BTS’ Jimin tells stories solely with his movements onstage- nimble and light but bold and majestic, sometimes. Now he perches on before the camera. Jimin – exuding nothing but his distinctive charm – is in full bloom for <W Korea>.
A studio cove outside Seoul, large enough to accommodate three classic cars delicately wrapped in bloom, a sizeable spring mattress, shooting equipment, clothing racks holding tens of Dior Summer 2023 Collection — meticulously arranged for BTS’ Jimin, who recently named as the new global ambassador of Dior. Quiet and light on his feet, Jimin wades into the set. In Dior Summer 2023 Menswear, Artistic Director Kim Jones renders a utilitarian collection combining the formal with the informal and style with functionality. In celebration of the house’s 75th anniversary, the creative soul paid tribute to the identity and heritage of the House of Dior and embodied legendary gardens on set. Off to one side is strewn with a constellation of colorful flowers. Quite a number of production crew and staff are expected for the cover shoot than anyone might ever imagine. Fortunately, beautiful flowers are unlikely to go to waste if each takes some home as a keepsake. Jimin begins to leap in the air on a sizable mattress surrounded by flowers, bouncing up and falling backwards countless times; every movement he makes recalls his graceful performance onstage; Jimin, who studied dance at an arts high school, doesn’t simply jump. Instead, he rises and appears to float in the air for an instant. The camera captures the fleeting seconds of his flight. Jimin casts a giant’s shadow on a large backdrop.
In June 2022, BTS released the anthology album Proof ; a three-CD compilation album compiling the key moments tracing back 9 years of achievements. Lyrics to the lead single “Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)” flash through my mind.
“Somewhere deep inside your heart / There still lives a young boy / My moment is yet to come.”
Undoubtedly, the line ‘my moment is yet to come’ serves as a low-key ode to their promise for a hopeful future as the septet, last year, decided to look forward to a new chapter. In the past few years, the high popularity of BTS has accelerated at full speed throughout the globe. Thanks to the unrivalled solidarity of fandom, the group, at a tremendous rate, has been thriving on a global scale. I’ve been prompted to look up unfamiliar destinations around the world where BTS left their mark. As their influence spans the world, a globe or a world map was, at times, the only tool that helped me estimate the distance they have reached.
Currently, Individual members embarked on a new chapter of their careers. j-hope and RM, respectively, started out with their first official solo albums in July and December of 2022, and Jin released his first solo single in October. Who’s up next? Any discussions on Jimin’s solo album have taken place behind closed doors, but I am optimistic it will take little time. Jimin’s influence and power as a solo artist are evident; the enormous reaction (which was expected but still surprising) to the six different cover versions pre-released on the <W Korea> Instagram page was definitely the one. His solo track ‘Filter’ was released in February 2020 on BTS’ fourth studio album and reached over 340 million streams on Spotify as of January 2022. Jimin’s solo discography also includes the song ‘Promise’ released on Soundcloud 4 years ago, ‘Friends’, produced by Jimin and performed with V. Jimin, the expressionist, won the hearts of fans with enchanting performances in ‘Serendipity’ and ‘Lie’. Notably, Jimin’s dedicated fans commemorate the anniversaries of his solo songs in various meaningful ways.
Back on set, Jimin steps out in another look, radiating a different aura from a moment ago. Warm sepia-toned lights shed on the “It Boy” figure in his beige Dior Coat. Leaning back on a floral ladderback chair with his legs crossed, the overall composition of the K-Pop sensation somehow recalls portraits by Amadeo Modigliani. This time, once he takes control over the shutter for selfies, the charming artist, no less, transforms into a mischievous boy. Few would recall that BTS were featured in the December 2014 issue of <W Korea> as a rookie boy band. Ambitious seven boys seriously talked about their dreams- for their concerts, winning the Best New Artist award and the First Prize on the TV music programs. Back in my office, I took out the 2014 issue by the new pictorials soon to be printed; comparing the significant evolution the group has made, I couldn’t help my heart throbbing. Jimin surely has not forgotten his first encounter with <W Korea>. He politely opened this interview with the word ‘reencounter’. This interview went through emails; instead of a long sit-down on a bustling set, a meticulous consideration for Jimin, who recently has a penchant for ‘writings’.
Some of his answers still run through my head. Mostly memorable, yet the one that makes me smile is the one to my question, “who he really is when taking away global superstar BTS packaging”, “A goofy friend in sweatpants who loves to have soju with friends at Pojangmacha(the street food carts).” Calling himself ‘friend’ in a somewhat gentle and thoughtful manner, Jimin touches the heart of readers.
