Women’s empowerment took centre stage at Friday’s Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) event – dominated by the stunning red, pink and white onstage outfits of celebrities – held in Hong Kong.

This year’s ceremony, which marked the event’s 10th anniversary, featured many leading South Korean entertainment acts, including K-pop groups such as BTS – the boy band which has enjoyed huge international success this year – Wanna One, TWICE, Momoland, GOT7, Seventeen, plus solo artists such as Sunmi, rappers Mommy Son and Tiger JK and singer-songwriter Roy Kim.

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Top Korean actors and actresses such as Lee Jin-wook and Cha Seung-won and Seo Hyun-kin also attended the event, which saw heartthrob Descendants of the Sun actor Song Joong-ki – dressed in a formal, velvet blue suit and black bow tie – as a dapper master of ceremonies during the evening.

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Black, white, red and pink were the major colours of the fashion designs worn by celebrities attending the event, including Sunmi – winner of the best female artist award – who was dressed in an eye-catching shining red and silver Balmain dress. 

The seven members of BTS, all stylishly dressed in assorted suits, jackets – even a long coat – emerged as the big winners of the night.

The group claimed the five major awards of artist of the year, song of the year, best music video, best Asian style and Mwave global fans’ choice.

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After receiving the artist of the year award, BTS gave an emotional speech.

Jin revealed that the group had experienced a difficult time at the start of the year, which had caused the members to consider disbanding.

However, they are now relieved that they stayed together – having gone on to achieve great success, including topping the US Billboard album chart and playing to sold-out American concerts during the band’s world tour, he said.

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The topic of women’s empowerment loomed large throughout the event, which recognised the efforts of leading artists and featured many exciting live performances.

American singer Janet Jackson, who was at the ceremony to receive the worldwide inspiration award, gave a passionate speech, which focused on women’s rights and called for an end to hatred around the world.

“I’m deeply humbled by the idea that I’ve inspired others,” she said.

I dream of an immediate future when women will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused. I dream of the end of bigotry and discrimination in any form
Janet Jackson, in her speech at MAMA

“I dream of an immediate future when women will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused.

“I dream of the end of bigotry and discrimination in any form. I dream of a world in which we join hands across all borders and unite as one.

“Finally, I dream of a planet where hatred turns to compassion, tolerance turns to understanding, and a healing and lasting peace prevails.”

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The message of women’s empowerment also featured in some of the songs performed on stage, including Girls On Top – a collaboration between two girl groups OH MY GIRL and WJSN – and Sunmi’s Addict, featuring lyrics including “Who’s running the show? ... Don’t forget I’m taking the initiative”.

Three members of the nine-strong girl group TWICE, Jihyo, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, spoke at the event to promote the “Bright Girls, Brighter Future” global education campaign, run by Unesco and the South Korean entertainment conglomerate, CJ Group, which provides education and learning opportunities for girls in developing regions.

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