Addressing a United Nations session as the first ever South Korean artists, the boy band BTS urged young people to find their own inner voice and see themselves through their own eyes by speaking about themselves.
The septet was invited to give a short opening speech at an event during the 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday (New York time) to launch UNICEF's new partnership "Generation Unlimited."
The program is intended to get every young person into quality education, training or employment by 2030 under an initiative of the U.N. secretary general.
BTS leader RM, whose real name is Kim Nam-joon, made the speech on behalf of the group while the other six members were standing behind him. He started by looking back on his childhood.
"I spent a very happy childhood (in a small town in Seoul). And I used to look up at the nice sky ... and imagine that I was a super hero who saves the world," RM said.
"My heart stopped when I was maybe nine or 10," he said, referring to the lyrics in the intro to one of BTS albums. "Looking back, I think that's when I began to worry about what other people thought of me and started to see myself through their eyes. Soon I began to shut up my own voice ... I, we, lost our names and became like ghosts," he noted.
But music made a change for him. "There was a small voice inside of me that said 'listen to yourself,' but it took me quite a long time to hear music calling my real name," he said.
Even after joining BTS, he was attempted to quit midway because "most people thought we were hopeless."
"But BTS became artists performing in huge stadiums and selling millions of albums," he pointed out.
"Maybe I made mistakes yesterday, but yesterday's me is still me. Today I am who I am. Tomorrow, I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that will be me, too," RM said, adding that "I have come to love myself for who I am and who I was and for who I hope to become."
Through their successful "Love Yourself" album series, the world-famous boy band started to hear stories from their fans from all over the world, telling how their albums' messages helped the fans overcome "the hardship in life and start to love themselves," he said. "Those stories constantly remind us of our responsibilities."
"So I urge you to speak yourself. I like to ask all of you what is your name, what excites you and makes your heart beat. Tell me your story," RM underlined.
"No matter who you are, where you are from, (what are) your skin color, gender identity, speak yourself. Find your name and find your voice," he said, adding that "I had many faults, I have many more fears, but I am gonna embrace myself as hard as I can and I am starting to love myself gradually."
The U.N. speech was in line with the message of BTS' "Love Yourself" trilogy, which wrapped up with the final album, "Love Yourself: Answer," released in August, which stressed self-esteem and belief in oneself.
Beloved for the social messages they convey, BTS won the Top Social Artist award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards show, their second yearly winning of the award in a row.
In November last year, BTS also signed a formal partnership with UNICEF to support the latter's "#ENDviolence" initiative in sync with their own "Love Myself" social campaign.
The Monday U.N. session was also attended and addressed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and representatives from around the world.