BTS – Interlude: Shadow (English Translation and Ramblings)

Interlude: Shadow, from their Map of the Soul: 7 album, which is not released yet…


I’ll be focusing on the specific word choices and the feelings they give here.   The subtitles on the MV are really good!  So I’ll just add a tiny bit, but I think the subtitles probably flow much better.

There seem to be a lot of overlap of ideas with SUGA’s Interlude that he released with Halsey last month.  Wait a minute… I realized just now, typing this, that both songs are Interludes.  Interesting…..

This song and MV are very complicated.  I will not touch on Jungian concepts nor any of the imagery visually expressed in the MV as I’m not knowledgeable enough in these things.  I’m sure there are many other people analyzing these so please look those up to enjoy the song to the fullest.

The album of MOTS series seem to be going back in time of the School Trilogy albums from 2013-2014.  The MOTS: Persona album referenced the 3rd album from that trilogy: Skool Luv Affair.   And the new album seems like it will be referencing earlier albums from the series.

The song expands ideas from what BTS and Suga have said in past.  I’ll leave a few examples here.  (I think there are more but my memory is failing me)

BTS Run episode 56 (July 24, 2018)  – poem for the members from Suga.

Title: I’m glad

It’s already been 5 years since debut
Those boys with so many dreams
We who didn’t have anything
Now have many things
And we who only dreamed
Have become someone else’s dreams
Life is repetition of choices and regrets
I’m also afraid and we’re also afraid
We dreamed of blue sky high up
But it’s high and cold here, and at times difficult to breathe
The more the lights shine on us
The more the shadows form
Glad we’re seven
Glad we are together


From article (May 31, 2018)

“너무 높게 날고 있는 것 같습니다. 너무 많은 게 보이고, 너무 멀리 보입니다. 구름 위는 항상 행복할 줄 알았는데, 아래를 보니 때론 두렵기도 하네요. 우리 함께 날고 있음에 용기를 얻습니다. 추락은 두려우나 착륙은 두렵지 않습니다.” (슈가)

“Feels like we’re flying too high.  We see too much and we see too far. I thought it would always be happy above the clouds, but it’s sometimes fearful to look down.  I get courage from the fact that we’re flying together.  I’m afraid of crashing and falling, but I’m not afraid of landing”

BTS article on the Guardian (October 11, 2018).  This quote from RM:

“We know that popularity is not for ever,” RM says with a smile. “So we enjoy the ride, the rollercoaster, and when it ends, it just finishes. We’re on the jets and in the stadiums, but I don’t feel like it’s mine. It’s like we just borrowed it from somebody.”

When this articles was referenced in news articles in Korea, one of the fan comments received a lot of agreements from fans:merry go round
“When you come down from the rollercoaster, a calm merry-go-round is fun too.. Let’s play with ARMY when that time comes too.”

I wanna be a rapstar
I wanna be the top
I wanna be a rockstar
I want it all mine
I wanna be rich
I wanna be the king
I wanna go win
I wanna be..


I wanna be a rapstar
I wanna be the top
I wanna be a rockstar
I want it all mine
I wanna be rich
I wanna be the king
I wanna be me
I want a big thing
Oh boy let me see
I got a big dream, yeah


Woo, every day my heart fluttered with anticipation about how far I’d be able to go
He used the word 설렜지..which is being exited about something… But it’s a type of innocent fluttering in your heart that young people get when they’re anticipating something.   It’s usually not used with adults… like we almost lose this ability as we get older.  It’s interesting that he used this word, as this album seems like it will be referencing some of their earliest works, almost going back in time. 
Running on without time to think, somehow I’ve come to be here

Yeah, hmm, the shadow below my feet
When I look down to look at it, I find it’s gotten even bigger.
Even if I run away, my shadow that follows me, proportional in size to that light
I’m afraid
I’m scared of flying high.
Nobody told me,
How lonely this place would be
That my leap forward could become a crashing fall
uses:추락, which is “falling to destruction” type of falling.  (eg. used with planes falling)
RM uses this word for falling in his song Awakening too.
I know now, that sometimes running away is the next best option.


People tell me.  It’s brilliant within that light
But my shadow instead gets bigger, swallows me, becomes a monster.
Likely reference to his song Last:
“The monster called success that I paid with my youth, wants more wealth
The greed that used to be my tool is now turning to swallow me, ruin me and put a leash around my neck”
He seems to fluctuate between being afraid of this monster, then seems like he’s okay in songs like Magic Shop and some of the interview, and then back to being afraid. Back and forth…which I guess is the way these things go.  The stress and fear continue, and the effort to cope continues, up and down….
Higher and higher there, 
Having only gone even higher and higher, now it feels dizzy here
I didn’t want to just go higher and higher
I pray, pray that it will be alright.

At this moment, flying high as I wished
That shadow that had gotten even bigger from that glaring light
Please don’t let me shine
Don’t let me down
Don’t let me fly
Now I’m afraid
This is also somewhat loosely connected to the Icarus imagery we got in the Wings album as well as Boy With Luv.
Also, as a self-proclaimed nerd, I wanted to make a diagram of how shadows get bigger the higher you fly/closer you are to the sun, in Physics sense as well as metaphorical sense, but restrained myself.

