Ken Jeong says attacks against Asian Americans are "precisely due to weaponizing terms like 'Kung flu' and 'China virus' "

By Sheila Cosgrove Baylis
April 23, 2021 11:00 AM
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Ken Jeong is working to raise awareness about the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic last year in quarantine, while overall hate crimes went down 7%, Asian related hate crimes went up almost 150%. And it was precisely due to weaponizing terms like 'Kung flu' and 'China virus,' " The Masked Singer host, 51, tells PEOPLE.

"As Asian Americans, we all know someone who has been subject to Asian hate crimes," he says.

Jeong says he openly discusses the issue with his 14-year-old twin daughters, Zooey and Alexa. "You want to raise awareness, you want to educate, and then you want to legislate," he says. "It takes all of us to solve the pandemic of hate."

For more on Ken Jeong, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

Ken Jeong family
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The host of I Can See Your Voice has also spoken out to Asian American kids to let them know "that I support you and you are not alone in this, and we will all do this together. And not just Asian-Americans, just everybody. We just need to stop Asian hate."

The actor and his wife Tran, 49, also did their part to help others by enrolling in Pfizer's vaccine trial last year. "It really is our way of giving back and being part of the science," he says.

Jeong practiced internal medicine before getting into comedy, and says, "I've been in doctor mode this whole time since the start of the pandemic ... I've never felt more like a doctor than when it came to COVID, and just kind of putting my medical hat on and trying to rationalize what's going on."

Jeong encourages everyone to get vaccinated, and for anyone feeling hesitant, he says, "talk to your doctor, get informed. Don't just go on social media."

He continues: "Talking to a health professional is the best way to mitigate this, because there's so much information out there. And get a second opinion. Just get as many educated medical opinions as you can."

"Bottom line, these vaccines work and they will be the main modality that will get us out of this pandemic," he says. "Managing COVID is a global effort, just like it takes all of us to solve the pandemic of hate."