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[THEORY] BTS & Inception

Aka: Why it's all a dream and Jin is the dreamer.

In recent MVs BTS have made a lot of pop culture references to various films; Chatroom, Silence of the Lambs, Peter and Wendy, Lost River, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and many others I have not yet had the time to dwell into and talk about.

Well, there is yet another pop culture reference that has been hiding in plain sight..!

Suga BTS Bangtan Min Yoongi fansign question Inceptino favourite movie film

(Same Suga, same...)

The references are so obvious to me that for ages I didn't even think about writing this theory, simply because I thought everyone had picked up on it. Turns out that's not the case, so here I am with a small theory to warm up for the new comeback.


ARMY, let's talk about 'Inception'


'Inception' is a film from 2010 which was a huge commercial success, but to those of you who don't know it, here's a quick sum-up:

BTS Bangtan Inception Theory Bighit instagram

Cobb is a thief who robs people in their dreams, a method known as extraction. He gets hired for a special job: inception; to plant an idea in someone's mind. However, Cobb's memory of his dead wife, Mal, haunts his dreams and threatens to ruin this last job, which is his only ticket home to his two kids.

The first reference to 'Inception' was back in the HYYH era, on their concept photos for HYYH pt.2 on Instagram.

"Je ne regrette rien" (French for: I do not regret anything) is the name of a song by Edith Piaf, which is used actively in the film 'Inception'.

The song is highly relevant to the plot.

When the characters are in dreams, that song is used as a warning that they need to wake up soon.

The phrase (Je Ne Regrette Rien) appears on almost all the concept photos from that BTS era. If it isn't a reference to that song then why write it in French? They have the Korean and English translations in hashtags as well, but chose to use French.

In Inception, the song is used as a warning that they need to wake up from their dreams, but in order to help them to actually wake up, they need a "kick".

BTS Bangtan Inception Theory film gif

(This is a kick)

"It's that feeling of falling you get that jolts you awake. It snaps you out of a dream."

In the film, water is often used as a "kick" to wake them from their dreams, as the impact with water produces a shock that can be felt clearly even in a sedated dream.

BTS Bangtan Inception Theory gif falling

Okay let's start to get a bit more specific and personal here.

There are seven main characters in Inception (yes seven - you already know what I'm going to suggest, don't you?). Let's take them one at a time.

First we have Cobb, who struggles with his subconscious in which his dead wife, Mal, shows up in various violent ways. I won't treat Mal as a character of her own, but only as part of Cobb's subconscious, because that's what she has become. She represent his memories of his wife, but not a real person.


Cobb immediately makes me think of V


There are many reasons why.

Cobb and Mal lie down on train tracks, exactly as V does in Spring Day.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Spring Day Train

Cobb and Mal have gone too far into dreams which has landed them in limbo; a place of constant dream. It's just the two of them there and for fifty so years they lived there, alone, together.

In order to leave and get home to their children, they need a powerful kick. So they lie down on the train tracks as the train approaches.

In Spring day, V too lies down on the tracks, so he can wake up from his endless dream.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory V Kim Taehyung being arrested gif

Then there is the fact that Cobb has been accused of killing his wife and is prosecuted for murder.

In much the same way that V is being prosecuted in his short film for the murder he committed in I Need U.

Both V and Cobb carry some guilt concerning this, although they both acted in the way they thought was the best, given their circumstances.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Prologue gif

Cobb assembles the whole team.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory V Kimi Taehyung Blood Sweat Tears leap of faith
BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory leap of faith

At the beginning of the Prologue, V calls his Hyungs to assemble everyone because he needs help and support. He arrives first, lies down on the mattress and waits for everyone to arrive.

So, like Cobb, V assembles the team.

There's that scene where Mal jumps to her death from the hotel window.

She is happy as she jump, thinking that she will finally get to wake up from a long dream and see her children.

In Blood, Sweat & Tears, V also smirks as he jumps, and he looks at the camera, having waited for the camera to show up, in the same way Mal waited for Cobb to arrive before jumping.

The constant need for escape.

The Mal in Cobb's memories thinks that she is always in a dream, and she wants to get back to the real life, and the only way to wake up, is by dying.

Like Mal, V always appears to feel like he is trapped. In Blood, Sweat & Tears and in the Tour Trailer, V struggles under silk covers and tries to pound on them to get out, but he is caged in a dream, like he is in his short film. He can't make himself wake up. He is as far gone as Mal (and Cobb); trapped in limbo.

The dark side.

"[...] we're also going deeper into you,

and I'm not so sure that we're going to like what we find."

