K-pop supergroup BTS meets Biden and speaks at the White House

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) – South Korean boy band BTS, a fundraising juggernaut for U.S. social justice causes, met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.

The K-pop stars made brief statements to reporters ahead of the meeting, calling for an end to crimes targeting Asian Americans.

“We have been devastated by the recent wave of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes,” group member Jimin said through an interpreter. “To put an end to this and support the cause, we would like to take this opportunity to speak out again.”

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The meeting came as the Asian American and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander May Month was coming to an end after a sharp rise in hate crimes against the community over the past year.

Attacks on people of Asian descent have intensified as some politicians and experts have encouraged Americans to blame China for COVID-19. Read more

While the meeting was closed to the press, the White House said one of the purposes was to “discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion and the platform of BTS as ambassadors. youth who are spreading a message of hope and positivity around the world”.

The musicians have been known to use their lyrics and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people since their debut in 2013. Their fan base extends to older demographics, linking their buying power to an internet-savvy generation that exploits the power of social media.

In June 2020, BTS fans raised approximately $1 million in one day through the #MatchAMillion online campaign for social justice causes in the United States, matching the group’s donation to Black Lives Matter.

The group’s management, Big Hit Music, said they were honored to be invited to the White House.

“While we are visiting as artists representing South Korea, we look forward to discussing various topics including inclusion, diversity, anti-Asian hate crimes, culture and art” , said Big Hit Music.

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Reporting by Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Alexandra Alper; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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