The world is still struggling with the 'COVID-19' coronavirus pandemic. And not just that, as the world is also seeing Afghanistan in conflicts, severe climate changes, and more.
If there is anything that can bring people together in hard times, is solidarity. But to make that happen at a global scale, there has to be something big, something so influential that can create movement with enough momentum that it has the power to change the world.
The UN is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.
As the world's largest, and most familiar, international organization, the UN is where head of states speak, deliver their opinion, and try to change things.
But this time, country leaders stepped aside, and make way for a boy band so famous that it has its own 'ARMY'.
The boy band is no other than the Grammy-nominated K-Pop group, BTS.
Previously, BTS has partnered with UN through UNICEF back in 2018. Then in 2020, the band also made an appearance at the UN.
But this time, it is the first time for the K-Pop band made their first formal foray as diplomats at the UN General Assembly.
RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook are formally recognized as South Korean's state-appointed individuals after they were given diplomatic passports to travel with South Korean President to New York.
The seven-members Korean pop group is already a multibillion-dollar brand. With their famous and dynamic dance moves, catchy lyrics and frenzied fans, the South Korea believes that BTS has the power to become to envoy for future generations and culture.
During a nearly seven-minute speech at the UN headquarters, RM promoted among others, the COVID-19 vaccine and lauded young people for their resiliency.
The band's appearance came one day before more than 100 world leaders and representatives are to gather for the opening of the General Assembly, an annual conclave that was held mostly virtually last year because of the pandemic.
After their formal appearance, the band then showed a video of their hit song “Permission to Dance,” which was shot a day before the event.
The video showed the young men dancing in the empty aisles of the Assembly Hall, the very place where numerous Presidents and autocrats have previously received threats of assassinations. This is also the place that saw many diplomats staged walkouts.
In the end, the band members showed the International Sign gestures for “Joy,” “Dance,” and “Peace” alongside dancers on the North Lawn.
The livestream of the band’s appearance on the UN's YouTube channel racked up about one million views. Later in the day, the view count surpassed six million.
J-Hope, one of the band’s members, said that there had been substantial speculation about whether the group had been vaccinated. All seven singers have been vaccinated, he said. “What is important are the choices we make when we’re faced with change, right?” he said. “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.”
"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," the band's 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."
The band said they want their generation to be remembered for their positive impact, instead of as victims of lost opportunities during the pandemic.
Jin suggested the young generation to be called the "welcome generation" and not the "lost generation."
As a band with superstar power and reach, the band's voice has been viewed a lot more than UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's speech, and more than UN's Secretary General António Guterres' opening address.
The band's speech also far surpassed the streaming records of other big names who have spoken at UN-linked events, including Emma Watson's 2014 "HeForShe" speech, and Leonardo DiCaprio's speech on climate change in 2014.
Having BTS also made a sensation among the head of states themselves. For example, foreign leaders who approached South Korean President were said to break the ice by talking about the K-Pop group.
The IT team at the UN who experienced struggle when dealing with the influx during BTS's previous appearances, said that they were ready.
Following the band's public appearance, #ARMYvaccinatedtoo became a trending topic on Twitter. And together, BTS' fanbase ARMY is again on their way to make a movement to change things, and go against those anti-vaxxers.
ARMY, which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth, consists of millions of BTS fans that have become a force to be reckoned with on social media.
With their official presence on social media have millions of followers and views, ARMY is no stranger to social media activism.
Previously, in June 2020, Donald Trump who was still President of the U.S. was going to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This rally was scheduled to occur when the COVID-19 was surging in the area. Swiftly, fans of the K-Pop band decided to reserve thousands of seats at the rally through the Trump campaign’s website.
This helped convince the organizers that there would be whole lot more attendees than ultimately appeared.
The ARMY has also flooded hashtags like #WhiteLivesMatter and #WhiteoutWednesday with the band's photos and videos, which affected campaigns by white supremacists.