The seven members of K-pop sensation BTS made a special appearance with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Moment in New York City on Monday.

After a speech from Moon, who introduced the group as “probably the artist that is most loved by people around the world,” the members of BTS took the stage to deliver a speech promoting COVID-19 vaccines and spotlighting the future of global youth. The group also presented a pre-recorded music video of their song “Permission to Dance,” which showed them singing through the halls of the UN headquarters and dancing in the garden by the East River. 

Over 1 million people tuned into the live event as the band, clad in dark suits, addressed the world leaders in attendance, including Abdullah Shahid, president of the United Nations General Assembly, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

At the podium, the band used the opportunity to express the importance of global recovery efforts, continued protection of the environment, and the generation of young people facing multiple crises. 

“Maybe because we feel an encroaching sense of dread that our time on this earth is limited, we just talk about the things we mourn, and I shudder to think about mourning for the earth,” said J-Hope. “Everyone agrees that climate change is an important problem, but talking about what the best solution might be … that’s not easy.”

Together, BTS spoke about the events and celebrations young people missed out on due to the pandemic, but also remarked on the resilience shown by those who still found “precious moments” through trying times. Using fan-sourced experiences and images, the group noted that many chose to share that they spent the past two years caring for the natural world around them. 

“I’ve heard that people in their teens and 20s today are being referred to as ‘COVID’s Lost Generation’ ... but I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost just because the paths they tread can’t be seen by grown-up eyes,” said the band’s leader, RM.

BTS used their UN speech to rename the “Lost Generation” as the “Welcome Generation” — one that chooses to keep forging ahead and welcomes change instead of fearing it. 

“I hope that we don’t just consider the future as grim darkness,” said BTS member V. “We have people who are concerned for the world and searching for the answers. There are still many pages left in this story about us and I thought we shouldn’t talk like the ending’s already been written.”

The UN Sustainable Development Goal Moment spotlights the UN’s Global Goals, focusing on ending global poverty, protecting the environment, promoting education, and addressing world hunger by 2030. 

This isn't the first time the K-pop icons have shown up for equity and the environment. The band has inspired their international fanbase to take up tree planting to fight global warming, and in 2019 they teamed up with Formula E to raise awareness for climate change. They’ve also supported movements such as Black Lives Matter and have been continually vocal against anti-Asian hate crimes and speech. 

BTS’ first speech at the UN in 2018 spotlighted their work with UNICEF in protecting children from violence. At their second appearance in 2020, they encouraged people around the world to stay hopeful through the pandemic.

And now, with their third appearance — made official with their newly bestowed “special presidential envoy for future generations and culture” title from President Moon last week — BTS not only chose to commend pandemic recovery efforts, but to also promote vaccinations. 

“Yes, all seven of us, of course we received vaccinations. The vaccination was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us and to being able to stand here before you today,” said J-Hope, speaking on the importance of individual action. “Just like we said in our message today, we too are doing the things that we’re able to do right now.”

Accompanying Moon during an interview at the UN, the group delved into the importance of the Global Goals and how they “strike a balance between today’s generation and tomorrow’s generation.” Moon answered questions about his inspiration to bring BTS to the UN under a formal title, expressing the significance of involving future generations in sustainable development.

BTS attracted a worldwide audience to their activities at the UN, kicking off the opening of the UN General Assembly, where world leaders convened on Tuesday to forge alliances and address global health, peace, the climate crisis, and equality. 

“The future is unexplored territory, and that’s where we, more than anyone, will spend our time,” said RM.

BTS will once again show their commitment to bettering the world at Global Citizen Live on Saturday, Sept. 25, performing from Seoul as part of our 24-hour, once-in-a-generation global broadcast event to defend the planet and defeat poverty. 

Learn how to watch from anywhere in the world here, and join BTS 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.

Global Citizen Life

Defend the Planet

K-Pop Icons BTS Champion Hope, Climate Action, and Vaccines at the UN

By Kate Nakamura