From the ‘Lost Generation’ to the ‘Welcome Generation’, BTS Maps Out the Youth’s Struggles and Motivations

For the third year in a row, global icons BTS has delivered a speech before fans, diplomats, and world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) zooming in on issues that run deep among today’s youth.

Following the appointment by South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in as the Special Envoy for Future Generations and Culture, the supergroup took their new roles to heart with a heartfelt speech that both represents and leads the next generation to a more hopeful and action-based future.

To start with, BTS leader RM personally addressed the world leaders present at the event, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the millions of people watching online. He then introduced a special project the group and their whole team initiated before the Assembly, which is to ask young people in their teens and 20s what their lives have looked like in the past 2 years we’ve spent in this seemingly post-apocalyptic society, and how they view the world in light of these experiences. The members then each took a turn to share what they’ve uncovered and learned from the results.

Perhaps the biggest theme of the past few years amid the COVID-19 pandemic that took over the world, and all the limitations it introduced, is “Change.”

This is emphasized by the drastic transformations our daily routines have taken, the 180-degree turn of our everyday sceneries, and how we’ve all began to perceive the world through new lenses. BTS presented these at the UNGA, citing how upsetting it is for the youth to miss out on graduation ceremonies and other milestone experiences, likening it to their own dismay at having to cancel long-planned concert tours and engagements with their fans across the globe.

“Here I’m the same as I was yesterday. But the world changed, like we are transported in a flash to a parallel world,” Jimin read as a reflection of how young people are feeling amidst these confusing times.

However, the most striking realization the group shared from their quick survey, is the overwhelming urge within the youth to “live on.” Jin, the oldest member of the group, shared how majority of the responses they received showcased this united calling despite their general feeling of loss: “Let’s live on. Let’s make the best of this moment!”, he recited from one of the submissions.

True enough, a lot of the responses also noted the things young people have tried to do to curb their feelings of sadness and hopelessness despite what’s been snatched from their so-called golden years. Against all odds, friendships have strengthened and romantic relationships have blossomed online, new skills and activities have been introduced now that they have more time and motivation, and so many more innovations have been integrated into their lives to make this time as comfortable and less harrowing as possible.

Despite being labeled as the “Lost Generation”, the group emphasized that the youth are not lost, they’re just finding new courage to take on these new (and unprecedented) challenges.

As one of the UNGA’s main agendas for this conference is to discuss the severity of climate change, BTS also noted this on their presentation. For one, they mentioned that because of strict restrictions put against closed environments around the globe, more and more young people are spending time with nature, and taking an interest on the environment and studying how to curb climate change.

“The future is unexplored territory and that’s where we (the youth), more than anyone, will spend our time,” RM stressed.

But because of the proactive steps young people have been taking in the hopes of alleviating this crisis, RM and the rest of BTS are hopeful and certain that the Earth’s history and fate are still being written. That there is still a lot we can do to ensure we have a bright future for many generations to come. As they put it, we’re all trying to do what we can right now, regardless of the situation. This includes taking part in initiatives to lessen global pollution, thinking up new ways to live a somewhat normal and fulfilling life amidst quarantine, and getting vaccinated for ourselves and the people around us—things that the group have also taken steps in.

So in lieu of being seen as COVID-19’s “Lost Generation”, the group encourages us to see the youth as the “Welcome Generation”, instead. One that does not cower in the face of change, but welcomes it as a challenge to keep pushing forward.

RM explained, “If we believe in possibilities and hope, even when the unexpected happens, we will not lose our way—but discover new ones.” He furthered, “I believe that every choice we make is the beginning of change, not the end.”

The group ended their formal presentation with this poignant line, encouraging all viewers and listeners to take heed, and shoulder on, because there’s still so much we can do to change the course of humanity and Earth’s entwined fate.

Watch the full speech with English dubs below:

BTS have definitely gone out of their way throughout the years to spread relevant messages for the youth, through their music, campaigns, and various speaking engagements. Both in representing the younger generation, and in leading them to commit towards positive change, they’ve stood as inspiring beacons for their peers and juniors, and this latest UNGA speech is yet another addition to their long list of efforts and contributions.

To formally end their piece, members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook then introduced their pre-recorded performance of their latest single “Permission to Dance” as their official message of welcome.

Watch the full performance below:

This article first appeared on on September 24, 2021.