Have you heard about the South Korean boy band BTS? If you haven’t, you’ve probably been living under a rock. They are one of the most successful and influential South Korean artists of all time, what with chart-topping singles, successful albums (over 20 million have been sold worldwide) and record-breaking music videos (24 hours after its release, “Butter” broke the record for the most-viewed YouTube music video in 24 hours).
BTS has come a long way, from making a name for themselves in the local scene to leading the Korean wave in countries worldwide. Aside from leaving a mark in the global music industry, the boy band have also used their fame and influence to lead impactful philanthropy efforts worldwide.
They’ve kickstarted numerous global campaigns to address pressing issues, collectively raised funds with fans to tackle world hunger, and gave a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on self-empowerment and unity. More recently, they met US President Joe Biden to discuss anti-Asian hate crimes, an especially prevalent issue in the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign Minister Kang of South Korea once said in an interview: “The power of BTS to inspire young and some old people around the world is truly amazing. The hopes they raise among the young must be matched by concerted government action.”
It’s clear that BTS is doing their part in making the world a better place. Here are some key lessons you can learn from them:
Important life lessons from BTS
1. “Respect and understand that each and every person is valuable.” — V
BTS and Biden recently met for the first time in the White House on May 31, 2022, to discuss how the South Korean boy band can play a significant role in the prevailing anti-Asian hate crime issue.
Together with Biden, BTS hopes to celebrate diversity and send a message of positivity to the world. They want to shed light that hate crimes should not exist, and everyone should be respected, understood and valued.
“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian-American hate crimes,” said BTS member Jimin to reporters. “To put a stop to this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves, once again,” as quoted by Bloomberg.
“We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding that each and every person is valuable,” said V, another BTS member.
Anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise. In 2020 — when the COVID-19 pandemic began — 279 anti-Asian incidents were reported in the US, a significant 77% increase since 2019, notes the United States Department of Justice.
2. “We hope that many people felt how the love received from others can become the power that allows them to love themselves.” — BTS
For years, BTS has been working closely with UNICEF on various global campaigns, including the long-running “LOVE MYSELF” campaign, aimed at fighting violence, bullying, abuse, and promoting self-esteem in young people.
In 2017, BTS teamed up with the UN’s children agency to spread the campaign’s message through promotional videos, hashtags, exclusive merch and booths at concerts. ARMY — what BTS fans are called — from all over the world were heavily involved in the campaign as well.
These collective efforts raised a whopping nearly four million US dollars to date, which is used for UNICEF’s #ENDVIOLENCE campaign to eradicate violence against children and minors.
“We started LOVE MYSELF as a way to reach young people and help improve their lives and rights,” said BTS, during their LOVE MYSELF campaign renewal with UNICEF in 2021.
“During the process, we also strove to ‘LOVE MYSELF’ ourselves, and we as a team and as individuals grew as well. We hope that many people felt how the love received from others can become the power that allows them to love themselves.”
3. “No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, your gender identity: speak yourself.” — RM
BTS’s influence and partnership with UNICEF led them to address the 73rd United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York in 2018. There, the boy band gave a powerful self-empowerment speech which made headlines across the globe.
BTS leader RM drew from his personal struggles with self-love to highlight why having a voice is pivotal and why it’s important not to care what others say.
“I had one sanctuary, and that was music. There was a small voice in me that said, ‘Wake up, man, and listen to yourself!’ But it took me a long time to hear music calling my name,” said RM, as quoted by UNICEF.
“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 also reminded his fans to always speak for themselves, regardless of their background.
“No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself,” emphasised RM.
“Find your name, find your voice by speaking yourself. I’m Kim Nam Jun, RM of BTS. I’m a hip-hop idol and an artist from a small town in Korea. Like most people, I made many mistakes in my life. I have many faults and I have many fears, but I am going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself, little by little. What is your name? Speak yourself!”
4. “Life goes on. Let’s live on.” — BTS
Following their 73rd UN General Assembly speech, BTS was invited to address the 75th UN General Assembly online — they highlighted a 2020 message of looking out for one another during times of uncertainty.
All seven members of the band shared their personal struggles in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected not only their work and connection with ARMY fans, but also their mental health as well. Through these hardships, the band found solace in each other’s company and urged everyone to be united in times of uncertainty. As RM phrased it: “Stars shine brightest when the night is darkest.”
“In a world of uncertainty, we must cherish the importance of ‘me’, ‘you’ and ‘us’,” said BTS member Jin.
“Life goes on. Let’s live on,” said the band.