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'Love yourself': BTS delivers message to youth at U.N.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Korean Kpop group BTS appear at the United Nations in New York on Monday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Korean Kpop group BTS appear at the United Nations in New York on Monday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- South Korean pop sensation BTS made a splash at the United Nations on Monday, with a special appearance on behalf of a UNICEF campaign focusing on youth development around the world.

The seven-member boy band with a global fan base that calls itself "The Army" were in attendance at the launch of "Youth 2030: the United Nations Youth Strategy" and the "Generation Unlimited Partnership."

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Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, spoke to an audience of U.N. delegates about deeply personal experiences with loneliness and low self-esteem that troubled him as a young boy, before launching a stellar career in K-pop with other BTS members.

"I'm Kim Nam-joon, RM of BTS. I am an idol artist from a small town in [South] Korea. Like most people I have made plenty of mistakes in my life. I have many faults, and many more fears, but I raise myself as [best] as I can...[and] gradually [learned to] love myself," Kim said. "True love begins with love of myself."

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The message from Kim stayed away from the statistics and forecasts about global youth that other delegates addressed and likely resonated with fans of BTS's 2017 hit song, "Love Yourself."

The song, according to band members, speaks to people who are "harsh on themselves."

Young fans have said they remain supportive of BTS because their music addresses concerns like self-esteem, alienation and mental illness --- the latter an unusual topic for K-pop artists, who are best known for upbeat music set to catchy tunes.

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Kim, 24, reflected on a time of self-doubt in his early youth before delegates.

"My heart stopped when I was 9 or 10, I started worrying about what other people thought of me," Kim said. "I stopped looking at the night skies."

KIm spoke of how his "boyish dreams" vanished as he grew older and he began to shut out his own voice and was becoming like a "ghost" before music rescued him again.

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But becoming a member of BTS in 2010 did not mean challenges were over.

"Most people thought we were hopeless, sometimes I wanted to quit," Kim said, adding the importance of social support for young people everywhere.

"I am still an ordinary 24-year-old guy, it was only possible [to overcome] because I had BTS members right by my side, and the support from BTS army fans."

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BTS is collaborating on an anti-violence campaign with UNICEF, addressing the challenges faced by youth around the world.

Young people "worry they won't get the education, the skills they need" and worry about "violence at home and online," Henrietta H. Fore, executive director of UNICEF, said Monday.

President of World Bank Jim Yong Kim said the rapid rise of broadband will raise aspirations, and possibly expectations, of youth.

But greater access could also bring greater opportunity, the South Korea-born Jim Yong Kim said.

"One of the best groups, BTS, chose to become artists because Korea invested in health and education," Jim Yong Kim said. "Aspirations all over the world are going up."

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