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Ateez Storyline: Updated March 2024

Fever Series, Treasure Series, The World Series, Japanese Releases, and Spin Off: From the Witness

@greenapplesyrup graciously let me use her artwork for my thumbnail image. Isn't it BEAUTIFUL!?!? Ya'll should go check out her work!

Welcome to the craziness that is inside of my brain. If you are here you either have already read my storyline theory and are here for the update now that The World series is complete, or you are new and need to read the whole thing. For those of you who are returning for the update, I have made it easy on you and am posting all new additions or anything updated in blue. That way, if you just want to skim to see where I think the new information fits, you can. For those of you who are new, I am sorry in advance because I am kind of long winded, so there is a lot to read. There is just so much detail in Ateez’s storyline and I don’t want to leave anything out. Either way, I’m glad you are here and hope this helps you wrap your brain around the storyline of Ateez's lore.

Möbius Strip

Before we get into the storyline proper, we need to talk about the type of timeline Ateez uses. Whereas most stories are told on a linear timeline, even if not told in chronological order, Ateez’s timeline is not linear. Tiny Bug Ink hypothesizes in Ateez Time & World Mechanics Explained: Up is Down that Ateez’s timeline is actually a Möbius Strip. I am not nearly as smart at Tiny Bug Ink so I am not going to attempt to explain this here, but I have linked it so y’all can watch and understand her ideas.

The main hypothesis is that instead of Ateez traveling to and from alternate dimensions (World A and Z) that are wholly separate from each other with the Halateez doppelgängers as citizens of the dystopian dimension, World A and Z are the old world/the past and the new world/the future of the same dimension.

In this hypothesis, Ateez and Halateez are the same people, not doppelgängers, that exist in two different points in time with Ateez living in the old world/the past/World A and Halateez living in the new world/the future/World Z. She states, “The reason why it looks like there are two Ateezes is that when they travel through time they see themselves [at the horizon], but just a version of themselves that exists in either the past or the future.”

I decided that Tiny Bug Ink’s hypothesis makes the most sense, at this point, as a way to explain what is going on in Ateez’s lore. Therefore, my storyline is on the Möbius Strip. Since this is not linear, I will do my best to explain everything, but feel free to reach out and ask questions if what I say makes no sense at all.

The World, The Cromer, and The Prism/Dichroic Cube/Tesseract

Since I have to tell this in a nonlinear way, you need to be aware of World A and Z and what allows Ateez to travel between them, the Cromer. World A is the old world/past in this storyline and is similar to the type of world we know ourselves. World Z is the new world/dystopian future, now called Strictland, where the people’s emotions have been suppressed by the central government through advanced technology and banning the arts. Yellow smoke that causes hallucinations is also used by the central government of Strictland to allow them to steal memories of the people under the influence and burn them for energy. Through these things, the central government achieved high growth, people enjoyed material affluence, and their lifespan increased to 200 years.

A resistance group against the government calling themselves “Black Pirates" formed with a goal to stimulate the people’s hearts and minds and allow those people to escape from the control of the central government. The central government wants to stop the Black Pirates so they are constantly on the hunt for them, but with the use of a device shaped like an hourglass that allows them to travel through time and space, the Cromer, they are able to teleport and avoid arrest. In order to counteract the effects of the Cromer, the central government created a new giant artificial intelligence, the Android Guardians, who were able to capture the figureheads of the Black Pirates and imprison them.

The Cromer, in Tiny Bug Ink’s hypothesis, is acting like a Möbius Strip! It is the shape of the strip and also is what allows the user to travel back and forth through time. The Cromer uses the phases of the moon to work. When there is a full moon, the user can use the cromer to travel. When there is a crescent moon, the user can use the Cromer to communicate across time through dreams. The Cromer also has other uses that, I don't think, rely on the moon at all. Using quantum energy, it can be used to move from one place to another in an instant within the same world, this is called the Cromer's "spatial movement ability". The Cromer emits a flash of light and the user and anyone they are touching can disappear and re-materialize in the location they desire including in midair. One thing that is unclear about the Cromer is that there are instances when people are not touching it and it is used, with the moon power, to transport people across worlds. So maybe you have to have contact with the Cromer to use its spatial movement ability but you don't need to have contact with it to use its abilities powered by the moon.

We also need to talk about the prism/dichroic cube/tesseract. Ateez hasn’t told us anything about this item, so we cannot be 100% certain about its purpose and use, however, Hongjoong did say that the Cromer is not the only ancient artifact in their lore during Professor Hongjoong’s Ateez Storyline Special Lecture. We know that the Cromer has a big connection to dreams, so with the prism/dichroic cube/tesseract first appearing next to the Cromer in a song about an illusion, and with it being a prominent role in Dreamers, we could conclude it also has a connection to dreams. I have hypothesized that the cube is telling us where to insert the Japanese releases into the Korean storyline and that the Japanese releases are the inner monologues of Ateez during those times.

