What ASEAN can learn from BTS on the United Nations’ stage?


“BTS – Permission to dance” gears up the synergy of government, private business, creative industry, and consumer in building awareness of sustainability, ASEAN should learn its lesson.

Lately, social media is full with the viral content of the BTS, a boy band from the South Korea, performing the Permission to Dance music and dance on 20 September 2021 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Proudly published by the UN social media accounts, reached 16 Million views on YouTube, 690,000 views on Instagram, 753,000 likes on Twitter, and 46,000 likes and loves on Facebook.

Behind those statistical responses on social media, there is a strategy coming from the President of the South of Korea, Moon Jae In inviting the BTS to be a special envoy, the president didn’t want to be late in delivering the importance of SDGs, so President invited the BTS as an influencer to speak up about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievement for both today’s and tomorrow’s generation and can influence their fans to actively participate in implementing the SDGs.

This special envoy of BTS means also connecting the messages of BTS with the messages of the UN goals that can create the world to be more liveable. And that is actually the value of breaking the silo between art and politics. Art can deliver the message of what are the government or organization wants to achieve for their people.

ASEAN is also an intergovernmental organization, which also has goals to enhance the achievement of SDGs in ten member states. Therefore, ASEAN needs to learn from the special performance of BTS on the UN stages.

Intergovernmental Organization

After the BTS showcasing their message through music and dance, there was an interview session between the representatives of UN, President Moon Jae In, and BTS itself talking about the SDGs mission. In this session, there was a message about SDG number 13 climate action that Korea has shut down domestic coal power plants early and stopped public financing for new overseas coal power plants. In terms of supporting developing countries to cope with the climate crisis, South Korea supported the developed countries to cope with the climate crisis through ODA (Official Development Assistant). By this talk, it showed that the South Korea is progressing to achieve the SDGs.

BTS also performed directly inside and around the UN Headquarters, it showed that there was no barrier between the message of BTS show and the message of UN. ASEAN can also invite the famous group band or an actress in the region to be an influencer to speak up about the SDGs issues in South East Asia Countries. And tried to connect the message of SDGs with the performance in the ASEAN Secretariat Office Building for example. Then, the actress also emphasized the goal message of the Sustainable Development Goals to their fans through interviews.

Creative Industry

BTS has a genre music and dance that can level up people’s dreams. Therefore, the President of South Korea and the United Nations use BTS to clearly communicate SDG information to the world. In ASEAN, there is also some actress who has a lot of fans across the world, for example, Atta Halilintar, top 1 Youtuber in Asia sings a song with SDGs message in ASEAN secretariat office. Creative directors in ASEAN also can actually create some spirits of the younger generation through dance and music, encouraging many people to join in achieving sustainable development goals.

Private Business

While showing their own performance, BTS also used their fashion to promote sustainable development goals. They were using environmentally-friendly fashion by “recode”, a local brand fashion in Korea. By using this fashion, recode received 9,120 likes on their Instagram content, and they released BTS using environmentally friendly formal attire. It can be seen that, this campaign causes the benefit for a private business to get the profit and consumer’s engagement for their products. ASEAN member states can also learn from this evidence, ASEAN also has a lot of sustainable products, the most important is that the business should promote their products effectively and can also educate the consumers about sustainability. BTS performances using environmentally friendly clothing is a very effective way to convey sustainable products. Additionally, with 16 M views on Youtube, means that there are a lot of advertisements that will be beneficial for the UN and also the brands can also place their promotional materials into BTS performance on UN’s Youtube.


With more than 90 million fans of BTS, mostly all of them already know the details of what was happening with the BTS performance, through their music, dance, fashion, and of course the message delivered by them. Therefore, their fans or consumers in ASEAN can buy anything that their idol use such as eco-friendly clothes, they also tend to believe with what BTS says about sustainability. Finally, consumer will be more aware of the importance of SDGs in their life.

As the final thoughts, it’s better late than never. So, it is now ASEAN turn! Isn’t it?

Arumdari Nurgianti
Arumdari Nurgianti
Arumdari Nurgianti, MBA Student at ASEAN Master in Sustainability Management Universitas Gadjah Mada


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