Like many tourists to New York City, Korean septet BTS are fans of shopping in Soho and visiting The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Unlike most visitors to the Big Apple, the group’s recent trip to the area saw them speak at the United Nations and perform in Times Square on Good Morning America. They were just two of several high-profile events BTS partook in since they came Stateside earlier this month for the local leg of their sold-out Love Yourself world tour, which kicked off in the U.S. on Sept. 5 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center and will end on Oct. 6 at a historic show at New York City’s Citi Field, the largest-ever concert by a Korean artist in the States.
Since landing in LA earlier this month, the boy band, which consists of rappers RM, Suga and J-Hope and vocalists Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook, has appeared on NBC’s America’s Got Talent and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and ABC’s Good Morning America — a trifecta that covers an entire day’s worth of primetime, late night and morning shows. BTS also appeared for a discussion at the Grammy Museum and spoke at UNICEF’s launch event for the UN Youth Strategy and Generation Unlimited Partnership.
Throughout their speaking engagements and television appearances, BTS has not only performed and talked about their music and sold-out world tour but also used their platform to promote the theme of their recently-completed Love Yourself album trilogy, which culminated with the Billboard 200 chart-topping Love Yourself: Answer in August, and their new “Speak Yourself” initiative. Here are some of the highlights from their recent media blitz:
Launched a global initiative urging youth to find their voices
RM (Kim Nam-joon) serves as the point person for BTS Stateside, and was given the opportunity to speak in front of the United Nations’ 73rd General Assembly’s launch of UNICEF’s (The United Nations Children’s Fund) Generation Unlimited, a new partnership that aims to educate, train and offer quality employment to millions of young people around the world by 2030. During his time at the podium, RM discussed his early life and how he nearly gave up on what he wanted because of the “voices of others” but eventually overcame it and found a sanctuary in music after following the voice inside his head. He urged others to do the same and become their own advocates: “Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, gender identity: speak yourself.”
RM later reiterated the message for Fallon during the group’s Tonight Show interview session. “It’s mainly about speaking [for] yourself, like, instead of letting other people speak for you. Cause to truly love ourselves, it’s important to firstly know who I am, and you know, where I’m from, and what my name is, what my voice is, kinda like that,” he said.
The group also met up with UNICEF USA for a pledge ceremony on behalf of their anti-violence Love Myself campaign, launched last year. It has earned over $1.03 million USD so far between donations from the group and people from around the globe.
Performed “Idol” and “I’m Fine” on multiple nationwide television shows
BTS’ latest single “Idol” went to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart upon Love Yourself: Answer’s release in August, and they performed it for the first time on U.S. television on America’s Got Talent on Sept. 12. They presented the same track on Good Morning America and The Tonight Show, and also gave a performance of the B-side “I’m Fine” for Fallon’s audience, which is available on YouTube.
Were dubbed “the biggest boy band on the planet”
The numbers and the act’s reach, plus their loyal fandom ARMY, speak for themselves, and both Fallon and Michael Strahan put it into words while introducing the group on The Tonight Show and GMA, respectively. Using the same moniker, the pair acknowledged BTS’ worldwide influence and following. While some may try to diminish what they have achieved and dismiss them for being a “boy band from Korea,” both show’s hosts praised the very thing naysayers may scoff at and appeared captivated by BTS and their positive messaging, praising them for their approach to their music.
Advocated self-love of both fans and themselves
During his speech at the UN, RM promoted the idea of speaking for oneself and finding one’s own voice, and also related it to the group’s thematic ideal of self-love, which was a constant through their last three Korean albums: Love Yourself: Her, Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer. As he spoke, RM emphasized that BTS’ message isn’t just aimed at listeners from around the globe but also themselves. “BTS has become artists performing in those huge stadiums and selling millions of albums, but I am still an ordinary 24-year-old guy,” RM said. “Maybe I made mistakes yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me, and today I am who I am with all of my faults and mistakes.”
The group revisited the topic several times throughout their trip, including on GMA, where RM again explained their Love Yourself philosophy. “We thought that, you know, the most thing that especially the young generation needed is that true love begins, first begins with loving myself,” he said about the album’s message. “We thought that reminding [the] words of ‘Loving Yourself,’ it’s not rare these days, now, but I think just reminding these words to the world could have some meaning to the ARMY and ourselves. So we thought true love first begins with loving ourselves and we’re trying to love ourselves too, and I hope the ARMYs can do the same.”
Continuously thanked ARMY
BTS reiterated time and time again throughout their media appearances that it is ARMY who have helped the group soar to such great heights internationally. “I think it’s really the fans that gave us the wings that allowed us to be where we are and sort of fly to where we are now,” V said at the Grammy Museum talk about their tight bond with fans. “So we are always thankful and I think that’s why we have this relationship with our fans.”
At the UN, RM expressed a similar message, adding that he’s an “ordinary, twenty-four-year-old guy” aside from what he’s been able to achieve with the BTS members “because of the love and support of our ARMY fans.”
He expanded a bit at GMA, saying that, “It’s all because of ARMY here. Because, you know [we] practice hard and made our music to the best. We can’t pay [them] enough always, but they send love and support so this is how it happened. It’s all because of ARMYs.”
— GRAMMY Museum (@GRAMMYMuseum) September 19, 2018