BTS became the first K-pop act to make a history and joined a list of influential speakers invited to talk at the United Nations General Assembly.
Told the world youth to 'speak yourself' and to 'believe in their own convictions and voices'
The group attended a ceremony of UNICEF's global partnership Generation Unlimited at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly at Trusteeship Council Chamber in New York on Monday, September 24.
All seven members of the group took the floor as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassadors, but it was group leader RM, who addressed the floor. In about 7 minute-long English speech, RM as the ordinary man, and as a leader of BTS delivered a message to the young generation based on his personal experience. He spoke with fierce conviction about his own journey with self-acceptance and urged the young generation to love themselves and to speak their true names.
Read the full transcription of RM's speech, below:
"I’d like to begin by talking about myself. I was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea. It is a really beautiful place with a lake, hills, and even an annual flower festival. I spent a very happy childhood there, and I was just an ordinary boy. I used to look up at the night sky and wonder, and I used to dream the dreams of a boy. I used to imagine that I was a superhero who could save the world. In an intro to one of our early albums, there’s a line that says, ‘My heart stopped when I was maybe nine or ten.’ Looking back, I think that’s when I began to worry about what other people thought of me and started seeing myself through their eyes. I stopped looking up at the night skies, the stars. I stopped daydreaming. Instead, I just tried to jam myself into the molds that other people made. Soon, I began to shut out my own voice and started to listen to the voices of others. No one called out my name, and neither did I. My heart stopped, and my eyes closed shut. So, like this, I, we, all lost our names. We became like ghosts.
But I had one sensory, and that was music. There was a small voice inside of me that said, ‘Wake up, man, and listen to yourself.’ But it took me a long time to hear music calling my real name. Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were a lot of hurdles. Some people may not believe, but most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes I just wanted to quit. But I think I was very lucky that I didn’t give it all up. And I’m sure that I, and we, will keep stumbling and falling like this. BTS has become artists performing in those huge stadiums and selling millions of albums right now, but I am still an ordinary 24-year-old guy. If there’s anything that I achieved, it was only possible that I have my other BTS members right by my side, and because of the love and support that our ARMY fans all over the world make for us. And maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but 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’ll 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.
I’d like to say one last thing: After releasing our 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. Those stories constantly remind us of our responsibility. So let’s take all one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to speak yourself. I’d like to ask all of you, What is your name? What excites you and makes your heart beat? 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, your gender identity, just speak yourself. Find your name and find your voice by speaking yourself. I’m Kim Namjoon, and also RM of BTS. I am an idol, and I am an artist from a small town in Korea. Like most people, I’ve made many and plenty mistakes in my life. I have many faults, and I have many more fears, but I’m going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself gradually, just little by little. What is your name? Speak yourself. Thank you very much."
Generation Unlimited is UN's Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy to engage with, but especially to empower young people aged between 10 to 24. And world leaders made their appearance to this 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame.
In the meantime, South Korea's First Lady Kim Jung Sook met BTS beforehand the event, congratulated them on topping Billboard 200 and then headed to the Assembly.
BTS since November 2017 joined hands with the UNICEF to stage LOVE MYSELF campaign pursuing love and a better place to live for all and promote #ENDviolence aimed at protecting children and teens from violence and encouraging preventive measures.
By Bongbong and Jaeyeon Ryu firstname.lastname@example.org