As world leaders descended on New York on Monday for an annual gathering, South Korea’s top boy band, BTS, took advantage of the spotlight to urge young people to join global efforts against discrimination and poverty.
The seven-member band, who this year became the first K-Pop group to top the Billboard 200 album chart, made an impassioned plea at the United Nations for young people to find their voices to help shape the future.
The 193 UN member states agreed three years ago to an ambitious set of 17 global goals designed to conquer poverty, inequality and other international woes by a 2030 deadline.
Campaigners have stressed the need for the younger generation to get involved, with the UN children’s fund Unicef estimating the global population of adolescents and young people will reach two billion by 2030.
BTS leader Kim Namjoon, aka RM, spoke for the group to help launch a Unicef campaign called “Generation Unlimited”, outlining the issues that they, their fans and young people around the world face today and the need to step up.
“I want to hear your voice, I want to hear your conviction. No matter where you’re from, skin colour, gender identity, just speak yourself. Find your name [and] find your voice,” said Namjoon, 24, in a speech that went viral on social media.
BTS, formed five years ago, topped the 2018 Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list that ranks South Korea’s most powerful and influential celebrities. It was the first K-Pop band to speak at any United Nation’s annual gathering.
YouTube star Lilly Singh, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, also appeared at the #Youth2030 event alongside BTS, watched by UN.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, who is Korean American.
“Young people make up 25 per cent of the population but 100 per cent of the future,” Singh told the 73rd session of the UN.
Unicef said “Generation Unlimited” was a campaign to get every young person into education, training or employment by 2030 as a lack of education currently holds back millions of young people and threatens progress and stability.
“All our hopes for a better world rest on young people,” Guterres said in a statement.
“Sustainable development, human rights, peace and security can only be achieved if we empower these young people as leaders, and enable them to unleash their full potential.”