US President Joe Biden will receive the K-pop megastars BTS next week as part of a series of events celebrating Asian-Americans and denouncing racism against them, the White House said Thursday.
Anti-Asian sentiment and violence in the US have grown during the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump often called the bug the “China virus” or the “kung flu” and these remarks have been seen as stirring up anger against Asians among conservative Americans.
Biden will receive the Korean boy band on May 31 “to discuss Asian inclusion and representation, and to address anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination which have become more prominent issues in recent years,” the White House said in a statement.
It called BTS “youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world.”
The seven floppy-haired musicians of BTS, all in their 20s and often sporting earrings and lipstick, appeal to a generation comfortable with gender fluidity.
They are credited with generating billions for the South Korean economy, and their label enjoyed a surge in profits despite holding fewer concerts during the pandemic.
Biden at 79 is the oldest person to assume the US presidency.
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Since taking office in 2020 he has launched a major campaign to reach out to young people by working with young celebrities and social media influencers.
Biden has received pop singer Olivia Rodrigo at the White House, and the Jonas Brothers, a popular band, has taped videos with Biden promoting Covid-19 vaccinations.