This past Monday, K-Pop boyband BTS attended an event at the United Nations New York headquarters preceding the 76th annual U.N. general assembly meeting the next day. As an attempt to catch the attention and raise viewership from the 15 to 25 year old demographic around the world, South Korean President Moon Jae-In invited the 7 member group as designated youth envoys.
At the event, the group premiered a pre-recorded performance video of their song “Permission to Dance” which garnered one million live viewers and later garnered millions more. The video shows the members singing throughout the aisles of the assembly hall, dancing in the building’s lobby and gathering in a flash mob with backup dancers outside the U.N. headquarters.
After airing the pre-recorded video, BTS then delivered a live speech to their millions of fans streaming online and to assemblymen sat in the general assembly hall. Their speech, as youth envoys, centered around “the COVID generation”, struggles of today’s youth and the importance of working toward a sustainable future to combat climate change. One of the members, J-Hope, also mentions that the entire group is vaccinated which is important in influencing their fans to get vaccinated if they have not yet. This is the 3rd time the band has spoken for the annual U.N. annual General Assembly, the first time in 2018 in person and the 2nd in 2020 virtually.
This appearance shows how world leaders are even understanding the power of influencers on Gen Z. A boyband attending, performing and speaking at an event for the United Nations seems almost silly and out of place but their presence did exactly what it was intended to do – get Generation Z talking and watching the events of the U.N. General assembly and to “reinvigorate interest” in the U.N.’s sustainable development goals. Without the importance of parasocial relationships and digital media, we might have never seen BTS sway their hips and sing to an upbeat pop melody in the same room world leaders discuss and decide the future of climate change and other important global topics.
CBS NEWS. “K-pop superstars BTS lend their voices to U.N.’s push for sustainable development” CBS NEWS, CBS news, 20 Sept. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bts-united-nations-k-pop-stars-un-push-sdg-sustainable-development/
Vigdor, Neil. “BTS Took Center Stage at the U.N. Over One Million Fans Watched Live.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Sept. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/world/asia/bts-un-performance.html.