K-pop boy band phenomenon BTS donated US$1 million to Black Lives Matter at the height of the movement’s US protests in June – and their Army fans matched the amount within 24 hours. This was just the latest in a series of donations by the South Korean group, whose members have a long history of philanthropy.
As a team, BTS notably launched their ongoing Love Myself campaign with Unicef in support of the End Violence Against Children campaign. Along with a donation of 500 million won (around US$448,000) from BTS and their label, Big Hit Entertainment, they also donated three per cent of income from physical sales of their Love Yourself album trilogy to the campaign.
These donations – combined with other funds including donations from fans and income from sales of Love Myself-related merchandise – had reached more than US$2.2 million by the end of September, according to Unicef’s Korean committee.
Along with donating to BLM this year, BTS also donated US$1 million to the Crew Nation campaign launched by Live Nation in March in support of live concert crew members across the world who have affected by the impact of the pandemic on the global music industry.
Another major contribution was in 2017 to the Family Council of the Sewol Ferry Disaster. Each member donated 10 million won and Big Hit gave an extra 30 million won for a total of 100 million won. The Family Council supports families who lost loved ones during the 2014 sinking of the Sewol Ferry, which left 476 passengers and crew dead, including about 250 students.
Other reported contributions have included rapper Suga gifting 100 million won to the Hope Bridge Disaster Relief Association’s Covid-19 relief efforts in his hometown of Daegu. BTS leader RM donated the same amount to Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art to help spread the institution’s publications to South Korean public libraries and schools.
Dancer-vocalist Jimin, who has a history of donating to scholastic causes in his home province of Busan, reportedly donated an undisclosed amount to his alma mater Busan High School of Arts to buy new desks and chairs this year. Jimin had previously donated 100 million won to the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education.
Jin, meanwhile, has gained recognition over several years for his charitable giving to Unicef. He was nominated in May 2019 to become a member of its Honours Club, which recognises donors who give more than 100 million won a year. “The total amount he has donated is 280 million won – equivalent to US$244,221 – since the launch of the partnership,” the Korea Committee of Unicef told the Post.
Jin has also been recognised for donating an undisclosed amount to the Korea Animal Welfare Association in 2018, and providing a reported 322kg of pet food.
Other notable known donations by BTS members include 100 million won given by Suga to the Korea Paediatric Cancer Foundation in March 2019. The rapper has a history of donating to organisations helping children – in 2018 he donated 10kg of expensive hanwoo beef to 39 South Korean orphanages.
Donations by J-Hope have also gone to help children. He’s given more than 450 million won over the years to ChildFund Korea in support of underprivileged children and also to his alma mater high school in Gwangju to help low-income students. His most recent contribution to ChildFund Korea of 100 million won is intended to help those struggling with coronavirus-related difficulties.
While the other members of BTS are not publicly known to have make any notable donations, they have inspired many fans around the world to give. V’s fans, for example, donated in his name to charitable organisations helping with Australia’s wildfires earlier this year, while Jungkook’s fans have donated in his name to charitable ventures such as last year’s birthday fundraiser in support of planting trees in the Amazon rainforest.