“Every choice we make is the beginning of change, not the end.” These words were spoken by Kim Namjoon (RM), leader of South Koreas pride, BTS as he and his group members addressed General Assembly hall on Monday to help promote U.N. goals for 2030 during the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Moment.
Introduced by South Korean President Moon Jae-in as special presidential envoys and an “exceptionally outstanding group of young men who are connecting with the youth across the world,” each of the seven members took their turn in addressing the assembly hall in their native Korean speaking on goals for the future and inspiring today’s youth. The group reflected on how the last two years, defined by the ongoing pandemic and worsening climate change discussions, have impacted the global youth population.
Jeon Jungkook stated, “Here I’m the same as I was yesterday, but the world changed. Like we were transported in a flash to a parallel world. I was saddened to hear that entrance and graduation ceremonies had to be canceled. 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.”
Min Yoongi (Suga) added, “Yes, it was a 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’d taken for granted were.”
Speaking on climate change Jung Hoseok (J Hope) remarked, “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’s tough to make conclusions about.” Namjoon went on to say, “I learned while preparing for today that there are many young people who have an interest in environmental issues and choose it as their field of study. The future is unexplored territory. And that’s where we more than anyone will spend our time.”
“I’ve heard that people in their teens and twenties today are being referred to as Covid’s lost generation. That they’ve lost their way at a time when they need the most diverse opportunities. They must try new things. But I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost just because the paths they tread can by seen by grown-up eyes.”
In a moment that showed their humanity and made an impact with their fan base, Park Jimin stumbled due to nerves at taking part in such a historic moment but he took a breath and carried on stating “Yes, these kids are trying to learn new things and trying to figure new things out. They don’t look lost.”
Kim Seokjin (Jin) added, “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 forging ahead.”
Hoseok then made an encouraging statement towards he younger generation getting vaccinated: “Some of you heard the news that we’re coming to the UN, and a lot of you were wondering whether we have been vaccinated. I’ll take this opportunity to say yes. All seven of us. Of course we received vaccinations. The vaccination was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us. And to being able to stand here before you today. Just like we said in our message today, we too are doing the things that we’re able to do right now.”
Kim Taehyung (V) added, “Like the vaccinations. Efforts are continuously underway to keep this new reality going forward. I think the day we can meet again face to face is not far away. Until then I hope we can fill each of our days to the brim with positive energy.”
At the end of their speech, BTS unveiled a new music video for its current hit single “Permission to Dance,” which was filmed at U.N. Headquarters in New York. A feat within itself.
Nearly 1 million people gunned in to watch live online and video of the group’s speech on the United Nations’ official YouTube channel has been viewed more than 6 million times as of Monday afternoon. Following their appearance at the assembly hall, BTS and President Moon were interviewed by Melissa Fleming, the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. They have also been interviewed by Juju Chang for a segment that is set to air on ABC’s GMA at on September 24th.
You can see their speech, interview and performance of “Permission to Dance” below.
Photos courtesy of Big Hit/Hybe and Getty Images