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BTS headed to White House on May 31

BTS poses at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 20, 2021. (BigHit Music)
BTS poses at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 20, 2021. (BigHit Music)

Global K-pop phenomenon BTS is headed to the White House next week to speak with US President Joe Biden on rising anti-Asian hate crimes.

The US presidential office on Thursday made an official announcement that the K-pop boy band “will join President Biden to discuss Asian inclusion and representation, and to address anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination which have become more prominent issues in recent years.”

BTS’ visit to the White House will take place on Tuesday, the last day of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The White House added that Biden and BTS will “also discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion and BTS’ platform as youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world.”

The announcement comes a few days after Biden made his first trip to Asia as president, during which he made a three-day stop in Seoul. More details about the visit will be released later, the White House said.

The world’s most famous K-pop group and a two-time nominee to the Grammys, BTS has been expanding its influence to youths around the globe and has been vocal about societal issues. The band gave a speech at the 76th United Nations General Assembly, attending the event as the “special presidential envoy of future generation and culture.”

Last year, amid the rising hostility toward Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, BTS spoke up about their own experience with discrimination through social media.

“We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English,” the band wrote on Twitter in March 2021, a few weeks following the Atlanta area spa shooting in which six women of Asian descent were killed.

“We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together,” read the tweet that was retweeted over 1 million times.

In October, during a press conference conducted in Los Angeles ahead of the band’s concert at Sofi Stadium, BTS leader RM said they “have a heavy responsibility” in regard to addressing Asian hate.

“I wasn’t born or raised abroad. But as an Asian, through the past years, our paths and (experiences at) awards, I truly felt the wall, and the wall can’t always be described in words. Sometimes it’s visible, sometimes it’s invisible.”

He continued, “We just hope that we can truly help every Asian in the world who live in countries abroad. If there is something we can help or can be giving of consolations, we are always open and will try to expand our value and stop discrimination.”

BigHit Music, the agency behind the K-pop megastars, also said it was a “huge honor” to receive the invitation.

“As BTS is representing the South Korean artists on its visit to the White House to speak with President Biden, we anticipate the members will be able to share conversations on various levels, from inclusion and diversity, anti-Asian hate crimes and the culture and art,” it said in a press release Friday.

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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