Fever Series

We start in the past (World A) (see Diary Film), Ateez befriended each other in high school and used an abandoned warehouse as a hideout, of sorts, to hang out, sing, dance, etc. Wooyoung found the warehouse first and showed it to the friends he met while watching street dancers (Hongjoong, Seonghwa, and Yunho). Hongjoong dreamed of being famous to bring his family back together, Seonghwa was ruled by lists and to dos and saw dancing as a way to be free after seeing the freedom a girl dancing near a convenience store had [remember this, it will be important later], and Yunho saw music/dancing as a way to honor his brother who recently died. They all spent time dancing in the warehouse together and each helped Wooyoung with his stage fright. San, a lonely boy who constantly had to move around, befriended them and joined them in the warehouse as well as Jongho who, after a basketball injury, discovered his love of music through the group. Wooyoung also was the one who brought Mingi to the group as he had forged a friendship with Mingi throughout the years, even though Mingi often cut himself off from others through listening to music since he was often bullied for being poor. Yeosang was the last to join the group, as he went to a different school and was highly controlled by his father, but he too found joy and freedom with the group.

However, the group did not stay together and happy for long. San had to move again, Mingi, fearing his grandmother’s health, pushed the others away saying their time together was meaningless, which made Jongho mad enough to punch him, because this group had given him new life and he couldn’t understand why Mingi would say something like that. Yeosang’s father found out about the warehouse, and since he owns it, he closed it for good and forced Yeosang to stop hanging out with the group. Hongjoong snuck in and was sitting alone when he was contacted by his future self, who I will be referring to as Halajoong, in a dream.

I originally thought that while imprisoned in the future (World Z), Halajoong, the leader of the figureheads of the Black Pirates (who I will be referring to as Halateez) was able to keep the Cromer and use it to travel to Hongjoong in the warehouse. Now knowing about the Cromer's spacial movement abilities, I struggled to understand how Halateez could have been captured. Couldn't they have just used to the Cromer to escape? But in talking to a reader and hearing her take on things, I understood. Halajoong needed to give Hongjoong the Cromer in order to start Ateez's journey to becoming Halateez, and because Halajoong's Halateez didn't have it anymore, thats WHY they were captured! [Thanks Hannah D for being my thought partner in this!] He gave the Cromer to Hongjoong telling him, “Follow your heart. The map is there.” Hongjoong turned the Cromer and the sand started flowing backwards. When that happened, all of the members returned to the warehouse with confused expressions on their faces.

We learn from Ateez Fever Road how each of the members ended up back in the warehouse. Yeosang decided to defy his father, broke his violin, and returned. Yunho decided to deal with his grief over his brother in order to follow their dream, he then saved Jongho who was about to take his life because, after losing basketball and then their group falling apart, he didn’t think he had anything left to live for. Seonghwa decided not to let the lists control him again [I guess he had gone back to his old ways after they broke up.] Jongho, with a new lease on life, saved Mingi from people who were chasing after him and they reconciled. The boys then went and found Wooyoung and brought him back, and San decided not to move with his family after all and returned. I think Hongjoong turning the Cromer somehow “delivered messages to the members through dreams” of his longing for them to be together again (see Inception)

which allowed them to break free from the adult control in their lives (see Thanxx)

and allow them all return to the warehouse through the aforementioned actions.

We see the prism/dichroic/tesseract cube as Mingi’s ring signaling a Japanese release connection which leads us to believe Dreamers may have represented the specific message he received during this inception.

"As long as you're by my side we'll make all dreams come true."

Mingi needed to hear the message, that he should stick together with Ateez because they would get through anything together, probably more so than any of the other members since he was the one who pushed them away and started the dissolution of their group.

Once they did return to the warehouse, the Cromer sent them to Strictland where the Android Guardians attacked them to steal the Cromer back. Hongjoong distracted them and they were able to escape. The Android Guardians followed them and captured Wooyoung by his ankle while they were running away. He was able to get away but they lost the Cromer in the process. He was healed by a little girl who took him and the rest of Ateez to her cave home where her brother explained what Strictland and the Black Pirates were. The Grimes siblings were part of the Black Pirates and the girl had lost her voice to the Android Guardians. They asked Ateez to help them retrieve it so the group decided to split up to both look for the Grimes girl’s voice and find Left Eye, the only person the Grimes siblings knew who had knowledge of where the Android Guardian’s bunker was, which was where they were holding Halateez captive (see Fireworks).

Group 1 went to find the Grimes girl’s voice, a shining blue bead inside thick yellow smoke. They sent Jongho into the smoke to collect the bead but he inhaled it and started to hallucinate (see Eternal Sunshine).

