In BTS‘s latest album BE, “Dis-ease” tackles issues of mental health in an upbeat and catchy way. David Kim of DKDKTV breaks down the song’s clever lyrics, hidden meanings, and things most international fans might miss on VisitSeoulTV.
1. Depicting pandemic life
From the very beginning, J-Hope describes life in quarantine as an “endless rest” and “uncomfortable happiness.”
It’s here he sets the scene with his inspiration for the song: The mental burden he feels from being unable to detach himself from his work obsession and simply relax.
J-Hope uses similar sounding words “samsi sekki” (삼시 세끼) and “sekki” (세끼).
“Samsi sekki” means “three meals a day” while “sekki” contextually holds a similar meaning to “brat.” In this line, J-Hope is saying that he should be working hard but is instead a “brat” who gets to relax and comfortably eat all three regular meals.
3. Korean Idiom
J-Hope references a rotten rope that originates from a popular Korean idiom.
The saying states that if you decide to climb up a rotten rope, it will break. With this, J-Hope could be saying he’s anxious in making the wrong decision and falling from his current status.
He could also be comparing his inability to enjoy rest time to a rotten rope that’s ready to snap at any moment.
A Korean expression for losing your mind translates to “letting go of your mind rope,” which may also tie back to J-Hope’s original meaning and rope metaphor, implying that he’s going crazy.
4. Immature mindset
The BTS members chime in for the pre-chorus, also discussing that they may have some mental struggles, as well.
[They have] too many thoughts, not being able to think in a simple manner; They think they’re still mentally immature and that causes bumps in their life time-to-time.
5. Destigmatizing mental illness
The chorus begins to compare all of these anxious feelings the members are experiencing to a mental illnes — and that it’s completely okay to experience these things.
In the chorus, the members reassure themselves every day that they’re ordinary people, too, and also people all have some sort of mental illness of their own.
By emphasizing the words “disease” and “discarding fear,” they’re saying there is nothing to be afraid of about mental illness since it is a normal thing to experience.
Whats amazing is that they publically admit mental illnesses and even bring in talks regarding curing them as well.
6. Taking time for mental health
RM’s verse states it’s important to take time off for the “soul,” or mind/heart. Everyone needs a break from rigorous work and should get adequate rest.
7. Clever double meanings
RM uses wordplay as well, including the Korean word “ill” meaning “ill” (sick) and “work.”
He also uses the double meaning of “byeong” meaning both “disease” and “bottle,” stating a mental illness can feel like a glass bottle hit your head. Additionally, he uses the term “label” which can represent the label on a bottle or society’s labels on people with mental illness.
Even the title “Dis-ease” has a double meaning, showing the membrs are not at ease when trying to rest.
8. Perspective on the world
Suga asks whether the world is sick or if he is the sick one, or even how should the term “sick” be defined.
Potentially referencing a darker version of “sick people,” such as people with hatred in their hearts, all he knows is that it’s easier to change himself and his own perspective than try to change others. With this verse, Suga begs many questions about what or who is truly “sick.”
9. A message of hope
In the latter part of the song, it shows an uplifting perspective of how the difficult times will pass and will make you stronger in the end.
J-Hope stated that in the way BTS overcomes obstacles and inspires people, he wanted to give this song the same triumphant meaning.
The song also has a meaningful message in conservative Korean society.
I personally think this song has more meaning because Korean society has never really been acceptive or open towards mental illnesses. There’s always this sort of negative stigma attached to the field.
However, BTS preaches in this song it’s perfectly normal to have a disease or mental illness … People should rather focus or talk about mental health care and curing.
Watch the full interpretation of “Dis-ease” below.