BTS: The ‘Run’ and ‘I Need U’ Story

Screenshot of Jung Hoseok (J-Hope) and Park Jimin in the ‘Run’ music video. Copyright goes to the Hybe Corporation and BTS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I’ve talked quite a bit recently about ‘Youth’ and the way that music videos such as ‘I Need U’ and ‘Run’ will be used for reference to the story being told. But, if you actually look at the two videos, they feel very connected. There are similar themes that run throughout both, almost to the point where it feels like ‘Run’ was made to be a prequel of ‘I Need U’. And though we have no idea if ‘Youth’ will ever even air at this point, I think it’s worth looking back at this storyline. Because very few artists spend time on a story the way BTS does and the themes in these stories are pretty deep. And rather dark. I don’t think I necessarily need a spoiler warning for this, but I’ll definitely need a TRIGGER WARNING to talk about ‘I Need U’ specifically. Considering how the usage of some of these themes has become more controversial and rightly more monitored to be more helpful, I can only assume that the television show would not end as sadly as ‘I Need U’. Especially with the current BTS brand. But I think some of that stuff still should be mentioned. If you are currently unable to handle those themes, reconsider reading further and definitely don’t watch the ‘I Need U’ MV. Trust me, I’ve been there and triggering yourself isn’t worth it. I’m going to go through everyone’s story individually in fan chant order. So let’s go through this!

Namjoon:

Namjoon is depicted to be poor enough to be working shabby jobs in both music videos. But there is a discrepancy in the way that he’s portrayed. For one, the actions of all the boys when they are together seem much more reckless in the ‘Run’ music video. But that aside, Namjoon is shown in ‘I Need U’ to be bored as he’s working a fairly usual gas station job. But nothing much more is seen of Namjoon in that particular music video. Other than a couple of singular shots with Taehyung. And that’s what we see more of in ‘Run’. In this particular MV, Namjoon seems to be portrayed as some sort of delinquent whose best friend is Taehyung. Namjoon hides with Tae as they are being chased by the cops, also runs away with him, and smiles at him as they’re both being arrested. Because the story for ‘Youth’ is pretty particular about mentioning that Yoongi and Jungkook are friends, I completely forgot about the different configurations we might see. Because there are actually a few who are portrayed as best friends that we might see more of if ‘Youth’ ever comes out. Namjoon smiling at Tae when they are arrested does make me think that they did something more enjoyable, like graffiti. But the crime theme only goes forward with Tae.

Jin:

A commonality between the two music videos for Jin is that he always seems to be portrayed alone in more singular shots. He’s the member who’s always portrayed with the group but is not really portrayed singularly with anyone else. In a way, Jin seems like the overseer. When the newest BTS game tackled the ‘I Need U’ storyline, that’s exactly what Jin was. The role of the overseer has been tackled many times (such as in Monsta X’s music video for ‘Dramarama’ where it was usually either Minhyuk or Hyungwon) and especially in time travel kinds of story lines. In the game Jin actually does time travel. I’m doubtful that would be part of ‘Youth’ though. But in both music videos the role of Jin does seem a little eery. He often stares at other members as if he knows what’s about to happen to them. And in the ‘Run’ MV he’s also the one who always drives the get away car. Either way, Jin’s the caretaker of the group and his knowledge seems to exceed anyone else’s. He’s always portrayed as the one who’s the most capable and the one with the most agency.

Yoongi:

By far, Yoongi and Tae are the ones who come off as the most delinquent-like. Yoongi consistently messes with dangerous things in both music videos. And in both it is clear that this character is in a lot of pain. But the other standout of his character is his bond with Jungkook. In ‘I Need U’, Yoongi spends most of the time in bed at home until the end of the video when he sets the house he’s in on fire. We see a couple of shots of him and Jungkook in this one, but mostly when they’re in group shots. Though the best friendship still seems to track here. In ‘Run’ this friendship is even more prominent. We see several shots of just the two of them. And then we see a longer scene between only them where it’s clear that Yoongi is very upset. Jungkook tries to hold him back and he swings at everything in the room, including Jungkook. He even throws things around. We don’t know why he’s doing this, but we can see how upset it makes Jungkook. And in the group shots, Yoongi is portrayed as one of the most reckless presences there. He is not portrayed as a caretaker for the group in any form.