He walked towards a cliff, thinking he was playing basketball and feeling a sense of déjà vu, and almost fell off before he was saved by Yeosang by giving him a gas mask. Yeosang told Jongho the Grimes girl reclaimed her voice and they left the yellow smoke to meet up with the others.

[I actually think that the ending scene with Wooyoung and San might be a representation of being saved from the illusion the yellow smoke causes but I'm not 100% sure.]

Group 2 went to find Left Eye in the junkyard in order to ask him where the Android Guardian’s bunker is (see Déjà Vu).

He tells them it is an old museum on an island so they go off to break into the museum in order to save Halateez and get the Cromer back.

Although we do not actually see the prism/dichroic cube in Déjà Vu, we do see nods to the cube throughout it. These references could be signaling a Japanese release connection, which leads us to Rocky.

They needed to hype themselves up in order to go into the Android Guardian’s bunker because that’s a scary place to go. They are also in a warehouse. Their safe place in both World A and Z.

In the Android Guardian's bunker, Hongjoong meets Halajoong for the first time in real life and Halajoong tells Hongjoong that he called him there to continue their work and change their world. Halajoong asked Hongjoong to put his hand against the glass wall and he transferred his uniform to Hongjoong and the rest of Ateez. They now looked like Halateez.

They were told to run before the smoke receded and the Android Guardians could see them again. As they ran away, San saw Android Guardians drunk on the smoke from people’s memories they were burning to create energy. They also noticed that Yeosang wasn’t there. Once they got to the lobby, Yeosang caught up with them again with the Cromer in hand. He threw it to Seonghwa just as an Android Guardian captured him and threatened to kill him if they did not return the Cromer. Hongjoong took the Cromer and threw it back to the Android Guardian but Yeosang caught it first, turned it in order to send Ateez back to the past/World A, and smashed it.

Ateez realized they were back in World A without Yeosang and knew he had been captured by the Android Guardians. They were depressed because they thought he might be dead but then Yeosang’s drone appeared to the members cluing them into the fact that he was still alive and able to contact them somehow by sending his drone (see Turbulence).

Giving them renewed hope to keep fighting and to find a way to save him.

Interestingly enough, the boys actually returned to further in the past than they left from, to a time before Yunho’s brother died in the car accident [this may now be a split timeline. Think Back to the Future 2 where Biff is super rich because he uses the book about sports stats from the future to bet on the events as they happen in his present]. After a week in the past of World A, Seonghwa saw an article about people trying to steal a Mayan artifact that looked like the Cromer Yeosang destroyed. Ateez decided the only way to get back to World Z/Strictland to save Yeosang was to steal the artifact themselves, but Yunho decided to stay back in order to be with his brother who was alive again since they went futher into the past than they originally left from. While they were trying to get the artifact, Wooyoung got taken hostage [again, gah!] by the leader of the religious group, Sciensalver, who was originally trying to steal the artifact. Yunho and his biker friends appeared and helped distract the members of Sciensalver and Wooyoung was able to grab the artifact and escape. During that event, Yunho’s brother was again hit by a car, driven by the leader of Sciensalver, Henry Jo, at the exact same time he was originally hit, 5:07. He told Yunho that neither of the times he was hit by a car were his fault and that he needed to live his life without regretting the past.

Here is where we get a little bit more Möbius Stripy, the artifact Ateez stole from the museum and saved from Henry Jo and Scienslaver in World A WAS the Cromer Halateez was using in World Z/Strictland! Older Halajoong gave the Cromer Ateez stole from the museum in World A back to his younger self in the Diary Film, but in this part of their storyline, Ateez used the Cromer, in essence for the first time, to return to Strictland in order to save Yeosang (see The Real).

Meanwhile, back in World Z/Strictland, Yeosang was being held with the other captives of the Andriod Guardians, the Resistance fighters and citizens who had rediscovered their emotions and were then considered maladjusted by the government. He was in a glass prison without any light seeing lines of Resistance fighters, including the Grimes siblings, standing in front of his prison with their biological energy stolen covered in black fabric. (see Halazia)

He was in so much pain that he wished his emotions would be stolen or that the Android Guardians would just kill him.

“Please let me take real breaths. Let me dance a real dance. Let me dream a real dream and let me feel all these senses. Even love has been swallowed up. When waves are made. Here in this place. This movement that will last forever.”

Since Halateez had already been captured by the Android Guardians when Ateez arrived in Strictland, they must have since been killed or their biological energy was also stolen because we know the people were waiting for “them” to return knowing “they” wouldn’t [This may not actually be true because the Will Diaries had this statement, "...but having detained the men in black fedoras, the government has moved beyond simply denouncing the Black Pirates as a terrorist group and encouraging people to turn them in..." The word "detained" was used here and not "disposed" or "executed" so maybe they are still trapped.] Either way, the citizens were, in essence, mourning Halateez since they thought they would be their saviors.