- Ariadne to Cobb -

There is a scene where Mal comes out and stabs someone, which makes me think of V's stabbing scene in I Need U. Mal's dark and devious side in the dreams, remind me of V's dark and devious expressions in the wings tour trailer, and also in Blood, Sweat & Tears. The wicked smiles, the anger, the wild emotions.


Moral compass, Ariadne, and J-Hope

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory mirror shatters

Ariadne is the architect, who designs the layouts of the dreams of the team, but more importantly she is Cobb's moral compass, in the same way that J-Hope wants to steer V onto the right path in the Blood, Sweat & Tears.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory J-hope shoots V Blood Sweat Tears gif

She is the only one who knows Cobb's full past and his struggle with the darkness inside him (his mentor is of his dead wife) and she takes it upon herself to go into the dreams in order to help him deal with and help the others succeed and survive despite Cobb's dark subconscious.


Arthur has no Jams

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Arthur gif

Arthur is the researcher of the group, and he is the serious one, who isn't that much fun. Naturally, this is our Jimin of the group.

Arthur [Jimin] and Ariadne [J-Hope] spend a lot of time together, going into dreams together, and grow quite close. In the same way that Jimin and J-Hope also get really close in the HYYH era through their similar experiences.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Park Jimin J-Hope feathers lie down Run

Con-men Eames and Suga


Eames's role in the team is to gain information and to act as a distraction by the use of deception. Suga does this too, in a way, both as he plays the organ, but also with the blindfold that he wants to put on Jimin. He distracts the characters from their path, especially Jimin and Jin.

Eames [Suga] and Arthur [Jimin] have an ongoing fight/rivalry going on throughout the film, and so do Suga and Jimin in Blood, Sweat & Tears.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Eames savage

(Also, Eames is pretty savage.)


RM is a chemist, like Yusuf

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory

In Blood, Sweat & Tears Rap Monster is well versed in the art of sedation, in the same way as Yusuf is famous for his strong sedations in 'Inception'

Yusuf is very skilled at what he does. In fact he is the best, however, he does tend to get rather nervous and becomes clumsy when he gets nervous (sound familiar?).

Yusuf is also the driver, and you may already be saying: but Rap Monster is the only one who doesn't drive in BTS, and it would be too dangerous for him to drive.

Well, let me tell you: world peace is certainly threatened when Yusuf drives.


Jungkook and Saito are tourists

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Train Spring Day

​Towards the beginning of Inception, the crew has entered Saito's dreams and they do this on a train. They sedate him and go into shared dreams to extract information from him, but they fail when Saito realises that it's a dream.

The scene reminds me of Jungkook sitting on the train in 'Spring Day'.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory

Although Saito is the one who employs Cobb and the crew, he is only along for the ride to ensure that the job gets done, and he is referred to as a tourist by the others.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Saito bought an airline gif

Jungkook, much like Saito in 'Inception', seems to be swept along a lot of the time, like a tourist. First he follows Suga, and then RM.

'Inception' begins with Cobb and Arthur performing an extraction (stealing information in a dream) on Saito, but Saito realises that he is in a dream, and their job fails.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Saito bought an airline gif

This makes me think about how Jungkook seems to be the first one to realise that something is off about his world, already back in the early HYYH era.

Jungkook often looks into the camera.

Also: like Jungkook, Saito never does anything half-way


Jin and Fischer don't know that they're dreaming


Fischer is the one on whom the team need to perform inception. The victim, so to speak. He isn't in on anything, and he doesn't even realise that he is dreaming, at first...

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Fischer die to wake from a dream

Fischer [Jin] starts to realise that he is dreaming when Cobb [V] uses the Mr. Charles plan. Cobb [V] introduces himself as Mr. Charles, the head of security for Fischer's subconscious mind, and then he draws Fischer's attention to the strangeness of the dream, to make Fischer realise that he is, in fact, in a dream.

Isn't this exactly what V does to Jin at the end of BST? He covers his eyes and when he uncovers them the room looks different and there's this huge statue with wings on it. V is the one that makes Jin realise that something is off about his world.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory hd gif Blood Sweat Tears
BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory HYYH beautiful full group photo

In this promotional photo from the HYYH era, they're all running across a field barefooted, all apart from Jin.

All of them realise that they're dreaming, except for Jin.

Similarly for their wings comeback they're all lying on a bed in pyjamas but only Jin is barefooted. All the other members are wearing shoes. Jin is dreaming, and he doesn't know it.

In the short film 'Awake', when Jin begins to notice the strangeness and realise that he is in a dream, his room morphs and distorts, like it would in a dream, and in Blood, Sweat & Tears, when V uses the Mr. Charles plan and makes Jin see the winged statue, Jin fully realises that he is in fact in a dream. This carries on into the next level (the next dream). In the Tour Trailer Jin's world breaks apart.


