Suga, one of the seven members of the South Korean boy band BTS, shared some of his thoughts about masculinity and mental health while he and his fellow bandmates were opening up about their journey in the music industry in a new interview with Esquire.
“There is this culture where masculinity is defined by certain emotions, characteristics. I’m not fond of these expressions,” Suga, whose real name is Min Yoongi, told the magazine via a Zoom conference call in October. “What does being masculine [even] mean?”
Suga’s indifference to preconceived notions of masculinity isn’t really surprising, as he and his groupmates ― Jin, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook ― have apparently been challenging the heteronormative masculinity common in the West with their fancy sartorial choices, flower boy aesthetic, and sought-after skincare and makeup routines.
At some point in the interview, Suga also spoke about mental health, stressing that admitting that you’re weak won’t necessarily make you a weak person, and that physically strong individuals can also be mentally weak.
“People’s conditions vary day by day. Sometimes you’re in a good condition; sometimes you aren’t. Based on that, you get an idea of your physical health. And that same thing applies mentally. Some days you’re in a good state; sometimes you’re not,” said Suga. “Many pretend to be okay, saying that they’re not ‘weak,’ as if that would make you a weak person. I don’t think that’s right. People won’t say you’re a weak person if your physical condition is not that good. It should be the same for the mental condition as well. Society should be more understanding.”
As musicians, Suga and his bandmates have also translated their views on mental health in song form. In fact, BTS’ first-ever single, No More Dream, which was launched at their debut showcase back in June 2013, is about the intense pressure South Korean schoolchildren face to conform and to succeed. The message of the song makes it unique, as Suga told Esquire that lyrics about the mental health of young people were mostly absent in Korean pop music. “The reason I started making music is because I grew up listening for lyrics that speak about dreams, hopes, and social issues,” he said. “It just came naturally to me when making music.”
While Suga said on record that no BTS album would be complete without a song that examines society, the band’s ninth and latest album, BE, will apparently be an exception. “I don’t think this album will have any songs that criticize social issues,” said RM of BE. “Everybody is going through very trying times right now. So I don’t think there will be any songs that will be that aggressive.”
Suga is currently recovering from shoulder surgery in his hometown of Daegu. During an appearance on V Live on November 21st, Suga assured BTS fans, collectively known as ARMY, that he’s recuperating well. “It almost doesn’t hurt at all now and the pain has gone down a lot,” he said. “The first three days after surgery were really painful. I couldn’t sleep well. I’m sleeping well now and there are no big problems.” Suga, however, didn’t reveal an exact date when fans could expect him to appear back on stage.