For the final day of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, the Korean pop supergroup BTS stopped by the White House on Tuesday to speak with President Joe Biden about Asian inclusion and representation.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre introduced the group and RM kicked off the press conference in English by introducing themselves and thanking the White House and Biden for the opportunity to speak on “the important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion and diversity.”
Then, each of the guys took turns speaking in Korean with Jin and Jimin expressing how honored they were to be standing for their community at the White House on the last day of AAPI Month. Jimin said, “We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes…to put a stop to this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to [lend our voices].”
J-Hope added, “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 concluded their speech by sharing that the band was “still surprised that music created by South Korean artists reaches so many people around the world…we believe music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things.”
“It’s not wrong to be different,” BTS member Suga said, through an interpreter. “Maybe equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences”.
V said, “We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding each and everyone as a valuable person.”
In total, over a quarter-million people tuned in to see the band speak on the White House’s YouTube live stream.
Dressed in matching black suits, the seven members group did not take questions from reporters before leaving the White House briefing room to head to their meeting with President Biden.
The group have been outspoken about their experiences with anti-Asian hate.
Following a series of massage parlours shootings targeting Asian women in Georgia last year, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook spoke out about their own experiences with anti-Asian discrimination.
They’ve “endured expletives without reason” and have been mocked for their appearance, they said.
“We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason”.
“We still feel surprised that music created by South Korean artists reaches so many people around the world, transcending languages and cultural barriers,” Jungkook said at the White House.
He added that the group believes that “music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things”.
Amid last year’s spike of anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S., BTS spoke out about their own experience with discrimination via Twitter saying:
“We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason. Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks. But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem.”