When ITZY‘s new single, “In the morning” (also known as “Mafia In the morning” in Korean), was first announced, concerns surfaced that the song may be related to the Italian crime syndicate. However, in a new interview with NYLON, main rapper Ryujin has clarified all.
Back in mid-April, JYP Entertainment finally revealed the tracklist for ITZY’s long-awaited comeback mini-album, Guess Who—and the title track caught the eyes of K-Pop fans. Named “Mafia In the morning” in Korean (or simply “In the morning” on international music platforms), the newly released single sees the ITZY members singing, “I’m the mafia / We do it like a mafia.”
Within just four days, the music video for “In the morning” has already reached almost 60 million views. However, when the single title was first announced, concerns arose about the song’s theme. Many K-Pop fans worried that the song may be promoting or romanticizing the Italian (Sicilian) mafia.
The Italian mafia is an organized crime syndicate which engages in numerous serious criminal activities, from money laundering and fraud to kidnapping and murder. While there are mafias outside of Italy, the term mafia comes from an Italian language, and the Italian mafia is one of the most well-known criminal organizations around the world.
Thankfully, these concerns aren’t the case at all. In a new interview with NYLON, Ryujin clarified, “For ‘Mafia In the morning,’ the mafia doesn’t mean the real mafia in Italy.” The ITZY star went on to explain the real meaning of the song: “It’s about the party game Mafia in Korea.”
Also known as Werewolf, Mafia is a social deduction game created in 1986 where players are split into two roles: the mafia or werewolves, and the villagers. The game is then divided into two phases: the nighttime, where the mafia or werewolves can eliminate other players while everyone’s eyes are closed, and the daytime, where all the players deliberate over who the mafia is.
A variation of Mafia was the basis of the 2019 tvN gameshow Prison Life of Fools, and numerous K-Pop groups have played the game on live broadcasts or reality shows.
According to Ryujin, the ITZY members are playing the role of the mafia in their new song, but relating to game to love and relationships. “We’re concealing ourselves in the morning,” says Ryujin, “But taking someone’s heart in the night.” The duality represents their two sides—”foxy and sassy“—the main rapper explained.
Last night you don’t even know
Who is it the mafia?
The day is bright but you don’t even know
Who is it the mafia?
— “In the morning” lyrics