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BTS' Korean language discography - beyond PTD!


I've always been a word nerd. Always. Language has always fascinated me - I've written stories from the time I could string sentences together and ended up studying Linguistics at university. The structure, nuance, history and feel of different languages has been intriguing to me, and while I grew up essentially bilingual, I've dipped my toes into various languages over my adult years to. Never though, had I tried to learn a language with an entirely new script before I came across BTS, Korean, and hangeul.


The fact that hangeul was invented in the 15th century specifically to make sure that as many Korean subjects as possible could learn to read and write is gorgeous to me...but don't let that trick you into thinking it might be easy! You gotta put the work in, believe me! HOWEVER - hangeul and its characters and structure are so elegant, logical, and beautiful, that it's an absolute joy to learn...and that leads me on to the WHY...


In the global music scene, few groups have achieved the level of international acclaim and influence that BTS have garnered over the ten years since they arrived on the Korean music scene. This, in the most recent years, is partly thanks to their chart-topping English language hits (Dynamite, Butter, Permission to Dance) - but beyond that lies a huuuuge treasure trove of artistry that truly shines when you delve into the beauty of their Korean language songs. It's essential for anyone interested in the group to look beyond BTS' English language hits and embrace the rich cultural and linguistic tapestry woven into their Korean discography - which itself often touches on European literature and art, making it a real global feast.


BTS have always prided themselves on representing their Korean heritage through their music and performances. By exploring their Korean language tracks, you can delve deeper into their cultural authenticity and connection to their roots. The Korean language carries with it a unique rhythm and emotion that infuses BTS' songs with a beautiful depth that may get lost in translation - even when romanised into Latin script to make it a bit easier for learners like me to initially digest! Listening to their Korean tracks allows us to experience the full range of emotions the members want to communicate, giving us a more intimate connection between artist and audience.


The Korean language possesses a rich palette of linguistic nuances, which often carry cultural and emotional significance. Delving in to BTS' Korean songs, digesting translations, and noticing rhythms and inflections, listeners can appreciate the intricate wordplay, puns, and metaphors that may be challenging to convey accurately in translation. This linguistic depth adds layers of meaning to the lyrics, making the listening experience more profound and rewarding - and gives us a unique insight into the creativity and craftsmanship that goes into each of their songs.


BTS' Korean discography offers a diverse range of musical styles that may not always be present in their English language hits, which have tended to stick to straightforward pop. Exploring their Korean tracks opens the door to a wider spectrum of musical genres, from traditional Korean elements to contemporary K-pop sounds, deep and dirty hiphop beats and orchestral interludes. This eclectic blend not only showcases the group's versatility but also introduces fans to new sonic experiences that may be absent in their English releases, and do may have gone under the radar. Embracing the Korean language tracks allows fans to immerse themselves in a broader musical world, expanding their horizons and appreciation for different styles. One of the saddest things anyone can do is dismiss BTS as a pop boyband making bubblegum music for the masses. Reaching into their wider discography shows that they transcend K-pop as a genre - and their global success is testament to that wider appeal. And it's a fact that we probably all can understand, you don't necessarily need to know exactly what's being said to understand the emotional message of a piece of music...


Language is a powerful carrier of culture, history, and identity. As BTS continues to make waves on the global stage, even while taking a break and completing their mandatory military service, their Korean language songs serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving and celebrating linguistic diversity. By embracing their Korean discography, we can contribute to the preservation of the Korean language and its cultural significance, and bringing this gorgeously elegant language to a new audience - the result being a deeper understanding and respect for the cultural heritage that BTS proudly represents - and I can stand witness to the enrichment that brings to your life, just from the food alone...I also can't express the joy I felt at the first time I could fully read a newspaper headline in a K-drama - I actually squealed, no word of a lie.


So while BTS' English language hits have absolutely contributed - and continue to contribute as members release their solo projects during their break from group activities, many of which feature English language songs- to their international success, there is a world waiting to be discovered within their Korean discography. By looking beyond the language barrier, we not only gain a more profound understanding of BTS' music but also contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage and linguistic diversity. So, let's celebrate the beauty of the Korean language, find new music, enrich our brains and our lives...and maybe surprise ourselves along the way :)


Rach  x



IMAGE: Modern Hangul Calligraphy - Seo Heehwan, 1983




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