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BTS and the Enneagram: Part 3 | One-to-One Instinct

BTS and the Enneagram: Basic Instincts Part 3

It is in the one-to-one instinctual area where BTS has flourished. The one-to-one instinct focuses on individuals in relation to one other person, affection, intimacy, bonding and attraction. This instinct is also referred to as the intimacy or sexual instinct. This instinct also involves emotionality, often intense emotionality.

As BTS often says at the start of their performances, but also at interspersed moments, “Let’s go!”


Intimacy between BTS members

The seven BTS members got to know each other from an early age, initially sharing a small one-room living space, then moving to a house where some pairs shared the larger bedrooms, but many members had their own smaller rooms. But they ate together, played together, and worked together. As a unit, they were intimate, but they also formed intimate, non-exclusive “pair bonds” at certain time periods and for certain activities pairs had in common. In other words, more than just being a high-functioning social group, which is the social instinct, BTS members have also formed multiple relationships between them as individuals, which is the one-to-one instinct.

Here are just a few examples of their one-to-one relationships.

RM and Jung Kook
Jung Kook is the youngest BTS member and he greatly admires RM professionally. Jung Kook actually joined BTS partly due to RM although they did not know each other. RM, as the second oldest BTS member and the BTS leader, has always watched out for and taken great pride in Jung Kook’s development and achievements. Jung Kook regularly spontaneously hugs RM around the waist, even to this day, in both public and private.

Jin has unique individual relationships with all BTS members
Jin and RM: the two oldest members who share a more mature perspective on the work and experience of BTS and also watch out for the other five BTS members

Jin and Jung Kook: Jin shuttled Jung Kook to school in the early years, they both love to cook and also enjoy pulling pranks on other members and being silly together

Jin and Suga: they share a love of solitude, Jin has gotten Suga to relish the experience of fishing, even night and early morning fishing even though Suga likes to sleep.

RM and Suga
Both came to BTS as accomplished rappers, but they are also the most obviously intellectually oriented as well as self-reflective and philosophical. In addition, both are songwriters and producers.

J-Hope and Jimin
These are the two most accomplished contemporary dancers, so they pair together in dance routines, both formally on stage and informally in their time off-stage. They are also both extremely playful.

Suga and Jimin
Suga sees Jimin as a close younger brother and loves his voice, while Jimin looks up to Suga as a person and an artist.

Jung Kook, Jimin, and V
This triangle of the three youngest BTS members ­ – called maknaes meaning youngest – is a constantly shifting set of pairs and sometimes all three are together. They sing and dance together in private, hug each other constantly, feed each other when eating, give each other water when needed, and more. At points, Jung Kook and Jimin appear closer, while at other times, it’s Jimin and V or V and Jung Kook.

Intimacy between BTS and ARMY

What are indicators of intimacy? How does BTS create intimacy with millions of ARMY worldwide?

Here are just some factors that indicate intimacy: being vulnerable; not feeling judged; feeling seen and heard; expressing sincere, not gratuitous, appreciation; reciprocity; trust; setting and respecting boundaries; eye contact and congruence; authentic responses; and using affectionate nicknames.

Nicknames as an indicator of intimacy

Here is a list of just some of the affectionate nicknames ARMY worldwide uses for individual BTS members. As a note, it is not clear which if any of these BTS members use for one another.

Jung Kook’s nicknames
He has the most nicknames: bunny and baby bunny because he used to put on bunny ear headpieces, makes animated faces like a bunny and has teeth that resemble bunny teeth. Also in his nickname repertoire are Kookie, Jung Kookie, and JK, all for somewhat obvious reasons. He’s also called banana milk because he likes banana milk. In addition, he’s referred to as the Golden Maknae. Gold comes from a dream his mother had when she was pregnant with him, but also because he is so multi-talented.

Suga’s nickname
Meow Meow because ARMY thinks he’s like a cat: slightly aloof, but very cute, cuddly and sweet.

RM’s nicknames
RM stands for Rap Monster because early on, he was primarily a rapper. Also called Rapmon, a diminutive of Rap Monster, and Joonie because his real first name is Namjoon.

Jin’s nickname
Jin is often referred to as WorldWideHandsome or WWH and sometimes introduces himself this way. Although this could sound arrogant, Jin expresses this name with a sense of deprecating irony. Jin is, in fact, really handsome, but does not appear to have an attitude about this.

Jimins’ nickname
Mochi (rice cakes) because his cheeks resemble them.

J-Hope’s nickname
Hobi which derives from his stage name J-Hope because the English word Hope sounds more like Hob (a Korean pronunciation)

Other ARMY-BTS intimacy indicators

In their earlier years, BTS members engaged in fan signings where they would be seated on an elevated platform behind a long table. Fans (ARMY) would line up to get something signed by them and engage one-to-one with each member. In these interactions, which can be viewed on YouTube, BTS members would make direct and warm eye contact with each fan, engage in spontaneous interactions with them and smile or look genuinely concerned depending on the conversation. ARMY would often bring them gifts. BTS members would exhibit genuine delight when receiving certain gifts from fans such as stuffed animals, their favorite foods, a fun picture, or an amusing headband. The interactions appear fully genuine and ones of mutual gratitude.

