Dive Deep Into the NU’EST Universe: Theory and New Era After the ‘Happily Ever After’ Album

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Welcome to NU’EST NEW ERA

It seems like the year 2019 marked a new era and beginning of NU’EST. After the disbandment of the boy-group Wanna One, in which Minhyun promoted for a year and a half, the group finally reunited and even announced its contract renewal with Pledis Entertainment.

Last year, on March 15, JR, Aron, Baekho, Minhyun, and Ren graced fans with the release of a special digital single “A Song For You,” to celebrate the seventh anniversary of their debut. A month later, the group released their sixth EP in the last three years, Happily Ever After, on April 29, with the lead single “Bet Bet”. This album is the continuation of their three-part series of the “Knights searching for the Queen” narrative which began with their fourth EP, in 2016. With this release, fans have been going crazy trying to figure out and analyze the theory behind this album’s narrative. Are you ready to dive deep into NU’EST’s new era universe? Scroll down to find out more!

 

NU’EST’s Q Is Album: The Beginning of The Era

The beginning of this universe narrative can be traced in the Q Is album, which NU’EST released as their fourth EP back on February 17, 2016, with the lead single “Overcome”.

First, in order to properly understand the NU’EST universe, it is important to know about the storyline of The Queen’s Knight manhwa series, published in 1997 by Kim Kang Won, which this universe is based/interpreted upon. The story is about a girl named Yuna, whose life is split between her normal world and life as a Knight’s new queen. A little bit about the synopsis: When Yuna Lee’s mother moves to Germany to pursue a music degree, Yuna is left to stay with her father, a university professor, and her three older brothers, who are overprotective of her. During her summer vacation, she visits her mother in Germany, where she falls off a cliff and is rescued by Rieno, an 18-year-old knight living in the land of Phantasma. Rieno makes a deal with Yuna that, because he has saved her life, she must become his queen. Indebted to him for saving her life, Yuna is torn between her normal world back home and life as Phantasma’s Queen (Wikipedia).

When you take a look at NU’EST’s “Overcome” music video, it turns out there are many symbols that relate to this whole narrative.

In a Tumblr post published by a fan, there has been an analysis regarding this symbolism.

For some reason, unlike the sword issued during typical knightings, our heroes are gifted pocket watches. Why pocket watches? Do they symbolize eternal service? Even weirder, do they keep time flowing as it should or do they freeze the world in a Persephone type fashion when the Queen goes away? 

Tons more under the cut.

While a lot of the imagery is Westernized, I wonder if it doesn’t also have influences from the Hwarang “Flowering Knights” of ancient Korea, an elite group of male youth sworn to the following concepts:

1) Loyalty to one’s lord (sagun ichung; 사군이충; 事君以忠; 나라에 충성하고)

2) Love and respect your parents(sachin ihyo; 사친이효; 事親以孝; 부모님께 효도하고)

3) Trust among friends (gyo-u isin; 교우이신; 交友以信; 믿음으로 벗을 사귀고)

4) Never retreat in battle (imjeon mutwae; 임전무퇴; 臨戰無退; 싸움에 나가서는 물러서지 않으며)

5) Never take a life without a just cause (salsaeng yutaek; 살생유택; 殺生有擇; 살아있는 것을 함부로 죽이지 않는다)

Is it possible that each member represents one of those concepts? I mean sure, why not. Whatever it means, it’s cool to read about. 

What we are seeing, I think, are flashbacks to things being right in the kingdom; each member (But especially Minhyun) demonstrating a special fondness for their Queen. 

Much of the group choreography looks very much like a mass battle fight scene, where the knights are fighting unknown forces for the kingdom.(poor masked backup dancers) But seriously, watch how many slashes and cuts are made with their arms. 2:26 mark they are even miming holding broad sword hilts. 

