Started back in 2013, the South Korean boy band BTS is at the peak of its success right now, with one after one number one hits, billions of streams, millions of fans, numerous awards including a Grammy nomination, collaboration with some of the most popular singers in the world, etc. Recently, they gave a speech at the United Nations General Assembly for the third time, and this time they raised a lot of issues going around the world right now.
Just a few weeks back, BTS was appointed as the “special presidential envoy for future generations and culture” by the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Although BTS has appeared at the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2018 and 2020, this year it was their first appearance in the new formal diplomatic role. They were accompanied by President Moon himself, at the 76th UN General Assembly at New York City.
After completing the 7 minutes long speech, the band showed a video performance of their latest summer hit “Permission to Dance”. President Moon called BTS “the artist that is most loved by the people around the world” while introducing them at the assembly.
Like in 2018, the band initiated the “Love Yourself” campaign, and this time they launched another campaign called “Youth Today, Your Stories” to urge the fans to tell their own stories about the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years.
So what speech did BTS members give at the UNGA?
The speech was started by the leader Kim Namjoon, known as RM. With a long breath, he started saying, “Your excellency Abdulla Shadid, President of the 76 UN General Assembly, your excellency secretary general Antonio Guterres, your excellency President Moon Jae-in and distinguished leaders from around the world.
It is an honor to be here today. We are BTS appointed Special Presidential Envoys of the Republic of Korea. We are here today to share the stories of our future generation. Before we came here, we asked young people in their teens and 20s around the world about their past 2 years and the world they find themselves in today.”
Saying this, he passed his turn to Jin to share some of the answers they received. Jin started by asking, “Yes, should we take a look?” He continued, “You can feel the good vibes from just looking at these. There were times during the past 2 years, when I too felt bewildered and troubled, but still here we have people who cry out ‘Let’s live on, let’s make the best of this moment!’”
They also shared some messages and pictures they received which were presented at the assembly on a while board.
After Jin, Jimin spoke, saying, “Because we can’t stand still, when we are in the ideal time of our lives to take on new challenges. It wasn’t as if we could blame anyone and you must have felt the frustration. Here I’m the same as I was yesterday, but the world changed, like, we were transported in a flash to a parallel world.”
Jungkook continued the speech saying, “I was saddened to hear that entrance and graduation ceremonies had to be cancelled.These are moments in life you want to celebrate, and missing out on them must have been upsetting. We were heartbroken when our long planned concert tours were cancelled and for a while we yearned for the moments we wanted to make complete.”
The turn passed to Suga, and he said, “Yes, it was time for us to mourn. For the things that COVID took away from us. A time to discover how precious each and every moment we had taken for granted were.”
Jimin again spoke, saying, “Suga mentioned that precious things were taken for granted and lots of people answered our question by sharing pictures of their precious moments. Many people showed how they share their moments with nature. I think during these two years, they found the time they experienced and cared for nature
J-Hope came forward to say, “Yes, but maybe we feel an encroaching sense of dread that our time on this Earth is limited, we just talked about the things we mourn and I shudder to think about mourning for the Earth. Everyone agrees that climate change is an important problem but talking about what the best solution might be, that’s not easy. It’s a topic that is tough to make conclusions about.”
RM took back the mic and said, “It is a tough discussion but I learned while preparing for today, that there are many young people who have an interest in environmental issues and choose it as a field of study. The future is unexplored territory and that’s where we, more than anyone, will spend their time. So these young people were searching for the answers to the questions of how we must live their future.”
Now, V took the mic and said, “So I hope we just don;t consider the future as grim darkness. We have people who are concerned for the world and searching for the answers. There’s still many pages left in this story about us and I thought we should not talk like the ending’s already been written.”
Jungkook spoke, saying, “Of course, sometimes the world seems stuck in place, even if you are ready to go. Sometimes, it feels like you have lost your way. There was a time when we felt the same way.”
RM took back the mic and said, “I have heard that people in their teens and 20s are being referred to as ‘corona lost generation’. They have lost their way at a time when they need the most diverse opportunities and must try new things. But I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost just because their paths they tread can’t be seen by grownup eyes.”
Showing the pictures they collected from the fans, Jimin started by saying, “Yes, take a look at these pictures. Here we have many who are trying hard to continue their friendships online in new ways, started learning new things, and lived healthier lives… These kids are trying to learn new things and trying to figure new things out. But they don’t look lost, they look like they are finding new courage and taking on new challenges.”
Jin, now spoke, “I think that’s why instead of the lost generation, a more appropriate name would be ‘the welcome generation’ because instead of fearing change, this generation says ‘welcome’ and keeps pushing ahead.”
Rm says, “That’s right, if we believe in possibilities and hope, even when the unexpected happens, we will not lose our way – but discover new ones.”
Suga now says, “There will be choices we make that may not be perfect but that does not mean there will be nothing we can do. That’s what I think.”
J-Hope enlightened the topic of vaccination by saying, “What is important are the choices we make, when we are faced with changes right? Some of you heard the news that we are coming to the UN and a lot of you were wondering, whether we have been vaccinated, and I’ll take this opportunity to say yes, of course, all seven of us received vaccination.”
RM spoke, saying, “The vaccination was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us and being able to stand here before you today. Just like we said in our message today, we too are doing the things we are able to do right now.”
V now says, “Like the vaccinations, efforts are continuously on their way to keep this new reality going forward. And I think the day we can meet again face to face is not far away, and until then I hope we can fill each of our days to the brim with positive energy.”
Rm concluded the speech saying, “We thought the world has stopped, but it continues to move forward. I believe that every choice we make is the beginning of change – not the end. I hope that in this new world, we can all say to each other ‘welcome’. And now, as we are looking forward to this future, our “Permission to Dance” is our message of welcome that we want to share with everyone today.”
While this assembly was being broadcasted on YouTube, it was watched by over a million people. BTS really is a great pioneer for the world right now, as their words are filled with so much hope and positivity.