The K-pop star made a brief statement to reporters before the meeting, calling for an end to crimes targeting Asian Americans. "We are devastated by the recent wave of hate crimes, including Asian-American hate crimes," said band member Jimin through an interpreter.
"To stop this and support this cause, we want to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again," he said. The encounter comes as May's Asian-American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander month draws to a close following a sharp increase in hate crimes against communities in the past year. Attacks on people of Asian descent have increased as some politicians and pundits have pushed Americans to blame China for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the BTS meeting with President Biden was held closed to the press. But the White House said one of the goals was to discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion and BTS's platform as young ambassadors spreading messages of hope and positivity around the world.
The musicians are known for using their lyrics and social campaigns aimed at empowering children since their debut in 2013. Their fan base extends to the older demographic, tying influence to an internet-savvy generation who harness the power of social media. In June 2020, BTS fans raised approximately $1 million in one day in the online #MatchAMillion campaign for U.S. social justice causes, according to the band's donation to Black Lives Matter.
The management of the Big Hit Music group said they were honored to be invited to the White House. "When we visit as artists representing South Korea, we hope to discuss various topics including inclusion, diversity, anti-Asian hate crimes, culture and the arts," said Big Hit Music.