Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

(Before we begin – the AsianWeek magazine is now embroiled in a controversy because it published a column by an idiot named Kenneth Eng called “Why I hate blacks.” Since then, AsianWeek pulled the column, fired Eng, and issued an apology. The Korean can’t believe that people are pre-empting what he is about to write. The Korean hopes this post would help.)

Dear Korean,

So what is the relationship of Koreans and black people? Why the prejudice? Why do you think when a white man marries a Korean woman they are viewed as a cute couple, but if it is the same is for a black man they question the woman’s character?

Black man happily married to a Korean for 25 years, and no, I was not in the Army in Korea.

- William J.

Dear Korean,

Please explain Korean people’s strong prejudice against black soldiers (your words). My uncle, a black man, died in the Korean War. This is not an angry email, just an attempt to understand. Thank you.

- Kevin

Dear William and Kevin,

First, to Kevin. The Korean is deeply grateful for your uncle. The Korean is often flip in this blog, but he is most serious in this occasion. If it were not for American soldiers’ sacrifice in the Korean War, the Korean would probably be starving somewhere in communized Korea, writing for the BS website that the dictatorial government set up.

But the Korean is afraid that you misunderstood the earlier post. The Korean is certain that there was relatively less prejudice against black soldiers at the time of Korean War. But there is no question that since then, Koreans (and Korean-Americans alike) developed strong prejudice against black folks – and that is essentially why William’s question arose.

To put it bluntly, many Koreans and Korean Americans tend to be racist toward black people. The Korean wishes it were otherwise, but it is true. Below is the reason why.

Racism as a Heuristic

What is racism? As we all know, racism is broadly defined as passing a judgment upon an individual based on the individual’s race. And racism is an evil because we cannot control our race, and our race has an extremely poor correlation to our character.

However, see it from the judgment-passer’s point of view, and the reason why people become racists begins to make sense. Racism is a type of what cognitive scientists call “heuristics” – basically, making decisions based on analytical shortcuts. A simple example: our cognition tells us that “it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck.” Then our conscience concludes that “it’s a duck.”

Heuristics is a big part of the way humans deal with things, because humans don’t have the time to evaluate everything around them. It is effective to engage in heuristics because first of all, it takes too much energy to remember everything about a certain thing. Think of it from the perspective of evolutionary biology. Suppose we were out hunting, and our fellow was killed by a saber tooth tiger. Do we remember everything about that saber tooth tiger for a future reference? No, we only remember the most salient features of the animal, which would be its size, color, and the two fangs.

Heuristics is efficient because in most cases, humans don’t need a 100 percent right answer. Going back to the example, suppose while we are roaming the field hunting, we run into an animal that appears to be large, yellow-ish, and has two large fangs. Do we stay and completely evaluate whether or not this animal is in fact a saber tooth tiger and therefore dangerous? No, we run for our lives.

So heuristics work in two steps. First, when we encounter a new thing, we create a “tag” in our mind to associate with the new thing’s characteristics. Always, without fail, that tag is a highly visible and readily identifiable trait. Second, when we see that tag in another new thing, we draw conclusion that the second new thing is the same as the first thing. The process is hardly foolproof, but it’s extremely effective – it probably allowed human race to survive this long.

The application is the same in our modern life. We always create a quick tag to describe things around us, (e.g., “George W. Bush is an idiot,” “Southerners are conservative,” “Canadians are slow”) and for most things we don’t bother to learn more. We do it because we don’t need to learn everything about everything, and we can’t possibly learn everything about everything. The next step is the same too. For example, popular perception has created a heuristic statement of “blonds are dumb.” Once we have that heuristic in our head, next time we see a blond, our mind will point toward “dumb.”

So, as we consider Koreans and racism, we have to think in terms of heuristics – what the markers are, and what the conclusion is.

Racist Heuristic Step 1 – Markers

Heuristic markers are something that stands out very prominently. Then, what stands out more than how different black people’s appearances are from Korean people’s? The skin tone of a black person is something that no Korean has ever seen. But it goes beyond the skin tone. The question that the Korean gets asked most from his Korean relative and friends about black people’s appearance is: how do they manage their hair, especially if they are braided? Do they even wash it? If they do, how?

In short, black people are really, really foreign to Koreans – to a much greater degree than white people. At one point in Korean history (until shortly after Korean War,) white people were just as foreign. The Korean’s parents’ generation would talk about how white people have blond hair and a big nose. (One derogatory Korean term for a white person is ko-jaeng-i, roughly translated as a “noser” or “nosie.”) But several decades passed, American movies and TV shows steadily streamed into Korea, and Korean people got used to white people. Although white people looked different from Koreans, they seemed like a variation on a theme. (Do you now understand why colored people make such a big deal about how Friends had no black person in it?)

Racist Heuristic Step 2 – Conclusions

So when a Korean sees a black person, his/her skin tone, coarse hair, etc are the only thing that stays in mind. In some sense, it is already racist at this step because that Korean would not probe deeper into that black person’s character. But what makes Koreans really racists are the heuristic conclusions that they derive from the skin tone.

What are the conclusions? The same conclusions that the mainstream society gives to black people – lazy, dirty, prone to crime, addicted to drugs, closer to animals than humans. Why is that?

In part, it has to do with a bias within Koreans with regards to skin tone. Koreans are, being Asian, yellow. But actual skin tone of any given Korean in fact varies by a ton – nearly covering the spectrum of the whitest of the white and the blackest of the black. And among Koreans, there is a bias of favoring the light-skinned people, and disfavoring dark skin tones. Why? Because dark skin means that you are one of the peasants, out in the field and working all day under the sun. Light skinned people are the nobility – they can afford to stay at home and out of the sun.

Absurdly—evidencing that old habits die hard—this line of thinking still somewhat persists, and one standard for a Korean beauty is (in the Korean’s opinion) sickly paleness. Hot, sexy tan is fairly popular in Korea now, but that is an extremely recent phenomenon – no older than 7~8 years. (Largely thanks to this woman on the right. Her name is Lee, Hyo-ri, a very popular singer.) So between white people who are paler than noblest Korean, and black people who are darker than the commonest Korean, there is a built-in disadvantage.

Also, one cannot ignore the racism in the American mainstream. Whatever racism we have as a country, we indirectly teach it to the new immigrants to our country and to the whole world through our dominance in movies and television shows. No one in the world, and certainly no Korean, is dumb enough to not realize that in a movie, a black guy always dies. Especially in Korea where people have no chance to see a black person other than through mass media, there is no way for their racist perception to be corrected by actually knowing a black person.

But the Korean thinks it’s fair to say that, as Bill Cosby pointed out, at least some black people provide the fodder for those conclusions. (The Korean will leave the question of whether or not the mainstream society is responsible for the high rate of black crime, drug addiction, etc., to another day.) On this point, another factor to consider is that a lot of Korean Americans live in the ghetto, doing business right in the middle of it. Often they are victims of crimes, often perpetrated by black folks.

Especially in the 1992 LA Riot, the rioting black folks looted the stores in their neighborhood, most of them owned by Koreans. (The MTV documentary on the LA riot made in 2002 devotes a portion to the riot’s impact on Korean Americans.) Stories spread from Korean Americans to Koreans in Korea, and the reputation of the black folks was shot down further from the already low status.

Then again, heuristics being what it is, if there is a black robber robbing a Korean-owned liquor store, the only thing that the store owner will remember is the fact that the robber was black. And the racism perpetuates.

So, What Next?

The Korean situation is merely a mirror to the larger problem of we have as a society. Korean people are no better or worse than anyone in world – everyone in the world relies on heuristics, and racism is such a strong force even to this day because of it. Even in America, which in the Korean’s opinion the least racist country in the world, plenty of people rely on racist heuristics.

For example, Fisher DeBerry, former Air Force football coach, when asked why his team was losing, remarked that it was because his team lacked speed because Air Force team did not have enough black people on it – all the while the equally black-player-sparse Brigham Young University was putting up a 9-win season. But then again, who has not thought about whether being black makes you a better athlete as s/he watched a sporting event?

The only way to combat racist heuristics is to make people aware that they are making a snap decision that is wrong, unfair, and evil. America has been trying to do this for the last several decades, and slowly it has been making progress. We must keep this up.

The Korean will end this in a hopeful note. In 1999, a Korean grocer, Mrs. Chung-Bok Hong, was shot and killed by robbers at the parking lot next to her store in South Central Los Angeles, heart of the LA ghetto. Her funeral was held in a catholic church in South Central, and hundreds of mourners packed the church, most of them black residents of South Central. Many of the mourners did not know her real name; everyone in the neighborhood just called her “Mama.” Here is a part of the story from the LA Times:

A few blocks away, graffiti writers had covered a wall outside her store with messages revealing a tangle of emotions. "Nothing but love for you, Mama," said one. … Jerrell White, an African American resident who has lived in the neighborhood for 34 years, said Hong was accepted in South-Central because she treated people with dignity, regardless of their station in life. "She didn't take no B.S. from you," he said. "But that was all right, because she was Mama."

Now there’s a woman who did not rely on racist heuristics, but consciously decided to look past people’s colors and into their character.

