South Korean boy band BTS have met President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.
“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes,” band member Jimin said through a translator before the meeting on Tuesday (local time).
“To put a stop on this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again.”
Another member, V, said that “everyone has their own history”.
“We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding each and every one as a valuable person,” he added.
The meeting came as Asian American and Native Hawaiian-Pacific Islander month in May drew to a close across the US. It followed a sharp upswing in hate crimes against the community in the past year.
Attacks against people of Asian descent have escalated as some politicians and pundits have encouraged Americans to blame China for COVID-19.
Dressed in matching black suits, the seven BTS members took no questions before leaving the White House briefing room for their meeting with Mr Biden.
The meeting was also closed to media. But the White House said one goal was to “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 K-Pop stars are known for using their lyrics and social campaigns aimed at empowering youngsters since making their debut in 2013.
Their fan base extends into older demographics, tying their spending clout to an internet-savvy generation that harnesses the power of social media.
In June 2020, BTS fans raised about $US1 million ($1.4 million) in one day in the #MatchAMillion online campaign for US social justice causes, matching the band’s donation to Black Lives Matter.