Global pop group BTS meets President Biden in the Oval Office this afternoon. But before that, the “Butter” singers made an appearance at the White House press briefing on Tuesday.
The seven members of the South Korean boy band appeared in matching black suits behind the White House podium, sharing brief remarks about the dangers of anti-Asian hatred and the power of music.
Adding to the usual press team, a few dozen Korean journalists crowded into the side aisles to watch the kings of K-pop speak; most of them left immediately after the BTS members returned to the West Wing.
“We are still so amazed that music created by South Korean artists reaches so many people around the world, transcending languages and cultural barriers,” singer Jungkook said. “We believe that music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things.”
“Everyone has their own story,” added teammate V. “We hope today is a step towards respecting and understanding everyone as a person of value.”
The group did not respond to questions and left the briefing room about 10 minutes after the presentation began. About 195,000 people tuned in to the live stream when it started at 11:30 a.m. PT, and that number had grown to nearly 300,000 by the end.
By comparison, the most recent press briefing, on May 26, was viewed 14,133 times.
“I can go home and tell my kids that BTS opened for me,” remarked Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council who took to the podium after the group left.
The hugely popular music act, who will discuss anti-Asian hatred with Biden in the Oval Office, wields immense influence, especially when flanked by his fiercely loyal ARMY of fans, who had previously flooded the YouTube channel. of the White House before the Record.
The K-pop and Biden sensations are set to discuss “the need to come together in Asian solidarity, inclusion and representation, and to address anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination, which have become bigger problems in recent years,” according to a press report. leaving the White House. This meeting was scheduled for noon in the Pacific and was closed to the press.
The meeting, which was announced last week, comes shortly after Biden embarked on a three-day trip to the South Korean capital of Seoul and met with newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. In May 2021, Biden signed into law a bill aimed at addressing anti-Asian hate crimes.
It also comes on the last day of the administration-supported Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, as Jin noted in his opening remarks, so the group can “stand with the AANHPI community and celebrate”.
Late last month, the administration issued a proclamation to mark the occasion recognizing “the history and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders” across the country.
Meanwhile, anti-Asian attacks have increased across the country since the start of 2020, with some people wrongly blaming Asian Americans for the COVID-19 pandemic because the first cases were reported in China.
In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes increased 76% in Los Angeles County alone. A March survey found that two-thirds of Asian Americans in the county fear being the victim of a racial attack.
“We have been devastated by the recent wave of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes. To put an end to this and support the cause, we would like to take this opportunity to speak out [sic] again,” Jimin said.
J-Hope said the group is in the White House “thanks to our army – our fans – from all over the world who have different nationalities and cultures and use different languages” and that the group is “truly and forever grateful”. .
Although some online reviews questioned the momentthe band’s fan base welcomed Biden’s visit.
“Even the White House knows the global influence of @BTS_twt!” tweeted a fan after the press briefing. “They speak for people like me who have anxiety because of the increase[sic] in Asian hatred. As usual, #BTS spoke well and they delivered their message with precision. I love them so much! #StopAsianHate #BTSatTheWhiteHouse.
“I don’t think the people who make fun of BTS for going to the White House really understand what a milestone this is. Not only for BTS and the military around the world, but also for the government of the United States,” a fan tweeted after the press briefing.
“So proud of you BTS,” added another one.
The Grammy-nominated septet – made up of singers RM, V, Suga, Jin, Jungkook, Jimin and J-Hope – are celebrating their ninth anniversary as a group and are set to release their next studio album on June 10.
On Saturday, the group debuted their weekly Apple Music limited series, “BTS Radio: Past & Present,” on Apple Music 1 which dives into their journey to K-pop superstardom.
Here’s a look at how fans reacted to Tuesday’s visit to the White House.
Times writers Eli Stokols and Anumita Kaur contributed to this report.