(If you would like to read the whole story, it ran on Feb. 12, 1999, byline Steve Berry, headline CALLS FOR JUSTICE MARK FUNERAL OF SLAIN GROCER.)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@hotmail.com.

97 comments:

  1. a correction about racism during the korean war:

    i would argue that u.s. troops brought racism against black people to korea. u.s. military may have been integrated, but that doesn't mean that racism didn't exist anymore. outside military camps, there are always prostitutes. during the korean war, prostitutes were separated by whether they had sex with white soldiers or black soldiers. a prostitute could get beat for trying to have sex with both, and the "white" prostitute had a higher social status than the "black" prostitute.

    from "Sex Among Allies" by by Katharine H.S. Moon:

    The U.S. military and the local Korean authorities pinpointed kijich'on prostitutes as the source of social problems and unrest, especially with respect to racial violence. 5 Most of the retired and current USFK community relations officials and former Subcommittee members whom I interviewed acknowledged that the "business girls" were the source of off-post black-white conflict in the early 1970s primarily because they were labeled as "black" or "white." Black prostitutes were looked down upon by Korean camptown residents, white servicemen, and "white" prostitutes alike. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, most camptown R&R (Rest and Relaxation) establishments were segregated, not by policy but by choice and habit of the GI patrons. Accordingly, women generally worked in either "all-white" or "all-black" bars/clubs and tended not to mix their customers. But with the rise of black militancy in the U.S. military in the late 1960s and the social confusion wrought by the movement of troops and prostitutes during the early years of the Nixon Doctrine, prostitutes and GIs would sometimes cross the racial lines, both deliberately and inadvertently. Such mixing of racial partners sparked often violent reactions among the GIs. Fights between black and white soldiers were, in a sense, over territory, that is, who possesses which women and who is trespassing on whose women.

    Many Korean prostitutes did discriminate against black servicemen because of their own racial prejudices and ignorance. But they also kept their distance from the black soldier out of economic necessity, which was informed by the racial hierarchy imposed on them by white soldiers, club owners, and other prostitutes. First, there were more white bars/clubs than black ones, meaning more white customers to sell drinks and sex to. Second, many, if not most, of the white clubs prohibited blacks from entering the establishments, which meant that most prostitutes did not have to make the choice of accepting or rejecting black offers for drinks or sex. Even if the women did interact with blacks, the club owner could fire them because the owner himself often feared offending and losing white patrons who opposed mixed-race patronage. Third, and most serious, the women feared that fraternizing with black servicemen would mean physical abuse and/or loss of income from white servicemen. 6 Regardless of the women's motivations, their display of "white favoritism" provoked the anger and frustration of black servicemen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fascinating information! Thank you so much for sharing.

    But the Korean thinks it's a bit of an overstatement that U.S. troops "brought" racism to Korea, as if there would have been no racism in Korea if it were not for the American soldiers. (At least Moon's article does not seem to go that far.) The Korean is confident that even absent American racism, Korean people still would have been just as racists as they are now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am routinely discriminated against here in Seoul, as a Caucasian and growing up in an all white community, I never witnessed racism in my youth. However, in Seoul I see it every day. My African-American friend was discriminated against, I felt embarrassed for him. After an incident on the subway, I asked him how he deals with it. His reply was that he had plenty of practice in the US. I have fun with those who discriminate against me, I politely speak to them in Korean and if that doesn't fix the problem, I try to provoke them to hit me. As I'm 191cm and 115kg, they don't like me provoking them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. One day when I was living in Harlem, my super (he was Afro-Am) came up to me and said, " You know what?"

    "What?"

    "I could never deal with black folk in a retail situation"

    "Why?"

    "Cuz a lot of black folk are a pain in the ass"

    ReplyDelete
  5. It matters little how reasoned your position on this issue is or how many incidents can be pointed to as crutches for feeble-minded bigots. Racism has nothing to do with history, nor is it the result of some incident in relations between groups of people. Racism is simply a matter of pointing to an unrelated element, such as skin color, and claiming it as support for an unjustifiable argument. Koreans who are racists have the same characteristics as any other racist on earth: they are ignorant and too lazy-minded to confront the hypocrisy of their own thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. eddie,

    Racism is certainly a very negative thing, but it hardly indicates feeble-mindedness of a person who subscribes to it. At one point, the smartest people in the world were utterly convinced of racist explanations for human behavior. They were proven wrong, but that does not mean they were dumb.

    The Korean sees where you are coming from, but discounting racism as you do does not help the cause of getting rid of it. Racism, for people who are not educated against it since young, can be a very attractive idea, even for very smart people. Recognizing the strength of racist theories, and beating them on their strength, would be the proper way of eradicating racism.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I admire the clarity of your post. You have good lenses.
    I've been to Korea and I want to know more about the country--the substantial and the trivial-- so I guess you'll see my avatar often.

    ReplyDelete
  8. great post, but I was suprised at your comment about America being the least racist country in the world. I'm a kiwi and we have problems with racism in NZ too but they pale in comparison to those in the States.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I know this is a really old post, but I am just stumbling around the site for the first time and found it very intriguing. I find our psychological heuristics to be fascinating and I also believe that you don't have to be an idiot to fall victim to them. Our brains work so strangely... I wish I had links to give you on these tidbits, but I heard them in Psychology class.
    There was an experiment done to show how priming can affect a person's abilities on a test. One test was called the "Sports Intelligence" test, the other was called the "Natural Ability" test. It was given half and half to black or white people. The black people did better on the "Natural Ability" test and the white people did better on the "Sports Intelligence" test. They were the same test. Another one that I thought was neat was one that played on opposing stereotypes: women are dumb, asians are smart. Before taking a test, asian women were given a short form to fill out regarding who they were (name, address, etc.). One group were asked what their race was, the other was asked what their sex was (only one of these was asked on the form). The people reminded of being asian did better, the people reminded of being women did worse. Again, the test was the same.
    I really enjoyed your response to this question (and the few others I have read). I look forward to more of your posts :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. @elforslund: Actually, the latter study was even more suggestive than that. A group of Asian-American girls was given a math test in two sections, separated by a short reading assignment. The reading assignment was a short essay either on women or on Asians. Then the second half of the math test was given. Girls who had read the passage on women had scores were worse on average in the second half of the test than in the first, and girls who had read the passage on Asians had scores that were better. This phenomenon is called "stereotype threat," and this study shows how much it can affect people's performance, even in the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really like it when you said:

    "Because dark skin means that you are one of the peasants, out in the field and working all day under the sun. Light skinned people are the nobility – they can afford to stay at home and out of the sun."

    I'm an Asian and also believe in this. I came from southeast Asian country and have a dark skin tone -- that's why I'm crazy to be as white as snow. ^^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you aren't as ashamed of your skin tone as you were 3 years ago. As a black female, I can tell you that there's nothing wrong with having dark skin.

      Delete
    2. I second Bianca, and quite frankly as someone who is ethnically Southeast Asian, I'm always embarrassed when southeast Asians disdain their dark skin color. I don't care where that colorism stems from, when someone starts tying to pit one of my cousins against another because one happens to be lighter then the other, I'm un-apologetically pissed off. Same goes when someone says I'm more beautiful then my cousins (in front of them) simply because my skin tone happens to be a shade or two lighter.

      You're feeling beautiful should never be in the hands of some unknown stranger based on some outdated conceptions. If you're unable to love yourself now, as you are, you'll never be white enough to be happy. The shade of your skincolor should not be what you measure your beauty by or your worthyness, no matter what the historical context is. If you can't understand and accept that, "white as snow" is not white enough.

      Delete
  12. ilovesamsungverymuch,
    You need to learn to love yourself. Maybe you should move to America where anyone as white as snow would be rushed to a hospital and given a few pints of blood.

