In a remarkable display of diplomatic recognition, King at Buckingham Palace awarded honorary Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBEs) to the members of South Korean girl group Blackpink. The prestigious ceremony took place in the distinguished 1844 room at Buckingham Palace, reserved for the most esteemed guests.
The honour was bestowed during the state visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, where the King commended the global influence of Korean pop culture. Blackpink received special mention for their commitment to environmental causes, a nod to their advocacy for the COP climate change summit and the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
“I can only admire how they can prioritize these vital issues, as well as being global superstars,” remarked the King during the investiture.
The MBEs symbolize Blackpink’s role as ambassadors for global environmental awareness, reaching millions of young people worldwide. The ceremony further underlined the significance of the South Korean state visit, emphasizing the growing strategic alliance and economic partnership between the two nations.
The members of Blackpink – Roseanne Park, Jennie Kim, Jisoo Kim, and Lalisa Manoban – now hold honorary membership in the Order of the British Empire, solidifying their status as cultural ambassadors.
The royal hospitality extended to Blackpink continued with their attendance at the state banquet in Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening, where they joined 170 guests, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, and other dignitaries.
In his speech, the King praised South Korean popular culture’s “remarkable ability to captivate imaginations” globally, showcasing its cultural impact beyond borders. The unexpected shift in musical direction during the changing of the guard on Wednesday morning, featuring a medley of K-pop songs, added a delightful touch to the state visit.
As the state visit focused on strengthening trade links and military partnerships, President Yoon and Prime Minister Sunak signed a “Downing Street Accord” on Wednesday afternoon. The accord outlines plans for a trade deal and cooperation in science, technology, and green energy. Additionally, a defense agreement aims to enhance efforts in enforcing sanctions against North Korea, including joint sea patrols between the South Korean Navy and the UK’s Royal Navy.
The evening’s agenda includes a banquet at the Guildhall in the City of London, emphasizing growing business ties with £21bn in investments by South Korean firms in the UK. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Michael Mainelli, is expected to highlight the increasing importance of South Korean technology firms operating in the UK, drawing a parallel with the economic impact of Korean popular culture. “Like a K-pop single, Korea is climbing up the charts,” he is anticipated to say, underlining the nation’s ascent in the global economic landscape.