Shadows in BTS’ Map of the Soul, Persona 4, and Jungian Psychology

For those that have seen my Twitter, my tagline is, “I tweet about kpop and video games and stuff I guess.” Well, this is the first (and maybe the only) time I’ll get to ever write about both in one blog post. BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7 is about to come out and every time something has been released I keep messaging my friends “omg there’s so much to unpack here” and “someone should write an essay on this”. So I decided to do it myself, except I’m not very good at writing essays, so here’s a blog post instead.

When Interlude: Shadow dropped by poor boyfriend (bless him) sat through an hour long lecture on this topic and somehow allowed me to make him watch two BTS music videos and several Persona 4 pre/post boss fight scenes. So I’ve decided to spread that pain to the readers of this blog (except you can totally skip this if you want and that’s totally valid).

Disclaimer: I pretty much know nothing about psychology. This also may or may not make sense without any prior knowledge.

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In the book Jung’s Map of the Soul: An Introduction by Murray Stein, he writes, “Whatever parts of the personality that would ordinarily belong to the ego if it were integrated, but have been suppressed because of cognitive or emotional dissonance, fall into the shadow” (106), where the Ego refers to a conscious part of the psyche (there’s an entire chapter about that). The shadow is an unavoidable self that acts a like the antithesis of a persona. The persona is the public self – “the psycho-social identity of the individual” (108). Stein describes on the relationship between the persona and shadow as, “more or less exact opposites of one another, and yet they are as close as twins” (109).

From what I gathered, the reason behind this is usually because the rejected traits that form the shadow are traits that are deemed socially unacceptable, such as traits like selfishness and general “evils”. But on the flip-side, the persona is based almost entirely on social norms because that’s the part of one self that is shown to the world.

In Persona 4, the Shadow appears as a physical being that is a manifestation of a character’s inner insecurities. The structure of obtaining new party members involves a character being thrown into the TV world, a Shadow and its dungeon being created, the party entering to rescue the character, the character rejecting their Shadow, the party defeating the Shadow, and then the character accepting the Shadow as a part of them and obtaining their Persona after this conflict. 

In this sense, the Shadow evolves into their Persona, which acts as a being that symbolizes their inner strength. Though the physical Shadow is gone, but within the social links, it’s clear that those insecurities and fears still exist. In that sense, the psychological Shadow still lies within each person, but it’s existence has been revealed and accepted.

I used to think that the Personas don’t make much sense in reference to Jung’s descriptions, but in writing and researching for this post, I came to the realization that it actually does. I noticed that the character’s Personas represent their outer selves rather than their Shadow selves. For example, Kanji’s is buff and macho and Naoto’s Persona is the only one that doesn’t match the gender of the owner.

And then of course, Persona 4 plays with and represents the Jungian Shadow quite well. By acting as a physical being, the character is forced to face it, rather than suppressing it forever. In the process, the Shadow taunts the character before the fight to provoke the character into denying their Shadow’s existence. Throughout the game, the Shadows all say the line, “You are me and I am you”, or something very similar to that.

This line carries very heavily into Interlude: Shadow, and is what led to this me thinking about this topic in the first place. The lyrics in the first half of the song revolves around the Shadow’s thoughts which involve the loneliness of being famous and the fear of the constantly growing fame. I think a lot of times, celebrities are held to the idea of being glitzy and rich but I feel like there’s always so much that goes on behind the scenes that usually gets ignored. Their song Intro: Persona that was released last year touches on this a little bit I think, like with the lines, “I dreamt of becoming a super hero; now it feels like I really became one” and “The world is actually not interested in my clumsiness at all”.

At the very end of Interlude: Shadow, there is a beat switch which is the part that relates most to Persona 4.

The translation of the last part of the song is as follows:
        Yeah I’m you, you are me, now do you know
        Yeah you are me, I’m you, now do you know
        We are one body, sometimes we will clash
        You can never break me off, this you must know
        Yeah yeah can’t break me off, whatever you do
        Yeah you’ll be at ease if you admit it too
        Yeah succeed or fail, whichever way you flow
        Yeah you can’t escape, wherever you go

I think the meaning behind this is straightforward given everything written here so far. I thought it was really cool ending the song with a dialogue from the Shadow. It conveys the idea of the Shadow never going away. It’s something that exists without faltering. Another lyric I like is, “I run but the shadow follows, as dark as the light’s intense”. Also at this point, the video itself becomes distorted with a clip of two Sugas, which I think is referring to the two selves. There’s also a part with the shattered mirror to me feels like the Shadow breaking the perception of himself – the Persona.

Anyway, the only reason I got into this whole rabbit hole in the first place is because I saw that last part and was like “wait this is exactly what happens in Persona 4”. If you made it this far, then I hope this was maybe decently interesting. Or, if you’re also a fellow fangirl of both things (or one of them), please be my friend so I can have more hype buddies for Map of the Soul: 7 and Persona 5 Scramble/Royal.

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