Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
BTS performing at the 2021 Grammy Awards
BTS performing at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Photo by Cliff Lipson / CBS
Culture > Entertainment

BTS Youth Trilogy: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

Music group BTS is well known for their upbeat dance tracks and spectacular performances, but the themes and lyricality behind their work are equally captivating. BTS’s music albums are very deliberately curated, with each song telling a facet of the story, creating a discourse around a larger overarching narrative. These themes may often be explored in depth over multiple albums. Over the course of their nearly decade-long career the seven-member band have dealt with themes such as the Persona and the Jungian perception of the self (Map of the Soul duology), Mental health and self-love (Love Yourself trilogy), and Coming of age, morality and temptation (Wings era). 

The BTS Youth Trilogy holds a special place in my heart. It is also called the HYYH series. HYYH stands for “Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa (화양연화) ” or “The Most Beautiful Moment In Life”. It deals with young adulthood as a time of life that is fleeting and beautiful, while at the same time painful. I discovered BTS at the height of the pandemic during lockdown. While I had legally become an  adult, I had not had the chance to have any of the foundational experiences associated with young adulthood. It felt like the best years of my life were being stolen away from me, and I was stagnant and helpless. The HYYH series helped me process these emotions. It voiced my fears and anxieties and gave me comfort and motivation to overcome them. Deprived of my own experiences, I was vicariously living through 2015 BTS as they enacted a depiction of youth in their Music videos and concept photos. 

The Youth series has stunning visuals, with my favourite being HYYH on stage : prologue. It has a timeless quality to it, the warm, washed out look of the video and the background music lending it a dreamy effect. The boyish antics lend it an authentic touch and instant likeability. It induces feelings of nostalgia about memories that are not even your own, or anybody’s for that matter.

HYYH on stage : prologue

The HYYH music videos have a fictional storyline that connects them to each other. Each member has a dark backstory assigned to their character that they grapple with, including themes of violence and mental health. The album also marked a shift in sound for the band, as they moved from the hip hop heavy School Trilogy to pop music. BTS went mainstream in Korea following the release of this album. 

The ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life’ series has energetic tracks like Dope and Fire with intense choreography, but we will instead attempt to delve deeper into the lyrics and B-side tracks. 

  1. Intro: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life

BTS rapper Yoongi’s stage name, Suga, comes from the first syllables of the words shooting and guard since he was the shooting guard when playing basketball. This song draws a metaphor between a game of basketball and the anxieties of youth, setting the tone for the entire body of work. The dribbling sounds in the background reinforce the basketball metaphor, and the panting sounds at the end shows that the boy has stopped running away as he’s made peace with himself, throwing away the anxieties.

The lyrics convey all my fears as a young adult, putting them into words better than I ever could: about being afraid of reality, feeling unprepared to face adulthood, and meeting the standards of success set by others.

이 순간은 영원할 듯 하지만

Though this moment feels like it’ll last forever,

해지는 밤이 다시 찾아오면 좀먹는 현실

once the sun-setting night comes again, it’s the riddled reality

정신을 차리면 또 겁먹은 병신같은 내 모습에 자꾸만 또 겁이

Once I come to my senses, I get scared again looking at myself being a scared idiot

덮쳐오는 현실감

The sense of reality that hits me

남들은 앞서 달려 가는데 왜 난 아직 여기 있나

Why am I still here while others are running ahead

  1. Baepsae 

Baepsae (or Silver Spoon) is an upbeat dance track with killer choreography. The song talks about socioeconomic inequality and injustice. The title refers to a Korean idiom comparing the short legs of the bird baepsae (or crow-tit) to the long legs of the stork, to highlight the gap between the privileged classes and the powerless. While the original idiom preaches that you should tailor your ambitions to the measure of your abilities or the resources given to you, BTS (who were underdogs in the Korean music industry when they started out) challenges the status quo through their lyrics. 

난 뱁새다리 넌 황새다리

I have crow-tit’s legs, you have stork’s legs

걔넨 말하지 ‘내 다린 백만 불짜리’

They say, “my legs are worth a million dollars”

내 게 짧은데 어찌 같은 종목 하니?

How can we compete in the same sport when mine are short?

They say ‘똑같은 초원이면 괜찮잖니!’

They say, “it’s fair if the field is the same!”

Never Never Never

  1. Butterfly 

Butterfly has poetic lyrics that are overtly about a fragile and beautiful love, but can also apply to youth and its fleeting nature.  