    ReplyDelete
  13. In response to what A. Friend said...
    It is very interesting to note that in Korea pale skin is something sought after, while here in America it is considered sickly. I have naturally pale skin myself and I prefer it that way year round. One of my sisters is the same: pale and irritated when she gets a tan. Family members or boyfriends see us and tell us we need to get some sun or that we look ill! It is a matter of preference if you are already fair-skinned, but the problem lies in those born with darker skin to begin with and the prejudice that you may be afflicted with because of it. It seems so bizarre to me to assume anything based on what colour skin a person was born in, because they had absolutely no choice in the matter and skin colour does not - in and of itself - determine your thoughts or actions. Your opportunities maybe, but that is only because prejudice is still so prevalent across the world.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Problem with so many/allot of Koreans is discrimination, which has been a long and rooted part of their society. Koreans are very discriminatory towards themselves. Korea for more than 2 thousand years and until after WWII had long been governed by classism (by law). This was not a simple discrimination about the complexion of a person, but more about a person’s birth and family status. Many family names in Korea were and many still are a name describing a family’s lowly status. One family name I know said servant. This is a family name. Depending on the class you were from determined how you were treated and to some extent still today are how you’re accepted on the job, how high you can go though promotions, who you can marry, etc… Koreans discriminate against each other.
    Now when Koreans come to this country and I’m talking mostly about the 1st generation immigrants and to some degree this will falls over to the 2nd generation, no matter what their social status was in Korea, they all want to think of themselves as “Middle and or Upper class. Some Koreans have even changed the family names. Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting to promote yourself upward or to view yourself in a better way, but because of the society rules they come from, they tend to discriminate towards any of the Americans they believe are of the lower class. They will still discriminate amongst themselves in this country. To Americans it’s not at all apparent as Koreans are always closed mouth on this subject. They will do business together, and go to church together. This has nothing to do with lazy thinking. It’s has near all to do with the Korean social pecking order. I remember a friend of mine whose wife is also Korean told me how his wife goes to a large Korean church, and how at church affairs (meetings, picnics, etc) how they separate in groups more on the degree of what status the persons were (professionals, wives and husbands), doctors, business people, common workers, education, wives married to Americans, etc… So it would be par for them to discriminate against blacks, as in their thinking, Blacks and Hispanics are at the bottom of the America society. Now to be a little fair, as most first generation Koreans are not really informed about Americans except for the news, TV, Hollywood, and stories, most their knowledge is influenced by this only. The black people in the news are mostly the gangs and the criminal. They never hear about or ever meet the black people who are just like themselves. When they sell a Bill Cosby, Opra, Barack Obama, they think these people are unusual and the exception. These people are exceptional, but are not so much the exception. So many Black people are of this sort. We just don’t hear about them. My suggestion is that all people need to look around more for the good. And try to be more accepting. We live in a good world and we shouldn’t be the obstacle that stands in the way because of closed and narrow thinking..

    ReplyDelete
  15. Can you touch on the different treatment of black males versus black females by Koreans. Maybe we're (black females) seen as less of a threat. I lived in Korea for a while and regularly encounter them here in the states and am treated quite favorably by them. Naturally there were a lot of stares (which took some getting used to) and I wasn't sure how to read the compliments and approaches I got from the Korean people due to the language barrier and knowing that for most their only exposure to blacks was from what was seen on tv. In fact, the older Koreans were far more open and friendly than the younger ones even though they were obviously heavily influenced by black, western culture. Any insight on this?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lee Hyo-ri changed the face of korean entertainment. people used to think that what she was doing was immoral. but now, koreans, specially the young korean women are looking up to her.

    she is not your typical korean girl. she has great smooth tan skin, and she makes guys' heads spin with her sensual moves. yet she gets the respect that she wants.

    http://biyahengpinoy.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am a korean girl, have been studied in PA for nearly 2 years. Actually I had barely seen black people in Korea, even most of the Enlish teachers are white ( I think employees prefer white.. this is a kind of stereo-type in korea.) When I came here, Philadelphia, I was literally shocked by the number of black people.... And I was even scared to look at them.. After few weeks later, I realized that All men are same, now I don't care about race or ethnicity. I think if koreans have more chances to meet various people, like Japan, they wouldn't descriminate based on race.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi, I would also like to know the difference in the treatment of Black women vs. Black men. As a Black woman that will be living there for a year, I will like to know what to generally expect. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nodachoco: I found it very interesting that you would say "I think if koreans have more chances to meet various people, like Japan, they wouldn't descriminate based on race."

    I currently live in Okinawa and there are a number of bars here which require a Japanese escort if I want to go in. I also visited Misawa, in the north, and the majority of the bars there have a very strict "Japanese Only" policy. It was... unnerving. Of course, all the signs stating as much were in Japanese, so you didn't know until you tried to enter and the bouncer kicked you back out, saying, "No gaijin."

    ReplyDelete
  21. If you are an african-american reading this the reason is very simple. Whites brainwashed Koreans to think of blacks as an inferior race via media as early as mid 20th century with movies such as ROOTS, etc. The movie "Roots" as we older people remember is about slavery in America. Even as of now if you look at children's books in Korea, the American publicist depicts anything negative with "black" faces and anything positive with "white" faces. It's the fear mongering white race that believes in divide and conquer philosophy. Whites want Asians to hate blacks because they are afraid "minorities" in america will unite and leave whites standing alone. The same way mainstream media, aka white media wants to portray AF/WM relationship is so rampant in America when all the asians know that the majority of asian relationships are between AF/AM. White people are naturally ignorant paranoid race that's all. I even tell my white friends this too LOL

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow... I believe the title of this article is "can't we all just get along?" Honestly, if you don't like Koreans, why would come to this site? But besides all that, the last couple of posts have been not intelligent dialogue, but ranting about one race or another. Racism is ignorance no matter where it is coming from or who, and there is no need for such slander. Racism is still a part of this world, pure and simple... but we should ALL do our best to stop being ignorant and give people a chance for who they are and not where they come from or what they look like.

    ReplyDelete
  24. jeff's comment was deleted because he is a known troll and is banned from AAK!, whether or not he makes a good comment. However, chris's comment is not much better than jeff's. A few more comments like this drivel, and the ban is on the way for him as well.

    ReplyDelete
  25. To "The Korean" I've just found this posting. I find it interesting and informative.

    I was not aware that Korean people were all that prejudiced. Most of the Asian people that I have met since I moved to Los Angeles from Detroit(another world, LOL) have been most kind to me. If you(people in general) go around with the attitude of "They're different, stay away from them" then you get what you deserve. I am an African-American woman who has experienced prejudice first hand, but never by Asian people. I only know one Korean person here in LA and he's really cool. I have never had trouble making friends. I have friends here in the US, Japan, Czech Republic, Canada, Russia. I was taught by my parents to treat everyone I encounter with respect and kindness. If more people followed just that simple rule life would run more smoothly. I can't imagine some of the things I have read here today, but I know that some of it is true. I know that we don't live in a perfect world but we should all strive for it.

    My father never told us that his experience in Korea during the war was bad. Nor did he tell us that the Korean people were prejudiced. He said they were "good people", so I am shocked to hear of all this prejudice.

    I do commend you on your explanation of the situation. The explanation on how Korean people are still prejudiced among themselves is not unlike our people during slavery in this country. As you know Blacks were seperated by colour. Darker skinned people were the "field Niggers" and the lighter skinned blacks were "house Niggers". Being lighter skinned gave you status(or so it seemed).

    The information you provided here is something for consideration. It makes me think and should make everyone else think of how we can make our world a better place by not being prejudiced. Thanks for posting it. Now, I think I'm gonna go out and make some Korean friends!!

    Peace...

    ReplyDelete
  26. in response to The Phat Kat, we are not ALL prejudice. unfortunately many of us are. but so are many others. many of us are NOT prejudice! and so aren't a lot of ppl! its not a matter of nationality or race in my opinion - ppl have been discriminating against ppl since the dawn of time - and we as a civilization need to grow up! i hope you make some really cool korean and other friends in LA! =)

    ReplyDelete
  27. "Because dark skin means that you are one of the peasants, out in the field and working all day under the sun. Light skinned people are the nobility – they can afford to stay at home and out of the sun."

    amazingly, this works with all asians. I am quite surprised that The Korean came to the same conclusion as I did a few years back.

    I would also like to add that rascism against black people, or dark people is also rooted towards imperialists that colonized most of the world and since in they were whites, they needed to create sufficient disension in the nation and lots of respect for the white 'baas' so treating blacks worse than whites is partly, and since I'm from Africa I feel mostly their fault.

    On a better note, I met some Turkish people and they were fascinated to the point of actually touching a Nigerian woman's face in complete awe of her skin colour. It was amazing that they saw it as beautiful and tears actually ran down their faces; I have never seen someone look in such pure wonder at another persons skin tone. There are some people in the world who do not think that 'black' is bad. Black is beautiful.

    Strangely though, I have never even noticed or divided people into groups of ugly and pretty by their skin - for me it was features and clarity of skin (when I say clarity, I mean smoothness and lack of pimples)

    @nunchi that was very interesting; thank you

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm not much of an intellectual but rather I like to speak from my heart. I read the comments made here on this site and find most of them to be informative and unbiased. This is amazing to see.
    As a child in Jamaica, my family was really poor. I first first watched a television at six years old and the first white person I saw was Michael Jackson live in concert. Talk about a head spinner for a six year old. Then, I started to see other white folks and became fascinated. When I moved to canada, I remember my gr. 10 drama class there was a guy with the most translucent blue eyes I'd ever seen. I'd stare at him for minutes at a time during lectures and to my own embarrassment.
    I then entered an international private school on scholarship. (Rough guess)- over 40% of the students were from Mainland china. Around 30%, and then various other countries. I made friends with students from mainly from china, korea, and japan. Though I encountered racism from most of the male asian students, I had one friend from my grade 11 world citizenship class. He was so beautiful, gentle, and artistic. He also excelled in his studies. He invited me to his home stay family, who were Koreans, and made korean food. My school would also serve kimchi. I was secretely in love with him, but we graduated and I have lost contact with him. But, my experience with this friend encouraged my love towards Koreans regardless of prejudice and racial barriers. I'm currently learning korean, I watch korean dramas, and plan to move back to Toronto so that I can take classes and meet other Koreans. Regardless of your class, race, status, or acheivements, if you cannot approach an idea, truth, person, place with love and willingness towards humility, then overcoming such a disease as racism will be unattainable.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Unfortunately I don't speak and understand Korean, all I know is that my students laugh wildly and clearly tell jokes whenever they see a picture of a black person.
    Other students have stated they are scared of Africa/Africans. I have even had a Korean colleague throw her head back and pound her chest saying something a long the lines of umbongo wongo when talking of African people.
    Well I don't know about it being racist, it's certainly ignorant.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I've read all of the comments on this topic, and I understand the heuristic argument. I am curious as to why it is okay to adopt black styles of music and dress and hate the people that created them. I hear R&B, Gospel and rap lyrics and undertones in Korean pop all the time. It is a bit ridiculous to hate the people one is trying to identify with.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Michelle, Michael Jackson is technically not white. He was born black and is probably the only person in the world to make the transition. He has clearly discouraged others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Micheal jackson did not make a transition
      its 'viltigo' or 'viltigo'' its a disease that whitens your skin

