With references to movies, myth and Carl Jung, you’d think the stars stood out from the crowd. In fact they do the opposite
The arrival of K-pop band BTS’s latest mini-album comes heralded not merely by eye-watering statistics – according to a press release it has “surpassed 3m pre-orders globally”, an incredible figure in the current climate – but fan-produced crib notes as well. “Ask any fan of the Korean septet and they’ll probably tell you how they’ve spent the weeks leading up to Map of the Soul: Persona’s release brushing up on the psychological theories of Carl Jung,” offered a recent feature on the MTV website.
As preparations for your favourite boyband’s latest release go, it certainly beats camping outside a record shop while bellowing their hits to keep your spirits up. Before you dismiss this as the ravings of a berserk fan who’s Googled the album’s title, discovered its links to a 1999 introduction to Jung written by a psychologist called Murray Stein and run with the idea, it’s worth noting that the website of BTS’s management company Big Hit is currently selling copies of Stein’s book alongside the CDs and memorabilia.
Whether you view this as a welcome return to the idea of pop music as a doorway into an new world of literature and art, or just as an inventive expansion of pop merchandising, may depend on the degree of cynicism with which you regard the entertainment agencies that control South Korea’s pop stars. But what of the music at the centre of this phenomenon?