s part that exists to showcase how at times music and art, modes of self expression, can be cast aside as unimportant but in the dance break, especially, it indicates that it is this music and art that can open doors to the future and lead to a changing world.

V plays the role that represents BTS in a manner, while the blindfolded girl could be in reference to their fans, ARMY. His shot shows how V wants to keep things from the girl, and she is blindfolded as he possibly does not want her to see the barren, desolate state around him.

A shift appears in the narrative when Jungkook opens his eyes after being free of his shackles when he goes into the water and brings out a shell. He blows this conch which also implies the commencement of a new battle or it can even (quite unlikely) be a parallel to Hindu mythology wherein a conch represents life.

The blindfolded girl then rises, denoting that she knows a change is coming, more so than even V himself. This is when V removes her blindfold – rendering that he now wants her to see him, see the change with her, holding her hand while the walls part to reveal a new land.

The idea of a changing world is cemented even in the illustration of RM’s part where he stands around a ship wreck with animals, reminiscent of Noah’s arc. And just like Noah took animals onto his ark to a new world, RM embarks onto a journey to a new, untainted place.

After the walls open, BTS reunite as they arrive at the scene and it is here when Jin frees the bird from its cage into this new world that opens in front of them – another interesting parallel from their “Wings” era when in his song “Awake,” he sang “Maybe I can never fly.. Maybe I can’t touch the sky..” but now he does fly and along with the members, characterised by 6 doves.

These doves denote that BTS are at peace now as they ascend to the top of the cliff, reminiscent of their journey from the bottom to the top.

The title of their debut song, “No More Dream” appears only to transform into the word “Dream.” This is a powerful message that expresses that they’re now moving to the top, onto bigger things and into a new world with dreams whilst also urging their ARMY to come with them on their journey with new dreams. The freedom and serenity they feel can be expressed through the shot when Jungkook runs in sheer happiness at having fought his shadows, getting over his dark side and being reborn as a brand new version of himself.

The video is an expression of BTS’ deep feelings. It is a confession of their inner selves from their shadows, their egos, the difficulties they faced and the acceptance of these feelings as a part of them.

ON” represents the eternal journey which also parallels Jung’s process of individuation. It is something dynamic, our capability to transform is infinite. This transformation is what “ON” is about as the song references to their 7 year journey from the bottom to where they are now and that, now that they’ve overcome their demons, they have been resurrected in their own ways which is when they will move on to a new world with a new dream and begin again.

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