Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Okay, the Bad Side of Korea: "It's not racist; it's a joke!"

Are you kidding me? --------->

I've been in a hovel regarding current events. However, there is a controversy in Korea right now regarding a show that featured "foreign beauty" and lapsed into offensive tomfoolery and stereotyping.

Korean media tries to get away with this from time to time claiming that it was just "a joke." Well, it's nothing more than buffonery and distaste at the expense of the image of another race of people.

I'm sure Koreans would scream bloody murder if it was the other way around with somoene making fun of them. In fact, I know they have in the past. When Jay Leno made a joke about dog meat, Koreans freaked out. So when it happens to them, it's bad. But they're free to do it to others. It's nothing more than hypocrisy.

Here is a link to the video on YouTube: Minyeodeuli Suda - Korean TV clip showing racist parody

Here are some links explaining what happened:

또 깜둥이 대접! - A blog from the Metropolitician discussing what the show is about and what happened.

(Seriously Stupid Department) KBS ‘foreign beauty’ program slammed for racism - The Marmot's Hole weighs in on the issue.

Lastly, and most important, a petition on the Metropolitician's blog.

Other links:

Men's News Daily: Dog Meat
ResellerRatings Store Ratings, Shopping, Deals, and Bargains: So. Korean Firm Plans Lawsuit Against Jay Leno
BongoNet (spoof news): Jay Leno Under Fire Over Joke About Koreans and Dog Meat

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  1. I find the timing of Rosie's, uh, situation interesting and am surprised that no Korea bloggers have picked it up.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    This is the first I've heard about what Rosie said. I agree with people who have taken offense to her comments. Joke or not, it's culturally insensitive. However, I think Korea bloggers haven't picked it up (if, unlike me, they heard about it) is because Koreans aren't Chinese.

    The cultures share many similarities, but what I've noticed is that Koreans will go out of their way to distinguish how they're different from the Chinese. That seems to be more common now that China is emerging as big trade competitor and partner.

    I would see an expat in China blogging about this more than any of the bloggers I know here.

    That's not to lessen the offensiveness of what she said, but a blogger in Korea is more likely to mention something Korea specific.

    That's my two cents on why it hasn't been mentioned.

    It would be interesting to see if the China/Chinese culture based bloggers have picked it up.

  3. You're likely right, but the irony of the two strikingly similar incidents occurring so close together is hard to beat. We know that Korea has a long way to go as far as shedding racist behavior, and the Rosie thing is a minor reminder that we Americans have a ways to go as well (not that other entertainers haven't reminded us this year).

  4. Welcome back kangmi and thanks, again, for leaving a comment.

    Yes, well, it's been an offensive outburst-comment-action extravaganza.

    It started with Mel. I thought it peaked with Michael. However, Rosie has joined the fray and you'd think being a member of two groups that get hell, women and lesbians, she'd be a bit more sensitive before mocking the Chinese language. (Has she ever been to China? Neither Cantonese nor Mandarin sound like that.)

    I said in my “Being Black in Korea” podcast, in the West we still have some ways to go regarding racism. I actually still think racism in Korea is a lesser evil because they seem to come around once they learn the stereotypes don't match up to the individuals.

    In contrast, I don't know how many white people I've dealt with in my life who've said something along the lines of "you're special" or "you're different" rather than changing their opinions on blacks as a race or they assume because they enjoy the Dave Chappelle show and like hip-hop that they have some sort of bond with me.

    That doesn't apply to all whites I know, of course, but it's really funny when it happens because it's supposed to be a compliment or an attempt to “relate.”

  5. Mmm.

    I guess going to Korea would not be such a good idea as a vacation trip.

    Would not want to have them cart me off in leg-irons and manacled hands.

    But, then again, I sometimes feel that way about the good 'ol USA, as well.

    And the Korean worship of whiteness does not surprise me.

    Appropriating/stealing black culture is nothing new for many non-black people.

    Hell, they learned it from the best,the ones who've been stealing from black culture from day one.

  6. Korea isn't bad. This issue in Korea is bad. It's an insensitivity to other races coupled with a high sensitivity to their own race.