      Delete
  32. After talking to some african-americans that are teaching english in seoul that the racism they experience time to time is nothing. That compared to what they grew up in the South in the US, they said it was nothing they couldnt handle.
    I was kinda surprised to hear that at the time but your blog seems to incredibly over the top at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have just come across your blog. Very interesting stuff. I also could never understand why some East Asians overseas adopt african american music, dance, and clothing styles but hold very negative perceptions about us. I used to work in a duty free shop here in Detroit and most of our clients were Japanese and Korean. At the time I was learning Japanese and some Korean because well I love languages and learning about different cultures and I could actually use it at my job. Many times I saw Japanese and Korean young folk coming in with the whole hip hop get ups on....even had dreadlocks and afros (I guess they chemically treat their hair to get it that way) and here I am a black woman that wear my hair natural and also wears headwrap...generally proud to be black and all and I see them and I am thinking cool they dig us....then when I tried to conversate with them....even in Korean or Japanese they was trying to get to the exit as soon as possible....funny. But for the most part whenever I spoke Japanese or Korean the response was always positive and that really helped break the ice sometimes. Ok this is long....there is my 12 cents...in resumen...great blog:)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dear chris:

    As a Caucasian, I'd like to give my perspective on this: though others may think that I'm simply offended or trying to lash back, I am not-- I am simply giving you my honest opinions. Your judgement if you think this, I'd say, is just as bad as those who discriminate against black or Asian people simply by the heuristics that the Korean spoke of. Perhaps my forefathers a century ago may have believed in such morality, but one of the great benefits of humanity is that it can change for the better.

    A hundred years is a very long time; as in America, here in England there is an enormous stigma on racism, and even in my short lifetime I have seen cultural and ethnic diversity being welcomed and accepted throughout the media and education more and more over the last ten years. We are neither ignorant nor paranoid; we recognise that the generations before us have had a problem. The world is becoming more and more open, and all societies whoever they are and whatever their skin tone are changing respectively.

    I myself recognise, with all due respect, that there may be a lot of resentment towards white people due to the division, prejudice and cruelty of history. However, to judge a white person now by the terrible actions of those who lived two hundred years ago, or the thoughts of generations past, is just as ignorant and prejudiced.

    Personally, I think that to judge a person by the amount of melanin in their skin is ridiculous. People cannot and must not generalise others because of appearance. I'm sure there are some horrible white racists out there, but there are also many horrible racists in every other ethinicity you might care to think of. Then again, there are also many caring, good and accepting people in any ethinicity you might care to think of. It's not what a person looks like, what culture a person has come from, what a person believes in or the colour of their skin that counts-- it's what is underneath, and if you cannot look past appearances and grudges to the individuals below, then you are just as bad as those you disclaim.

    We /should/ be able to just all get along. We are able to repress instincts and change our natures. We do it every day of our lives. There is no excuse for racism, not even heuristics. Humans are humans, whatever their appearance.

    Apologies for the tl;dr.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I could not have explained everything, from the way the human mind works to the history of Koreans' perception of skin tone, like you did in this article. It is masterfully crafted. I'm so thankful for all the informative information you give about the Korean society because I myself am a Korean, and I'm somewhat of a writer myself so I would have loved to address the issues myself. Fortunately, you're going a terrific job so I applaud you, sincerely.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I only read a few of the comments, so I don't know if this was stated already, but unfortunately, I don't think it's just Koreans that are racist, or Americans (which is broad enough), but every culture discriminates in their own way and it usually is based on things you hear. In Sacramento, there are a lot of African Americans who get looked down upon...being Brasilian, I don't tend to discriminate against black people. Although I do stereotype the wannabe "gangstahs" and try to avoid dealing with them altogether, but I have black friends. To me, it's easier for me to discriminate against Mexicans because that's something even more culturally accepted in in my culture(not that different cultures aren't discriminated against, but talking to my Mom, Mexicans are seen as the lowest of low) It is sad that it happens but, every culture discriminates, including those cultures discriminated against--I've heard on many accounts African Americans stating how much they hate white people or Asian people, or Mexicans. It's not to say that everyone in that culture will discriminate the same kinds of people, but to say that everyone discriminates in some way even if they think they don't. Not that it makes it ok to do so but I dunno, it happens to everyone and everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I beg to differ, I know many immigrants who come to Korea for business and work and i am yet to hear them mention racism, I am a kenyan american and when i mention i am a kenyan koreans automatically mention about kenyan athletes and the country, there is alot of church and business relations between kenya and korea too. I was suprised to meet quite alot who have toured kenya as tourists. I guess there ought to be a distinction

    ReplyDelete
  40. To "the Korean" and "the WWW":

    I am glad that you didn't pretend Korea was "not racist" or use a passive voice to respond in your answer.

    However, I would have more so enjoyed your explanation with less "physchology of prejudice 101 (I did take that class)" and more "straight to the point" talk.


    Yes, Koreans are racist (period). I experienced it first hand. I'd like to share what I've learned as a result of my unfortunate experiences. First, although Koreans would have been racist toward Blacks without the influence of White people, "White people" heavily influenced racism in Korea, just as much as they influenced the elder Korean generation's perspective of a "saint America" after the Korean war. As stated in earlier posts, African American soldiers--being the first to visit a non-Black Korea, were not in any way equal to their Caucasian military mates, and that was the first introduction of the misguided influence of racism.

    Secondly, regardless of heurositics, racism is a CHOICE. The great thing about psychology and the human mind, is that we have the ability believe what we CHOOSE to believe. In most cases, I have never met a genuinely "loving" person who was racist--prejudice maybe, but not racist. Real Love of humanity does not make the same mistake that "racism" makes. If we are willing to admit that maybe we are "wrong" every now and then, then we may gather enough information to challenge our bias and learn something. But that would mean we are people who "care."

    In my opinion, the "ask a Korean" guy is a great example of CHOOSING to "accept" rather than "reject" after carefully preparing a thoughful response. The truth is, you cannot correct a mistake until it is first discovered. In light of that, it is unfortunate that the majority of the Korean population will probably never have the ability to come to an as insightful conclusion as "the ask a Korean" guy, nor will they ever put in the effort to understand a race that currently is only an extremely tiny percentage of their population, because they don't have to. There is no pressure to change.

    I'm afraid that Korea will cease to jump to racist conclusions until the age of "diversity" enters the nation. Then there will be pressure to change in order to continue functioning economically. Until then, it is what it is.

    In conclusion, experiencing discrimination from Koreans and Caucasians in Korea has actually caused me to re-evaluate myself. After realizing that I to was to blame, I believe that many of my unjust ideals are long washed away. To be racist or not, I CHOOSE the latter.

    Goodnight

    ReplyDelete
  41. True Story!
    I'm Korean, and my mom's good friend is Korean also. My mom's friend owns a clothing stand at a swap meet in LA. One day she's working and a tall black man enters the store and begins picking things up one by one. She begins to get scared because she thinks she's getting robbed (this is the racism part) but the man ends up paying. Later she finds out, by watching TV, that the man was Lamar Odom of the LA Lakers. She's been a Lakers fan ever since!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Wow this an extremely interesting site. I learned a few new things. Well I'm black and my Korean girlfriend loves me, and I love her. So we are a testament that racial boundaries will always be broken, and no amount of discrimination will prevail. I do plan on living in Korea for some time in the future, after school. If anyone acts racist towards me, I'll just laugh because I know who I am, and that's all that matters. My success and confidence will be too great to be affected by inferior attitudes. I usually perceive racist people in a doleful manner because a lot of them simply do not know any better, and i hope to help teach those i encounter. By the way we should really stop saying "racist" because we are all of the same race i.e (humans)..I guess ethnicity would be the proper term.

    ReplyDelete
  43. interesting post. incidentally, in my book about my experiences living in japan for the last 9 years, Ive written a chapter about my experiences in korea. let me know what you think
    http://www.blackpassenger.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. Racist is also those who believe in racial superiority. The racism being discussed here is probably the most annoying aspect – prejudicial discrimination – or the act of racism.

    We're all discriminating to a certain degree - the worst is when using flawed logic to make conclusions with. Not all logic about racial judgments is flawed or evil - its how much thought went into it and how it is applied. The evil racism, to me, is just laziness nurturing ignorance and sustained by cowardice in people who practice it. In short, if people had more courage to mix with different races and cultures in a sustained way, they’d eventually conquer their ignorance and learn that there isn’t a whole lot different beyond the accents, slang and mannerisms.

