BTS: Presidential Envoy and What This Means

Promotional image of (from left) Kim Taehyung, Jeon Jungkook, Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Park Jimin, and Jung Hoseok. Copyright goes to the Hybe Corporation and BTS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I think most people have heard about this at this point, but it’s worth talking about in as much depth as possible. Because not only is this a triumph for BTS, but this is also a pretty historical moment. I can’t imagine that at their debut years ago any member of BTS would have expected this to happen to them one day. And I feel like this gave me more hope in the past week than most other things. BTS have always talked about incredibly important topics regarding youth and letting them represent youth at the UN is one of the best decisions I can think of. They’ve been a voice of the youth for ages even before being given this honor. And there’s so much here I want to address about this itself, what it means, and why BTS was given this specifically. So let’s get into it!

‘Presidential Envoy for Future Generations and Culture’:

This is the new title gifted to the members of BTS. And yes it is absolutely a mouthful. So what exactly does this mean? This means that the president of South Korea, President Moon Jae-in, has specially chosen BTS to accompany him to the United Nations General Assembly (and other such prestigious events) as representatives for youth. This is what they will essentially be doing. And in doing this the members of BTS were actually gifted diplomatic passports by the President himself. Meaning that there is no doubt that the position they were just gifted is a diplomatic one. BTS can meet with world leaders while representing youth and while representing their country itself. All of this is a very fancy way to say that they are now actually being employed by the government of South Korea. They are officially diplomats. Which is actually a pretty political position. This is not just a historical event for South Korea. Appointing any musical artist of any sort as a diplomat of a country is incredibly rare and has barely been done before. And it is also entirely possible that it will never be done again in South Korea. So why was BTS given this specific honor? And why may it never be done again?

History Makers:

I’ve heard a lot of fans of other groups say that BTS is paving the way for other K-Pop groups to do the same. I’ve even heard BTS fans say things like this. Much of the time it was to comfort fans of other groups who were unfairly going after BTS for being given such a position. And I don’t think it’s fair to say that this is going to effect all K-Pop groups. We are not going to see a sudden surge of a bunch of groups being given diplomatic status. That’s not what this is. Recent reports of the South Korean economy suggest that BTS is responsible for five billion dollars added to the economy. Which is incredibly significant. BTS has given their country worldwide recognition, which comes with many advantages. They’ve improved business by their own business gaining so much money and branching out as a South Korean giant. In doing so their company has created jobs. They’ve upped tourism in numbers that are so excessive that it’s believed that they make up for almost half of current tourism interest in the country. Getting another K-Pop band to reach that level is not only difficult, it’s almost impossible. Getting any group from anywhere to that level is almost impossible. BTS almost singlehandedly held up the economy for South Korea during the pandemic with their continued revenue from releases and online concerts. Not only does having an impact so big on your country warrant more than just a diplomatic position, it also prevents other K-Pop groups from being like them. The South Korean government is forced, whether they like it or not, to acknowledge something that has such a giant impact on their country. Many of these government officials already feel uncomfortable at how much they have to pay attention to BTS. So I don’t think any group will be on BTS’s level until at least BTS is not as much of a thing anymore. Which I don’t think will happen for a long time. And even then it would still be a difficult feat to accomplish. This will not be a standard for every K-Pop group.

Military Service:

So they’re diplomats now. Does that mean they won’t have to serve in the military? Unfortunately, we don’t know. That is currently in the hands of the National Defense Committee. But the popular opinion right now is that they will be granted exemptions. And this move to make them diplomats only makes this opinion more widespread. But don’t go celebrating yet. We don’t want to get our hopes up too high. In most cases, people working for the government this way would be considered to already be doing work for their government. That’s a general rule for some countries, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to South Korea. We won’t know for sure until the Defense Committee talks at the end of this year. The fact that they have already been given the opportunity to postpone service is already a sign that the government won’t be willing to let BTS go into mandatory military service. And I do mean won’t let them. I’ve seen many ARMYs worried that the members of BTS might want to complete their service anyways because of possible backlash. And while that may be possible sometime in the far future, it probably wouldn’t be possible anytime soon if they were granted an exemption. Why? For several reasons. Firstly, the reason why BTS might be exempted might be said by the government to be because of their great contributions, but that’s unlikely in truth. It will probably be because the South Korean economy would falter if BTS was gone for two years. Especially their tourism industry. Secondly, I doubt BTS would be allowed to reject a rule change made specifically for them by their government system. Especially if the rule change was made for economical reasons. Maybe when or if there comes a time that they aren’t so important to the entire economy of their country they could then enlist. But if they are given that exemption, that is unlikely to be soon. Still, don’t get your hopes up.

Malicious?:

Many people feel that BTS (or more specifically their company) has maliciously appealed to the government in a plot to try and get BTS out of mandatory military service. This is extremely ridiculous. It doesn’t take a genius to see that their well-earned achievements have gotten them to this point. And recently a meeting between several big K-Pop companies was called to see if they could appeal to the government to get K-Pop artists out of mandatory military service. Notably, Hybe was not one of the companies represented at this meeting. They did not attend. But I know this is falling on deaf ears because if you’re one of those people readily denying that BTS could have possibly become this successful, even after seeing the facts of everything, then you probably won’t be convinced otherwise.

Listen to Namjoon:

If there’s anyone I’m a little worried for in this situation, it’s Namjoon. As the general spokesperson for his group, he just got a whole lot more responsibility laid on his shoulders. And really they all did, but it’s Namjoon’s words that will be heard by dozens of world leaders. And as ARMY we all need to give him the respect of listening to him in our daily lives too. Namjoon had an absolutely amazing birthday Vlive that was both adorable and included a section about him getting candid regarding his struggles during the pandemic. Many ARMYs pointed out that barely anyone talked about the moment afterwards, even though almost every single moment of Jungkook’s birthday Vlive was talked about for days after. What I’m saying here is that Namjoon has a lot on his plate, but he is absolutely the man for this job. His wise words and advice have resulted in many feeling heard and comforted by him. His words are the ones we heard accepting the title at the ceremony and we’ll hear him at the UN once again. Please take a note from Jungkook’s book and listen intently to him. And do not throw a fit if Namjoon is the only one speaking. I’m sure Namjoon would love for the others to share his burden a little bit and it is not his fault or anybody’s fault. This is what comes with being a leader of a group. Respect Namjoon and all his hard work.

Celebrate!:

I know most of this has been pretty serious, and it is true that this is a somewhat serious occasion. But it isn’t all serious! Take this time to actually celebrate all their achievements! All of them individually and as a group made this happen and it’s amazing. It’s unheard of. These men have made history! And they are still their genuine and humble selves while doing it. I hope that they can continue to be themselves no matter what happens and I hope that this will push them all in a happy direction. I also hope that they still feel some normalcy on top of all of this because I’m sure it’s just a little overwhelming. But I think the best thing we can do for all of that is celebrate them and give them our unwavering support! Also remember that this is just a new job for them. They’ll still be the same normal guys from South Korea.

I am personally hoping that they are all doing well and that they are all proud of themselves. This is amazing! And just being a fan of them feels like I’m part of something bigger. Just like I know they feel they are part of something bigger with us too. I hope to feel comforted by their words and celebrate their amazing feats for years to come. No matter what happens and no matter what they do (or even if they don’t do anything if they feel like taking a break), let’s all continue to support them!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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