BTS members share own graduation stories in ‘Dear Class of 2020’
MANILA, Philippines – All 7 members of K-pop sensation BTS took turns telling their own commencement stories during YouTube's Dear Class of 2020, a special livestream for students graduating in the middle of a pandemic and at a time of unease and alarm in many countries like the US and the Philippines.
The special, which went up early morning Monday, June 8, featured the biggest and most influential voices in pop culture today. No less than former First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Barack Obama, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and Lady Gaga took part in the event. Other speakers included former Secretary of Defense Robert M Gates, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Here's a quick summary of what each member said during the 12-minute address:
RM started off by saying that the Class of 2020 might have the most "special graduation ceremony" yet – with thousands of people worldwide celebrating both remotely and together. "You will also soon be breaking out of one world to soar into another," said RM.
RM recalled his own middle school graduation, which he vividly remembers to have happened on a very snowy day. "It was the moment I felt like me, myself. [It was a] feeling I wanted to hold on to forever," he added.
Jungkook recalled that unlike any other member, his graduation was uploaded online – by then BTS had already debuted but weren't quite yet the global superstars they are today. "I recently watched that video again and it made me wonder: 'Did that child really grow to become me?'"
"All I've done is continue on but even today, I continue to learn things," he said, hoping the graduates of 2020 would do the same. Jungkook, the youngest or maknae of the group, was a high school student when BTS debuted on June 13, 2013.
Jin's experience was different from Jungkook's. The oldest member of the group, Jin remembered feeling anxious and restless as a high school graduate on the verge of university before BTS even debuted. The pressure, Jin said, was that friends "[went] on ahead of [him]."
"And attempting to keep up with their speed would leave me breathless. I soon realized that their pace was not my own," said Jin, adding that he later realized the value of going at his own pace. As a member of BTS, it meant starting practice days earlier than the rest. "If any of you feel lost in the face of doubt or uncertainty or the pressure to starting anew, don't rush. Take a deep breath. You can find that any moment can be turned into an opportunity," he added.
Suga, meanwhile, started off by addressing the many worries and anxieties of the Class of 2020. "This might not be the grand finale that you had imagined and a fresh start might seem far away. But I want to tell you: Please don't be afraid, don't worry yourself," the rapper, who recently released the mixtape D-2, said.
He reminded graduates to "take your hands off what you can't control and get your hands on what you can change" because "the only thing that we can control is ourselves."
Jimin admitted he was worried about the Class of 2020 – and whether their "body and souls" were doing okay. "Remember there is a person here in Korea, in the city of Seoul, who understands you," said Jimin, recalling Suga's own worries that the Class of 2020 might feel lost and anxious over the events in the world today.
"We are all in different parts of the world... But in this moment, I hope we can give each other a warm pat on that back and say: 'It's okay.'"
J-Hope began by saying he, too, sometimes, feels a "dead end" in the creative process. "Sometimes my mind is bleached and I can hardly take another step forward," he admitted. When that happens, the rapper said, he tells himself to try one more time, and another time, and another time.
"You are the leader of your own life... chant it over and over again," said the rapper, encouraging the Class of 2020 to always move forward in times of doubt.
V, meanwhile, said that unlike many of his peers, singing and dancing – and even persistence – weren't always things natural to him. It took a while for the "joy" towards singing and dancing to grow and blossom.
"If there is anyone out there who cannot see where they should go from here forth, I urge you to listen to your heart. Things may be difficult right now but somewhere out there, luck and opportunity are waiting for you," he said.
BTS also uploaded a special performance from the Dear Class of 2020 stream.
The 7-member group has been riding the pandemic out in South Korea, a country hailed for being a global model in how to curb the coronavirus. However, it reported a spike in new cases days after it eased social distancing rules and life appeared to be returning to normal.
The new cases – mostly centered in the Seoul metropolitan area where half of the South Korean population lives – prompted officials to strengthen social distancing rules that were eased on May 6.
Dear Class of 2020 was originally slated to happen a day earlier but was postponed for the memorial service of black American George Floyd, who died at the hands of police. His death has sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the US and the world. (READ: 'Burn down racism': Global protests spread over George Floyd's death)
BTS and Big Hit, their management company, recently donated $1 million to the Black Lives Matter movement. Their fans – affectionally called ARMY – matched the amount in a day.
In a tweet on Monday morning, oneinanarmy.org said that "just like BTS, we were able to donate 1M dollars to help fund:
- bailouts for those arrested for protesting police brutality
- black-led advocacy orgs fighting against systemic injustice
- support for the physical and mental health of the black community"
ARMY— One in an ARMY⁷ Charity Project (@OneInAnARMY) June 8, 2020
It's really amazing to see so many of you coming together to support #BlackLivesMatter. Thank you so much to everyone who donated, shared, used the hastag and helped by any means to make this possible! pic.twitter.com/FqUNfsWsIz