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Posted by thehobilab258 pts Friday, September 30, 2022

10 lines from j-hope's verses that prove he's a storyteller at heart

With 11 years of experience writing, composing, and producing music, and 135 copyright credits to his name, j-hope evolved past being the performance leader and musical pillar of BTS. While “Captain Jung” is often recognized for his insanely flawless dance skills, his prodigious lyricism has not gone unnoticed by music experts including multi-awarded Korean lyricist Kim Eana, esteemed Korean music critic Kim Youngdae, the GRAMMYs, NME, Consequence, RollingStone, and more.

Here are ten lines from j-hope’s lyrics that highlight his long-standing love affair with literature and reflect his profound musings on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of humankind.

#1 — “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

Appears in “Safety Zone” from j-hope’s album, “Jack In The Box”

“I also want to go, but where is that mindset?

Does such a place even exist in my mind as well?

I too must have had someone who was my Giving Tree,

But where’s the stump for me to sit on and look back for a moment?”

In ‘Safety Zone’ j-hope asks: Amidst all the chaos that surrounds every one of us, is there somewhere we can find comfort and refuge when we feel exhausted or lonely? Is there really such a thing as a ‘safe zone’ for someone?

To illustrate the solace he longs for, j-hope mentions in his lyrics the “Giving Tree” — a fictional apple tree that gave unconditionally to the boy who spent his childhood under its shade and loved him selflessly until the twilight of his life.

#2 — “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Appears in “Pandora’s Box” from j-hope’s album, “Jack In The Box”

“We need hope

Whether there’s a lot or not enough,

We’re Benjamin Button, unafraid of walking backward

I stand at the forefront, and if people could feel it even just a bit,

I’d like to let them know that there’s a little hero hidden inside every one of them”

In the song, j-hope likens BTS to the fictional character, Benjamin Button, who is born with a physical appearance of an elderly man but inexplicably looks younger as years go by. In the same way, BTS members, after experiencing tremendous and record-breaking global success as a team, now retrace their steps to find growth and fulfillment as individual artists.

#3 — “The Frog at the Bottom of the Well” by Zhuang Zi (Chinese fable)

Appears in “Pandora’s Box” from j-hope’s album, “Jack In The Box”

“A frog in a well that is this box

Jump out into the big world

Even if I face disaster, I want to run up against it

Jack in the box

Look at my title

With the box already opened, I now get to believe in

my name”

Zhuang Zi, an influential Chinese philosopher, wrote: “A frog in a well cannot discuss the ocean, because he is limited by the size of his well. A summer insect cannot discuss ice, because it knows only its own season.”

Comparing himself to “a frog in a well” that jumps out into the world, j-hope declares his readiness to face the challenges he might face as a soloist. Instead of being complacent and basking in the success of BTS, he courageously sprung out of his ‘well’ to explore and grow as a solo artist despite the obstacles and risks that might stand in his way.

#4 — “The Are No Bad People In The World” by Won Jae-Hoon

Appears in “STOP” from j-hope’s album, “Jack In The Box”

“How would it be even possible that everyone is similar and everyone is the same

One’s essence cannot change, I come to realize it, be myself

It’s the single grain of faith that governs me

There are no bad people in the world”

Inspired by the work of Korean poet and novelist Won Jae-Hoon, j-hope challenges himself and his listeners to make positive changes to the world by first stirring change within ourselves. When arguments arise, j-hope suggests that we see the situation through the other person’s perspective so that we may empathize and perhaps even understand them.

#5 — “Sister Sun and Brother Moon” (Korean folklore)

Appears in “Dis-ease” from BTS’s album, “BE”

“Even though I try shouting “Don’t do that,” it’s strangling itself over accomplishments

Errday do ma thang, damn if I fail

It keeps growling, I tap the rotten rope

It feels insecure, this is a disease”

In “Dis-ease,” j-hope used the idiom “rotten rope” which is an analogy for a bad decision. This phrase was actually inspired by a Korean folk tale about two orphaned children who are being chased by a tiger. In the moment of their greatest need, the gods take pity on them and hoist them up to the heavens with a rope. The tiger calls out to the gods asking that he be given a rope, too. His wish was granted, but the rope he was given was rotten and while he was climbing from it — the rope snapped and the tiger fell to his death.

