(The Hill) — K-pop group BTS is singing a message of inclusion, saying in remarks at the White House that it’s “not wrong to be different” and calling for an end to anti-Asian hate.
“Equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences,” Suga, one of the group’s seven singing superstars, said through a translator on Tuesday.
The South Korean chart-toppers, sporting matching black suits and ties, appeared in the James S. Brady Briefing Room as part of a visit to promote “Asian inclusion and representation.”
RM, speaking in English to the press corps, said it was a “great honor” to be at the White House to “discuss important issues of anti-Asian hates crimes, Asian inclusion and diversity.”
“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian-American hate crimes. To put a stop on this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again,” Jimin said.
The “Dynamite” singers’ visit was announced last week by the White House.
The trip to Washington comes amid a spike in attacks against Asian communities across the country. Crimes against Asian Americans rose by more than 300% last year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
The appearance by the entertainers drew a larger than usual crowd of journalists packed into the briefing room and standing in the aisles, and nearly 225,000 viewers tuning into YouTube’s livestream of the event. Ahead of BTS’s visit, hundreds of people were gathered outside the White House’s gates.
“We still feel surprised that music created by South Korean artists reaches so many people around the world, transcending languages and cultural barriers,” Jungkook said. “We believe music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things.”
BTS did not take any questions, despite a few shouted at them by reporters.
The group was poised to meet with President Biden following the briefing room appearance.
After BTS’s comments, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese took to the podium and quipped, “So I get to go home and tell my kids that BTS opened for me.”
BTS aren’t the first performers to make a cameo during the Biden White House’s daily press briefing. Last year, “Drivers License” singer Olivia Rodrigo made a splash in front of reporters at the briefing while promoting COVID-19 vaccinations for young people. Members of the Jonas Brothers and singer Ciara have also touched down in the nation’s capital as part of the Biden administration’s vaccination push.
— Alex Gangitano contributed.