Bangtan Boys Drive Massive Donations for Anti-Bullying Campaign

  • By Yoon Soo-jung

    December 27, 2018 13:12

    Boy band Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, have raised W1.85 billion to charity from November of 2017 to Dec. 6 of this year (US$1=W1,126).

    BTS collected donations through their website "Love Myself," which was created to support #ENDviolence, a UN campaign to end youth violence. The name of the website is drawn from a BTS song. The band delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly in September in support of the cause.

    According to the UN International Children's Emergency Fund, the band's management agency Big Hit Entertainment and BTS contributed W1.3 billion of the total donations. BTS and Big Hit Entertainment each contributed W210 million to W290 million to start the campaign, while W715 million came from BTS album sales.

    W313 million came from BTS' fan club, which is known as "the Army," who bought souvenirs or made direct donations. A book owned by BTS leader RM fetched W6.9 million at auction, which was then donated to the campaign. A UNICEF staffer said, "There was a huge bidding competition between fans in the U.S., Australia, Canada and Indonesia."

    Bangtan Boys pose for a photo with Henrietta Fore (center), the chief of the UN Children's Fund at the UN headquarters in New York in September. /Courtesy of UNICEF

    BTS' song rose to the No. 1 spot in the Billboard Charts during the donation drive, while the boy band soared in popularity during a world tour, leading to surging participation by fans.

    Around W52 million in donations were collected at concerts in New York, London, Osaka and Yokohama. Japanese fans donated around W30 million in spite of a scandal over a BTS member being spotted wearing a T-shirt with a mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, while fans in the U.K. donated W13 million, in the U.S. W7 million and in Canada around W1.4 million.

    An offshoot campaign was also launched after RM's UN speech, revolving around fans sharing their personal experiences of youth violence and bullying. "I was bullied but overcame it through BTS' songs," wrote one fan. "I was moved by BTS' speech and donated my hair to help make wigs for leukemia patients," wrote another.

    A staffer at UNICEF Korea said, "BTS already rose to the top ranks of Korean celebrities in terms of donations with about W800 million so far and Big Hit Entertainment ranks No. 1 in terms of corporate donations."

    Big Hit Entertainment and UNICEF have begun a second round of selling goods for charity.

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