BTS at the UN: ‘Our Fans’ Stories Constantly Remind Us of Our Responsibility’
The South Korean group were invited to the event due to their tremendous impact in global youth culture and philanthropy
BTS made history today by becoming the first South Korean music group to speak at the United Nations. The septet joined several delegates and distinguished youth from around the globe at the launch of ‘Youth 2030: The UN Youth Strategy’ and United Nations Children’s Fund’s ‘Generation Unlimited’ program on Monday, September 24th (around 10 pm IST) in New York.
Leader of the group Kim Namjoon, who goes by the stage name RM, took the podium at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly to discuss the importance of giving young people a voice and the opportunity to pursue their dreams instead of being boxed into society’s expectations. The rapper and producer started by outlining the hopes and dreams he had of being a superhero as a young boy before becoming conscious of societal pressure to put aside those dreams when he was around 10 years old. “Looking back, I think that’s when I began to worry about what other people thought of me and I started seeing myself through their eyes. I stopped looking up at the night skies, the stars… I stopped daydreaming. Instead I tried to jam myself into the molds that other people made.”
RM stressed on the importance of listening to the voice within to follow the path you truly want–a voice that eventually pushed him to pursue his biggest love: music. He explains that there were many ups and downs even after joining BTS–around their debut and a few years after, the group were often ridiculed for their hope to become the voice of youth. “Some people might not believe it, but most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes I just wanted to quit.”
The producer went on to assure young people that it is alright to make mistakes, as long as you stay firm in the pursuit of staying true to yourself. He also highlighted the importance of teamwork, crediting the rest of BTS’ members–Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook– and the group’s fandom ARMY as the driving forces in his journey to success. Accepting one’s own flaws and mistakes and yet having faith in the self (the key mantra of BTS’ mega-hit Love Yourself album series) also play a big part in eliminated the self-doubt today’s youth are burdened with. “These faults and mistakes are who I am,” RM explained, adding, “I have come to love myself for who I am, who I was and who I hope to become.”
BTS’ leader ended the roughly six-minute speech by urging youth around the world to accept themselves for who they are and speak for themselves, follow the path they truly want and make a positive difference. “No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, your gender identity… speak yourself.”
BTS were invited to the event due to their tremendous impact in today’s global youth culture through their artistry and social messages, as well as for their philanthropy and are recognized as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassadors for the Generation Unlimited partnership. In November last year, the group had announced a partnership with the Korean Committee of UNICEF to launch the ‘Love Myself’ #ENDviolence campaign, pledging a portion of their physical album sales to the cause. According to the campaign’s website, the amount raised (as of now) equals KRW 1,154,593,599 (INR 7,40,52,169.)
According to Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore, a key figure at the launch, the Generation Unlimited program will focus on include creating a healthy environment for children who need it, providing education (including out-of-school opportunities and mentorships,) teaching children different languages and types of advanced technology and several other skills to equip them to join the highly qualified “workforce of the future.”
With BTS’ diverse and young audience paying attention to the group’s work with UNICEF and RM’s words at today’s summit, the band play an immense part in the global movement to mobilize dreams. With more youth being inspired to work for a better, happier future, it contributes to the demand for education and the aid towards providing that education to those who want and need it. BTS’ positive influence on their fandom has created a pay-it-forward effect; ARMY is often responsible for leading massive movements of charity in several countries, speaking on the importance of mental health, education, equality, feminism and supporting the LGBTQ+ community.