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This Korean Painter Inspired RM’s “Yun” & The ‘Indigo’ Album Cover

BTS’ RM dropped his first *official* full-length solo album, Indigo, on Dec. 2, and it’s safe to say that the ARMY is living. Many have awaited the release of this project, especially after BTS announced their plan to focus more on solo work earlier in 2022, and the members’ eventual enlistment starting with Jin this December. Nonetheless, RM is giving everyone what they’ve been wanting (and more) with Indigo, and one track in particular has caught the attention of many. It happens to be the first song in the album’s track list, “Yun,” that features the icon Erykah Badu. But, what — or who — is the song inspired by, and is the name Yun in the track title a real person or not? Let’s discuss.

Indigo itself has caught the attention of many because it’s another individual project from a BTS member. In an exclusive at-home Tiny Desk concert in South Korea, RM spoke about the album and its importance to his career and personal life. “[I’ve] been doing music for 15 years, you know, 10 years as BTS,” he started, “But still, this is my first official solo album.” 

He went on to say that each of the 10 songs from the album represented “10 colors out of my soul and out of my ego, […] this time I could finally show the world what’s really inside me and what I really wanted to do.” The opening track of Indigo begins the album’s story seamlessly, and you may have also noticed that it features the one and only Badu. Many have been chatting about her feature on the track, and are excited to see her working with RM. Badu brings her quintessential R&B flare to “Yun,” but the meaning behind the track takes inspiration from another one of RM’s favorite artists. 

After listening to the track, you might notice that the song speaks to the balance that many artists struggle to keep between their lives and their careers. RM challenges the music industry at whole throughout the duration of the track, singing in the chorus, “I wanna be a human ‘fore I do some art, it’s a cruel world but there’s gon’ be my part.”

In his NPR Tiny Desk concert on Dec. 2, RM took time to reveal more backstory about the track “Yun.” He dished that the track was actually inspired by a late Korean artist, Yun Hyong-keun, who he has the utmost respect for. “He was always saying that you should firstly be a human before you do some art,” he explained. “This song is inspired by his lifelong message.” He also revealed that the cover of Indigo showcases a piece of Yun’s work on the album cover in the concert. “When you see the cover of the album, you can see his painting.” According to an official press release by HYBE, the painting is called Blue.

RM has long admired the work and legacy of Yun, even owning a few pieces of his art for himself that he displays in his studio. Yun went through many battles throughout his lifetime, fighting for political freedom of his country while living in South Korea through the Japanese occupation. Eventually, the Allied Forces liberated South Korea, with citizens later learning that the U.S. now had occupancy of the country. Yun took a stand to advocate for Korean independence, which even led to him being arrested. 

Yun was set to be executed when he was able to escape, but became captured by the North Korean army where he was forced to become a part of their secret military. Eventually, Yun was able to once again escape, but was later imprisoned again by the South Korean government for suspected allyship with North Korea.  

RM divulged that the song itself is a communication between himself and the artist, pondering life and death with the help of Badu throughout the track’s pre-chorus. RM switches between English and Korean throughout “Yun” (showing off his impeccable rapping skills) and communicates the message that as an artist, it’s important to have a sense of oneself separate from the art. The song also includes archival audio of Yun’s voice, according to Consequence.

At the end of the Tiny Desk mini concert, RM was smiling and laughing with his band, saying, “That was ‘Yun.’ I love this song, it’s the first track of the album Indigo, so if you guys love it, please check it out.” RM, I have just one thing to say: We love this song too!

McKinley Franklin is a writer, student, and Leo in love with all things pop culture. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you can catch her reading, cooking, or catching up on her latest reality TV obsession.