But these people were strong. They were the Resistance Fighters or the citizens who had already reclaimed their emotions. So even though they were losing their biological energy, the thing that grounds them,

they were continuously trying to hold onto hope. To hold onto control.

“No more, keep control. No more, keep your soul. No more, keep control. Clear the darkness, oh, Halazia.”

Then Yeosang heard the sound of a trumpet

“Amidst his desolate hope the great sound of a bell resonated through the air and a new Eight made their appearance.”

and the Android Guardians ran out towards the sound and started to fight a group of men in black fedoras (see Say My Name).

While they were gone, one of the men came to save Yeosang.

He removed his mask and revealed himself to be Seonghwa. He then helped Yeosang escape from his glass prison.

San did something sacrificial and brought the orb back down to earth, allowing him to reabsorb the biological energy trapped inside of it and reestablish the people’s center of gravity.

And after all of this Seonghwa noticed a visitor in white who led him to three more visitors [remember these guys, I'll talk about them more later]. They then disappeared leaving him a reminder of what originally set him free from the control of his “to do” lists in World A, a bracelet that said, “be free” left by a girl he saw freely dancing in the streets (which is what he is about to start doing in World Z, dance in the streets to help break the citizens free of their control link).

Meanwhile, in the underground hideout of the Black Pirates, a morse code message was received and translated by Left Eye saying, “SAY MY NAME, ATEEZ” informing the Black Pirates that Ateez was back. [This ends the Fever Series and explains how it fits with the Treasure Series through Say My Name.]

Treasure Series

The Treasure Series is harder to pin down since there aren’t diaries to help us figure out what is really going on. Hongjoong has since confirmed that the Fever Series is the prequel to the Treasure Series and that the World Series is the sequel to the Treasure Series so at least we know where it fits in the timeline. If we also know the general plot points of the World Series, we can try to fill the holes between the Fever Series and the World Series in the Treasure Series. Heads up, I will be doing a lot of guessing here.

We are going to start with the ending sequence of Say My Name.

We know that Say My Name is all about saving Yeosang from the museum bunker of the Android Guardians, but the other major plot point we see is the changing of Ateez to Halateez in the ending sequence. Originally we thought this meant they were two sides of the same person like Jekyll and Hyde or that they are doppelgängers, but we know now neither of those options are true (well that’s what we think we know). After Halateez transferred their clothes to Ateez, the diaries never talk again about them. What happened to Halateez? I’ve been racking my brain and can’t figure it out. I think they are either still trapped or, now that Ateez is in Strictland, the timelines have converged in some way and they have disappeared? I don’t know. My brain hurts! Maybe Ateez taking the clothes was the point where they take on the mantle of Halateez to continue their work to save Strictland.

The other thing I thought about was the perspective of the boys themselves. If I were a high school boy and I was all of the sudden thrust into an alternate future dystopian dimension where I had to help break the people there out of their brain manipulation, I might not be jumping at that chance right away. I may need some time to really consider that challenge. Or maybe at first I would think it was cool but then when reality set in, I would want to run away from it. Thinking all of the way back to Ateez’s use of stories like Treasure Island and Peter Pan, the Treasure Series may, in fact, be the tale of them coming to terms with having to be the new Halateez more specifically, since they are the past selves of Halateez via the Möbius Strip, the Treasure Series is the first stage in them becoming the actual Halateez. Going from school boys to anarchists is a journey that does not happen over night.

If we use the song order of Ateez albums to know how to organize music videos [like with Thanxx/Inception and Eternal Sunshine/Déjà Vu] then HALA HALA actually comes before Say My Name in the rotation. I am going to operate under the assumption that this is true. HALA HALA takes place in a warehouse very similar to the hideout Ateez uses in the Diary Film and we know they arrived in a warehouse when they originally got to Strictland. Let’s assume this warehouse is also where they arrived when they came back to Strictland to save Yeosang. Hongjoong has a lyric that says:

"Our starting point is still there."

If so, dawning the Halateez outfits and putting on masks is their way of preparing to go into the Android Guardian’s bunker on their Yeosang rescue mission. [Also notice that when they put on their masks, they are in plain clothes and then during the dance we see them in full Halateez garb.]

Their dance is a way to hype themselves up for the battle they know they are about to face. Additional things I noted was the part of the song/dance where Yeosang is featured:

He sings:

"Raise me up, take me up, everyday a bit more. Raise me up, take me up to that far away."

