I actually wrote this post several months ago in reaction to a blog post that I read on a Korea-centric blog back then so the things it refers to are likely old hat by now. Still I think it is important and has some interesting points. I delayed releasing it because I had wanted to see if my mind would change on the issues (as they often do) but since they haven't I now present you this piece, originally written back in February.
And now. . . the post!
Alright! Heavy title no? This is something that has been on my mind for a while now and I finally decided to write something about it after reading this article on Roboseyo - a pretty awesome blog in its own right. The article is about the backlash SNL Korea is receiving for making fun of Korean adoptees who grow up abroad and return to Korea to find their biological parents. Overall I agree with the article, its shitty to make fun of people`s pain, especially a group of people who are likely already marginalized in the country they grew up in. My gripe is not with the article, my gripe is with what many folks are saying in the comments section, the likes of which I've seen cropping up elsewhere on the net.
|SNL Korea has repeatedly been a target of criticism for racially insensitive sketches, though I do count myself among its fan-base.|
|Here's a screenshot from the the sketch mentioned in the Roboseyo article. The man is supposed to be an adoptee who is portrayed as addressing his biological mother in awkward, horribly accented Korean. Yes, I do find fault with this sketch.|
|There are quite a few images of black-face in Korean media that one may google - this one has been floating around for a while now. You know what you can't google? Minstrel shows in South Korea,.Why? Because there were none.|
|An illustration of Samuel De Champlain greeting the indigenous population of what would one day be called Canada. Everyone was happy and traded tea and furs, and then Canada started existing. . . well I may have skipped some of the details. . .|
|Here's a picture of a group of Chinese workers who worked on the Great Nothern Railway in 1909 - while the Korean peninsula was busy getting annexed by the Japanese Empire.|
|Joseon got attacked by France in 1866 because the Joseon government wanted to kick out catholic missionaries. The French forces stole a bunch of artifacts which are still being exchanged today.|
|A photograph from the L.A. Riots in 1991, also referred to as The Los Angeles Race Riots. A racially fueled and violent example of social upheaval from America's not-too-distant past.|
|Four of the most famous non-Koreans in Korea right now. Right to left, Robert Holley - USA, Sam Hammington - Australia, Sam Otswiri - Ghana, Fabian (no last name?) - France.|
|This is a sign that was posted in front of a HO Bar (popular pub chain) in Gangnam some time ago which I found on this tumblr page here. While I was studying in Korea I got turned away from a few places as well (though it was very rare). Most of the time it was because some foreigners had behaved badly recently and they weren't admitting any more until further notice. It's shitty and wouldn't fly in North America, but then again, Korea never had a huge civil rights movement in which a large and disgruntled population protested this sort of thing. So as crappy as it is it's kind of understandable. How can we stop this from happening? For now, we can stop acting like assholes in bars :)|
|Seoul by night.|
Just some food for thought.