The real meaning behind BTS’ Spring Day

One listen to BTS’ melancholy song, “Spring Day,” and it’s clear from the tone of the 2017 track — even if you don’t speak Korean — that this is a relatively somber tune, particularly compared to the group’s upbeat singles like “Dynamite” and “Boy With Luv.” The song’s lyrics, when translated into English, depict a profound sense of loss and pining for a loved one who is no longer there. “Spring Day” is also heavy on the winter imagery, which conjures up a stark, barren landscape that leaves one feeling cold and lonely.

The music video, which has over 368 million views, only furthers this notion. Though the boys are sometimes shown together as a group, more often than not, they’re by themselves: staring out a train window, walking on snow-covered train tracks, strolling along the beach, standing in front of an abandoned carnival ride.

Though it’s clear that the song depicts a feeling of sadness and yearning, there are also multiple explanations of the tune’s lyrics. Let’s dive a little deeper into the meaning behind “Spring Day.”

There is a theory that BTS' Spring Day is about a horrific disaster in Korea

In 2014, according to The New York Times, a South Korean ferry sank and more than 100 occupants died, the majority of which were high school students who “obeyed orders to stay in their cabins as the boat was going down,” Esquire reported. After the disaster, which was reportedly caused by a “sharp right turn” of a ship that had been “poorly inspected” and was “overloaded,” “the South Korean government actively tried to silence entertainers who spoke out against it,” as per Esquire. However, many fans have speculated that the music video for “Spring Day” alludes to the tragedy.

In BTS’ wide-ranging interview with Esquire, published in November 2020, Jin spoke about the meaning of the song. Though he didn’t confirm if it was about the Sewol event in particular, he noted that it was about a “sad event.”

“I think that song really represents me,” he told the outlet. “I like to look to the past and be lost in it. … It is about a sad event, as you said, but it is also about longing.”

BTS' Spring Day may also reference a short story

BTS’ “Spring Day” makes mention of Snowpiercer, a 2013 Korean film, specifically in RM’s line: “Alone on the Snowpiercer.” According to IMDb, the film focuses on several people who survived a climate change extinction that wiped out the majority of the population. These lucky few managed to escape on the Snowpiercer, “a train that travels around the globe.”

Additionally, in the music video for the song, the boys are shown in front of a motel that boasts the neon sign “OMELAS.” According to one fan theory, this is a reference to the 1974 short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin.

According to The BTS Effect, the tale is about a seemingly utopian society with one major flaw: there is one child who is suffering from misery in order to maintain the happiness of the whole society. The townspeople are faced with two options: “[they] learn to accept that there is nothing they can do for the child, or they choose to leave.”

As the outlet points out, the title and theme of BTS’ concept album is You Never Walk Alone — an apparent message to the people of Omelas, who must leave the community one by one if they choose to do so. The title is also a fitting end to the “Spring Day” video, which ultimately shows the band walking together — despite each member appearing solo for almost the entirety of the visual.

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