- KPop boy band BTS make their first formal appearance as diplomats at the UN General Assembly on Monday.
- A video of the band’s speech has received 6.4 million views on YouTube.
- This outstripped both the UN Sec. Gen. and UK PM Boris Johnson had less than 5,000 views each on their speeches.
BTS made a splash at the United Nations General Assembly during their first formal foray into life as South Korean diplomats.
The KPop boy band is composed of seven members, best known by their stage names RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. They were formally recognized as South Korean diplomats last week and given diplomatic passports to travel with South Korean President Moon Jae-In to the UN General Assembly in New York.
As of press time, a video of BTS’ seven-minute speech, which was shared by the United Nations’ verified YouTube handle, had been viewed more than 6.4 million times. In comparison, the video of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech was viewed 3,500 times. UN Sec. Gen. António Guterres’ opening address fared little better, with just over 5,300 views.
The band’s speech also far outstrips the streaming records of other big names who have spoken at UN-linked events. Emma Watson’s 2014 “HeForShe” speech has around 4.6 million views on YouTube, while Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech on climate change in 2014 has clocked more than 3.4 million views.
This is the group’s first outing in their new official roles as South Korea’s presidential envoys for public diplomacy, for which they were nominated in July.
During their speech, the septet spoke about how the future of their generation will be shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. The band said they want their generation to be remembered for their positive impact, instead of as victims of lost opportunities during the pandemic.
“I’ve heard that people in their teens and twenties today are being referred to as COVID’s lost generation, that they’ve lost their way at a time when they need the most diverse opportunities and must try new things,” the band’s leader RM said. “But I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost just because the paths they tread can’t be seen by grownup eyes.”
Vocalist Jin suggested the young generation be called the “welcome generation” instead of the “lost generation.”
“Because instead of fearing change, this generation says ‘welcome’ and keeps forging ahead,” Jin said.
The band also encouraged people to get involved in tackling climate change and advocated for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Yes, all seven of us, of course we’ve received vaccinations. The vaccine was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us and to being able to stand here before you today,” rapper J-Hope said.
BTS didn’t just give a speech at the UN — the band was also seen dancing and singing at the UN’s headquarters in New York City in a performance of their smash hit, “Permission to Dance.” They filmed a version of the song in the UN’s vast auditorium before the event, which the UN tweeted and shared on YouTube.
This is the group’s third appearance at the UN. Last year, they spoke in an unofficial capacity at the 75th United Nations General Assembly to deliver a message of hope and reassurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, the band’s leader, rapper RM, also gave a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York on efforts to end violence against children.
The United Nations General Assembly, the main policy-making body of the UN, opened its 76th session last week. Representatives from 193 member nations are set to attend the meeting, which will be held through September 28.