BTS 'devastated' by anti-Asian hate crimes in US

J Hope thanks BTS ARMY 'worldwide who have different nationalities and cultures'

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K-pop supergroup BTS used a White House visit on Tuesday to speak out against the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in the US.

“It is great honour to be invited to the White House today to discuss important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion and diversity,” band member RM said before the band's meeting with President Joe Biden.

Jimin told reporters via interpreter that the band is “devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian-American hate crimes”.

Korean supergroup BTS visits the White House press room

Members of the K-pop supergroup BTS from left, V, Jungkook, Jimin, RM, Jin, J-Hope, and Suga join White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during the daily briefing at the White House, Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Washington.  (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

J Hope thanked the global BTS ARMY “who have different nationalities and cultures, and use different languages”.

“We are truly and always grateful,” he said.

Suga added: “It's not wrong to be different. I think equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences.”

V said the band hoped that their appearance at the White House would be a step in the right direction for people of varying cultures to be understood and respected.

“Everyone has their own history,” he said.

The group's visit to the White House comes on the final day of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Month and against the backdrop of a sharp rise hate crimes against Asians in the US over the past year.

One in six Asian-American adults had experienced a hate crime last year, up from one in eight in 2020, a survey by AAPI Data and Momentive showed.

Attacks against people of Asian descent escalated after some politicians and pundits blamed China for the spread of Covid-19.

BTS, founded in 2013, are known for using their lyrics to and social campaigns to empower young people.

“We believe music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things,” said Jungkook.

In June 2020, the group's fans put their energy behind an online campaign called #MatchAMillion to raise money for social justice causes in the US.

The campaign brought in about $1 million in roughly 24 hours, matching the donation of the band itself to Black Lives Matter.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: May 31, 2022, 8:07 PM