K-pop stars call on fans to take action on climate change

Posted on : 2020-12-15 16:51 KST Modified on : 2020-12-15 16:51 KST
Major names like BTS and Blackpink embark on environmental campaigns
Blackpink. (provided by YG Entertainment)
Blackpink. (provided by YG Entertainment)

“This is a global challenge. Each and every one of us could make a difference, and we need to act now.” (Jennie, member of Blackpink)

On Dec. 9, a special video was posted on the official YouTube channel of the K-pop group Blackpink. The title read “Calling All Blinks: Climate Action in Your Area!” In the video, the members of Blackpink called on their Blinks (fans) to take action in response to the climate crisis.

Beginning by declaring, “We do care about our planet and we want to learn more,” the members go on to explain about the seriousness of the climate crisis. Lisa, who was born in 1997, explains, “At that time, 46% of the earth was made up of natural habitats. But now only 35% remains, and more are disappearing every day.” The members also explain that the increased frequency of heatwaves, droughts flooding, and other forms of extreme weather each year are the result of a decrease in natural habitats.

“But it is not too late. We can still decide to make it better,” they stress, calling on their fans to take action.

“This is our planet. This is our future. Climate change affects us all,” they add, expressing “hope that you’ll join us on this journey.” The members further asked viewers to pay attention to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference. That event is scheduled to take place in the UK in November of next year, with the leaders of over 200 countries coming together to discuss the necessary response actions for the climate crisis.

Paul Kim. (Kim’s social media)
Paul Kim. (Kim’s social media)

More and more singers are taking the initiative in responding to the climate crisis as a global issue. Their positive influence has led in many cases to direct action and new perceptions among their fans. With the climate crisis looming as a major catastrophe threatening the future of humankind, observers are saying that the engagement of stars with a large following is more crucial than ever.

As of Dec. 14, Blackpink counted over 54.4 million subscribers to their YouTube channel — the second-largest number for any musical act around the world after Justin Bieber. Given their enormous influence, Blackpink’s message carries all the more weight. Fans responded positively to the video, posting comments expressing their support and urging others to take action to save the planet.

In a message on Twitter, UK Ambassador to South Korea Simon Smith wrote, “We hope all #BLINKs will join us on this journey [to save the planet].”

Singer Paul Kim is another figure who has taken action to respond to the climate crisis. Late last year, he donated 100 million won (US$91,458) to Global Climate Strike in Korea, an organization consisting of over 340 civic groups coming together to respond collectively to the crisis.

“While he was meeting with Climate Strike officials at the time of his donation, Paul Kim said, ‘If climate change continues this way, it will threaten the future of young people and children. There needs to be more interest and support for solving the climate change problem,’” an official with the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM) explained. Park Ji-hoon, a former member of the group Wanna One, has been participating in related campaigns since being named as a Ministry of Environment honorary ambassador for climate change last year.

The world-conquering pop group BTS has also been taking part. For Earth Day on Apr. 22, the group participated in a global hydrogen campaign with Hyundai Motor. In a related video, the members sent a message stressing the importance of sustainability in order to pass on the beauty of nature to future generations.

BTS. (provided by Big Hit Entertainment)
BTS. (provided by Big Hit Entertainment)
BTS fans plant trees to celebrate members’ birthdays

BTS’ fan club, known as ARMY, has been taking direct action to respond to the climate crisis. This is the result of a positive influence shown by leader RM and other members with their continued attention to environmental issues. One of the most prominent forms of action among fans responding to the climate crisis has been forest-planting. Fans around the world raised funds for RM and fellow member Jungkook’s birthdays to join the Seoul branch of KFEM in planting forests with thousands of trees in the group members’ names at Seoul’s Han River Park. It’s a special kind of gift: responding to climate change and contributing to restoring nature along the Han River, while also offering a space for rest and relaxation to the general public in the musical stars’ name. To date, a total of two forests have been planted for RM and three for Jungkook.

BTS fans plant trees along the Han River to celebrate members’ birthdays. (provided by the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement)
BTS fans plant trees along the Han River to celebrate members’ birthdays. (provided by the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement)

Activities have also been taking place outside of South Korea. BTS fans in Indonesia planted over 8,700 mangrove saplings along the coast of central Java in October to commemorate member Jimin’s birthday. The effort was carried out as a more meaningful type of birthday event to prevent flooding and other climate-related damage in coastal regions, instead of taking out a billboard on a South Korean street to share a congratulatory message.

“Pop groups with global name recognition are going to have more of a ripple effect than the activities by the civic groups that have been involved in ongoing environmental movements,” explained Cho Yoon-hwan, director of the sponsorship project team for KFEM’s Seoul branch.

“As more and more people with a positive influence begin taking action against the climate crisis, that could lead to major changes not just in the climate change response approach of South Korea — which has been criticized as a ‘climate villain’ — but also in global activities,” Cho suggested.

By Kim Kyung-wook, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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