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BTS joined White House press decretary Karine Jean-Pierre before meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss rising anti-Asian hate crimes in the country on the last day of AAPI Heritage Month Tuesday.
The seven members of the K-Pop band from South Korea were on hand at the lectern of the James Brady Briefing Room, where they condemned the growing trend of hate crimes against the AAPI community, in addition to advocating for the importance of Asian representation.
At one point during the live YouTube broadcast, more than 310,000 viewers tuned into a live stream of the press briefing on the White House’s channel, a stark contrast to the usual 10,000+ viewers averaged on any given press conference. The video has since been uploaded and amassed thousands more views.
Jean-Pierre began the briefing on the final day of Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by welcoming the international group as “special guests” to the briefing room.
BTS joins President Joe Biden at White House for AAPI Heritage Month (Kevin Dietsch)
“While many of you may know BTS as Grammy-nominated international icons, they also play an important role as youth ambassadors, promoting a message of respect and positivity,” she said.
“After this briefing, they will join President Biden in a discussion about Asian inclusion, representation and diversity, as well as addressing an anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination. As many of you know, the president has led a historic, whole-of-government approach to combat racism, xenophobia, intolerance, intolerance facing AAPI communities beginning his first week in office, when he issued a presidential memorandum leveraging the power of the federal government to stand against this hate.
She added: “The president also signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, signed an executive order to reinstate the White House initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and funded critical research to prevent and address xenophobia against AA and NHP communities.”
Each of the bandmates dressed in dapper black suits with matching ties as they stood behind the lectern.
“Hi, we’re BTS,” RM said. “It is a great honor to be invited to the White House today to discuss the important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion and diversity.”
Through an interpreter, Jin said: “Today is the last day of the NAAPI Heritage Month, we join the White House to stand with the AAHPI community and to celebrate.”
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre began the briefing by welcoming BTS as “special guests” to the briefing room. (Kevin Dietsch)
Jimin added, “We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes, but to put a stop to this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again
J-Hope said: ‘We are here today thanks to our Army, our fans worldwide who have different nationalities and cultures and use different languages. We are truly and always grateful.”
Jungkook still feels “surprised that music created by South Korean artists, which is so many people around the world, is transcending languages and cultural barriers. We believe music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things.”
Suga said: “It’s not wrong to be different. I think equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences.”
V noted: “Everyone has their own history. We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding each and every one as a valuable person.”
Following the press briefing with the international sensations, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese sighed, which prompted laughter.
V, Jungkook, Jimin, RM, Jin, J-Hope and Suga of the South Korean pop group BTS speak at the daily press briefing at the White House (Kevin Dietsch)
“So I get to go home and tell my kids that BTS opened for me,” he said.
Anti-Asian hate crime data published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism revealed a 189% increase from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021 in select cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.
Biden continues to attempt to identify with his younger constituents throughout his presidency. During the 2020 presidential campaign he was interviewed by rapper Cardi B to discuss racism and free education.
Last summer, popstar Olivia Rodrigo visited the White House to promote the COVID-19 youth vaccination.