BTS has long been a symbol of hope and ability to accomplish dreams for fans around the world but their advocacy for youth I feel is sometimes overlooked by their music, talents and amazing success.
BTS has always put political lyrics in their meaning. Starting with their first single “No More Dream” and continuing with more recent songs like “Am I Wrong”.
Many of their lyrics are targeted towards the struggles of the younger generation.
“Who is the one who made us into studying machines?” – N.O.
Songs like N.O. and No More Dream cover the topics of the often overwhelming and sometimes unrealistic expectations the older generation puts on the younger generation.
I could really pick out any line from N.O. as an example but I picked this quote because it shows the lack of choice the younger generations have.
“They call me 뱁새” -Silver Spoon
Silver Spoon is a song that, for me, encompasses the struggles of the younger generation in South Korea (and in many other countries) very well.
The term “뱁새” or crow-tit as I see it often translated to, basically means a try-hard in Korean. (It’s also a type of smol cute bird!) The use of crow-tit in Silver Spoon is basically a metaphor.
“I’ve got crow-tit’s legs, and you have a stork’s legs”
Basically what this is saying is that the older generations have an advantage because Storks are birds with much larger legs. They have to put in very little effort to go far compared to the tiny crow-tit.
I also see the use of the word “열정페이” which roughly translates to “passion pay” or “passion wage”. It’s a newer term that emerged to describe the low pay (often lower then minimum wage) that young workers receive. Sometimes younger workers won’t even receive money but merchandise instead.
S: Global Voices
LOVE MYSELF CAMPAIGN
BTS’ joint campaign with UNICEF is another example of their advocacy for youth. The campaign is aimed to end violence towards youth and ensure they have healthy lives.
“Children and teens have the right to pursue their lives in safety and happiness and to grow with love and care.” -Love Myself Campaign
S: Love Myself Campaign
BTS said during the LOVE MYSELF UNICEF Press Conference that they receive a lot of love and support so they hope to be able to help the younger generation who supports them.
Taehyung also mentions that when he was a student he would often see his friends suffer from various types of violence, including school violence and that he hopes BTS can help stop occurrences like these even if it’s only a little.
S: Army Unnie
YOUTH IN SOUTH KOREA
Recently there has been student protests in South Korea over lowering the legal voting age from 19 to 18 years of age.
A 16 year-old activist, Kim Jongmin made national headlines in South Korea for shaving her head along with other teenage girls in front of the Korean parliament.
I had been somewhat keeping an eye on the topic and saw a really good street interview with the conflicting opinions over the matter which you can watch here:
Basically what’s said in the interview by the teens interviewed is that the younger generation is generally oppressed by the older generations. They lack choices when it comes to schooling and their own futures as well as often facing cases of violence at school and in the streets. I highly recommend watching the actual interviews instead of just reading an explanation I could write!
(Unfortunately the legal voting age wasn’t changed but the teens are still continuing to advocate for their right to vote)
Another interesting thing that was mentioned in the interview was the comparison of Kim Jongmin to 18 year-old American activist, Emma González, who is an advocate for gun control in the states.
Recently in primarily the US but also in places like Canada and some places in Europe there have been protests by youth against the lax gun control laws because the pose a safety risk for any child going to school. America has a long list of school shootings and violence but the older generations, as a general statement, don’t see a need to change the laws even though it is a proven safety concern for youth.
I thought these similarities were interesting because I have always strongly believed that one of the reasons BTS are so successful is because of what they stand for.
With social media and the internet, youth are more informed than ever on political and social issues and are coming forward to fight for their rights on different aspects.
I think the ability of youth to relate to BTS’ youth empowering lyrics is something that strengthens the support given to them because they give that support right back to us.
Regardless of whether BTS was really just originally talking about issues of youth in South Korea, I think that the message rang true amongst youth all over the world facing similar issues.
As a teen myself, I am proud to say I support BTS because this is part of what they stand for.
Adorable Representative MC for Youth