- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2022

President Biden on Tuesday hosted K-pop superstar boy band BTS for an Oval Office meeting on rising anti-Asian hate activity in the White House’s latest draw on celebrities to drum up support from younger generations.

The seven-member band’s visit marked the culmination of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“It’s a great honor to be invited to the White House today to discuss the important issue of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion and diversity,” group member RM told reporters ahead of their visit with Mr. Biden.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre touted the group’s “important role as ambassadors promoting a message of respect and positivity” at the top of Tuesday’s daily press briefing.

Mr. Biden, she said, “has led a historic whole-of-government approach to combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance facing [Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander] communities beginning his first week in office,” she said.

In addition to joining Tuesday’s press briefing and meeting with the president, the group also received a tour of the White House and filmed content with the White House digital team.

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The visit is the 79-year-old Mr. Biden’s latest appeal to young voters through high-profile collaborations with pop stars and social media influencers. During the 2020 presidential campaign, he sat for a wide-ranging interview with then-27-year-old rapper Cardi B for Elle magazine in which the two discussed health care, racism and education, among other topics.

Last summer, pop star Olivia Rodrigo took the podium in the briefing room at the White House to promote COVID-19 vaccines. In December, the White House recruited the a cappella group Pentatonix to encourage Americans to get booster shots amid a winter surge in COVID cases.

“We can’t shout ‘get your booster’ from the rooftops of the White House, so we asked @PTXofficial to do us one better,” the White House said on Twitter.

Last week, singer Selena Gomez joined Mr. Biden, first lady Jill Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy for a White House discussion on mental health as part of mental health awareness month.

On Tuesday, hundreds of fans lined the fence outside of the White House in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the seven members of the global chart-topping BTS.

“We thank President Biden and the White House for giving this important opportunity to speak about important causes, reminding ourselves of what we can do as artists,” the group said.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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