BTS Embarks on New Era of Boyband Diplomacy With White House Visit


  • Korean boyband BTS visited the White House on Tuesday to push for an end to anti-Asian hate crimes.
  • The visit included a meeting with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office to discuss the issue.
  • The visit marks a ramping-up of the band’s political activism after being made presidential envoys.

Grammy-nominated Korean supergroup BTS visited the White House on Tuesday, ramping up their boyband diplomacy from speaking engagements at the UN to political activism against anti-Asian hate crimes. 

The Korean septet’s visit came on the last day of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. President Joe Biden shared a minute-long clip of his private meeting with the group, which showed the seven men in matching black-and-white suits being ushered into the Oval Office. 

 

“A lot of our Asian-American friends have been subject to real discrimination,” Biden told BTS. “Hate only hides. When good people talk about it and say how bad it is, it goes down.”

In response, BTS band leader Kim Namjoon, better known as RM, said he was thankful to Biden for signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law.

 

“We just want to be a little help, and we truly appreciate the White House and the government’s trying to find solutions,” Kim said. 

Before meeting Biden, the group attended a press briefing where they spoke about how they were grateful for the opportunity to advocate for the cause. 

 

At the press conference, BTS member Park Ji-min, better known as Jimin, said the band members were “devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes” in the US. 

Meanwhile, rapper Min Yoongi, known by his stage name Suga, said: “It’s not wrong to be different. I think equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences.”

The live press briefing was, per The Washington Post, watched by more than 300,000 people at one point, which far exceeded the hundreds of viewers that usually tune in to such streams.

However, not everyone was a fan of the boy band’s appearance at the White House lectern.

Right-wing pundit Tucker Carlson hit out at the group, playing a clip of their speech and sarcastically commenting: “Yeah, so we got a Korean pop group to discuss anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. Okay. Good job, guys.”

The group’s visit to the White House marks a new era in their transition from special diplomatic envoys to political activists taking a harder stance on social issues. The band tweeted their stance on the matter in March 2021, condemning anti-Asian racism and calling for an end to violence against Asian Americans.

Last July, the band members were also appointed as South Korea’s presidential envoys.

 

They were then sworn in and given diplomatic passports, with which they attended international conferences like the 76th United Nations General Assembly, and accompanied the South Korean first lady to The Met for an official visit.

 

This was the group’s second outing to the UN, having earlier spoken out against domestic violence during a UN meeting in 2018.

 



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