When the Queen is removed…abducted? Killed? The world is thrown into darkness and cold as the search to rediscover her takes place. What happened to cause this? Was one of the concepts broken, and if so, who broke it? Quite literally, as we see with Baekho, his world was turned upside down at her loss. Ren seeks warmth by the fire, palming the trinket symbol of their knighthood, patiently waiting. Aron runs and runs and finds the stair, but is unable to ascend it (or at least we don’t see him do it). JR doesn’t seem to know what to do, but relives the moment she left them. Minhyun actively seeks her out, suffers, and even possibly gives his life for her (his heaven) and is thus able to find her in the underworld in the end. (Oh he is definitely the Galahad of the group.)

So what I’m wondering is if this is some kind of test by the Queen for her Knights to assure that they will keep their oaths of knighthood. Not sure…bears further investigation. 

It seems like Pledis has been thinking about this whole Queen and Knights narrative since a long long time ago. Quite clever of them!

 

NU’EST’s Love Paint Album: Lost in Dream Land

After Q Is, NU’EST released their fifth EP, Canvas, and the accompanying single, “Love Paint (Every Afternoon)” on August 29, 2016. On October 6, 2016, the music video for the duet track “Daybreak” from Canvas was released. “Daybreak” was a special unit track, sung by Minhyun and JR.

In a fan-published twitter account, the fan also points out the hidden symbols in this album.

No. Title Lyrics Music Arrangement Length
1. “Daybreak” (Minhyun & JR)
  • Minhyun
  • JR
  • Kiggen
  • Kiggen
  • Choi Jin Kyung
  • Kiggen
  • Choi Jin Kyung
03:41
2. “R.L.T.L(Real Love True Love)” (One Morning)
  • Baekho
  • Minhyun
  • JR
  • BUMZU
  • BUMZU
  • Park Ki Tae
  • Park Ki Tae
  • BUMZU
03:17
3. Love Paint” (Every Afternoon)
  • Baekho
  • Minhyun
  • JR
  • Ren
  • Aron
  • BUMZU
  • BUMZU
  • Royal Dive
Royal Dive 220 03:05
4. “Thank You” (Evening by Evening)
  • Minhyun
  • BUMZU
  • Cho Ja Young
  • Minhyun
  • BUMZU
  • Cho Ja Young
  • Minhyun
  • BUMZU
  • Cho Ja Young
03:05
5. “Look” (A Starlight Night)
  • Baekho
  • Minhyun
  • JR
  • BUMZU
  • BUMZU
  • Royal Dive
Royal Dive 220 04:00
Total length: 17:08

 

If you look at the tracklist order in the Canvas album, you can see the interpretation of this meaning, which is that JR represents morning, Ren represents day, Minhyun represents dawn, Aron represents evening, and Baekho represents night. For other references, the JR-Ren-Minhyun-Aron-Baekho order also continues in the 2000th-day photobook Waiting Q.

Now, if you assign these symbols with the members again, here are the results:

  1. Daybreak – Minhyun
  2. RLTL – JR (morning)
  3. Love Paint – Ren (day)
  4. Thank You – Aron (evening)
  5. Look – Baekho (night)

One fan argues that if you look at Day Break on its own, Day (Ren) breaks, symbolizes the break of the day, signaling there is something quite dark (night) that will happen, as well as Ren’s role in the ending narrative.

Now let’s take a look at the music video!

 

 

While “Overcome” tells of a snow-covered Kingdom, “Love Paint” seems to represent a Wonderland of sorts. Nonetheless, fans began to see that there is some connection between the two music videos.

In this comeback music video, it seems like the story continues with the previous storyline, where the Knights are celebrating the Queen’s return after rescuing her in “Overcome”. Continuing events that happen in the previous comeback, the five hearts from the “Overcome” music video are in a locked box. Unlike the previous video, which starred Minhyun as the lead character, this time, many fans interpreted that Ren is the crucial character in this video and later series (which turned out to be true, since Minhyun’s missing in the next comeback), for he is the one who holds the final key to the room.

As you can see from the music video, The box is already closed at the beginning (00:09), but it’s opened at the end (02:58). Then, Ren is staring at the screen and gets into the water. Many fans argued that when he entered the water, he got the key to open the box–to open the new universe as shown in the next comeback.