“Instead of being called COVID’s ‘Lost Generation,’ the more appropriate term would be the ‘Welcome Generation.’ We’d be the generation that welcomes change, challenges, and knows how to charge ahead.”
These are the words uttered by BTS’ eldest member Jin as part of the group’s speech at the 76th UN General Assembly held in New York today, September 20, 2021.
Following an introduction from South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In, BTS fulfilled their roles as Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture by delivering an 8-minute speech.
Spoken in their native Korean language, RM, Jin, SUGA, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jung Kook shared the stories of youth (future generation) during the pandemic, which they took from submissions via social media through #YourStories.
Jin highlighted that in the majority of the submissions, despite everyone going through a difficult time during the pandemic, there was a resounding message of hope as people cried out, “Let’s live on! Let’s live in this moment!”
Jimin also noted how the youth tried to grasp the sudden change in our lives. “We are in the ideal time of our lives to take on new challenges. It wasn’t as if you could blame anyone. You must have felt the frustration… the world changed like if we were transported in a flash to a parallel one.”
Jung Kook also expressed the sadness surrounding the cancellation of events like entrance and graduation ceremonies. “These are moments in life you want to celebrate and missing out on them must’ve been upsetting,” he said.
He also mentioned how the whole group was similarly heartbroken when their plans to go on a world tour and meet ARMY were also scrapped.
SUGA said that the past two years have been “a time for us to mourn for the things COVID took away from us, a time to discover how each and every moment taken for granted were.”
Following SUGA’s statement, Jimin showed some pictures shared by the youth about how they coped with this difficult time.
Jimin noted that one of the many things the youth had done over the course of the pandemic was to learn, discover, and care more about nature.
j-hope linked this experience to “an encroaching sense of dread that our time on this Earth is limited” in relation to mourning the things we lost or could not enjoy while in a pandemic.
“Everyone agrees that climate change is an important problem, but talking about what the best solution might be, that’s not easy. It’s a topic that is tough to make conclusions about,” j-hope also said.
RM then shared his observations that many of today’s youth have grown to become interested in environmental issues and even choose it as their field of study.
“The future is unexplored territory and that’s where we–more than anyone–will spend our time, and they are searching for the answers,” RM said.
“I hope we don’t just consider the future as grim darkness. We have people who have concern for the world and searching for the answers. There are still many pages left in the story about us and I thought we shouldn’t talk like the ending’s already been written,” V added, urging all people to not give up and to have faith in the future generation who are willing to be part of the change to make the world a better place.
Jung Kook also acknowledged how this road to finding solutions can be daunting, “Of course, sometimes the world seems stuck in place even if you’re ready to go, sometimes you feel like you’ve lost your way. There was a time when we felt the same way,” he said.
“I’ve heard that people in their teens and 20’s today are being referred to as COVID’s lost generation, that they’ve lost their way at the time they needed the most diverse opportunities and must try new things. But I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost just because the paths they tread can’t be seen by grown-up’s eyes,” RM injected.
Jimin referred back to the photos of the youth. “Here, we have many who are trying hard to continue their friendships online in new ways, start learning new things, live healthier lives… and trying to figure new things out.”
“They don’t look lost. They look like they are finding new courage and taking on new challenges,” Jin deduced and added, “I think that’s why instead of being called COVID’s ‘Lost Generation,’ the more appropriate term would be the ‘Welcome Generation,’ because instead of fearing change, this generation says ‘Welcome’ and keeps forging ahead.”
“If we believe in possibilities and hope, even when the unexpected happens, we will not lose our way, but discover new ones,” RM said in agreement.
“There will be choices we make that will not be perfect, but that does not mean there will be nothing we can do. That’s what I think,” SUGA said in resolve.
“What is important are the choices we make when we are faced with change, right?” j-hope added and mentioned how they, as a group, are also taking initial steps to help the world heal from COVID through vaccination.
“The vaccination was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us, and to being able to stand here before you today. Just like we said in our message today, we too, are doing the things we are able to do right now,” RM explained.
“Like the vaccinations, efforts are continuously underway to keep this new reality going forward. And I think the day we can meet again face to face is not far away. Until then, I hope we can fill each of our days to the brim with positive energy,” V said hopefully.
“We thought the world has stopped but it continues to move forward. I believe every choice we make is the beginning of change, not the end. I hope that in this nice and new world, we can all say to each other, ‘WELCOME,’ RM concluded.
Following their speech, BTS showcased their recorded performance of “Permission To Dance” in the hopes of inspiring and uplifting the spirits of people, especially the “Welcome Generation” during these times.