    History of why some koreans could feel justified for being prejudiced towards blacks: I was in the army in korea, 1973 and spent alot of time observing the mannerisms of the black GI's there because it was something very unique to US soldiers overseas. It was very different, strange and dangerous for the way they were prone to violence compared to GI’s stateside. Their mission was to diss whitey as "payback" and you'd often see this embroidered on their jaket patches. (4000 characters isn't enough to begin describing this culture)

    This was as the draft was ending and most of the new recruits were inner city blacks who needed jobs in a recession. Racism from all GI's towards koreans was rampant and shameful, but the blacks took it to a lower notch, which surprised me. During the war, the army had divided most of the villes outside the camps, with one side for blacks and the other for whites. But when they integrated, the blacks wanted to keep their side of the towns for blacks only. Even white MP’s didn’t go in there, for fear of violence. There were a number of korean girls who became soul sisters and wore the black colored costumes but they didn’t get the kind of respect from the brothers they must have thought they would. It was pretty bad.

    Koreans discriminated against me for being a GI and it was always worst in the vicinity closest to the front gates. The koreans there had a hard time faking like they didn’t hate you. It was perfectly understandable to me because I saw what was coming their way in their own country. To me, they just weren’t intelligent or courageous enough to try to judge one GI at a time. That’s harder work, so the lazy route is to judge with the broad brush. But once you got into the country, it was the opposite – the koreans seemed to love us there. Certainly didn’t hate us. Many koreans would volunteer their experiences with blacks to me and I could only advise not to judge them all in the same – even though I knew most weren’t inclined to want to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  47. At first glimpse I thought you was right about the mass media influencing the Korean culture but after thinking about it I came to the conclusion that it doesn't take a monkey to distinguish right from wrong Lol So the mass media is no excuse.... The Columbine shooters played the DOOM video game before they shot up the high school back in the 90's but can you blame the creators?

    ReplyDelete
  48. Most Koreans arrive in America with practically nothing more than a dream (My father arrived in the late sixties with only $150). With that said, I don't know of any immigrants who arrive in the States and move into a mansion in Beverly Hills. My Korean/American story is probably familiar with many other immigrant stories. I grew up in a prominently African/American neighborhood in the Bay area during the 70's and 80's. I grew up in the projects with other Asians trying to get their leg up on their American dream. Growing up in a black neighborhood we were bullied on a daily basis. Neighborhood (black) kids would throw rocks at our house everyday while my parents were at work. This caused my mother to have a nervous breakdown on several occasions. My brother and I would frequently get assaulted walking home from school. Once my brother in kindergarten at the time was assaulted and beaten by a group of older African/American kids. This prompted a local Korean preacher to pick my brother and I up from school everyday. One incident that stands out in my mind was when a group of Vietnamese kids newly arrived at our school. A posse of black kids surrounded the poor kids who spoke no English and proceeded to beat them. Now grown up and living in San Jose I work with and interact with many Viets who hate blacks with a passion.
    Racial tension is built because blacks feel that Koreans (or other immigrants) move in to their neighborhood and take away their jobs or open businesses and take their money. So the cultures clash. Anyone remember the LA riots? Many Mexican/Americans I know have the same experience as I do.
    Many stories of racial tensions get back to Korea. Grocery store owners getting gunned down makes headline news back home. All of a sudden the white media portrayal of blacks and what they hear in the news start to sound similar. Thus a negative image of Blacks are engraved in their mind. Now in my life I have met and befriended many rational and kind black friends and realize that every race has their own a**holes. The misunderstanding of eachother's culture breeds preconceived notions about race.
    My two cent!

    ReplyDelete
  49. A lot of Koreans that immigrated to the U.S had no real job opportunities. Many opened convenience or liquor stores in neighborhoods where no white -American wanted to work.

    As any Korean-American knows, these were predominantly black neighborhoods. To any African-American reading this, please note, these newly arrived Koreans did not aspire to open convenience stores in your neighborhoods.

    I will not speculate on why members of these communities could not run their own businesses. I only thing am certain of, is that owning a liquor store was not their American dream.

    My uncle was a doctor in Korea, he arrived in the U.S and started a convenience store in a less then reputable neighborhood. He has been shot twice, and robbed at least 20 times.

    He still has bullet fragments in his neck. He works behind bulletproof glass 12 hours a day. Half his days his world is a 6' by 24' confined space.

    This is just one of many thousands of stories about the hardships Koreans had to face. My own father was constantly ridiculed and threatened at GM by African-American employees back in the 1980's.

    So lets not sit here and make the Koreans or white Americans shoulder all the blame for conflict between Koreans and African-Americans.

    I personally don't have issues with any particular race. But the days of turning the other cheek are long gone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow... You're really bored with your life, aren't you?

      Delete
    2. Aren't you the one defenssively responding to a two year old post?

      Delete
  50. Dear Mimi;

    I hope you read this. I lived in London, England. I went to law school in England, an institution that is revered world wide.

    So please do not tell me that racism is frowned upon in your country. Popular TV programs, like Top gear, have made ignorant stereotypes about Koreans. this is a world wide syndicated TV program.

    Manchester United soccer fans have created offensive racist songs about "Park Ji-Sung", their own player. Can you imagine what would happen if Korean fans started chanting racist songs about a foreign athlete. (its' on Youtube)

    So please stop with the self-righteous BS. I lived and worked in London for 6 years, yes I was earning lots of money.

    I couldn't take the ignorant and blatant racist remarks any longer. It was not just from the whites, it was mainly from the Indians, and Bengali's(Asians' in England).

    We Koreans are just considered Chinese. When you go to the hospital they make you check off your ethnicity, there is no category for Korean, Japanese or any South-East Asian.

    Asians' are Indians, Bengali's, or Pakistani's in England. So Mimi get off the high horse. In England we're not even a recognized race.

    Seriously if I had stayed I woulda went Virginia Tech

    ReplyDelete
  51. Its funny that alot of guys here dont like balck people, but 95% of KPOP is black r&b from the 90s adn the few words of English alot of young people know are US black urban slang. When I heard a young Korean student speak the Queens English one day, I fell out of my chair! Nice kid btw. YO MAN!

    I saw one STAR KING today with BOBSAM as a guest, and I heard one of the Kpop singer boys say "OH, NO YOU DID'N" it was cute...

    Look, Korean is a highly competitive society, and they hate each other! Read Korean history, backbiting as far as the eye can see! I dont think they hate black people as hate something that isnt a norm in their eyes. Youre too tall, someone will hate you! Too rich? hate! Not just quiet disdain, but more! Im a Jew, some people like me for being "smart" (har!) and some people hate me for being smarter than them.

    im enjoying talking about all of this with you guys on these blogs, but honestly. you cant speak of Korea with realizing what this society is and what it creates.

    I stopped studying Korean (Im a decent speaker, i guess, no problems), because I found all of my positivity draining. A guy cant speak Korean without some bithcing or negativity.

    im rambling a bit, sorry. hope what i say makes some sense..

    i just want to enjoy my salary....:)

    The NUNCHI comments about seperating the hookers made me laugh, VERY CONFUCIAN! you can do this, but not that....

    ReplyDelete
  52. oh btw, a rant, why cant Korean hiphop come out of the late 80s early 90s?!? symphony and rapping is oooolllllddd. DRUNKEN TIGER are ok, but for god sakes, Korea need a LIL Wayne or some gamechanger!

    kthxgdby!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I have some Korean aquatences and being latino and native american I throw a curve ball at there steriotipes with my spanish speaking and light complexion.What i dont understand is what they think of my green eyes. They stop me in the middle of the street and stare at my eyes.Some say they see their ancesters in my eyes;some can't look me in the eye.??

    ReplyDelete
  54. I wonder how far Korean discrimination against black people goes? I happen to be white/black biracial but my features are a bit different and I routinely get asked (even by Asians of all nationalities) if I'm Asian myself. Being aware of this racism makes me kind of hesitant to reveal my background, but I don't want to just lie and say, "Yeah, I'm (Ch/Ja/Kr/etc)."

    Anybody have a solution/comments?

    ReplyDelete
  55. To ch3rubi:
    lol I don't really have a solution for you.

    I'm a halfie.(?) American, and Kenyan.
    I've been asked if I'm part Asian.
    The one that's apparently the most common for me is "Jamaican Chinese" maybe because I put braids in my hair a lot of the time and had few Asian features.? I don't know haha.

    And I don't think I have any Asian ancestors.. well none that my family is aware of. Hmm, if I do have Asian Ancestors, it might be generation gene skipping.

    I think it also depends on where you live.
    When I was living in Kenya, people asked me way more about that, compared to living in Seattle today.
    -I still get asked, but not as much as I used too.


    I would just say politely, "No, I'm not. At least not that I'm aware of. haha"
    If I don't know them.. leave it at that.
    If I kind of know them, and I'm feeling friendly enough, I would tell them more about my background.

    But that's just me.

    p.s. Okay I know, there really isn't any gene skipping, it's the effect of certain genes that can, and sometimes do, skip generations.

