SEVENTEEN, the renowned Korean boyband, recently marked a historic moment by becoming the first K-pop artist to participate in the 13th UNESCO Youth Forum. On November 14, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, SEVENTEEN, comprised of Seungkwan, Jun, Woozi, Mingyu, Joshua, and Vernon, presented a session featuring impactful speeches and performances of their well-known songs, including _WORLD, Darl+ing, Headliner, God of Music, and Together. Commencing the session, Seungkwan highlighted the special connection between his hometown, Jeju Island, and UNESCO.
He cited its recognition as a Biosphere Reserve, Natural World Heritage site, and Global Geopark. He shared the significance, stating that Jeju Island had become the first place in the world to be bestowed with all three of the UNESCO honours. He also emphasised his journey saying, “The little boy who dreamed of a big future from that World Heritage island now stands before you at UNESCO headquarters today,” reports Soompi.
Following Seungkwan, Jun reflected on the group’s camaraderie, expressing how their bond evolved despite geographical distances. “Because we were so far from each other, I never imagined that we could grow to become friends with our hands joined for all challenges to come.” He added that they may not be perfect as individuals, but together, they are the best team SEVENTEEN.
Member Woozi acknowledged the group’s path to success, emphasising the joy found in their shared moments and diverse strengths. Gratefully recognising each member’s contributions, he underlined the collaborative shaping of SEVENTEEN’s identity. “Each of us had our own strengths, whether it was our vocals, performance, or hip hop. And as we learned from each other and came together as one, SEVENTEEN’s identity began to take shape,” he explained.
Mingyu, in his speech, discussed the group’s philanthropic efforts, detailing meaningful donations such as gifting 13 goats to children in Tanzania. Remembering a grateful letter the SEVENTEEN team received from the children, he said “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.”
Joshua shared his involvement with the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and the “Going Together” campaign, expressing gratitude to their fans, known as CARATs, for supporting educational initiatives. He also wished for their UNESCO activities to resonate with youth worldwide. “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,” he said.
Concluding the session, Vernon introduced the songs SEVENTEEN performed. Using the lyrics of their songs, he said, “Let’s open up a new future together. I care you you, you care for me, we can be all we need. Even a small action today can give people courage for many days to come… We will shine together. We’ve just met but we can dance together. If we are together. You and I are never losing our way. You and I, we will be walking straight.”
Here is a glimpse of Vernon’s UNESCO speech:
Expressing hope that their words would resonate, he thanked the audience, stating, “I hope these words will feel closer to your heart after listening to our stories and our music.”