시간을 멈출래

I would stop the time

이 순간이 지나면

Once this moment passes by,

없었던 일이 될까

that it might become something that didn’t happen,

널 잃을까

that I might lose you,

겁나 겁나 겁나

I’m scared scared scared

  1. I NEED U and Run 

Both songs are about passionate young love, desperation and heartbreak. While I NEED U details the feelings associated with the bittersweet heartbreak and one-sided love, Run is about being drunk on love and running after an impossible love that seems near its end. The music videos also mark the beginning of the BTS Universe storyline that has sparked many theories in the fandom over the years. The imagery is gorgeous, and graphic as it deals with some dark themes. I NEED U introduces the characters and their individual demons, while Run has a more carefree vibe, as they party and engage in delinquent activities. The theme of lost and directionless youth are predominant. 

I need you girl

왜 혼자 사랑하고 혼자서만 이별해

Why do I love alone and say goodbye alone

I need you girl

왜 다칠 걸 알면서 자꾸 네가 필요해

Why do I need you again, knowing that I’ll be hurt

다시 Run Run Run 넘어져도 괜찮아

Again, run run run, it’s okay even if I fall

Run Run Run 좀 다쳐도 괜찮아

Again, run run run, it’s okay even if I get hurt a bit

가질 수 없다 해도 난 족해

It’s okay even if I don’t have you

  1. Whalien 52

Whalien 52 is about the 52-hertz whale, the only individual emitting a whale call at this frequency. It has been described as the “world’s loneliest whale”. The central theme of this song is loneliness and isolation. It encourages one to reach out, with the undying hope that there will be a reply one day. These lyrics gave me solace during the pandemic, offering me the courage to reach out to my friends during a dark time, and to make new ones.

Lonely lonely lonely whale

이렇게 또 한 번 불러봐

I try singing once again like this

대답 없는 이 노래가

until this song with no reply

내일에 닿을 때까지

reaches tomorrow

  1. Intro: Never Mind 

The lyrics of Never Mind are very personal, detailing the criticisms and lack of support faced when starting out as a musician. They express the anger and frustrations of youth, encouraging listeners to ‘Never Mind’ all the comments and to live the way they want to. It is an anthem to forget and carry on, because, “On a stone that doesn’t roll (구르지 않는 돌에는), Moss grows certainly (필시 끼기 마련이거든 이끼).”

Never mind

쉽진 않지만 가슴에 새겨놔

It won’t be easy, but have this engraved in your heart

부딪힐 것 같으면 더 세게 밟아 임마

If you think you’re gonna crash, accelerate even harder, you idiot

  1. Epilogue : Young Forever 

Young forever is a window into what BTS feel as young performers. It’s a very vulnerable song, confiding fears and insecurities and addressing the uncertainty they feel about their future, as artists often have a very limited time in the limelight. Despite this the lyrics express the desire to sing forever, to keep running endlessly towards a dream even in the face of obstacles. The chorus “forever we are young” expresses the desire to remain young, crystallized in that beautiful moment on stage forever, along with implying an immortality of art and of youthful passions and dreams.

언제까지 내 것일 순 없어 큰 박수갈채가

The huge applause can’t be mine forever

이런 내게 말을 해, 뻔뻔히

I talk to myself, shamelessly,

니 목소릴 높여 더 멀리

“Raise your voice, to reach farther”

영원한 관객은 없대도 난 노래할거야

Even if there is no everlasting audience, I will sing

오늘의 나로 영원하고파

I wish to remain forever as today’s myself

영원히 소년이고 싶어 나

I wish to remain forever as a boy

The latest BTS release is a compilation album of their work, with the lead single titled ‘Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment). The title is clearly a call back to the HYYH era, but the new track expresses a different sentiment, “You and I, best moment is yet to come”. As BTS begins their new chapter, with a temporary break from group activities to pursue individual projects, the lyrics express that there is still a lot to learn and dreams to fulfil, and that the best is what comes next. While HYYH will forever be special to me, (and is also the first music album I have ever purchased), Yet to Come dissuades us from an overly romanticized conception of youth, serving as an important reminder to keep moving forward into the future.

Translation credits: @doolsetbangtan

Sumedha Vashista is a Sociology Honours student at Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University with a specialization in overanalyzing the ordinary. She loves vintage films, flared jeans, slow ballads, cheesy romance novels, and anime.