    ReplyDelete
  56. When I found this blog I was quite excited. I have a great deal of interest in Asia and especially in Korea so I was and still am looking forward to reading more posts. However, I am now feeling very discouraged after reading this. I am a biracial female. My mother is white and my father is black. I have fairly light skin tone and when my hair is straight people often can not tell what race I am.

    I have been wanting to go to Korea for some time now and now I am a little concerned. I recently went to Japan and found that some people did discriminate against me. A man even kicked me out of his shop and let my two white friends keep shopping. It was an extremely awkward situation. Racist moments like this eventually became a problem. They made the people I was traveling with extremely uncomfortable.

    I'm wondering if I would experience a great deal of racism if I traveled to Korea? Or if perhaps because of my lighter appearance it would be less of an issue for me? I was told that Koreans are very polite and that it's one of the nicest countries and the people will try very hard not to offend or start confrontation (I don't actually know if this is true). Is the racism discreet enough that it could be ignored? I would really love to be able to experience Korea and Korean culture first hand without it being too awkward for my Caucasian companions.

    p.s. I agree with your other post on how america is one of the least racist countries. Although we do have quite a few ignorant fools holding us back we are also one of the only countries in which interracial friendships and relationships are not uncommon. I like the way you approach subjects and are able to give your opinion and still be respectful to others. I think that is very admirable.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I am a Korean and although I understand your difficulties in Korea I want to point out that U.S. is just as racist as Korea is..So please stop blaming Korea only for racism..Every country in the world is racist because we are creatures of discrimination..

    ReplyDelete
  58. @Michael--that's a d*mn lie---the US is NOWHERE as racist as Korea. As an African American male who has lived in the North, Pacific Coast, East Coast, Mid-west and in the Southern States of the US I think I can say that with "just a little authority." I've also been to Europe, Africa, South America and other countries in Asia, so I have a pretty good idea of what racism is like in other countries. In addition, I've also lived in Seoul, Chuncheon and Daejeon in Korea. I'm not sure where you got your info, but please, bro check again! I'm afraid that what you're touting now is simply propaganda!

    ReplyDelete
  59. "Now there’s a woman who did not rely on racist heuristics, but consciously decided to look past people’s colors and into their character." Ya and it also cost her a life.

    Snap judgment is something that can not and will not go away. It is a fact of life plain and simple. Just like muslims and trailer folk and any other race, religion, or political party....there will be hate, mainly because these people do not stand up against there own kinds racist ways. It is taboo in America for a white man to have any type of labels on anyone do to other people claiming that person is racist. I am racist I don't care but I am equally racist against my own people. I won't call these degenerates names but if you can not see that the vast majority of Muslims support the violence other muslims commit or that African Americans are proned to love media that supports violence. Sorry but all that equates to racist comments when a group of these people attack the opposite side. Republican against Democrats, Christians against Muslims. It will never change...also I am pretty sure that most older generations hate black people for the sheer fact that they build up this hip hop generation that has crossed to other countries. Why do you think people hate K Pop....because it is massed produced bullshit music with no true emotions just made up ones for that 3-4 min jam...


    personally I love everyone the same....not that much. I will share my food and home with any good person who shows good intentions but you will never get me to not be cautious of black people and muslims in that situation.

    And yes even rich black kids think there still in the hood and try and bully other cultures because hip hop is #1 in America.

    ReplyDelete
  60. MOST KOREANS ARE RACISTS! I'M NOT SAYING ALL BUT MOST! I'VE STAYED THERE FOR 8 MONTHS. ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS MONEY AND THEIR JOBS, THEN AFTER A HARD DAY'S WORK, THEY GET DRUNK...LITERALLY DRUNK! THEY ACT CRAZY WHEN THEY'RE DRUNK! EVEN WHEN THEY'RE NORMAL, THE ALCOHOL HAS ALREADY POISONED THEIR BRAINS. EVERYDAY IS THE SAME. I SEE DRUNK KOREANS ON THE STREETS OF SEOUL. I SEE VOMIT EVERYWHERE. HOW WOULD YOU EXPECT THEM TO RESPECT OTHER CULTURES WHEN THEY HATE THEIR OWN RACE? NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA ARE BOTH KOREANS, WITH THE SAME SKIN, SAME BLOOD, SAME RACE BUT THEY ARE LITERALLY BOMBING AND KILLING EACH OTHER! ISN'T IT OBVIOUS? THEY ARE WAR FREAKS AND RACISTS! THEY EAT ROTTEN SHIT (KIMCHI). THEY DRINK SOJU (CLOSE TO GASOLINE). THEY THINK THEY'RE MORE SUPERIOR THAN EVERYBODY BUT THEY ARE ROTTEN SHIT-HEADS!

    ReplyDelete
  61. I really enjoyed reading this article. I am an African-American and was shocked by this. I was the only black member of a youth orchestra and was asked by many of the other teens did I have any "Asian" in me because of my light skin. I never asked them if they were chinese or korean etc because I saw them as people not as a certain race. I think its a little weird that two races who have gone through a lot of hardships cannot find commom ground and at least respect one another.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I appreciate this post and highly admire The Korean's optimism, honesty and hope for a non-racist future :) It makes me happy to know (although its obvious that there's good and bad in every nationality and/or culture) that The Korean is one of the Korean people who doesn't feel negatively toward those of different nationalities. Thank you The Korean! :D

    ReplyDelete
  63. William J,

    I think your question should be towards Asians in general and not just Koreans. Sadly I realized how some some societies can bread racism.

    I feel that Blacks are the most despised "race" (if you believe in that concept) of all around the world.

    I came to a rude awakening when I went to college and realized I am going to be descriminated against just because I am black. I say this because:

    I am American of Nigerian decent who grew up in the suburbs in Washington state. My neiborehood was a very unique one. My family were not the only minorities. We had Asian, German, Cambodian, Causaion/European families. Half the neighborhood had normal American kids who had foreign parents. We were just raised American. That was how I saw myself growing up, just another American kid. I had a great child hood.

    I knew there was racism but I thought it was so far away. My parents raised us color blind. That is why I am the way I am now. I meet people and let them speak for themselves. I learned to not judge people and thought I would recieve the same respect.

    But getting out of the bubble of elementary and highschool you realize the world is not as sweet as the dreams we were sold when we were children.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Further more,

    I will not disregard stereotypes based on acts of some that besmirch the name of a group of people.

    I think the problem with labeling groups of people is that people tend to generalize. I see it this way:

    Every white, asian,black person etc I treat the same no matter what. But if they exhibit charcteristics I find unfavorable I just don't deal with them.

    The truth is, socieies, not individuals breed certain favorable and unfavoral charcteritics that can be positive or negative. I think it is important to recognize this.

    The issue with blacks in America is that their society breads certain ills. Just as do other races. It is okay to recognize this but the problem is judging an individual because of those ills that she/he is not responsible for.

    People should be defined by their charcter and actions.

    A lot of these stereotypes of "black" people is really not black issues but rather socio-econimic issues, level of education, poverty, etc and the unfortunate thing is that the majority of blacks in America are living with these issues.

    I think it is sad that with all the education and information available, there is still racism...and people have not given up this conept of "race" (which is a socio-subjectiveconcept used for political,social, and econmic purposes) that has little to do with genetics and science.

    Man kind has achieved great heights why can't we seem over come this?

    ReplyDelete
  65. I don't know. I'm an African American and have a great deal of fascination with other cultures. Specifically, I'm interested in South Korea. My best friend growing up was Chinese and I've had friends of all nationalities. I watch the Korean dramas online and want to visit at some point.

    I think that it does take a little extra on a Black person's part to get others who are unfamiliar to trust you. It's like one previous poster said about the Lamar Odom story, there's generally lots of apprehension at first but then once they see you're not out to do anything negative, they respect you.

    I was able to meet a lot of my best friend's family growing up both from local family to overseas family from China. They were all nice to me and took me in as family. However, that came after getting good reviews from those who already knew me.

    It's the same thing if you a Black person goes to Korea. At first, you may automatically be looked at as someone who's up to no good but once you show you're actually a good person, you can help change the stereotype.

    Yes, it does get annoying having to do that wherever we go (changing stereotypes of Black people) but, if you're of African descent and you want to go any place other than the continent of Africa, it's kind of the the burden we have to bear. These are the cards we've been dealt. It sucks but why not make the best of it? Just change people's minds one person at a time!

    ReplyDelete
  66. Having read many of the comments, I feel that there were important points that were both pointed out and missed.

    First of all, kudos to the Korean for being honest, and I agree with most of what he has stated. Maybe I would have liked for people to realize that sone black people are a tad... prejudiced, as well, although I think that may be harsh. I don't think they are degrading of other races. However, they tend to consistently refer to themselves as the minority. What they fail to realize is that they are accepted into the media without question, respected much by the American citizen, and even preferred over Caucasians as to create more "diverse" environments. Americans have been very, very embracing of blacks in my opinion. This is undeniable, namely at a time when we have a black president in the White House. African-Americans aren't suffering a whole lot today, but Asian-Americans, Mexicans, and Indians are (to name a few).

