Korean boy band BTS recently made history by delivering a speech at the 73rd General Assembly in honor of UNICEF’s ‘Generation Unlimited’.
On September 24, the seven members of the group appeared at the UN General Assembly to talk about the new Generation Unlimited initiative, which is “dedicated to increasing opportunities and investments for children and young people“. This was the groups second partnership with the UN: last year they partnered with UNICEF to create a Love Myself campaign aimed at ending violence against children. They managed to raise over 1 million dollars in the effort.
In their three minute speech, the popular band talked about their work with the UN and their hopes for the future. Band leader Kim Nam Jun said:
“Last November, BTS launched the ‘Love Myself’ campaign with UNICEF, building on our belief that ‘true love first begins with loving myself’. After releasing the ‘Love Yourself’ albums and launching the ‘Love Myself’ campaign, we started to hear remarkable stories from our fans all over the world, how our message helped them overcome their hardships in life and start loving themselves. These stories constantly remind us of our responsibility. So, let’s all take one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to ‘speak yourself ‘.”
Jun also talked about his own childhood, revealing that he was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul. At the age of just nine or ten, he started to worry about his perception of himself for other people. He said, “I had one sanctuary, and that was music. Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were a lot of hurdles. Some people might not believe but most people thought we were hopeless, and sometimes I just wanted to quit.”
He added, “Yesterday’s me is still me. Today I am who I am with all of my faults and my mistakes. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser and that would be me too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I am, for who I was, and for who I hope to become. There was a small voice in me that said, ‘Wake up, man, and listen to yourself!” But it took me a long time to hear music calling my name. Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, gender identity: speak yourself. I have many faults and I have many fears, but I am going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself, little by little.”
A representative of the UN said, “BTS’s ‘Love Myself’ campaign, which states that all [human] potential stems from loving an respecting oneself, and UNICEF’s new ‘Generation Unlimited’ agenda, which aims to uncover the unlimited potential of young people, are aimed towards the same values.”
"I want to hear your voice… No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself.”
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) September 24, 2018
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore posted on Twitter, “We [heart] BTS’s inspiring message to young people around the world at the UN General Assembly.” She also shared a selfie with the group, calling them “incredible advocates for young people around the world.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong were present at the Assembly.