Seventeen Delivers Inspiring Speeches At UNESCO Youth Forum

The boy group is the first K-pop act to participate in the event.

On November 14, Seventeen had their own session at UNESCO’s 13th youth forum. The event took place at the organization’s headquarters in Paris. 

Members Seungkwan, Jun, Woozi, Mingyu, Joshua, and Vernon each shared meaningful speeches. The group’s leader, S.Coups, was not able to attend due to a knee injury.

READ ALSO: Spreading The Love: BTS Donates 1 Billion Won To UNICEF On Behalf Of Their Fans

Seventeen at the UNESCO Youth Forum
Image via X @pledis_17

From humble beginnings

As the first speaker, Seungkwan reflected on his hometown of Jeju Island and its special connection to UNESCO. The island, off the south coast of Korea, is recognized as a Biosphere Reserve, a Natural World Heritage site, and Global Geopark.

“Jeju Island became the first place in the world to be bestowed with all three of these UNESCO honors. That is how beautiful and unique my home island of Jeju is,” Seungkwan said.

“The little boy who dreamed of a big future from that World Heritage island now stands before you at UNESCO headquarters today.”

Of connections and communication

He then passed on the mic to Jun, who is from Shenzhen, China. In his speech, he spoke about overcoming the language barrier with his fellow members.

“There we were, youths from different hometowns and using different languages, gathered together for a shared dream,” the singer shared.

“Back in my hometown, there is a saying, ‘Every person in the world is a friend.’ Where there is a friend, there is confidence and courage. Ultimately, we will overcome the challenges and move towards a brighter future.”

Jun speaking about when the members first met
Image via X @AAzoulay

Overcoming challenges

Woozi, the group’s Vocal Team leader, songwriter, and producer stepped up to the podium next. He continued talking about Seventeen’s story and their early days. 

Back then, people didn’t think they would make it this far. Critics said they had too many members and were too young to build their own original sound.

“Success didn’t come quickly, but the 13 of us spending time together and sharing our passions made every minute of the ride enjoyable.” Woozi continued to highlight how the members supported each other and how their individual strengths contributed to shaping Seventeen’s identity.

He then addressed the youth representatives in the room, saying, “Trying to find the best ways to foster a better society while accommodating everyone’s opinions is no small feat. But we have learned first hand that diverse voices lead to impactful solutions.”

Contributing to the world

Mingyu moved on to speak about how their global success has allowed them to make contributions to the greater world.

On their first anniversary, though they hadn’t made much money yet, they wanted to spread their joy by donating. They gifted 13 goats to children in Tanzania, each named after the members themselves.

A while later, as they continued working, a letter from Africa came with a photo of one of the goats. Mingyu said, “There was one particular line in that letter: ‘I’ll take care of this goat. For my dreams.’”

Resonating with the letter, the members have committed to donating to children’s organizations and foundations every year since 2017.

Seventeen with UNESCO's Director Audrey Azoulay
Image via X @AAzoulay

“We do it because we want to make sure that no young people, no matter who they are or where they’re coming from, ever give up on their dreams or get discouraged. We believe that by supporting people’s dreams, we are also spreading positivity and hope.”

A new chapter of giving back

In August of 2022, Seventeen began working with the Korean National Commission for UNESCO. This was the “partnership that ultimately led us here today,” Joshua said.

Last year, they launched the #GoingTogether campaign with the KNCU. “Through the campaign, we seek to make young people, the ones who will be leading the future, be aware of the importance of education. The campaign also supports growth through educational opportunities.”

Raising funds through original content, donation booths at fan meeting events, and concert profits, the group was able to help build a school in Malawi. 

“None of this would have been possible without CARATs, our fans, who jumped into action to help the campaign,” Joshua shared. “Going forward, we plan to improve educational infrastructure in the least developed countries by building schools.”

“We hope that our actions through UNESCO will reach young people everywhere, from the kids on islands even smaller than Jeju to those in every corner of the world who are fostering, reaffirming, and acting on their dreams even as we speak.”

Seventeen interacting with the youth representatives and fans
Image via X @AAzoulay

The power of music

Wrapping up the speech, Vernon introduced the songs they would be performing at the event. “We hope you’ll be able to hear how the story of our growth together translates into our music.”

Vernon highlights lyrics such as “Let’s open up a new future together” and “Even a small action today can give people courage for many days to come, we will shine together.”

Following a brief intermission, Seventeen ended their session by performing their songs “_WORLD,” “Darl+ing,” “Headliner,” “God of Music,” and “Together.”

Youth from 173 countries and 550 Seventeen fans chosen in a lottery attended the event, cheering on the group with enthusiasm.

Banner image via X @pledis_17.

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