Bonus references


Now the main thing I wanted to talk about here was how the characters fit, especially V [Cobb] and Jin [Fischer], but there are some other correlations too that I'll talk about here. We already talked about the "kick", but there are a few other things that also strangely fit into BTS's recent concepts.

Towards the beginning of 'Inception' we are taught that when the subject realises that they're dreaming, the dream begins to break apart.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory

This scene really reminds me of BST when colours explode all around J-Hope and he sits through it with a dazed expression on his face. This is after Jin has been made aware that he is dreaming; that the world around him isn't real, so this is the dream breaking apart.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory
BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Park Jimin confetti YNWA

It's also awfully similar to the confetti in their YNWA photos. As if they all know that they're dreaming now, and the dream is coming to an end.

In 'Inception' we are also taught that the most successful dream worlds take details from real life, but never entire settings. Jin's room in his short film, has elements from everyone else's short films, just enough for it to seem real, at first.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory short film Awake


BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory totems

In order not to lose their grasp on reality, the characters in 'Inception' each have a totem with a unique weight or property, so that they can feel it and always know if they're dreaming or not.

Cobb's totem from the film is quite well known. It wasn't actually his but that of his wife Mal. In the film, he spins it and in a dream it never topples.

That same totem is tattooed onto Rap Monster's arm in one of the concept photos for HYYH! If this can't be considered a direct reference to the film, then I don't know what is.




I bet we all remember the opening to BTS's Run where Rap Monster walks down along some train tracks and opens the door to a carriage and inside they're all having a party (wonderful scene!) and then in 'Spring Day' Jungkook sits alone on the train, but at the end he wakes up and the others are there too

When they're on the tracks, they're always together, and as I recently watched 'Inception' for the 56th time, something began stirring in my mind at one of the much repeated quotes from the film.

It goes like this:

"You're waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope the train will take you, but you can't be sure. Yet it doesn't matter. Now, tell me why?"

- Cobb -

"Because we'll be together!"

- Mal -

"When we're together, we can smile."

- BTS Prologue -

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Run gif

Cobb and Mal have this exchange many times throughout the film, but it stems from a scene when they were lost in a dream, in a dream, in a dream, and couldn't get out and back to the real world.

Mal doesn't want to leave the dream world, but Cobb plants the idea in her mind that her world isn't real (an idea that continues to grow within her later and prompts her suicide).

In order to wake from the dream, they need to die. They lie down on the train tracks, looking at each other, and as the train approaches, they exchange those words.

The scene with them lying on the tracks look very similar to J-Hope's concept photos for HYYH where he walks along train tracks and sit down on them and... Lies down on them on them too, so this was before V's train track scene in 'Spring Day'.

It strikes me as interesting that the train tracks in both 'Inception' and 'Run' carry a strong theme of being together and everything being alright as long as they're together.

After Mal dies, thinking that she is still in a dream that she need to wake up from, Cobb keeps going into his dreams to see Mal.

Ariadne, Cobb's moral compass, confronts him about it:

"Why is it so important to dream?"

"Because, in my dreams we are together."

The way I see it, that's the same for BTS in these storylines. Despite everything that happens to them when they're alone, they're happy just by the fact of being together.

Trains are also a powerful kick, and at the end of 'Spring Day', the boys all run down the hallway and a train arrives and passes them by. It's their kick, to wake them up, and they have missed it. They're stuck in limbo.




BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory Spring Day

Let's take a moment to remember that at the end of I Need U we see them all asleep, almost as if everything is happening in their dreams.

There are also some very dream like sequences in 'Spring Day'.

In 'Inception', one of the running themes is that you never truly remember the beginning of a dream. One thing leads to another and you don't question where the dream started.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory train Spring Day

In 'Spring Day' when RM goes through the train, he opens doors that lead elsewhere, as if into another dream.

He keeps going deeper and deeper into the sedated dream, and Jungkook later follow him.

Towards the ending of that music video, Jungkook wakes up on the train (where he has been alone until now) and the other members are also there and wake each other up.

This scene reminds me incredibly much of one of the last scenes in 'Inception' where the crew wakes up in a plane cabin after a very long sedated dream.

It sees to signify the end of an era.

BTS Bangtan Inception film Theory hilarious photo Suga "Taken without my permission"

Now, to end on a happy note: 'Inception' is known for being a story about a dream within a dream within a dream... And well BTS...

J-Hope taking a photo of Jin taking a photo of Jimin taking a photo of V taking a photo of Suga who uploaded V's photo with the tag:

"Taken without my permission"

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