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Members of South Korean K-pop band BTS speak at the United Nations meeting on Sustainable Development Goals during the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (John Angelillo/Pool Photo via AP)

BTS and Blackpink pick up UN efforts to promote Covid-19 vaccines and climate action

  • BTS accompanied South Korean president Moon Jae-in to the UN General Assembly, where they spoke about vaccinations and climate change
  • Blackpink were named advocates of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Tamar Hermanin United States

Fans around the world look to their favourite stars for guidance and inspiration, and some K-pop stars are taking up the mantle of advocating change.

Global leaders have turned to BTS and Blackpink to share their intentions with the world.

On September 20, BTS took the floor at the United Nations to discuss, among other things, their hope for a world where the Covid-19 pandemic is less debilitating and one where climate change isn’t a monumental threat.

“Every choice we make is the beginning of change, not the end,” said band leader RM, during the band’s third speech to the UN since 2018. They accompanied the delegation of South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and were sworn in as presidential envoys and given diplomatic passports ahead of the trip.

BTS with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the presidential office in Seoul. Photo: YNA/dpa

Previous interactions with the UN include a high-profile Unicef fundraiser known as the Love Myself campaign.

In their most recent speech, BTS confirmed their vaccination status, saying the vaccine was like a ticket that let them attend the UN General Assembly in New York City, and one that will help them and fans reunite in the future.

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The speech ended with a performance of the band’s Permission to Dance, which celebrates a bright, positive future.

During a related interview with ABC News, J-Hope discussed the band’s desire for people to support vaccination efforts. “As eager as we are to perform, we also hope the situation gets better quickly, many people get vaccinated, and that it becomes possible for us to safely have a concert.”

Along with BTS, Blackpink also has the UN’s nod of approval as advocates for change. During the 2021 General Assembly, the hitmaking quartet were revealed as advocates of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are said to be “dedicated to peace, prosperity and the planet”.

Other SDG Advocates for 2021-2023 are the elected president of Ghana, the Norwegian Prime Minister, and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

The members of Blackpink were previously named Advocates for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in 2020.
Later in the week, YouTube Originals announced that Blackpink will take part in the Dear Earth Event on October 23. The K-pop team will speak about climate change and perform. Pope Francis, former US president Barack Obama and Billie Eilish will also attend the Dear Earth event.
K-pop artists and fans alike have gained a reputation in recent years for advocating positivity and change, occasionally in political forums. Climate action has especially become a popular topic among some fans in recent years, with groups of fans coming together to counter climate change. Acts like BTS, SuperM and NCT 127 have also prominently appeared at celeb-filled charity Global Citizen concerts over the past few years.