    Don't say anything about Korea that could be interpreted as bad because they'll get angry. However, having a show where they put on a big afro wig and make asses out of themselves mocking black stereotypes is okay.

    Actually, there was a Korean pop star/actor I liked quite a bit, Cha Tae-hyun. He was the male lead in My Sassy Girl (I mentioned it in the Korean Wave post). Anyway, for some movie he did, he sported a big afro wig and just made an ass out of himself. I haven't liked him since.

    As they globalize more, more mistakes will be made. However, Hines Ward, whose mother is Korean, achieved big fame here when he was given MVP honors last year. His mother let Korea have it by saying had she raised her son here in Korea, he'd be nothing. That made them think and laws were changed pretty quickly after that. One thing I have to say for the Koreans is, usually, their learning curve is much faster than in the States.

    We'll see how the next racial faux pas turns out.

    Korea isn't any worse than some other places for a vacation. But at this time of the year, I'd suggest SE Asia. It's much warmer.

  7. Hi. I'm random. I randomly found your site through one of your pictures on google images. This is a really interesting post. I agree with you a hundred percent. Koreans can get overly sensitive when it comes to racism against them (i.e. aftermath of Virginia Tech... although nothing did happen). And there is a stigma against Blacks in Korean society.
    But as someone who was born and raised in America, I have to say that no one hates on Asian racism. I am totally against any form of racism but I get frustrated when I see that American society takes racist comments against Blacks as taboo while racist comments against Asians are just comedy.

    I don't know. I support your petition 100%. I didn't disagree with any of your points. But that's just something... kind of off topic... that I find really frustrating.

  8. Oh, don't let me get started on Virginia Tech. Koreans were terrified that there would be some backlash. Of course, there wasn't because the USA doesn't have a herd mentality and most people understood the shooter was damaged. In contrast, if an offense against Koreans happens by any sort of foreigner, they loose their minds, change the law and generate insane news programs about drunken foreigners or whatever.

    I think the difference in the USA is because of the results of racism. It doesn't make a crack against Asians any worse, but Asians are seen as a model minority. They're smart. They go to college. They don't need affirmative action. And, if you're not careful, they'll one day buy your business and your home. In contrast, people are still surprised to find out I have a brain, spent most of my life gainfully employed and don't have children out of wedlock.

    Racism against blacks is real and is in all layers of society. It's also still negative and exclusionary. There is some incident going on in Philadelphia right now about kids barred from a pool. The reason really does seem to be because the children are black. Their camp paid for access. The time was arranged. They showed up and were asked to leave. Children claim to have overheard people making racist comments and the club's response was just the worse PR botch ever because it mentioned the word "complexion": Pool Boots Kids Who Might "Change the Complexion". As more facts come out, it seems that the kids were well-behaved: Interview with Jan. It's been resolved in as much as Girard College has offered their pool for the kids' use, but the incident that got them there is just appalling. I've been seeing news programs with cute little black kids crying over this. This alters a child's worldview FOR LIFE. (Believe me, I had something similar happen to me when I was in the 6th grade...racism experienced and worldview changed.) You just don't hear about a mass of Asian campers getting thrown out of a pool. I'd say it's stories like these that make the weight of racism against blacks vs. Asians heavier. It doesn't make racism against Asians or any other group less evil. I understand that. But there does seem to be this obtuse "why?" being thrown around when you can see how racism plays out differently in situations like these.

    Again, there is racism and ignorance against Asians. I told the story of how offensive it is to be Asian-American and have someone compliment you on how well you speak English. Of course, the assumption is you're from abroad when the fact is you were born and raised in the USA. I just had a conversation where a white woman seriously said to me, well, 90% of Asians she speaks to have bad accents. Really? Like she's keeping statistics on this. I call bullshit. Anyway, she tried to diminish the point of what I was saying because "90%" of Asians she's met speak English with a heavy accent. I pointed out that doesn't make any difference. When you're so daf that you can't recognize someone who is native born or simply raised in the States. that's racist because not all Asians get here as a refugee or immigrant.

    Anyway, it's not my petition, it's linked to someone else's site ;)


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.