The moment I face my lowest self
Unfortunately, I’m here in the blue sky
Please don’t let me shine

Don’t let me down
Don’t let me fly
Now I’m scared
Don’t let me shine.
The 밑바닥, literally “bottom level/ground/bare ground”  is figure of speech for the lowest and worst that you can be, facing how far you can stoop, etc.
The height/falling metaphor works in English quite well, but as Korean word for facing your lowest self actually means the “ground”, the words really enhances the feeling like he’s looking at the ground and feeling he’s going to crash from the blue sky to the ground.
Also, it’s interesting he uses “Now I’m afraid/두려워” alternating with “Now I’m scared/무서워.”  무서워, like “scared” in English, is rarely used by adults.  Adults may say they’re afraid/두려워, but the word scared/무서워 is more often used by kids.
Similar to words “설렜지/being fluttery and excited” used in previous section, these word choices almost makes you feel like there is the young Suga, still vulnerable, excited and scared, within this adult Suga.
And there’s a bit of irony that this adult Suga, who feels stronger to me despite admitting his weakness (or maybe because he’s able to admit his weakness) seems even more afraid than when he was young.  The fear feels more intense to me because I see him as a strong adult, compared to when young Suga from his debut days sang about uncertain future.

I wanna be a rapstar
I wanna be the top
I wanna be a rockstar
I want it all mine
I wanna be rich
I wanna be the king
I wanna go win
I wanna be…


I wanna be a rapstar
I wanna be the top
I wanna be a rockstar
I want it all mine
I wanna be rich
I wanna be the king
I wanna be me
I wanna be..


Yes, I’m you and You’re me, do you know now?
Yes, You’re me and I’m you, you would know now.

We have one body and at times, we have to clash
You’ll never be able to break me off, you know
Yeah yeah, never be able to beak off, no matter what you do
Yeah, It’s probably easier to just admit it
Yeah, success or failure, no matter where you are
Yeah, You can’t run way, no matter where you go
I’m you and You’re me, do you know?
You’re me and I’m you, do you know?
We have one body we’ll clash
We’re you and we’re me, do you know?




14 thoughts on “BTS – Interlude: Shadow (English Translation and Ramblings)

  1. Hi,thank you so much for your work ! When you have the time and the will to do so, would you mind giving us the rest of the translation from the full album version ? Thank you again !

  2. Hi, I really like your explanation of their lyrics, can you add the part of the lyrics that wasn’t included in the trailer ? Thank you so much

  3. Thank you for your translation,
    first i listen to this song, i have been confused, what’s the different between 두려워 and 무서워, and why he used two different words for one meaning.
    but now i can understand it, after your explanation.
    Thank you so much ^^3

  4. The lyrics of this song somehow reminded me of the anime Ergo Proxy. This anime was misunderstood by many people but there’s a lot of psychological and philosophical meaning behind the story.
    For me, when he says ” I am you, and you are me” reminded me a lot of the conclusion of the anime when the ergo proxy is revealed. I think it would be a good idea to check at the explanation of this anime once again.

  5. Thank you, I always find some new perspective with your translations! I think I vaguely remember that quote about the merry-go-round, it really hits deep…Some people pointed out “Yoongi” means shining, so I’m wondering if there was a double meaning with “don’t let me shine” or the line “I wanna be me”. Maybe a stretch but sounds interesting.

    Also in your opinion what do you think the “shadow” represents here? There’s a lot of options like his “greed” he mentioned in The Last, the fear of “falling”, or even the collective negative sides of being in such a bright spotlight (isolation, pressure to not make mistakes, etc.). I suppose it could just be all of them but I’m curious

  6. Thank you muish!! Btw can i ask your opinion on the line: “please don’t let me down”. It means don’t disappoint me right? But with the flow of the song and story i feel like what he was trying to say with that line was dont let me fall (down)…? I was wondering if maybe what he was trying to say got lost in his translation? Or am i thinking too much?lol wdyt?:))

    1. I think you’re right that there is subtle double meaning of “don’t let me fall down” in the “don’t let me down.”
      Also, later in the song it’s clear he’s singing to himself/his alter ego as a celebrity. So it could be that he’s telling his alter ego, “don’t let me down”, because if that alter ego lets him down, then they’ll both fall…. so telling his alter ego “don’t let me down” would be same as telling the alter ego “don’t let me fall down”

      1. Ahhh you’re right about him referring to his alter ego! It fits perfectly now lol. Because you know how nuances of phrases are kinda lost somehow on non native speakers, i was thinking if that was the case. But if he was talking to his ego, then it makes perfect sense now.:) thankyou muish:)

  7. Thank you so much! I love your translations so much and you always give me a lot of new insight into the songs especially with the nuances of words like 두려워 vs 무서워 and the connections back to older songs. Is there any chance you’ll do a translation of “Winter Flower” as well? I’ve seen a lot of different interpretations of Namjoon’s verse especially for that one.

    Thanks again!!

    1. I still need to really pore over those lyrics. I’ve been casually listening to it but haven’t given it enough time to think about the lyrics yet. I’ll try to translate it if there’s time.

  8. Thank you. I really like to see what you pick up from the lyrics. Your translations always add something to the way I listen.

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