Over a Quarter Million Tune Into White House Stream for BTS
WASHINGTON — The K-wave officially landed in the White House press room Tuesday, with an appearance by the Korean pop supergroup BTS drawing over 260,200 viewers to the live stream of the daily briefing.
On a typical day, the briefing draws just under 16,000 viewers.
For all the hoopla — and the excitement in the briefing room was palpable, even on a small screen — the group that has made the Guinness Book of World Records for everything from record sales to opening an Instagram account was visiting the White House for a serious cause: to speak to President Joe Biden about “the important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion and diversity.”
In quick introductory remarks, White Hosuse Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred to BTS as both “Grammy-nominated international icons” and “youth ambassadors promoting a message of respect and positivity.”
With that, each member of the group introduced themselves in English and thanked the president for the opportunity to speak to him on the last day of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes … and we’d like to take this opportunity to support the cause and put a stop to this,” said Jimin.
“It’s not wrong to be different, equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences,” said Suga.
“We are here today thanks to our army — our fans worldwide — who have different nationalities and cultures and use different languages. We are truly and always grateful,” he said.
The last to speak was Jungkook, who said the group is still surprised at how many people they’ve reached through their songs and performances.
“Music is an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things,” he said.
BTS has been speaking out on the issue of anti-Asian hate crimes since a spike in their prevalence last year.
According to data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339% last year compared with the year before. The organization also identified New York, New York, and San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, as the cities leading in the woeful statistic.
President Biden signed a bipartisan bill, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, aimed at addressing the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in May 2021.
In April, ahead of this year’s observance of AANHPI Heritage Month, the president issued a proclamation celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the country’s history and culture.
Then, on May 19, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to establish a commission to study the possible creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, asked for unanimous consent on the floor for the Senate to take up H.R. 3525 — a bill to establish a commission to study the potential creation of the national museum. There was no objection and the bill quickly passed.
Because the legislation had previously passed in the House, it was immediately sent to the White House for President Biden’s signature.
According to a White House official, BTS filmed “content” with the White House digital team and also received a personal tour of the building before the briefing.
A large Korean and Japanese press contingent showed up to cover BTS in the briefing room, rendering it standing room only for the proceedings. Fans also lined up outside the White House to catch a glimpse of the global phenomenon.
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