It was a state event, but K-pop girl group Blackpink stole the limelight.
Jisoo, Jennie, Rose and Lisa were among the more than 170 guests attending a state banquet at Buckingham Palace on Nov 21 hosted by Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla. It was in honour of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and First Lady Kim Keon-hee’s state visit to the United Kingdom.
King Charles began his speech by welcoming them to Britain in Korean, as he commended South Korea on its efforts in seeking a balance between development and sustainability. He is an outspoken campaigner on environmental issues and supporter of a sustainable economy.
He added: “I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rose, better known collectively as Blackpink, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience as Ambassadors for the UK’s Presidency of COP 26, and later as advocates for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Blackpink members were seen exchanging glances as their names were mentioned, as seen in a video by Sky News.
“I can only admire how they can prioritise these vital issues, as well as being global superstars,” King Charles said. “Sadly, when I was in Seoul all those years ago, I am not sure I developed much of what might be called the Gangnam Style.”
He was referring to his 1992 visit to the South Korean capital and the viral hit song by South Korean rapper Psy released in 2012.
The King also touched on the impact of K-pop culture in his speech. “Three decades ago, it would have been hard to imagine that the most popular exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2023 would be Hallyu, showcasing the Korean Wave, or that Korean would become the fastest-growing modern language among those studied at British universities,” he said.
Referring to the film directors, shows and songs from both countries, he added: “Korea has matched Danny Boyle with Bong Joon-ho, James Bond with Squid Game, and the Beatles’ Let It Be with BTS’ Dynamite.”
This article was first published in The Straits Times.