At his last Seoul concert before enlistment, BTS’s Suga, opened a door and finally walked free, while waving to the millions of lightsticks flashing in the audience. The significance of this might not be understood for those who aren’t fans of the band, yet, for the real ARMY’s as the BTS fanbase call themselves, it was nothing less than a powerful moment in their purple history.
Min Yoongi, Suga or his alter ego Agust D is called, has struggled with ‘opening the door’ for a decade. The symbolism of the door was first initiated in his Amygdala video, a song from his latest album, D-Day. In the video, Suga desperately tries to open a door, sometimes fighting with it, and sometimes, crawling towards it, while scenes from his history play, including his mother’s operation and his own accident that left him with an injured shoulder. In other words, the door represented Suga’s emotional and exhaustive turmoil over the past ten years.
There’s so much to unwrap about the complex world of Suga, his journey, music and different personas. Designated as the ‘North Star’ of BTS, he’s almost an enigma to some, still. In the past few years, we’ve embraced, studied his different personas, each of them stark and distinct from the other, and yet so similar. While Suga is the stage name of the rapper who can spit fire, he’s not quite the same as Min Yoongi, the seemingly reserved, quieter person, who determinedly pursued his dreams to become a rapper at the age of twenty, much to the concerns of his parents.
Yoongi has often shared details from his history, which included him taking up part-time jobs as a delivery boy to make ends meet, while training to be a K-Pop idol. He also bought lottery tickets in his early days, as he barely had an income. “I felt so hopeless when we were trainees. I bought one lottery ticket every week,” he had once said. He even revealed that the numbers would come in his dreams. “A … [animal] would appear and tell me the numbers in Korean,” he had laughed.
He suffered an accident during those days, and was so afraid of letting the agency and his band members know, that he lied to them. “The next day, I couldn’t move my shoulder. I didn’t tell the agency. I thought that they’d let me go if I told them,” he had said. Finally, years later, he underwent a surgery and tattooed ‘7’ right above the scar, a sign of the role his members have had in his journey to healing and peace.
Yoongi has also been vocal about his battles with mental health, explaining that he had channeled his ‘rage and inferiority complex’ into his lyrics. In 2018, he openly talked about his mental health issues and said, “Anxiety and loneliness seem to be with me for life. I put a lot of meaning on how I should work it out, but seems like I have to study it my entire life. With my lyrics, I wanted to say I am anxious, and so are you. Let’s find a way to learn together.”
Yoongi feels these emotions, but Agust D takes them forward. A raw extension and alter ego of the rapper, we were introduced to him in 2016. Agust D articulated what Suga and Yoongi didn’t. He had nothing to hide; he bared his battles with depression through furious and even profane lyrics, the haunting shadows of fame, and the poverty he had endured in his life.
Agust D was filled with anger; he attacked those who had tried to pull down the band owing to their devoted fandom. He utters the words in the song The Last, “Min Yoongi is dead, I had to kill him,” indicating that he had to destroy himself to become who he is, and had to rise above vulnerability, in order to survive in a ruthless world.
He also raged against the attacks surrounding the band, the mockery they had to face as rappers and the pressure to survive in a cut-throat industry. The album D-2 released in 2020, four years after the first, portraying his crippling fears and anxieties of monumental fame in the song Daechwita, mixed with contemplative moments where he questions his craft and himself entirely in the song Moonlight.
There’s a desire to burn down his ‘old self’ in the song Burn It, as well as a rather weary tone in the song ‘28’, where he mentions that he doesn’t really bother about the life he has chosen. Agust D allowed Suga to express himself in terms of hope, fear, and anger.
Agust D returned again with the album D-Day this year, which details his journey to liberation and setting himself free. A non-linear journey, this involves returning to painful moments in his history with Amydgala, as well as offering support to aspiring artistes, along with questioning societal stereotypes and flaws.
This year, at the final Seoul concert on his D-Day tour, Agust D, Yoongi and Suga all merged into one, as the rapper sobbed while playing Snooze, Dear My Friend, and Amygdala. He put on the rawest performance that his fans had ever seen. As he explained in his live, the past 10 years had flashed in front of his eyes, as he saw three of his members, RM, J-Hope and Jin in the stands, as well as his seniors, and realised that he too, was now a senior to young and upcoming artistes. He could walk through the door, at long last.
It’s no surprise why, when his ‘vitamin’ and BTs band member J-Hope was asked, “What kind of person is Yoongi?” J-Hope answered, “The strongest.”