#6 — “The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore” by Michele Wucker

Appears in “Blue & Grey” from BTS’s album, “BE”

“Would it be that I became numb to it, would it be that I collapsed

But it does feel heavy, this lump of metal

A grey rhino that comes toward me

Absently, I stand with vacant eyes”

“Blue & Grey” is a BTS track that deals with the themes of fatigue and burnout. In j-hope’s verse, he wrote about watching a “grey rhino” charging toward him but he simply stares blankly and freezes in his place. It’s a symbolism for feeling aware of one’s depression but refusing to see the reality of one’s situation.

Author, speaker, and policy expert Michele Wucker, who created the paradigm of the “grey rhino,” explains that the concept is a metaphor for “a highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat.”

#7 — “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift

Appears in “Spine Breaker” from BTS’s album, “Skool Luv Affair”

“You wear dirty clothes as well, I wear dirty clothes as well

Anyone would have experienced it

You wear them and go out on the street, your shoulders become squared up

Everyone looks smaller than me, like Gulliver”

Content creator David Kim explains, “Usually, hard, physical labor is done by bending your back. Thus, if you work too much, your spine will become permanently bent. So, BTS is calling kids who beg their parents to buy them expensive clothes spine-breakers.”

In the story of Gulliver, the protagonist survives a shipwreck but finds himself a captive of Lilliput, a kingdom inhabited by a race of tiny yet mean-spirited, smug, and vainglorious people.

By equating the spine-breakers to Lilliputians, j-hope refers to himself as “Gulliver” who is surrounded by people who are excessively proud but whose existence is actually insignificant and inconsequential.

#8 — “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” by Jules Verne

Appears in “Hope World” from j-hope’s mixtape, “Hope World”

“This is style, this is mine

Guys that are much the same, it’s the time to be in one body and soul

Let’s do it together, here we’re in a submarine

Everyone is an Arronax, I’m Captain Nemo


In the novel, marine biologist Professor Aronnax goes on an expedition in search of a suspected ‘sea monster’ which turned out to be a futuristic submarine called the “Nautilus.” Inside, he meets the enigmatic Captain Nemo who brings him along on a fascinating and fantastical journey under the sea.

By referring to himself as “Captain Nemo,” and calling his listeners “Arronax,” j-hope beckons us to explore the multi-layered, multi-faceted universe that he has created with his music.

#9 and #10 — “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

Appears in “Daydream” from j-hope’s mixtape, “Hope World”

“Like the hole Alice fell into,

Like the path leading to Hogwarts,

It’ll be a world of mirages

And it’ll be my own world

It’ll be exactly like what I imagined

But, it won’t last forever”

These two stories require very little explanation, as both Wonderland and Hogwarts are widely used metaphors for fantasies and dreams. What is worth noting is the idea that the protagonists of both stories, after going on their marvelous, unbelievable, and somewhat unhinged adventures, need to return to reality.

Alice had to wake up from her dream. Harry had to return to his Aunt Petunia’s home.

And j-hope, for his part, needs to put his daydreaming on hold to get on with his daily life.

It’s amazing how j-hope still finds the time to read despite his hectic schedule. And more impressive still is the fact that he uses lessons from literature not only to better himself but to create music that adds light to other people’s lives.

All translations are taken from Doolset Lyrics. Follow j-hope on Spotify to check out and enjoy his self-written and self-composed music.

  1. BTS
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5 12,542 Share 69% Upvoted
Elynur0610 pts Friday, September 30, 2022 0
Friday, September 30, 2022

J-Hope doesn't just write lyrics, he writes with deep thought and thoughtful lyrics that just don't come to mind. This means that his soul is very wide

14 (+15 / -1)
CathyBelle4 pts Saturday, October 1, 2022 0
Saturday, October 1, 2022

This is a great article that really highlights some of the reasons why professional songwriters have such respect for j-hope. Thank you!

12 (+12 / -0)


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