GUVERCIN: BTS gave good advice at UN convention


Opinions Column: The Bigger Picture

On Sept. 24, internationally-recognized South Korean band BTS was invited to deliver a powerful speech at the 73 session of the United Nations General Assembly. The goal of the conference was to collaborate with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and respected world leaders to establish a new partnership — Generation Unlimited — that aims to fight to give young people access to quality education, training or employment by 2030. The conference was significant not only because of its humanitarian endeavor to abet the welfare of global youth, but also because it marked BTS as the first ever Korean band to address the United Nations General Assembly. 

The Generation Unlimited global initiative has several noteworthy objectives that encompass the global education and training crisis, which is preventing millions of young people from leading successful and fulfilling lives. The partnership is committed to concentrating on secondary-age education, developing of skills necessary for learning, generating employability and empowering young minds with confidence and conviction. Young people will be provided opportunities to become co-creators and be actively involved in the creation of global policy as well as the upcoming cultural revolution which will echo millions of voices across the spectrum of cultures, ideas and contexts. 

Youth media programs including, a TV reality show where university students propose solutions for social issues, a young reporters radio show for, women’s empowerment workshops and by youth and U-Report clubs, has been developed in order to promote youth engagement. Since the members of BTS are prominent figures who also promote their humanitarian objectives through media activity, they are particularly suited for a pursuit of this scale. 

One can easily say that BTS is currently the most popular Korean band in the world, with a Twitter following spanning more than 16.5 million and an Instagram following spanning more than 13.3 million. Since their debut in 2013, the primary themes and messages that they convey through their music encompass one’s journey with self-love, the ups and downs of youth and the importance of self-worth. BTS has been actively involved in UNICEF’s global #ENDviolence campaign since collaborating with the Korean Committee for the non-profit. Through this they developed their "LOVE MYSELF" campaign in order to promote their support against youth violence and message of self-love. The campaign has succeeded in raising more than $1 million for the organization through millions of “Love Myself” album sales. “BTS’s ‘LOVE MYSELF’ campaign, which states that all (human) potential stems from loving and respecting oneself, and UNICEF’s new ‘Generation Unlimited’ agenda, which aims to uncover the unlimited potential of young people, are aimed toward the same values," said a representative of UNICEF Korea commented on why they had chosen to invite BTS to speak as goodwill ambassadors. 

BTS has received a plethora of accolades from the global entertainment industry as the first Korean band to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, and even South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in recognized their outstanding work. Kim Namjoon, who goes by the stage name RM, is the leader of BTS and was the one who delivered the speech on behalf of his group. He included many personal anecdotes about his journey to self-discovery and ultimately self-love, and emphasized the valuable role one’s mistakes play in the development of their character. Despite their international stardom, BTS has gone through many struggles in the beginning of its career, and RM even described their persistent feelings of wanting to quit in light of people calling them hopeless. If you listen to the speech you can hear the sincerity which is present due to their experiences. “Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s 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 was, who I am, and who I hope to become," RM said. He later expressed his and his fellow members’ profound gratitude toward their fans who have shared their stories about hardship and self-love through their “LOVE MYSELF campaign, and who have given them the unwavering support it takes to be artists of this caliber. 

The Generation Unlimited campaign has the capacity to be one of the most successful, productive and inclusive efforts to guide and support youth through their journey of self-discovery and fulfillment. With the support of artists like BTS, prominent media personalities, world leaders, philanthropists and most importantly, driven and ambitious youth leaders, we will hopefully witness the rise of this incredible global pursuit. In the words of RM, “No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, gender identity: speak yourself.”

Dilara Guvercin is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore double majoring in philosophy and psychology. Her column, "The Bigger Picture," runs on alternate Fridays.

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