Social media platforms
From the start, BTS has been online as a way to communicate when their resources were scarce. They have continued this with a massive number of videos of them online. You can see videos of them just waking up or in pajamas; frequent and almost always spontaneous live social media sessions when they do something very normal and intimate such as eating and slurping, washing dishes, showing their homes or living quarters; showing Jung Kook’s dog Bam, which Jung Kook brushes (also on video); running around barefoot; answering questions live or asking fans questions live and interacting with their answers; appearing live with no apparent agenda and just seeing what happens; showing videos of themselves practicing and making mistakes and that being OK. None of these appear scripted.


An essential ingredient of the one-to-one (intimacy) instinct is the willingness and ability to be emotional, even intense, and show genuine emotionality. BTS thrives in this arena. They cry easily and without seeming embarrassment. They cry when they are sad, but also when they are overjoyed. Sometimes they cry from frustration or from sheer exhaustion. Their eyes well up on stage when singing about something that arises from within them or when they feel emotionally moved ­– for example, one of them says something heartfelt to another of them into the microphone, or they verbally express their love of ARMY. Sometimes they cry because they feel hurt by something.

They express joy through their faces, showing congruence in their eyes and mouths. Sometimes people smile with their mouths but not their eyes, which usually means they are not really feeling happy. Not BTS. BTS members smile in contexts where smiling makes sense; something good happened. One of them says something that delights or touches another of them. They get asked an interview question that is amusing to them. They win an award, act professionally on stage, and then scream in delight when they are together or in private.

BTS members also express anger overtly and verbally. When Jung Kook gets frustrated when other BTS members cheat at games they play together (which they do to prank him), he tells them he’s mad. When an ARMY member says (writes) something during an online live session that crosses a privacy boundary, the BTS member says so.

When BTS appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ program, she asked them directly if they had ever dated or “hooked up” with any ARMY members. RM, who speaks fluent English and comes from a hip-hop and rapping background, certainly knew exactly what she meant. He graciously pivoted and explained that being on this show was their ARMY connectivity. Instead of accepting his answer and recognizing the inappropriateness of her question, Ellen asked the translator to explain the meaning of “hook-up” in Korean. In any culture, asking a question this personal would be considered an invasion of privacy; in Korean culture, it is even more inappropriate. The following year, when BTS again appeared on Ellen, she asked the same question, to which V shouted “NO,” and RM suggested, with polite sarcasm, that now probably everyone in Korea knows what the word “hook-up” means. BTS subsequently unfollowed Ellen on all her social media platforms and never again appeared on her show.

BTS members seem to have extremely strong emotional mirroring neurons. When one of them is feeling upset, they comfort each other. When one cries, often others will tear up as well. They also resonate emotionally with each other’s joys, taking pleasure in each other’s success. When one of them feels fearful, they protect that member.

BTS also resonates with ARMY, as evidenced by what they say online and onstage, without embarrassment. They tell ARMY how much ARMY means to them. BTS members also share with each other and with ARMY their deeper feelings of depression, bouts with anxiety, experiences with feeling lost or lonely, and more.

RM has said on numerous occasions that he wants ARMY to feel BTS’s sincerity. This sincerity, genuineness and authenticity is hard to miss.

BTS and the sexual instinct

BTS members have come of age, moving from boys to men. And because they strive to be true to themselves and reflective of themes in society, particularly among their age group, what now arises are manifestations of the sexual instinct in terms of attraction.

Yes, BTS members are all attractive, each in their own way. They are flirty in a fun flirting, cute flirting way. And why not! They blow kisses into the camera, make “I love you” signs with their hands, sometimes engage in flirty banter in their online lives, and post pics of each other that show their attractiveness. Now that they are all in their twenties or early thirties, they sometimes lift shirts slightly, occasionally post bare-chested photos that are not highly revealing, hold roses in their mouths and smile into the camera with a flirty glance, and use their tongues while performing in a wide variety of seductive ways that are still, in my opinion, in good taste. They also use the shoulder shrug combined with a sideways glance or jackets falling off shoulders, often to reveal their upper arm muscles.

Then there’s the “pants grab” (I’m using a euphemism here) movement that BTS now uses, and they are not the only performers who use this. This dance move originated with Michael Jackson in 1983 during a performance of “Billie Jean” and is now used in choreography of all kinds, including but not only rap and hip hop. BTS started using this movement most noticeably in their music video Blood Sweat & Tears (2016), with two of the older BTS members (RM and J-Hope) doing the complete grab and the other members doing minimalist versions of this move. It is a statement of masculinity, self-assertion and is a reflection of BTS’ movement from boys to men.

Music Video

This new age of BTS can also be heard and seen in one of their more recent songs, “Butter” (2021), which received 108 million views in the first 24 hours of its release. There are many different choreographed versions of “Butter,” some more playful and innocent and others more sensual/sexual but not over the top.
Click on this link to watch a music video of “Butter” that has both the innocence and sexuality that is also BTS.

About Ginger

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, author of nine Enneagram books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications. TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

The photo used for this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license and was downloaded from the Wikimedia Commons site. Through Wikipedia Commons, an independent reviewer confirmed that this image was under the stated license on that date listed. BTS is very careful and diligent with their copyrighted materials, which we respect and follow. All photos for this blog will be obtained from Wikimedia Commons with an International Creative Commons copyright.

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