BTS-mania sweeps the White House as boy band speaks out on anti-Asian hate | Biden Administration

They braved the sweltering heat, they pressed their faces against the fence, they grabbed cameraphones in the hope of catching a glimpse of their idols.

The dozens of young fans at the gates of the White House looked like a pop concert on Tuesday – but the adulation was not for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, whose approval ratings are on the slide. Korean pop sensations BTS were there to give sleepy Washington a shot of adrenaline, discuss Asian inclusion and representation, and fight hate crimes against Asians.

“I would say thank you for helping me love myself a little more,” said Damaris Monroy Hernandez, a college student turning 16 in hopes of meeting the K-pop group. “I’m just glad they came here because I love the fact that they’re raising awareness about the Asian hate that’s going on in the world. They’re amazing people.

As Hernandez spoke, someone in the crowd said, “One, two, three… Stop the Asian hate!” Stop the Asian hate! and others joined in the chanting.

BTS-mania was also evident in the White House Press Conference Room, where reporters from South Korea and Japan stood in the aisles. The room hadn’t been this full since a reality TV star became president.

The group drew a crowd at the briefing. Photography: Oliver Contreras/EPA

“Oh wow!” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “So much excitement.” She joked, “I know – it’s the Fed Chairman’s meeting, right?”

The seven members of BTS – who go by the names J-Hope, Suga, Jungkook, V, Jin, RM and Jimin – lined up behind her, uniformly dressed in dark suits, white shirts and black ties reminiscent of the movies Men in Black and Reservoir. Dogs. Each made short statements, mostly in Korean, assisted by an interpreter.

Jimin said, “We have been devastated by the recent increase in 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 again.

Suga added, “It’s not bad to be different. I think equality starts when we open up and accept all of our differences.

And V remarked, “Everyone has their own story. We hope that today is one more step towards respecting and understanding everyone as a person of value.

Since their debut in 2013, BTS have become known for their lyrics and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people. The Grammy-winning boy band thanked their fans, known as “the army,” for their continued support and praised their diversity.

Members of the public watch through the White House fence as they await BTS's arrival.
Members of the public watch through the White House fence as they await BTS’s arrival. Photography: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
people stand near the fence
Fans stand along Pennsylvania Avenue. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

J-Hope said, “We are here again thanks to our army, our fans from all over the world, who have different nationalities and cultures and use different languages. We are truly and forever grateful.

Jungkook added, “We are always amazed that music created by South Korean artists reaches so many people around the world, transcending language and cultural barriers. We believe that music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things.

The group walked out without answering questions and made the short walk to the Oval Office on the last day of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Then, at the desk in the briefing room, there was Brian Deesedirector of the National Economic Council, a technocrat who cannot be described as one of the most colorful or flamboyant figures in Washington.

Slipping a pen into his breast pocket, he raised his eyebrows and smiled wryly as international media shunned the aisles and some reporters mocked the jarring gearshift.

Deese said, “OK, so I can go home and tell my kids that BTS opened up for me. I didn’t expect this when I woke up this morning, and I know you all are here to talk about reduced average inflation, and you’re as excited about it as you are about them.

It turned out that the adjusted average inflation did not raise the heartbeat. Later, Jean-Pierre was asked if BTS filmed a music video at the White House. She neither confirmed nor denied it.

Jean-Pierre speaks at the podium with band members behind her
Karine Jean-Pierre welcomes the group. Photography: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

“You heard directly from them, how important it was for them to use their platform to be here to talk about issues that matter to them, especially the anti-Asian hatred that we have seen across this country. in recent years,” says the press officer.

Crimes against Asian Americans rose more than 300% last year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, as Donald Trump continues to encourage Americans to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19. Biden signed a bipartisan bill last year aimed at tackling rising anti-Asian hate crimes into law.

The BTS visit was one of Biden’s most unusual days since taking office. Earlier, he met New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a political rock star in her own right; lunched with Harris; and met with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

History will judge if the 79-year-old’s later encounter with BTS produces an image as memorable as Richard Nixon’s. meeting with Elvis Presley in 1970.