BTS brought their message of love and community to a truly global stage on Monday morning (Sept. 20) when the K-pop supergroup performed their worldwide smash “Permission to Dance” at the 76th United Nations General Assembly.
Posted up behind the speaker’s rostrum, members Jungkook and RM popped up from behind the lectern to sing the opening lines of the track: “It’s the thought of being young/ When your heart’s just like a drum/ Beating louder with no way to guard it/ When it all seems like it’s wrong/ Just sing along to Elton John/ And to that feeling, we’re just getting started.”
Soon enough they were joined by the group’s other five members as they danced, jived and stepped through the empty chamber before making their way out into the towering entry corridor and then the plaza in front of the iconic building. They ended up on a bright patch of grass in front of the building doing the “Permission to Dance” dance with a large, distanced group of performers.
Before the airing of their pre-taped performance, BTS were introduced by South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who called them “probably the artist that is most loved by people around the world,” noting that they have been designated as the special presidential envoy for future generations and culture.” The members — which also include Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin and V — then took to the podium to deliver their own remarks bat the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Moment of the gathering.
“We’re here today to share the stories of our future generation,” said RM, dressed in a conservative dark blue suit. “Before we came here, we asked the young people in their teens and 20s around the world about their past two years and about the world they find themselves in today.” He then turned the mic over to Jin, who shared some of the answers they received from ARMY.
“You can feel the good vibes from just looking at these,” said Jin, standing next to a poster board filled with affirming phrases including “let’s live on” and “discovery.” “There were times during the past two years when I, too, felt bewildered and troubled, but still here we have people who cry out, ‘Let’s live on! Let’s make the best of this moment!'”
The group’s members talked about the sadness felt by their fans about missing out on major life milestones during the pandemic lockdowns and infection surges, as well as their own disappointment at not being able to tour as planned in 2020 and this year. As part of the U.N.’s SDG event, BTS also talked about the environmental challenges facing us, with RM saying that he’s learned “there are many young people who have an interest in environmental issues and choose it as their field of study. The future is unexplored territory and that’s where we, more than anyone, will spend our time.”
With that, they offered a message of hope, pointing to the young people who are focused on making the world a cleaner, more efficient place, with Jin throwing cold water on those who would call them “COVID’s lost generation.” In fact, BTS think a better, more positive name would be the “welcome generation” because “instead of fearing change this, generation says ‘welcome’ and keeps forging ahead.” BTS previously spoke at the U.N in 2018 and 2020.
The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals are a “blueprint for fighting poverty and hunger, confronting the climate crisis, achieving gender equality and much more,” according to a statement about the SDG Moment 2021 movement. The aim is to achieve the 17 goals within the next decade, which also include quality education, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities and responsible consumption and production.
Watch the performance of “Permission to Dance” and their speech to the U.N. assembly below.