The South Korean K-Pop group BTS may have undoubtedly reached the insane levels of international super-stardom that their fellow countryman PSY never even achieved during his own heyday in the early 2010s. Most western music fans of this generation could identify them and even profess their fandom of the boys. They have nominations for Grammy and Brit Awards, and won multiple AMAs, Billboards and Golden Disks. But they have influence beyond music as well, having had the honor to address the United Nations on behalf of UNICEF. It is in the latter facet of their prominence that this gift from their national government falls under.
According to Inquirer.net, the seven young men of BTS received from South Korean President Moon Jae-in the documentation that fully complements their role as Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture. Those documentations are diplomatic passports issued to BTS by President Moon himself at the Blue House Presidential residence this past Tuesday, September 14. The official BTS social media pages showed photos of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, V, Jimin, Jungkook and RM flashing their new diplomatic passports at Blue House. Moon had already named them Presidential Envoys back in July.
What does a diplomatic passport do? It indicates their holders as having diplomatic functions for the country that issued them. Therefore, diplomatic passport holders are accorded VIP treatment by authorities at airports they arrive in, and their baggage may be exempt from inspection. In South Korean law, diplomatic passports are given to the country’s (present and former) Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers, ambassadors, International Olympic Committee members, public officials serving other diplomatic missions abroad, their spouses and (young, unmarried) children, and special envoys declared by the government like BTS have recently been.
The only limitation of these diplomatic passports is that they must be used solely on official (South Korean) government business. That means BTS cannot travel for overseas concert tours using them. They can however use their passports to for example, accompany President Moon to the UN General Assembly on September 20 for Sustainable Development Goals Moment. Other than that, should the K-Pop juggernaut be called on to speak internationally on South Korean interests in global agendas, they could use these passports as diplomatic envoys. Their nice Presidential gifts also included fountain pens for each member.
Since their debut in 2013, BTS has been on a meteoric rise to global celebrity with their infectious, memorable self-composed music. This has intensified further since they began releasing English-language songs since last year with “Dynamite,” followed by this year’s “Butter” and “Permission to Dance.”
Image from Manila Bulletin