Monoracial nation inexplicably racist!

That’s right, Korea, a country with one racial group and an identity based almost entirely on eating food nobody else likes and shunning outsiders, is racist and doesn’t even know it. I’m talking about an incident (dealt with in English on The Marmot’s Hole blog) on the asinine KBS TV show “The Beauties’ Chatterbox”. The show features beautiful young foreign women (mostly exchange students and dancers from former soviet satellites) who speak fluent Korean discussing Korea and how great, unique and interesting it is (eventually: being an acquired taste, it takes a looong time to grow to love Korea). One of the young ladies, African-American Leslie Bensfield, was singing a Korean song when singer Cheon Myeong-Hun appeared on stage in a rasta wig and began doing Korea’s own version of the classic American blackface, chanting “shickamunce!” (transliteration mine and mine alone), roughly translated: “I’m really black!”

None of this should be any surprise in a country where I’ve had grown men approach me child-like and either grab my belly and go “Fat” or touch my head and say “No hair!” with a strong sense of wide-eyed wonder. The shock is KBS’s reaction to large amounts of criticism from viewers, both Korean and foreign: nothing. They have said it is not racist and that Cheon will continue to appear on the terrible show, despite the incident and being even less talented and attractive than the average Korean pop-star and having crooked teeth.

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~ by Joe on December 16, 2006.

4 Responses to “Monoracial nation inexplicably racist!”

  1. I saw the incident involving Leslie, and it was wrong.

    But you know what else is wrong? You know what else is racist? Your diatribe against Korea. Don’t take an incident and use it to generalize a whole nation.

    I could point out numerous incidents of racism in the United States. Do you remember the incident in which Shaquille O’Neal said to reporters to tell Yao Ming “ching chong ching?” What did the NBA commissioner do? He said Shaq did not do anything wrong as did most members of the media and sports fans.

    What about Pat Robertson and his Christian TV show? He slanted his eyes and said that some lady has Oriental eyes.

    I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point.

    I’ve dealt with racism in the United States, but I don’t say things like, “It’s really hard to love the United States, a country that has built its identity on kicking people out of their lands and claiming those lands as its own and oppressing people with dark shades of skin.” If I am mistreated, I complain about the mistreatment, but I don’t blame all white people for what I went through or go off on a tirade against all white people. I also don’t speak about a whole nation in a condescending manner by reducing a whole group of people to the food they eat. Wouldn’t it be racist if I talked about Mexico as the nation that eats bean burritos? Wouldn’t it be wrong to call African Americans a bunch of people who eat chicken and watermelon?

    Your blog entry reminds me of an American girl who flew all the way to China to denounce the racism that exists there. Your blog entry also reminds me of Pat Robertson, which is why I mentioned him earlier. Asian people do not need to be rescued by you or any other Westerner. Stop feeling pity for yourself because no one is going to cry for you. Before you criticize other people, examine yourself. Before you criticize the rest of the world, look at your own country.

  2. Hey Korean American,

    You’ve completely missed my point. I’m not saying that one talent’s actions make Korea racist. I’m saying the TV network’s reaction exemplifies the nation’s racial insensitivity. Ask A Korean, one of the best blogs out there on Korean culture, has called Korea a racist country with less concrete examples than that.

    I didn’t reduce an entire nation to the food they eat. Korea did. Have you ever been here? You’d think the invention of kimchi was on par with the invention of the scanning electron microscope.

    Now I’m just having fun. Listen, Korean American, I would love to have a more substantive discussion with you about this, but I don’t think you could handle it. If you’d like to try, by all means email me.

  3. Looks like Joe is the one who can’t have a “more substantive discussion.” Joe, attacking someone personally is not the way to invite someone to have a mature discussion with you.

  4. Yeah, Waco, thank you for calling me out for that comment.

    I’ve just gotten so sick of commenters reading one post and making the same insightless, lazy criticisms that it wore on me to the point where I felt I had to let it out on Korean American. For my part, though, I do stand by my statement that while Korean American seems more than able to get in a few poorly researched potshots, s/he is probably not capable of backing it up. That’s just based on the lazy, slapdash nature of his/her comment.

    That said, look at the lazy slapdash nature of my previous comment.

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