    But this is all beside the point. If I wanted to discuss anti-Asian sentiment, I'd go on over to Angry Asian Man's blog.

    The bottom line is: don't judge Koreans negatively after reading this article!

    If you are African-American and are feeling unsure about Koreans after reading this, please don't be. I have a fairly good idea of how I would feel in your shoes: uncomfortable, dissapointed, and even slightly betrayed. Especially when you admire a certain culture, you cannot shake those feelings when you learn that its people would not be accepting of you.

    I am South Korean, with many friends of different ethnicities. My black friends are amazing, strong-willed people with hearts of gold. My best friend is Ghanan, and a pro at martial arts (I think blacks are better at taekwando than Koreans, maybe). I also have multiple Korean friends, who are loving and kind people. They will embrace you, I think, as long as you embrace them. Please do not approach a Korean and expect a negative response. If you're stiff or nervous, they will be too. Sone Koreans tend to be shy, but blacks are are admirably outspoken. Do not be afraid to strike up a conversation. Honestly, I have never encountered a racist Korean in my life. Not denying their existence, just trying to ease uneccesssary racial discomfort that might stem from this article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See this comment, please. (http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2007/03/cant-we-all-just-get-along.html?showComment=1297342068573#c8133003333473776362)

      Delete
    2. While you have a point on the statement that black people can be prejudiced themselves (and not just a little like you've stated, but truly, horribly, gut-wrenchingly prejudiced as can anyone from any race) I'm going to have to disagree with the fact that we are embraced as a whole in the USA. That is what the USA would like you to think, my dear. :D As a mixed girl (half black, half white) in the USA I've had the very unique opportunity to experience what it's like on both sides of the fence and white privilege vs. black stereotypes is still very much a problem. While there is certainly cases of perfectly qualified and capable white people being turned down in favor of a black person due to the desire for diversity, there are many cases in reverse where black people have been turned down for no reason other than they are black, and in the USA there is an institutionally ingrained distrust in the african american race. This is the reason why white people are turned down for the sake of diversity, because sometimes the only way to correct an evil is with another one that is just as unfair as the first. But without it, there would be hardly any diversity at all in corporate and media America because of how deep the institutionalized racism goes. While we have made many steps in the right direction (i.e. Obama voted into office) we are still stuck in the dark ages on so many aspects it's sad. And this isn't just against black, but hispanics, native americans, asian americans, immigrants, etc. etc., and yes, even white people are extremely misunderstood and poorly stereotyped. Because this is just what humans do. The human race can be real jerks to one another.
      However, that being said, I do agree with you that Americans tend to focus to much on "white vs black" and make it seem like the only form of racism on earth is racism against black people, but it's just not true. Racism isn't a one way street and it's not just against blacks. It's against everyone.

      Delete
  67. Dear Elena,

    There is a lot more for you to learn about Black people. First, generally speaking, Black people come in different colors, sizes, back grounds, and personalities. They are very mixed in America, because of history...slavery, which has caused a great diversity amongst Black people in America. This means there are upper, middle, and lower class Blacks, and different cultures shared--in addition to contemporary Black culture, by Black people geographically located in different regions across the United States.

    And I should mention that my dark skinned Black father speaks perfect English without the slightest slang accent and is very patient, emotionally stable, and contrary to "out-spoken", quite politely reserved.

    We/they are the minority, as well as Latinos and every other racial group outside of Caucasians, because Caucasians occupy the largest racial group in America. However, Caucasians are on the brink of becoming the minority, due to the growth of Latinos/us. Majority and minority just mean larger and smaller. If Blacks had been the Majority, then White people would probably had been the slaves.

    Also, African Americans ARE AMERICANS. So when you state that "Americans" have been very, very embracing of "AMERICANS" (African Americans), it sounds like you are describing Black people as Non-American and inferior to whoever "you" define as American. The statement alone sounds like Black people are very, very excluded.

    Also, I've witnessed prejudice behavior from every race for different reasons and have come to the conclusion that 'it's just a human thing'. So, to highlight our/their (Black people) prejudice behavior or racism is equally as unfair to highlight Koreans' racism or prejudice behavior. But, I think the differences here are apparent: (1) A nation (South Korea) that is racist and discriminatory against Black people or Africans as a whole, versus, (2) a nation (America) that is not racist or discriminatory as a whole toward Koreans. Koreans may feel that the discrimination/racism is equally interchanged, but the difference in my opinion is the ability to work. Koreans are not being denied jobs for simply being Korean in America, yet Black people truly are being denied jobs in South Korea, simply for being Black [proof: I was denied a job as an ESL Teacher in 2009, simply for being too dark skinned and black (and I'm light skinned and do not look Black)].

    to be continued........

    ReplyDelete
  68. ......Continued-

    Lastly, while our/my nation (America) has been doing a lot to live autonomously with one another, it is virtually impossible with the knowledge of our past, which seems to me to preserve and recycle disunity. There is still very, very unfair treatment of Black people and no not every White man is racist and no not every Black man is tolerant. The unfair treatment happened yesterday when my father was pulled over and treated like a criminal without probable cause, when my buddy is the only Black professional in a large department of a very large corporation-- Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and when plenty of us did not get that promotion or were prejudged before the interview or have a very difficult time getting into the high paying workers unions.

    I do not allow my difficult reality justify any lack of progress, but I am not unaware of the additional obstacles that I must prepare for to overcome. No excuses, I am half Black and not a statistic or easily stereotype fitting.

    And one more thing, our half white President Obama is the first Half Black President out 43 previous White Presidents. Prior to 2008, our/my nation (America) has been pretty much White controlled. Today, it is .5% less White controlled, thanks to Obama being half Black (lol). Can anyone factually disagree?

    And for the final record!! I don't care if most of Korea might be racist...I only seek friendship with Koreans that aren't. I am not turned off completely by the nation, because of their (racism) lack of diversity, because I believe the problem lies more so in lack of diversity. Will this change? Probably not for quite a long time, but that won't keep me from going to Korea town in Los Angeles and enjoying the culture or even working in Jeju, South Korea (14 months completed :).

    So, my advice, don't think too hard about it, if it's not easy to be comfortable and get along with some one from a different racial group, then "you" have a problem!! Search yourself and do whatever it takes to break that barrier, because it is so rewarding to get along!! Peace

    ReplyDelete
  69. I wanted to ask John what a Jeju is but he has no contact info :(.... Anyone know what a Jeju is?

    ReplyDelete
  70. Elle, Jeju is the island south of Korea. Jeju is the name of the largest province on the island, AND the capital of that province is also called Jeju (they all have extra titles is Korean to distinguish them). John is probably referring to the city or province.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Well I 'm 15 going on 16 and the girl I 'm in love with is 16 going on 17. She half asian (Dad) and half white. (Mom) I 'm African - American. We 've been playing it as if we were just bestfriends but have loved eachother from the start (which has almost been a full year) One night we were on the phone and were talking about the future of our relationship ..and she stopped me and began to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that we couldn 't be together. She told me we couldn 't because she tried telling her dad about her feelings for me and he slapped her ..we 've tried and tried and now she 's with a new guy ...A 17 year old 6 ' 5 linebacker. She told me to be happy for her because she 's never had a regular relationship without complications and difficulties. It 's hard. I 've cried and cried because she really means alot to me. I know this isn 't a post about love and what not but please could you give some feedback, since it has to do with racial conflict between the two races in this blog ?

    ReplyDelete
  72. @Xzavier: good luck :)

    Old post, but fascinating! I really admire the way The Korean and a lot of the respondents before me have handled this.

    The thing that jumps out at me, though, reading the comments, is that 'race' as a concept is almost unquestioned. As LadyExcess said, it has little scientific basis. We're all genetic mixtures. Any attempt to divide us up is going to be flawed because everything is relative: there are no borders.

    And even if we approach it from the level of stereotypes, working with what we *think* we know, it seems so obvious to me that the differences between any two Koreans (or African-Americans, or Germans, or any other group you want to define), may be as great or greater than the differences between a 'white' person and a 'black' person. Somebody who smiles at you and treats you with respect is different to the person who insults you - and that's an important difference, so much more important than skin tone. A kind Korean, a kind Nigerian, a kind New Zealander: they're alike in an absolutely fundamental way. Why, WHY, do we focus on the way we look (something we don't choose and can't generally change) instead of what we do, or who we choose to be?

    I guess it's the arbitrary nature of it that troubles me most. It's unnerving, too. I'm white, and I live in a mostly white country - I've been able to live quite happily in almost complete ignorance of this issue. But if it had been different... Lately I've been interacting more with people from different contexts, and in listening to them I'm learning what it might feel like to be labelled. Such a gut-wrenching, dispiriting feeling. It's a dismissal, and it's so blatantly, unapologetically unfair. I hate that anyone has to feel that.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Dear Ask a Korean
    is it possible for a black person to become a musician in korea(a kpop artist to be specific)?
    and also would a black person highly intrigued to learn the culture and the very basis of Korea so much so that they want to learn the language itself be accepted in Korean society?