He is asking them to save him!! We also have two types of communication devices used in this song by Hongjoong and Mingi. The air horn (the future version of the bugle in Say My Name) and we know Yeosang hears a horn when he is rescued. And the ham radio (which was used to send the morse code message that Ateez was back in the diary entries).

Also some of Mingi’s lyrics now make sense in a different kind of way.

“I feel like that beat bopping, pop. Will change. Just like the gods. Changing those words around. Yes changing that value. God putting me in this scene. Just like an assassin.”

Maybe this is about how they are about to enter the fight to change Strictland. We end the song with Wooyoung as the only one left standing. [Could this be a reference to the part he plays in getting the Cromer at the museum in World A?]

So if HALA HALA is them getting ready to save Yeosang, and Say My Name is them saving Yeosang, then maybe Pirate King is about being asked to join the Black Pirates and looking for others to join them. Their knee jerk reaction was probably, “Sure!” because what high school boy doesn’t want to be an anarchist? Here is part of the chorus that is saying that:

“Raise the anchor, put away your dark hearts. Wherever it is, we can go. We can be whatever we want, just follow us. Raise your hands up high. You and me, under these burning lights, to the bright place. Step 1,2,3 and 1,2,3 Let’s go. Will you be my friend?”

[Also, look how the song starts! Yeosang is captured and then freed!! MIND BLOWN!! This was their debut, y'all!! They were laying the groundwork of their storyline from the jump!]

After Ateez gather together to start their mission of changing Strictland by inspiring the Black Pirates and others to keep dancing and singing, they start searching for their "Treasure” which I think is to have others enjoy their music, both in real life as Ateez the group and in Strictland since true enjoyment of music comes from emotions. When people can enjoy their music, that means they have access to their emotions again and are free from the chains the central government has placed on them.

“I won’t stop, rush. I’ll turn the world upside down. To a place no one can find. My treasure. Let’s leave to a far place. It calls to us, that treasure. Hurry, let’s leave, let’s go find it. Oh every day, every night”
“It’s beckoning to you, that treasure. Everyone’s chasing after pleasure. Going more and more blind, crazy”

Could these lyrics be referencing the great material affluence the people of Strictland enjoyed by sacrificing their emotions (going more and more blind after chasing after their pleasure)? They also use the yellow smoke to cause hallucinations which allows them to chase after pleasure. I don’t know, just a thought.

I think reality hit them pretty quickly though. They realized how hard the task set before them really is and started to think about how nice it would be to be kids again, which caused them to fall into an Illusion where the stressors of their filling the shoes of Halateez could fall away. Anarchy is cool but it’s also pretty hard.

They would rather be in an illusion than face the hard truths of their challenge.

We see the prism/dichroic cube/tesseract on the table in the meeting room of the pirate ship inside their illusion signaling a Japanese release connection.

Utopia is the place Ateez have been searching for; just out of reach. It is their dream, their treasure, that they will keep running towards every day and every night. In Tiny Bug Ink's new video, Utopia: The World of Ateez's Dreams Explained, she actually compares utopia to the island Ateez travels to in Illusion.

Yeosang was the key to breaking them out of their illusion. He knows the weight of what they are being asked to do because he lived through it, and he doesn’t want others to fall victim to the Android Guardians. He is the one who will wake them up from their dream of escaping their new challenge and put them back on their path. You also see that the other two people who have ways to look off of the ship, Seonghwa and Jongho, are looking towards the ship or towards the sky. Yeosang is the only one looking out. Interesting!

Illusion is related to Peter Pan where they want to stay kids forever and not have adult responsibilities where they “party all night long”. This is also the first time we see the crescent moon featured and we know you can communicate using the Cromer during a crescent moon. “Let me free” is heard in the background of this song so the Cromer might be being used to enter into the illusion and remind Ateez of the stakes.

At the end of the video, Ateez starts to run towards Halateez and that leads them to begin to “open their eyes”.

At the beginning of Wave we see Ateez waking up from being asleep, which leads us to believe that they have come out of their illusion. However, I feel like they are kind of groggy, based on lyrics like these:

“Think, think, think. We’ve already overcome so much. Remember, remember, remember. Time keeps passing”


“Let’s take a trip to the sea. Throw it all away, drink. Enjoy this moment. I know y’all feelin’ me. Go into the waves. Mindlessly, click. Are you ready to find it? The light under the sun”

But then, at the end of the song, these lyrics appear:

“Where you are. I’ll be there. Hold my hand, hold my hand. We just need each other. The rougher it is, the better. Cuz we’re just gonna play above that. We just going oh. If this moment is our wave (our wave). Don’t be afraid, face it with more strength. Because we’re hotter than anyone else under the sun. Don’t worry (don’t worry). Don’t worry. Jump over that wave”

At this point, I think they are fully conscious again and have overcome the fear they were facing. Hakuna Matata has taken on a new meaning. They are not going to worry about what lies ahead because they are going to get through it together.

