BTS to join Joe Biden at White House to discuss 'Asian inclusion' & 'anti-Asian hate crimes'

The group has previously condemned racial discrimination.

Kayla Wong | May 26, 2022, 11:59 PM

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World-famous South Korean boyband BTS will be joining U.S. President Joe Biden on May 31 to "discuss anti-Asian hate crimes" and "Asian inclusion and representation", according to a press release by the White House.

"President 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 White House said.

The Grammy-nominated group has openly condemned racial discrimination on more than one occasion.

In his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House last year, Biden said that "K-pop fans are universal", according to American entertainment news site Variety.

Following disparate chuckles in the room, he continued, "I can tell those who laugh know what I'm talking about."

BTS fans, known collectively as ARMY, believe that the band unites them all despite their cultural differences, as the group sings of universal values such as self-acceptance.

Biden made these remarks on the day that BTS released their English-language single "Butter". As of May 26, 2022, the official music video has racked up over 758 million views on YouTube.

Surge in hate crimes targeting Asians

The meeting with BTS, which will be held at the White House, comes as the U.S. has experienced a wave of hate crimes targeting Asian people in recent months.

According to research findings reported by Nikkei Asia, anti-Asian hate crimes have surged fourfold in 2021 compared to the previous year, with New York City contributing almost half the total number of incidents that targeted ethnic Asians and Pacific Islanders.

In May 2021, Biden signed a legislation that is supposed to address hate crimes throughout the pandemic.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said at the signing that more work is needed to fight racism in the country, NPR reported.

Acknowledging the difficulty of dealing with racially motivated hate crimes, she said:

"Here's the truth: Racism exists in America. Xenophobia exists in America, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia — it all exists. And so the work to address injustice wherever it exists remains the work ahead."

Biden's Asia trip

Biden's meeting with BTS follows his first trip to Asia as U.S. President.

He first visited Seoul, where his curt response to a question on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un indicated a potentially tougher stance on the isolated country.

A day after he left Tokyo, his second and final stop, North Korea launched three ballistic missiles from the Sunan area in the capital Pyongyang, the BBC reported.

Prior to this, North Korea has fired at least 16 missiles this year, including one capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S. The country conducts such missile tests as part of its weapons development programme.

Kim has pledged to bolster development of North Korea's attack capabilities, which includes the country's nuclear arsenal, Reuters reported.

Top image adapted via Bangtan Official/Facebook & Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool/Getty Images