By KATRINA DARAUAY
It’s not everyday that you have the 76th UN General Assembly trending under the music category right alongside BTS. It’s been the situation for the past couple of weeks. The Bangtan Boys were in New York last Monday for the Assembly to perform and deliver a speech at the UN SDG Moment — a high-level meeting to discuss transformative action on the #GlobalGoals that impact the youth of this planet.
And just over the weekend, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that girl group BLACKPINK is now part of the elite 17-member SDG Advocates group. This comes after having been named, earlier this year, as Advocates for the UN Climate Change Conference.
The kings and queens of K-pop proactively collaborating with the UN. Very smart move of the United Nations, if you ask me.
What exactly is the UNGA?
The UN General Assembly, aka UNGA, is a high-level forum where representatives from 193 member countries of the UN meet to discuss policies and other international issues. You know, the big stuff. This year’s UNGA opened on September 14 and the general debates started September 20. In local parlance, it’s pretty much like a cabinet meeting, only the UNGA is way much better at getting things done, of course.
What’s so special about this year’s UNGA, anyway? Back in 2019, the UN ushered in what they call the Decade of Action to achieve the #GlobalGoals. The mission: get more people to take purposeful action to achieve the 17 SDGs. If that isn’t clear: we basically need to do more. We all have a responsibility to get our hands dirty to make the world better for mankind.
This year’s UNGA serves as a wake-up call to push the agenda even further. To do all we can to live in a world we all strive for — this is the hope and this is the dream. The pandemic has seen the need for urgent action and create an unstoppable force that leads to achieving our #GlobalGoals. Every single person on the planet needs to do something, no matter how small, to attain what we all want, a better and peaceful place for all mankind.
Okay, sure. But what does K-Pop have anything to do with all these?
BLACKPINK to the rescue. How you like that?
Back in December 2020, BLACKPINK released a video on their Youtube channel calling on all BLINKS to take action on climate change. This K-Pop girl group happens to be the most subscribed to artist on the video platform with over 66M followers, surpassing Justin Bieber at 65.1M.
The climate action video got over 10M views and shares making it viral for days.
BLACKPINK is the first ever Asian all-girl group to be named as advocates for the Climate Change Conference to be held in November of this year. A huge achievement for these talented young women. They were also appointed as the only Asian Act to be part of the prestigious 17-member list of UN SDG Advocates. They join the likes of Microsoft president Brad Smith, actor Forest Whitaker and the Queen of Belgium Her Majesty Queen Mathilde.
This is a feat that is accorded only to inspiring and influential people who are able to raise global awareness on the 17 SDGs. To speak up on an issue that affects all is one thing, but to use one’s platform to enact change is another. BLACKPINK’s platform is not just limited to South Korea. They have fans from all over the world, Korean or not, following and listening to their music. This is the kind of influence BLACKPINK has on their fans.
Sure, there’s no guaranteed climate action metric as to the impact of K-Pop idols speaking up on the issue. But these women are able to break down barriers through their music. And when they speak up, the BLINKS listen. In that 2-minute video they released on climate change, they were already able to get people the world over to be aware of the need for urgent climate action. Theirs is a following that is able to create a chain reaction of fans speaking up or getting things done.
BLINKS have been organizing various campaigns such as ocean clean-up drives, tree planting and even social media debates on the effects of deforestation. Oh, in case we forget to mention, this fan group is made up of mostly teens and young adults.
BTS’ says you don’t need permission to hope at the 76th UNGA
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s common knowledge that BTS has a standing partnership with UNICEF since 2017, campaigning to end hate and violence against the youth. Their campaign dubbed “LOVE MYSELF” has been widely received by millions of ARMY and non-ARMY the world over. In 2018, the group spoke at the UNGA about the importance of loving oneself, empowering the youth to speak up and nurturing themselves. This is the first time in UNGA history that a K-Pop group lobbied on the youth agenda, with no other than BTS at the podium.
The campaign raised over $3M and the #BTSLoveMyself hashtag trending over 14 million times worldwide so far. These are the guys who have been hated on, trolled at, and racially discriminated against in the music industry. But look at them now. Not too shabby for a group that’s been through a lot of hate during their younger years.
Just last Monday, BTS appeared for the third time at the UNGA – SDG Moment. It was a UN speech that has gotten quite the attention like no other with over 1 million people watching the livestream. This time they spoke of much bigger things — the future of the youth that is trying to survive the pandemic, climate change and yes, a subtle hint of vaccination “promotion”. They were no longer just talking about self love; they moved on to delivering a message of hope for people in a time when there seems to be no ending to COVID-19 in sight and the looming effects of climate change and poverty are more evident than ever. They were appointed special envoys for a reason. And they took that responsibility to heart.
“I hope we just don’t consider the future as grim darkness. We have people concerned for the world and searching for answers. There are still many pages left in the story about us, and I feel like we shouldn’t talk like the ending has already been written.” – V
This is a boy group whose hundreds of millions of followers worldwide is made up mostly of millennials and Gen-Z kids. But be warned: the ARMY are not your ordinary bunch of hormonal teens. They have the power to execute and make things happen. You do not underestimate a fan group that is able to make several Youtube videos reach #1 ranking in a matter of hours or sell out merchandise and albums in a matter of seconds. Theirs is an organized reach that can probably even make this government’s trolls surrender their fake accounts. The ARMY has been known to organize tree planting events, make generous donations to aid in disaster relief in different parts of the globe and do monthly charity events or volunteer efforts. This is the same fan group that was able to match the $1M donation their idols gave to the #BlackLivesMatter movement in yes, just 24 hours.
There is no question as to the reach of influence and clout BTS has on people, regardless of age, gender or race. The fact that they are able to get non-Koreans sing their songs, and have a genuine appreciation of all things Korea is a subtle achievement in itself. They are even able to get fans and non-fans to act on things they believe matter. Only a few celebrities are able to hold that much power. BTS has used it so wisely.
BLACKPINK and BTS’ involvement in these social and environmental issues is huge in terms of trust and mobilizing action at a personal and organized level. If you were actually part of the UN, you wouldn’t be entrusting the world’s issues into the hands of these young adults now, would you? This isn’t just about getting more traction on campaigns anymore, simply because they happen to be popular. Their fandoms all put together can make a huge difference in getting what remains of the world back in order for the future. Their actions create a ripple effect on effective change. And we all surely need to see and feel that, stat.