This takes us to Wonderland, their battle hymn. I think this represents another hype song now that they have decided to join the fight for real this time. Consider these lyrics:

“Let’s go. Let’s go. To the beginning that the ending is waiting. On my my way. Everyone keeps pace. On my my way Run after counting one, two. On my my way Make the way. Hurry up Hurry up. To the beginning that the ending is waiting.”

They are on their way to the beginning because the ending is waiting. The end that is waiting for them is their fulfillment of the Halateez path.

Ateez has prepared their minds and bodies, battled their demons and self-doubt, and come out victorious in the end as the new leaders of the resistance. They are Limitless.

“Breaking the wall, oh oh. The place where someone has to go. Although it’s not easy. We like the reason why.”

They are going back to a difficult situation. Take what Hongjoong said about the “Break the Wall” at the end of the North American leg of the Break the Wall Tour. “We all face many walls in our lives whether we see the walls or not. We get distracted by them and have tough days sometimes. Through this tour I wanted to tell you that we should no longer be weak in front of the wall. No matter the race, gender, or nationality. Because we are just strong people all together. So I think some day we can face a new ideal world that we dream of by knocking down the wall we face before us by ourselves or by gathering together. Like the title of this tour we will always break down the walls in front of us so I hope you don’t avoid any wall and gain the confidence to break it through our concert today.” I don’t think I need to expound upon that at all. I will let Hongjoong have his drop the mic moment.

Answer is their celebration song. They have fully become Halateez and they have found peace with themselves. The are ready to start the actual work. But the final scene with the Android Guardian standing in the destroyed room they were just dining in does not bode well. Something happened.

The World Series

Now that Ateez has entered into the fight as Halateez (this is further supported by Seonghwa calling the black outfits at the end of the Guerrilla music video, “our Halateez outfits”) they have started to work with Left Eye and the Black Pirates.

One of their first missions was to perform in the square of Sector 1 and spread flyers with the message “You are valuable by yourself. No one can define you and no one can control you. Being alive is imperfect and it is beautiful to be imperfect. Read poetry, draw pictures, listen to music, dance, and sing. Therein lies your own answer.” [Black Pirates]

In Guerrilla we see Ateez hacking into the systems of the central government to spread a message of freedom. Hongjoong and Wooyoung disguise themselves as agents of the central government while Yeosang hacks the system. They spread fliers through the streets and by air to wake up the citizens as a trial run for their main goal: to break into the messaging to the students at Prestige Academy and free them.

Their goal is to create a Paradigm shift, a fundamental change in underlying assumptions, in the students of Prestige Academy but more so in the people of Strictland. They long to be the new example of how to live, free. This connection is found through the prism/dichroic cube/tesseract on the cover of Paradigm.

They also used breakers that Left Eye developed using failed government chips found in his dump to disable the chips behind people’s ears and break them from the control link of the chips. These breakers could also lead the people to a black link the Black Pirates used if they made the choice to connect to it. This way these people could be saved, but only by their choice, and the Black Pirates could also be protected from those who would misuse the black link.

The Black Pirates were searching for the location of Z, the leader of Strictland (who I think is Henry Jo of the Scienslavers. See it all connects! → Möbius Strip!! THIS WAS CONFIRMED IN THE WILL DIARIES!!!) but hadn’t found him yet, so Ateez’s next mission was to install mirrors and remove the coverings that block the windows of buildings since the government had previously removed all reflective surfaces in order to keep people’s emotions in check. With the Cromer, Ateez and the Black Pirates moved freely between zones of Strictland to awaken the citizens, but the government continued to work to bring the citizens back under control or transport them to the guardian bunker. So the only way Ateez and the Black Pirates could continue their work was to make as many people aware as they could at one time. They chose Prestige Academy as their first target.

A young boy who had gotten out of the control link during Ateez’s performance found them in the bunker and told them about how he attempted to break his older brother out of his control link as well, but that he reacted differently to being out of the control loop. He was in pain and blamed the boy. The boy was scared of him and his brother being discovered and sent to Guardian Island (the place where Yeosang was kept when he was captured), so asked Ateez to help them. They asked the boy what school he attended and he stated, “Prestige Academy.” Which was perfect as they were already planning on infiltrating there.

Not only could they save the boy’s older brother, but Prestige Academy was the ideal target because they could damage World Z’s/Strictland's ruling class from within. With the help of hacking by Left Eye and the Black Pirates, the members were able to sneak into the school in disguise, each performing their own roles.

