Ever since BTS skyrocketed to stardom and captured the world’s heart, they’ve used their fame to improve education, fight racism, and increase access to health care. Now, their status as global changemakers has been made official with a presidential seal. 

On Tuesday, the seven members of the chart-dominating boy band met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in for an official ceremony where they were appointed “special presidential envoy for future generations and culture.”

At the president’s office in Seoul, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook accepted diplomatic passports, new roles, and their first assignment: taking the global stage at the UN General Assembly. BTS, or the Bangtang Boys, will accompany the president to the UN conference in New York, where they will represent global youth at  the UN Sustainable Development Goals meeting.

“BTS has greatly raised the national dignity by enhancing the stature of K-pop and Korean culture, and I am grateful in many ways,” said President Moon on their recent musical accomplishments.

BTS recently won the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards for group of the year, song of the summer, and best K-pop while maintaining a top spot on the Billboard charts for 16 weeks for their song “Butter.”

The group, who has been described as “great help diplomatically” by Moon, will attend the 76th session of the UN General Assembly next week where they will speak at the SDG Moment of the Decade Action on Monday. The SDG Moment reinforces and highlights urgent goals related to poverty, education, environmental protection, gender equality, and hunger. This year’s moment will address COVID-19 recovery efforts and help build momentum for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ahead of upcoming global conferences. 

“We always thought about whether we could repay all the love we have received and give back at the same time, and we are honored that the president has given us such a great opportunity and [we] will work hard as special envoys,” said BTS member RM on behalf of the band. 

This is not the first time BTS has taken the stage — or podium — at the UN. In 2018, in partnership with UNICEF, the group’s appearance and RM’s speech broke the internet, literally, with the UN’s system left “struggling to cope.” In 2020, they returned again, virtually, to raise global morale during the pandemic. 

"As BTS has delivered messages of comfort and hope to the entire world, [their] attendance at the UN General Assembly this time is expected to serve as a meaningful opportunity to expand communication with future generations around the world and draw their sympathy on major international issues," Cheong Wa Dae, the executive office of the president, said in a statement.

Moon has repeatedly expressed his gratitude for BTS’ positive influence and impact, including their efforts to spotlight disabilities and encourage accessibility through the use of sign language in their song “Permission to Dance.” The first lady, Kim Jung-Sook, also spoke about their global presence and natural diplomacy, commenting on how past generations in Korea studied English through pop music, and now the world is learning Korean to understand BTS songs. 

Moon said the band, as an iconic fixture of Korean culture, has even made their way into conversations he’s had with other world leaders.

“Some had even asked if we could invite BTS to hold a K-pop night when they make state visits,” he said.

BTS will take the global stage again on Sept. 25 at Global Citizen Live, performing from Seoul, as part of our 24-hour, once-in-a-generation global broadcast to defend the planet and defeat poverty. 

Tune in as they join over 70 artists, activists, and advocates in the call to unite the world, and join them in taking action here

You can join the Global Citizen Live campaign to defend the planet and defeat poverty by taking action here, and become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action together with governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make change.

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BTS Will Represent South Korea as Celebrity Diplomats at the UN

By Kate Nakamura