BTS: Leading Philanthropy Efforts with Music and a United Fanbase

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TACOMA, Washington — BTS is a K-pop boyband from South Korea and is credited with ushering in the K-pop wave in the United States. The group is the first K-pop group to have an RIAA-certified single in the country. Additionally, BTS has four albums that topped the Billboard 200 album chart and won four American Music Awards and six Video Music Awards. Additionally, their new song, “Dynamite,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first all-South Korean group to hit the top spot. The music video broke several world records, including the most viewed music video in its first 24 hours on YouTube, with over 100 million views.

The BTS ARMY, its fanbase, stretches around the world and includes more than 27 million Twitter followers. According to Forbes, the group contributes $4.65 billion to South Korea’s gross domestic product. Moreover, BTS contributes to poverty relief and reduction efforts, both in South Korea and internationally. The seven-member group’s stage names consist of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook. The artists’ birth names are Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung and Jeon Jungkook.

BTS Philanthropy and Group Charity Efforts

Several BTS philanthropy efforts and charity donations have been administered in secret and reported after the fact. The group and its members make donations to various causes during humanitarian emergencies, birthdays and youth empowerment.

One widely known BTS philanthropy effort is the Love Myself campaign that began in 2017. This is a collaboration between the group, their label Big Hit Entertainment and the Korean Committee for UNICEF. According to Love Myself’s official website, all funds raised go to supporting youth victims of school, domestic and sexual violence and provide anti-violence education to communities. The Love Myself campaign is in line with the #ENDViolence global campaign, which started in 2013.

According to UNICEF, close to 130 million students between 13 and 15 globally experience bullying, while more than 500 attacks on schools were reported internationally in 2016. On social media, the hashtag #LoveMyselfBTS was used 11 million times to spread messages of positivity. As of August 2020, the campaign raised almost $2.2 million, resulting from BTS’s direct donation, album sales, campaign merchandise and donations worldwide. In 2020, the campaign also won the UNICEF Inspire Award for Best Integrated Campaigns and Events. The award was voted by UNICEF employees worldwide, with the campaign’s impact and reach strongly considered.

Another BTS philanthropy effort took place after the Sewol Ferry disaster in 2014, killing more than 300 people. Together with Big Hit Entertainment, the group donated approximately $85,000 to the 4/16 Sewol Families for Truth and A Safer Society. The organization works toward disaster prevention and societal safety. Despite donating directly to the families back in 2014, the group’s donation was not originally supposed to be public knowledge. Additionally, at an event in 2015, the group donated more than 15,000 pounds of rice to charities raised through fans’ donations.

Individual Members’ Charity Contributions

Besides the group donations, each of the members has donated to various causes. After partnering with UNICEF, Jin made secret donations monthly, eventually becoming inducted into UNICEF Korea’s honors club. In 2014, Suga promised to donate food to fans when he became successful. In 2018, for his 25th birthday, he did. He donated about $19,000 worth of hanwoo beef to 39 children’s foster homes in his hometown, Daegu, under the name ARMY. In 2019, he donated $90,000 to the Korea Pediatric Cancer Association and 329 dolls he designed, under the name ARMY.

Jimin’s donations often support education. In 2019, he donated approximately $88,000 to the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education. The money was given to various schools in the city to provide lunch money for students from low-income families and other needs. When school was out of session for winter break, he secretly donated to his alma mater, Busan High School of Arts. The funding provided desks and chairs to its 1200 students.

J-Hope also donated to educational causes. He donated roughly $85,000 to Childfund Korea’s Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education, which went to his alma mater, Choontae Academy, before being donated to Jeonnam Girls’ Commercial High School. Additionally, through his donations, 10 students will receive scholarships for five years. RM also contributed to various causes, including educational institutions. In 2019, he donated $84,000 to the Seoul Samsung School, also known as Samsung Deaf School, to help provide deaf and hard of hearing students with music education.

The BTS ARMY Impact

BTS’s philanthropy work does not end there. The BTS ARMY has supported various initiatives in the group’s name or the member’s names. Moreover, these charitable initiatives were inspired by BTS’s donations and philanthropy. In 2019, for Jungkook’s birthday, fans donated to various causes on his behalf, including We Purple Rain, a project that raised enough money to plant more than 8,000 trees in the Amazon Rainforest. Fans also donated $6,400 to almost 70 organizations in Busan, including those helping kids with disabilities. On behalf of V, fans donated to the Lebanese Red Cross in the wake of the Beirut explosion.

For J-Hope’s birthday, fans donated and participated in projects on his behalf. Fans from Vietnam donated 15,000 notebooks to charities, while fans partook in a global effort to raise money for 14 children in need of palate surgeries to help with cleft lips. Jimin’s global fanbase donated more than 1500 pounds of rice to the Council of Children’s Regional Centers in Goyang, Gyeonggi province, for children affected by COVID-19. When the Assam Floods affected India, a BTS Twitter fan account established a crowdfunding campaign, and in less than 24 hours, raised close to $7,800 for the victims of the flood.

—Bryan Boggiano
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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