Seonghwa and Yeosang found the boy's brother, but while they were explaining their plan to rescue him, they had a run in with Thunder, an elite group within Prestige Academy, similar to school prefects. [I will explain my hypothesis on Thunder at the end of the storyline recap in order to not give away plot points before they happen in the storyline.] The leader of Thunder let them go after giving them a warning, but this run in still caused the older brother to have a "why live" moment and run up to a high window in Prestige Academy to try to jump. Wooyoung and Yunho tried to save him, but he ended up falling out of the window anyways when he saw the Guardians moving towards his younger brother on the ground below him. Yunho then used the Cromer to save the older brother in mid air.

Ateez then carried out their rather elaborate plan to awaken the students and faculty of Prestige Academy using groovy music, neon-colored paintings, a ball of light that acted as a mirror, and breakers. They then used smoke bombs to try to escape during the chaos they caused. (see Bouncy) The boy was recaptured and Seonghwa went back to save him but was intercepted by the Thunder leader and he left with her.

Upon hearing the news of the infiltration of Prestige Academy and the awakening of the elite students and faculty there, Z killed the principal of the school.

The night of the Prestige Academy infiltration, the Ateez members, Black Pirates, and Left Eye were back in the bunker with the boy's older brother without a sense of celebration because the boy and Seonghwa were not with them. However, Seonghwa returned to the bunker with a map of the Disposal Site from the leader of Thunder and told everyone they could save the boy, because Thunder was actually a rebellion group and the leader put a GPS tracker in the boy's pocket before he was taken.

The members used blue butterfly androids to help explore the Disposal Site before entering it by driving their van through the fence to create a scene that needed to be investigated by the Disposal Site's red humans (people who churn the furnace used to dispose of sense offenders). (see Crazy Form) They split into two groups: to save the boy and rescue the other prisoners held there by using the Cromer to send them back to the bunker. However, Z used the boy as bait and sent Guardians to both the bunker and the Disposal Site in an effort to capture Ateez and the Black Pirates in both locations. Thunder arrived to save the members at the bunker and relocate the prisoners to a safe place. The bunker members then used the Cromer to head back to the Disposal Site to help the members there, but the Head Guardian threatened to kill the boy unless they surrendered.

Once they did, the boy was released and they realized he was working with the Guardians the whole time. The boy's brother talked him into returning to the Black Pirates' side and in that process, the boy's brother fell into the furnace and died which caused the boy to sacrifice himself in order to kill the Head Guardian. [I know this is an image from Star Wars and not an Ateez music video but this is how I am picturing the furnace from the Disposal Site in my head, so humor me please.] Ateez used blue butterflies as bombs to blow up the Disposal Site once they were ready to leave. They then met up with Thunder and Seonghwa learned their leader had actually been awakened by the Grimes siblings and her goal was to get as close to Z as she could once she graduated since no one in his inner circle was a rebel.

Ateez used the Cromer [ugh. It's broken again!] to return to World A, leaving behind the awakened students of Prestige Academy who became Sense Offenders, the students who were not awakened were sent to different schools while Prestige Academy was rebuilt to be even more controlling, and the Thunder leader graduated and infiltrated Z's workplace to meet the man himself.

Z issued an edict that instead of reeducating Sense Offenders, those who were caught were to be executed on the spot and used as a cautionary symbol to others, However this did not have the desired effect as the executed Sense Offenders hanging in the streets strengthened the resolve of other Sense Offenders to keep fighting.

Back in World A, Ateez had to return to their normal lives but had to live with their World Z experience without talking about it with others who did not experience it with them. At first they experienced the euphoria of arriving back home safe and alive (see Dreamy Day). But once reality set in, they each had a different emotional response to their experience.

Hongjoong and Seonghwa experienced anger and a want to destroy the current system and maybe even start to try to bring down Sciensalvar before they took control (see MATZ).

Yeosang, San, and Wooyoung were dealing with their own trauma responses which were causing them to feel anxious, lost, overwhelmed, trapped, angry, fearful, and vulnerable once that the real danger of World Z was behind them (see IT's You).

Yunho and Mingi were trying to look back on their memories to understand why their youth was harder with more sadness than the adults in their lives were claiming it to be. They were trying to learn about themselves through those memories and eventually came to a sense of acceptance where they could let go of the turmoil they brought and just keep the lessons (see Youth).

Jongho was dealing with a great sense of loss. What was once precious to him became familiar and he forgot about the preciousness. His important memories became regrets. He had lost his original dream of basketball, then lost the innocence of childhood when he went to World Z (see Everything).

We get another prism/dichroic cube/tesseract connection during The World Ep. Fin WILL: Outro

which allows us to further delve into the psyche of Ateez during this time.

While dealing with those emotional responses, they also connected to additional traumas. Hongjoong's feeling of isolation, Seonghwa's feeling of being controlled, Yuhno's grief over the loss of his brother and fear for the safety of his other loved ones, Yeosang's feeling of being trapped, San's self sacrifice due to his fear of losing his new friends, Mingi's reflexive pushing people away when he is overwhelmed, Wooyoung's stage fright, and Jongho's fear of re-injury (see Not Okay). This is where the current storyline ends.

