(ATTN: UPDATES with details of performance in paras 16-17)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean superband BTS addressed the U.N. General Assembly Monday and praised the world's young people for welcoming the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The septet flew to New York to speak in person at the 76th U.N. General Assembly's Sustainable Development Goals Moment event as special presidential envoys for future generations and culture.
Following a speech by President Moon Jae-in, the K-pop act took the podium at the U.N. General Assembly Hall and began their speech by describing the losses and missed opportunities caused by COVID-19.
"I've heard that people in their teens and 20s today are being referred to as COVID's lost generation, that they've lost their way at a time when they need the most diverse opportunities and must try new things," group leader RM said. "But I think it's a stretch to say they're lost just because the paths they tread can't be seen by grownup eyes."
Jimin pointed to pictures that he said were shared with the band by young people around the world, depicting children learning new things, living healthier lives and continuing their friendships online.
"They don't look lost," he said. "They look like they are finding new courage and taking on new challenges."
Jin suggested that the young generation be called the "welcome generation" instead of the "lost generation."
"Because instead of fearing change," he explained, "this generation says 'welcome' and keeps forging ahead."
J-Hope stressed the importance of making the right choices and added that all seven members have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
"The vaccination was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us, and to being able to stand here before you today," RM said. "Just like we said in our message today, we too are doing the things that we're able to do right now."
The group used their speech to highlight the importance of tackling climate change.
"We just talked about the things we mourn, and I shudder to think about mourning for the Earth," J-Hope said.
RM revealed that while preparing for the speech, he learned that many young people are interested in environmental issues and choose it as their field of study.
"The future is unexplored territory," he said, "and that's where we, more than anyone, will spend our time."
To close, the group played a video of the septet performing "Permission to Dance," one of their hit singles, in and outside the U.N. headquarters.
In the clip, the members appear one by one in the same hall where they gave the speech and together dance out into the open air.
With Manhattan's towering skyscrapers in the background, they then break into their perfectly synchronized dance moves before being joined by a throng of people from different nations to perform the sign language used in the song.
This is the third year the K-pop sensation has addressed the U.N. General Assembly.
In 2018, RM spoke at a UNICEF event during which he urged young people to love themselves and raise their voices.
Last year, BTS spoke virtually at a health security conference with the message, "Life goes on. Let's live on."
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