Mission accomplished: Special presidential envoy BTS returns to Korea after speaking at UN

Published September 24, 2021, 6:59 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

K-pop idol group BTS returned to South Korea early morning on Sept. 24 after their successful mission at the United Nations as Special Presidential Envoy for Future Generations and Culture.

The group arrived at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 at about 4:31 a.m. KST via a Korean Air flight. Like other arriving passengers, BTS underwent quarantine inspection for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

BTS speaking at SDG Moment in the UN General Assembly Hall (Cheong Wa Dae)

Appointed by Korean President Moon Jae-in as his Special Presidential Envoy for Future Generations and Culture in July, BTS arrived in New York on Sept. 18.

In the morning of Sept. 20, BTS spoke before world leaders at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Moment meeting convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and held in the UN General Assembly Hall.

This was the third time that BTS spoke at the UN following 2018 and 2020. On Sept. 24, 2018, BTS spoke at the launch of Generation Unlimited during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

“So, let’s all take one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to ‘speak yourself.’ Find your name, find your voice by speaking yourself,” said BTS’ RM said in 2018.

In September 2020, BTS, as UNICEF supporters, spoke through video message at an event at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, “Protraction of the COVID-19 Crisis: Mitigating the Impact and Protecting Future Generations.”

At the SDG Moment, the UN Secretary-General mentioned BTS and President Moon, who also spoke at the event, introduced BTS.

“It would be easy to lose hope. But we are not hopeless. Or helpless. We have a path to recovery. If we choose to take it. That’s what this SDG Moment is all about, coming together. Coming together to save our planet and each other. Coming together also with BTS today, which is a fantastic contribution,” said Guterres.

In his introduction, President Moon said, “Joining us today are an exceptionally outstanding group of young men who are connecting with the youth across the world, BTS, in their capacity as special presidential envoy for future generations and culture.”

He added, “Together with BTS, the first ever special envoy from the private sector, I hope today’s gathering will serve as an opportunity to mobilize the future’s generation, the will and action for sustainable development, and guided by the conviction that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

During BTS’ speech, RM said, “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, they must try new things. But I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost just because the path they tread can be seen by grown-up eyes.”

BTS with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (UN Photo / Mark Garten)

BTS in the UN General Assembly Hall for the filming of “Permission to Dance” (Twitter)

BTS in the UN General Assembly Hall (Cheong Wa Dae)

Jin said, “They don’t look lost. They look like they are finding new courage and taking on new challenges. I think that’s why instead of the ‘lost generation,’ a more appropriate name would be the ‘welcome generation’ because instead of fearing change this generation says welcome and keeps forging ahead.”

“That’s right. If we believe in possibilities and hope even when the unexpected happens, we will not lose our way but discover new ones,” said RM.

After the event, BTS joined Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook for a visit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, in New York City on Sept. 20.

They went to the Arts of Korea Gallery, which opened at the Met in 1998, and delivered Korean crafts to the museum. A Korean Lacquerware Special Exhibition will open at the Met in December.

In a Naver V Live broadcast on Sept. 22, BTS revealed that as soon as they arrived in New York City, they immediately went to the UN General Assembly Hall to film their performance of “Permission to Dance,” which was shown after they spoke at the SDG Moment meeting.

In New York City, they also met Megan Thee Stallion for the first time. Last Aug. 27, BTS released the “Butter (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)” remix.

Megan Thee Stallion with BTS (Twitter)

They also met Coldplay in New York City. BTS and Coldplay will release the single “My Universe” on Sept. 24.

BTS and Coldplay (Twitter)

On their last day in New York City, BTS visited the Korean Cultural Center New York where they visited the Gallery Korea and signed autographs for display at the center.

BTS at the Korean Cultural Center New York (Korean Cultural Center NY)