Who Are Thunder?

Remember how I told you to remember the girl Seonghwa saw dancing and the guys from the end of Halazia? I think they are Thunder. Seognhwa finds the dancing girl's "Be Free" bracelet when they disappear in the Spin Off: Epilogue. The leader of Thunder was the same girl Seonghwa saw dancing in World A who left behind her "Be Free" bracelet and Seonghwa suspected she was still feeling emotions. This was then confirmed when she told him Thunder was actually a resistance group and confided in him what her goal was: making it into Z's inner circle.

Additionally these guys were wearing all white in the Spin Off: Epilogue, and Prestige Academy's uniform is all white. We also learn later that the Thunder leader came out of her control link when watching the Grimes siblings dance and created a memorial to them when they were killed while Yeosang was in captivity during the Spin Off so that connects her in another way to Spin Off: Epilogue. Finally, the way they stand and move, very stiffly, would make sense if they were trying to maintain a sense of no emotions to hid the fact that they are the resistance. What do y'all think?

My Hope for Ateez's Future Storyline

Now that we have most likely reached the end of The World Series, and are halfway through the Ateez lore storyline (Hongjoong told us in his lore class that when The World Series ended, we would be at the halfway point in their storyline), I wanted to take a moment to imagine where the storyline might go. I think it would be fun if we see Ateez, now back in World A, trying to thwart Henry Jo and the Scienslavers from gaining power to begin with and the creation of the original Black Pirates. So Ateez's future but Strictland's origin story. I would like to see that.

I do feel like KQ accidentally made a plot hole with the destruction of the Cromer at the end of Crazy Form, so I hope the Cromer is brought back in the future storyline to fix that plot hole. Also, there are a couple of times where the Cromer is used (or we think it should have been used) in ways that don't quite make sense. I would like KQ to answer these issues:

  1. When Yeosang wields the Cromer to send the members back to World A at the end of Déjà  Vu. He is the one touching the Cromer and the other members are not, however he stays in World Z while the other members travel to World A. Interesting!

  2. While Yeosang is captured in World Z, after he has smashed the Cromer, he some how activates his drone to send a message to Ateez that he Is still alive (see Turbulence). How? The Cromer is broken. Was he using the prism/diachronic cube/tesseract?

I guess we will see where they go once they release their next series. PLEASE CONTINUE TO GIVE US DIARIES, I BEG YOU!!

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Not Okay


Joëlle Bucco
Joëlle Bucco
May 14

Is not okay already in here and if not where would it fit? And are these all loreparts you have or is there anything else?

Great summery btw I am really happy I don’t have to put everything together myself

Joëlle Bucco
Joëlle Bucco
May 15
Replying to

Thank you very much :))


Morane Lauret
Morane Lauret
Apr 04

I dont know who in KQ come up with the stories and ideas but they are AMAZING ! I hope they get the recognition they deserve and they know that Atinys are greatfull and love them for all the effort they put into it.

I read another explained storyline on tumblr and the person got some more theories about the cromer and how it can be use as a teleporter too (not only in time but also in distance). I think both of your explanations about the storyline are pretty complementary, i always read both to get all the details. I put the link if someone is interested. Anyway good job to "storyline explainers atiny" you guys really killin it,…

Apr 04
Replying to

I totally agree about the KQ storyline crafter(s). They need recognition, awards, interviews, everything!! I have never had more fun following a music group before.

In terms of the Cromer, yes, I agree about the teleportation device regarding distance. That’s what I meant about the “spatial movement ability”. It allows them to use the Cromer to escape from the Android Guardians, move people with them from one place to another (e.g. the Disposal Site to the bunker), and allows them to move between Sectors of Strickland that are separate by domes used to block the sun. I’m sorry I wasn’t detailed enough in this post about that. I was trying to keep things relatively short since I had so much…


carey velazquez
carey velazquez
Mar 22

I can’t believe we’re finally at the half way point Captain mentioned. It’s been an absolute wild ride up to this point.

And I’m so excited to see what happens now back in World A. (I also really hope they continue the diaries)

Did they end up creating a split timeline? How are they going to explain the Cromer now? Will there be no more Cromer? I hope we get another something like the Diary Film and a reality show like Fever Road to help us along the way in the new series.

In any case this journey continues forward and I’m excited to be on it with you and Atiny 🫶🧡🏴‍☠️

Mar 22
Replying to

Oh another diary film would be great!! Give use 15-30 minutes of lore content PLEASE! Or better yet, an actual show or manga would be fun! They could answer all of our questions!

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