South Korean boy band BTS have been the major highlight of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York City so far, with their seven-minute speech getting over 6.4 million views on YouTube.
Fulfilling their duties as South Korea’s global ambassadors, all seven members of the K-pop group were in attendance, best known from their stage names V, Suga, Jin, RM, Jungkook, Jimin and J-Hope.
Granted official diplomatic passports after becoming formally recognized as South Korean diplomats by South Korean President Moon Jae-In, the BTS members traveled to New York to speak about how the younger generation is affected by issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and being talked down to by politicians.
“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,” BTS’ 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.”
Another boy band BTS member Jin suggested that the “lost generation” should be referred to as the “welcome generation,” “because instead of fearing change, this generation says ‘welcome’ and keeps forging ahead.”
The amazing speech, viewed over 6.4 million times on YouTube, greatly surpassed those of videos from Great Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose speech was only viewed nearly 3,500 times, according to Business Insider.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ opening address was also only viewed roughly 5,300 times. In fact, Korean boy band BTS’ video was not only streamed more than other famous UN General Assembly speakers of the past, like Emma Watson and Leonardo DiCaprio, but more than all of the world leaders who spoke today combined.
Just last week, South Korea’s National Defense Committee passed an amendment called the BTS Military Service Exemption Act, where the eldest members of BTS were given a postponement of their mandatory military service due to their importance as global ambassadors for the country.
“We plan to organize various activities (with BTS) to promote international cooperation in solving global challenges, such as improving the environment, eliminating poverty and inequality, and respecting diversity,” said spokeswoman Park Kyung-mi. She hoped that BTS would, “send a message of consolation and hope to everyone around the world.”
Speaking about Covid-19, rapper J-Hope told the UN General Assembly that the entire K-pop group had “of course” been fully vaccinated.
Some leaders in attendance, such as Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, were allowed to partake in the assembly despite being unvaccinated. An awkward meeting with UK’s Boris Johnson preceded the event, where multiple speakers have stressed the importance of vaccinations as a means of preventing more casualties to the virus.
“Like the vaccinations, efforts are continuously moving forward to keep this new reality going,” said BTS member V, “and I think the day we can meet again, face to face, is not far away.”
Earlier this month, the WHO director called for a moratorium on booster shots, arguing that it was more important globally for other countries to catch up in receiving their first dose of the vaccination.
Aside from their speech at the UN General Assembly, BTS also gave a performance of their new song “Permission to Dance,” filmed in the UN auditorium before the opening address. Their previous No. 1 hit single, “Dynamite,” has been streamed on YouTube over 1.2 billion times.
The speech marked the third time that the group has appeared before the United Nations. They gave a speech of hope at last year’s UN General Assembly, and urged the world to crack down on child abuse in 2018.