<W Korea>: I am pleased to have you as the cover artist, finally! And congratulations on becoming a new global ambassador for Dior. I assume we can see you at the fashion capital soon.
Jimin: First, I’m glad to reunite with <W Korea> after so long and grateful. I am genuinely thankful for being the ambassador of a global brand like Dior and excited about this partnership. I hope to take this opportunity to study fashion and to contribute to the brand. I’ve never been to fashion week, so I’m worried that I might be nervous there.
Do you recall any reactions from your parents when you said you became the global ambassador as well as you were to visit the White House last year?
They always put on the brightest smile and tell me that they are proud of me. Incredible opportunities like these make me take pride in being a member of BTS.
The release date of your solo album is still a mystery, but I believe you are working on it nowadays. So, how have you been lately? Are we a bit worried, or light-hearted although your schedule is pretty packed?
There are hardly any changes of mind, nor do I find it uneasy. But I am preparing many things, so I spend considerable time on the direction and plan of the work. I guess you could say my mind has been busier than my body these days (laughs).
In the first half of 2022, you and Ha Sung Woon together released the OST of the TV drama <Our Blues>, ‘With you’. Also, we had the anthology album Proof, completing a chapter of BTS. We are eager to hear how you have spent your break after the release. Did you have a chance to sort out your thoughts or find out something where you could finally understand and reflect on yourself? I believe it was the first time you could really take a break and look around.
I tried to focus on ‘what I feel now’. I wrote down everything I felt at every moment – precisely as possible – because I was afraid the feelings would go away if I don’t record them. It felt like I had to keep those moments. In fact, BTS and I have gone through many changes in the past few years. Because we’ve made it through together strong, I thought writing down my feelings and ideas would help me overcome any obstacles the next time I encounter similar hurdles like these. In a word, it was a time of reflecting on how I feel – especially on what made me happy or worn out in the past.
Where do you find happiness? I mean, you can name anything. But I know ARMY would be the first thing you will think of.
ARMY is an obvious answer, but they are the one that makes me the happiest man on the planet (laughs). We’ve been together through thick and thin, through joys and sorrows. Spending time with my friends would be more of a small happiness in my life – it’s also my only hobby and pastime.
You teamed up with BigBang’s Taeyang and released ‘VIBE’ on the 13th of January, before <W Korea> Vol. 2 was released. You guys have different charms and styles running but eventually found a common ground. First of all, you both are known as boy band veterans who can sing and dance. And listeners find both vocals nostalgic, high-pitched, and sound solid in high notes.
Taeyang is an idol to me. You can say that working with him is one of the goals that I’ve been longing for. Ever since I was young, I’ve followed his career and learned a lot from him. So, when he talked about collaboration, it was too good to be true. Being able to work by his side made me realize he is an even greater person than I thought he was. I was also touched by how he took care of even the smallest details throughout the work process. Working with him made me realize that I want to be an artist who is an amazing singer as well as a performer.
Looking at the interview on Weverse Magazine around the time Proof was released, you mentioned that you would be spending some time working together with producers and continuously trying new things. As you continue working on the music, do you feel your ideas are realized or do they just get more complicated?
I’ve been working together with producers and asking them for their opinions, and it’s definitely been a lot of fun. The more I worked on it, the more enjoyable it was. Now I know why the members told me to write songs. However, creating a piece based on the emotions from the past was another matter. That was not all easy and fun (laughs).
Have you found the answer to the question – ‘What do I want the most?’, which will be the starting point of your solo venture?
I am afraid I haven’t found a big and clear answer. I don’t think there is a better answer than ‘I want to do what I do now, better, and for a long time.’ That’s why I am looking back and reflecting on what I have felt in the past.
When you describe your ideal performance, you have said that you wish to display every possible aspect of yourself, in the best version. The wildest, sexiest, and cutest along with the music and performance. Being the best version of yourself and being a perfectionist sounds similar, but they are different. Could we achieve the best version if we push the limit – physically and mentally – and literally give our all?
It may sound harsh, but I believe what’s important here is the result. The result of giving your all and the feelings you earn from such results are truly on a different level. In order to achieve the best result possible, you really need to focus on just one thing and put in a lot of effort.
Taking the role of a project manager for the special album BE or working on your song must’ve been a meaningful experience prior to working on your solo album. Your first entirely self-composed song is ‘Promise’, released on SoundCloud. When I interviewed j-hope last summer, he mentioned that listening to past mixtapes before working on his solo album helped him to organize his thoughts. What about you?
To be honest, I found it harder to start the projects (laughs). I’ve learned how enjoyable and fun it can be, but it’s not easy to write lyrics that reach and touch everyone’s mind. I mean, now I have a new bigger respect for the members for that. I think I was captured by the ideas of ‘I want to do this’ and ‘Can I do it?’ at the same time.