    ReplyDelete
  74. In my opinion this is all bs. Koreans are not as racist as you think they are. In all depends on the individuals mental capabilities to distinguish fact from fiction. They may be more racist in Korea but not here in the states. here that way of thought is the minority.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Lo and behold, there was the mention of the 1992 LA/Compton riots. Before anybody start dissing the African (American) community, remember the death of Latasha Harlins by the storeowner Soon Ja Du. That offense was the primary reason for the riots on KoreaTown. While the riots shaped perceptions of the African population, the death of Latasha Harlins have also shaped perceptions of the Korean population.

    The best I can say with my encounters and experiences is that to regard the Golden Rule of Reciprocity, otherwise known as "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (for blindness remains until moral criticism is found)".

    ReplyDelete
  76. Living in South Africa, racism is an everyday thing here, so I totally get this post. I also enjoyed reading it as it opened my eyes in a way too.

    Being part of the younger, post-aparteid generation, racism is a really big negative, issue to me. My parents, granparents etc, are all racists and I've had countless, tiring arguments on this subject, but this post cleared it up as why people act the way they do towards other people.

    I have a few African friends, who claim that even in their own race, they have racism. The darker one's skin supposedly is, the more that person gets discriminated against.So it seems like this all over...

    ReplyDelete
  77. I'm an 18 year old Black woman. I adore Koreans, men in general, but I can't seem to shake the feeling they find me odd, even disgusting. Most will talk to me and touch my hair and stuff, one time I got asked "does the tan come off?" Not all of them are rude, just a few, many are quite friendly and they have a lot of questions.Also, I'm fluent in Korean so it's not like they can't understand what I'm saying. I know my color is foreign to them, but could weight be an issue? Do they see me as fat/or stubbly? I'm like 110 and 4'11.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Racist stereotypes and prejudices exist everywhere and in every country. And it is passed on by ignorant people.
    I once a post where a Korean-American described black people as all being addicted to drugs. That infuriated me, not just because it was a group that I would be included in, but how could somebody who is supposedly educated not only believe but also make that statement that all blacks are addicts. You are referring to roughly as many people as there are Koreans that reside in the ROK. That does not make sense and is idiotic for somebody to let something like that come off the tips of their fingers.

    ReplyDelete
  79. i think is not just a korean thing, in every part of the world there are those who are rudes and those who are not...

    ReplyDelete
  80. Unfortunately, almost all stereotypes are statistically accurate. Asians tend to be good at math, african americans commit more crime, and most fundamental terrorists are middle eastern. During the 70's, when America finally relaxed asian immigration laws, african americans lived in the worst (cheapest) neighborhoods, where immigrants first moved. Yet, we toiled in the shittiest jobs until we started owning stores and buildings. Shockingly, this was not looked too kindly upon by blacks (draining all the money away from black communities supposedly). They hated us, we hated them. All came to a head at the LA riots, of course. But, for Koreans at least, education has allowed many of us to do better things. Statistically, Korean Americans make more money, go to better schools, and do less crime than white people while african americans still seem stuck. It's hard to say what the difference is without very possibly offensive opinions.

    The strange thing though, is that Koreans should be GRATEFUL, not prejudiced, towards African Americans. It was the KKK lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and civil rights movements they endured that finally opened the door for asians. If not for them, who knows if the anti-asian sentiments of the 40's might have stuck around.

    ReplyDelete
  81. @acommunistspy

    Can you reference where you got your statistics? And are all reported statistics accurate?

    The bottom line is that there isn't a single race that has experienced the kind of slavery that African Americans have. If Americans and Europeans had taken Koreans from their homeland and turned them into slaves, wouldn't they be ridiculed all over the world?

    The problem with Black Americans today is that each generation has a piece of slavery immbedded in their culture and it has corrupted their identities and as a result of racism, education and opportunities are not easily accessible. Once you take someone from their homeland and force them into slavery, they have to learn new languages, a new identity and build a new foundation to pass on to their legacy. Imagine if Korean culture was destroyed in the lives of Korean American slaves. Would they follow the same traditions in their homeland? Would they even know the homeland traditions? How to eat, who to respect, how to speak the language?

    I think the best way to understand Black Americans is to look at the history, try to imagine if it happened to your people and then begin to make friends with others who aren't poisened by the dogma that has blinded most of us.

    Most African Americans live in the South and Racism is still very heavily practiced out there. Not much has changed beside the law. People still think and feel the same way.

    I'm from California, born and raised in good and bad neighborhoods. Went to all White public schools. Was the only Puerto Rican (Boricua - look up the word) and Black mixed child in Elementary, Junior High and High School. I've seen and experienced it all, but I am more educated than the average person, because I was raised for most of my life in Thousand Oaks. I AM NOT A STATISTIC. I am now 29 years old, with no children, college graduate, corporate career and I am BLACK, PUERTO RICAN with a little mix of WHITE. I've even lived in South Korea for 14 months, so I am aware of the Korean way of living.

    I did not overcome these general racial sterotypes because I was smarter, stronger willed or athletically talented. It is only because I grew up in a better place.

    So, in that end, please understand that it isn't the fault of Black Americans for growing up in poor neighborhoods and thus having to overcome many obstacles as a result of racism. It is the strategic design and intention of White Americans. Not all White Americans are to blame, but cities like New York and places in the South were built (architecturally designed) in such a way to seperate Blacks from Whites "on purpose", as well as implement political strategies to limit opportunities and education available to Blacks. Even with a Black President in the White House, this plan is still succeeding today.

    Can Black Americans overcome these obstacles and seize the opporunities that America has to offer, yes, but it is very difficult and is dependent on many factors: how well off you are, schools you attend, upbringing, personality, geographical location, current laws, economy, timing, etc. Put yourself in their shoes before you make assumptions.

    If you speak Korean, are Korean and follow Korean tradition, imagine un-learning everything you know about your country, creating new ideologies and left with no support for survival while the odds have been against you since birth and without the help of your people, and you must unlearn, then re-learn the circumstances, new languages, rules and then makes sense of everything while learning how to overcome your new surroundings in order to seize opportunities just to live better.

    Would this be easy to accomplish? Would it be fair to be mistreated because of your circumstances? This is the reality for most Black Americans in a nutshell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow @changemaker, amazing insights! :)

      Delete
  82. How is the racism now in Korea? Its 2013 a new year.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Since this posting, more foreigners, white, black, and everything in between, living in South Korea have been posting their experiences on youtube. I would search for "black in korea" or "racism in korea" on youtube to find out more.

    ReplyDelete
  84. The same applies to the Chinese community. Is there a posts on racism/stereotypes between Koreans and Chinese?

    ReplyDelete
  85. I think this is because Koreans and Chinese or whoever aren't really exposed different cultures. like I went to a all black elementary school then moved when I was going into high school, and the high school I went to had whites, blacks, Mexicans, Arabs, and all types of Asians. so naturally I was shocked at first and kind of kept to myself but as the year went by I learned a lot about other peoples cultures and had friends of all races who liked the same stuff I liked music, hobbies, ect. and that exposer really helped me widen my perspective on people and places. so maybe part of the reason is because they don't have this exposer and don't realize the common bonds they have with people from all corners of the world. I'm 16 so if what I'm saying doesn't sound all adult like and scientific I apologize.

    ReplyDelete
  86. I'm a white woman and I remember going into a small beauty supply store and was greeted warmly by the Korean owner and offered help. A black man came in and was instantly followed around the store by the Korean owner while being given mean looks. He found what he wanted to buy and then went to the counter. I walked up and got behind him in line and the Korean owner looked at the black man and said, "YOU WAIT!!" and tried to put me in front of him in line. I told him no, that the gentleman was there first and that I refuse to go ahead of him. It was all so awkward and sad.

    ReplyDelete
  87. First: I just want to say that I just discovered this blog today and I would like to let you know how much I deeply love it from the bottom of my heart!
    Anyway, to the topic at hand! I love your take on racism as a whole and you raise many good points that are relevant for any racism in any culture. As a mixed girl in the United States I have encountered a lot of racism from all sides and I must say I never really thought of it that way because it's hard to step back and see it from a more objective view when you are taking the brunt of it, but it's so true and so very sad. Even I am horrified at myself when I catch myself making snap, generalized judgments like that. It's a horrible part of human nature.

    On another note: I find it very interesting that you think the USA is one of the least racist countries. Why do you think that? I suppose the USA is one of the more racism-conscious countries that try to make a concerted effort to abolish racism, but I definitely don't think it's one of the least racist. I think it's just more aware that there is, in fact, racism in the world and it's a bad thing, not a natural part of life. But, then again, I suppose my experience with racism in the USA would be very different from yours. Everyone's is.

    ReplyDelete
  88. I am a Korean 34 year old man. Maybe around the year 2000 Korean and White couples were deemed OK. However, times are much different post 2012.

    I really don't know what happened in 2012, but racism has gotten very fierce. And I don't mean Koreans being racist. I mean Whites and Blacks being prejudiced and racist to the point of harrassment to Koreans. I regularly stave off White men and Black men and women from being harrassed for nothing on a daily basis in SoCal.

    ReplyDelete

To prevent spam comments, comments left on posts older than 60 days is subject to moderation and will not appear immediately.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...