Hoseok:

Hobi’s story is one of the most disturbing of all of them. Which is odd considering this role is played by our hope, J-Hope. In the ‘I Need You’ MV, Hobi’s struggle with his mental health is what his entire arc is about. There isn’t really any action shots with him unless it’s a group shot. Everything else depicts Hobi in a state I really never want to see him in again. Though I think that can be said for literally all of them. ‘I Need U’ depicts the deaths of many of the members of BTS, and Hobi’s death is one of them. Just as a refresher; Jungkook, Jin, Tae, and Namjoon all survive ‘I Need U’ while Hobi, Jimin, and Yoongi do not seem to. And the deaths are caused by themselves. Which is why I’m not being too descriptive. In ‘Run’, Hobi is often depicted in some sort of hospital. Which could be why he is struggling so much in ‘I Need U’. In most of the group shots Hobi is depicted with Jimin. Jimin and Hobi are constantly together. They fall down together during a pillow fight and Hobi lays on Jimin’s lap in another scene. In a separate scene we see Jimin visit Hobi in this hospital, and the feeling of this is much more somber. But through each, it’s clear that Hobi is ill in some way.

Jimin:

Jimin’s best friend Hobi isn’t doing well, and in these music videos neither is Jimin. Jimin is the first to greet many of the boys as they enter parties, he’s often depicted with the biggest smile on his face (though it sometimes looks mischievous), and it’s clear that he likes to have fun. And I guess it’s the fact that Jimin always has so much fun with his friends that causes him to struggle so much when he does. Jimin’s sadness in ‘Run’ comes from Hobi’s sadness and struggles. In an after credits scene for ‘Run’, we see Jimin sadly holding a Polaroid picture of his friend group and burning it. This is actually the image that directly ties ‘Run’ to ‘I Need U’. In ‘Run’, Jimin is shoved into a bathtub by the rest of the boys in a party scene where he’s shown laughing. In ‘I Need U’ Jimin sits fully clothed in what appears to be the same bathtub; reminiscing on his friends and appearing to become more and more depressed as he does so. It’s not actually fully clear if Jimin does die, but that implication feels there. It feels as though Jimin’s story line comes last; as if all of the other bad things have already happened.

Taehyung:

This is where the story gets a little bit more complicated. And that’s mostly because of Tae’s singular shots in ‘Run’. Throughout this I’ve been treating it as though ‘Run’ comes before ‘I Need U’ story wise, but Tae appears to be drowning in his singular shots for ‘Run’. I think I’m going to take this as more of a figurative message than a literal one. In ‘Run’, Tae dresses in dark colors and appears to commit several crimes. Some of them with Namjoon. He and Namjoon get arrested. This illegality continues in ‘I Need U’ when we see that Tae doesn’t look like he’s doing the most savory of activities. He visits Namjoon at the gas station at some point, and we also know he goes home to see what some assume to be his parents having an argument. ‘Youth’ says that Tae comes from an abusive household, which would confirm this theory. And we end this story in ‘I Need U’ with him killing his father in defense of his mother who his father was hitting at the beginning of the scene. The one crime that Tae doesn’t seem to have had a choice in committing.

Jungkook:

Jungkook spends a lot of his time getting beat up. And I mean a lot. When we see Jungkook in ‘Run’ he’s getting attacked by Yoongi. We don’t see much of Jungkook singularly in that one. Instead we see him launch himself at Yoongi and try to hold him back, which prompts Yoongi to punch him. Jungkook doesn’t take that lying down because he also punches Yoongi, who only seems to find Jungkook’s efforts amusing. In ‘I Need U’ we see Jungkook alone. This time he’s in an alley surrounded by several figures in black. And they are also severely beating up Jungkook. There have been a few theories about a fall out between Yoongi and Jungkook causing Jungkook’s turn to crime and Yoongi’s loneliness followed by his death in ‘I Need U’. Either way, their close friendship seems to be one of the closest and also one of the most explosive of the best friendships these music videos explore. And if the storyline in ‘Youth’ is to be believed; Jungkook is all Yoongi has left after the death of his mother. So the theories might not be too far off.

It can honestly be a little difficult for me to talk about these particular music videos sometimes. They deal with extremely dark content and it’s difficult to see anyone, never mind our boys, portraying these scenarios. As I’ve said several times, it’s difficult to imagine that ‘Youth’ would go with all the original plot points and the original dark theme. The summary for the show even has a more positive edge to it, by saying that the boys use each other to get through their struggles. It already sounds like a light at the end of the tunnel. But, if they are going with these themes, these depictions definitely need to be handled with more care now that our understanding of mental health has improved since these music videos originally came out. I don’t mind them dealing with these themes as long as they deal with them in a helpful and heavily researched manner. Dark themes aside, it was nice to brush up on the friendship aspects of these videos. I think we might be able to look forward to a Hoseok and Jimin pairing and a Namjoon and Taehyung pairing as well as the Jungkook and Yoongi pairing. And hopefully we’ll be able to see Jin taking care of all of them in the mix as well. While I would appreciate if they are more careful with some of the theming, I definitely don’t want them to change those dynamics if possible. But I guess we’ll just have to see when or if ‘Youth’ comes out!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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