An especially large number of people describe your performances as exceptionally beautiful. We all want to know about ‘Jimin Begins’. When young Jimin meets dance. The first encounter where you felt the spark.
I vividly remember my first encounter with dance. It was in middle school, I was talking with my friends in front of the classroom when I noticed the weekly newsletter listing after-school activities. Break dancing was on that very list. My friends and I signed up because we thought it would make us popular (laughs).
What was Park Jimin like at that age? Tell me anything that comes to mind when you think about your old neighborhood. I want to picture you in those scenes.
I remember the old neighborhood and the area around my school clearly. My favorite memory has to be hanging out at my friend’s house after school. One day we would visit one house, tomorrow another. We would make instant ramen by ourselves and then go out and run around. I think about how good it would be to go back to those days.
One of the Korean musicians once said that he realized just how much music can mess someone up after buying a Michael Jackson cassette tape as an elementary school student. Jackson and his songs really opened a new world to a child who only knew children’s songs and hymns. Has any artist evoked similar emotions within you?
I have to say Michael Jackson for me too. I really wish I could have seen him while he was still alive. I was also astonished by Chris Brown and Usher, and by the performances of BIGBANG and other K-Pop artists.
On that note, we have to talk about BTS concerts! The massive crowd looking like stars in the night sky, loud cheers, colorful lights, amazing performances, and cathartic feelings… What is it like returning to a quiet still home after a passionate performance? What comes into your mind before you go to bed?
I constantly hear cheering from the moment I get off stage to when I return to the hotel and fall asleep that night—it replays in my ears. Sometimes I feel this unique thrill even after the performance. It isn’t just the sole emotion like emptiness or a specific feeling but multiple emotions flooding in at once. I get overwhelmed by indescribable emotions but it goes away when I lie down on the bed. Actually, only good feelings are left with me so I really miss the stage. I really want to be on the stage with the members of a concert.
Have you ever been driven to tears at any point in your career—whether it be when you were a trainee or after your debut? If you could say something to Jimin in the past, what would it be?
Oh, I cried many times, saying I was exhausted, tired and I don’t know what to do. But, I didn’t have anything to say to myself back then. I got here because I went through all of that (laughs).
What do you think is your best character? When I asked j-hope the same question, he said he can be embracing.
Curiosity? I’ve been full of curiosity ever since I was a child. If I couldn’t understand, or if I wanted to know more, I had to look up and find out the answer. But that doesn’t mean that I am that diligent of a person (laughs). I think I was just interested in useless things.
Do you have any kind words that stuck with you? Sometimes the words that weren’t meant to comfort you actually warm you up.
There are so many moments that come to mind. My fans tell me the most beautiful things every day that I don’t think I deserve. There is my manager who said he was sorry that he didn’t get to feel all the pain I went through and hugged me when I was having a hard time. The staff who shed tears with me, friends and family who came and spent time with me for days without saying anything. You know, I remember all of it. There is a time when I feel the most strength and a sense of guilt – when the members tell me ‘It’s okay’.
If there is one thing that you would like to praise yourself for in 2022?
I once went to talk to the members, telling them I was off the course for a while. They were generous with so many comforting words and advice and gave me the strength to work on the solo album. So, I want to take this opportunity to be proud of myself for going to the members when I felt lost for the first time (laughs).
What made you feel lost? Did you feel you were receiving more love than you deserve? Were you torn as to how you would go forward after the team has achieved so much success? Or was it frustration from the absence of performing during the Pandemic?
I think all three of them are responsible. People don’t know why they are lost when they are lost. We can say we were disoriented after some time, but at that time, we cannot give a clear answer to the question. I mean, I think I just wanted to avoid the situation I was in. One worry follows the other, and I tried to avoid and neglect them, rather than encounter them.
What do you think you need the most right now?
Time. I need time to well-finish my twenties, prepare for my thirties, and navigate the direction beyond that. Also, I would like some time to complete my album, and have fun with my friends. I really wish I had more time.
You can take the liberty of imagining your future for a moment. How do you picture yourself, or what do you want yourself to be in the future?
I want to be someone who takes things easy. If you want to be composed in your job, such as with music and performance, you have to be good at it. If you want to have peace of mind, your mind has to be strong, and that means your surroundings have to be solid. I want to be a person who keeps all these words.
When you take away global superstar BTS packaging, marketing, and the glitter of the entertainment industry, who are you at your core?
A goofy friend in sweatpants, who loves to have soju with friends at Pojangmacha (the street food carts).