K-Pop Sensation BTS Visits The White House To Condemn Anti-Asian Hate

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BTS, the seven-member South Korean pop group with one of the world’s most voracious fanbases, visited the White House on Tuesday to address rising hate crimes and other acts of discrimination against Asian Americans.

The group, also known as the Bangtan Boys, held a press briefing with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre before meeting President Joe Biden.

“We have been devastated by the recent wave of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes,” BTS singer Jimin said from the podium, transmitted through an interpreter. “To put an end to this and support the cause, we would like to take this opportunity to speak out once again to say that we are here today thanks to our army ― our fans around the world ― who have nationalities and different cultures and use different languages. We are truly and always grateful.

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Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which former President Donald Trump has repeatedly called “the Chinese virus”, “the kung flu” and other names racist because of his origins in Asia. A report released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism earlier this year found that anti-Asian hate crimes jumped 339% in 2021 from the previous year.

Over a quarter of a million people reportedly watched BTS’ White House appearance.

Kevin Dietsch via Getty Images

Hundreds of K-pop fans gathered outside the gates of the White House during the press conference, chanting the group’s name. Just one more quarter of a million people reportedly listened to the White House stream of the event on YouTube.

White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese followed BTS during Tuesday’s press conference, jokingly boasting, “OK. So I can go home and tell my kids that BTS opened for me. I didn’t expect this when I woke up this morning.

“We are against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, me and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together,” BTS tweeted after the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

BTS fans are also aggressive in fighting racist movements in the United States, regularly strategizing to outrun hashtags promoting white supremacy and QAnon conspiracy theories.

“They were beaten at their own game by Korean pop fans,” conspiracy theory researcher Mike Rothschild told Bloomberg of the phenomenon in 2020. “I had never seen anything like it before.”

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