Why did BTS members get diplomatic passports?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in met K-pop superstars BTS at Cheong Wa Dae, or Blue House, on Sept. 14 but what generated a lot of buzz was what was given to them.

During the ceremony, Moon personally gave each BTS member a diplomatic passport and fountain pen as a gift.

(Clockwise from top) BTS members show their diplomatic passports, the diplomatic passports given to BTS and BTS’ RM receives his diplomatic passport and fountain pen from Korean President Moon Jae-in (Twitter, Blue House)

This is the first time that BTS got diplomatic passports and on Korean online communities, people were talking about why the idol group got them.

Last July, Moon appointed BTS as Special Presidential Envoy for Future Generations and Culture.

According to the Blue House last July, BTS’ appointment as special envoy is in line with Korea’s aim to lead the global agenda for future generations, such as sustainable growth, and expand diplomatic power in line with Korea’s elevated status in the international community.

It is also part of public diplomacy and to enhance Korea’s image of leading global issues through collaboration with private experts.

In South Korea, diplomatic passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only to a select group of individuals.

Under Korea’s law Enforcement Decree of the Passport Act, persons who are entitled to be issued diplomatic passports are the following: “The President (including former Presidents; hereinafter the same shall apply), Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, former Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary, members of the International Olympic Committee, public officials belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, other public officials who serve in diplomatic missions abroad under Article 31 of the Foreign Service Act,” according to a copy of the law on the Korea Legislation Research Institute.

The spouses and unmarried children under the age 27 of the president and prime minister are also entitled to get a diplomatic passport.

The following are also given diplomatic passports in South Korea:

1. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 27 years and parents without a livelihood of those falling under the following:

a. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

b. Ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary

c. Members of the International Olympic Committee

d. Public officials belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who travel abroad on official business

e. Other public officials who serve in diplomatic missions abroad under Article 31 of the Foreign Service Act

f. Accompanying spouses of former Prime Ministers and former Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Provided, That they shall be limited to cases where accredited by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

g. Persons accompanying the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary, and members of the International Olympic Committee, who are deemed specially necessary by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

2. Speaker of the National Assembly, former Speakers of the National Assembly and persons falling under one of the following items:

a. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 27 years of the Speaker of the National Assembly

b. Accompanying spouses of former Speakers of the National Assembly: Provided, That they shall be limited to cases as accredited by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

c. Persons accompanying the Speaker of the National Assembly, who are deemed specially necessary by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

3. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, President of the Constitutional Court, and former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, former Presidents of the Constitutional Court, and persons falling under any of the following items:

a. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 27 years of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and President of the Constitutional Court

b. Accompanying spouses of former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and former Presidents of the Constitutional Court: Provided, That they shall be limited to cases where accredited by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

c. Persons accompanying the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and President of the Constitutional Court, who are deemed specially necessary by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

4. Special envoys, representatives of the Government and members of a mission headed by special envoys or representatives of the Government

5. Other persons deemed specially required by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to hold diplomatic passports for performance of diplomatic missions or protection of identity.

BTS were issued diplomatic passports as they were appointed by Moon as special envoys. Their first duty as special envoys will be to attend the second meeting of the Sustainable Development Goals Moment (SDG Moment) of the Decade of Action on Sept. 20 during the UN General Assembly in New York City. Moon will also be there.

According to Korean media, holders of diplomatic passports are exempted from baggage inspection at the airport when they enter or leave the country. They are also accorded VIP protocol.

But diplomatic passports can only be used when traveling abroad on official business. Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying that personal or ordinary passports must be used for personal overseas travel. In the case of BTS, when they go abroad for concert tours, they are going to use ordinary passports and not diplomatic passports.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/09/15/why-did-bts-members-get-diplomatic-passports/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-did-bts-members-get-diplomatic-passports)

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