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(Seriously Stupid Department) KBS ‘foreign beauty’ program slammed for racism

UPDATE #2 (Brendon Carr, 14 Dec. 2006): Video of the KBS program is available by BitTorrent which you may download (if you have a BitTorrent client) at the following link: http://www.mininova.org/tor/512615. Thanks to commenter “ihaveseoul” who posted the link in the comments section of related Marmot’s Hole entry Sign Letter Demanding Apology from KBS.

UPDATE: The NGO Cultural Solidarity has released a statement blasting the production team of “Minyeodeului Suda” for its failure to take seriously what it [Cultural Solidarity] considered a pretty overt display of racism. Frankly, I rarely agree with much of anything Cultural Solidarity says, but when they are right, they’re right, and the statement they issued—together with the viewer and netizen condemnation of what they saw on the show—is a great example of just how much things have changed. The key points in the statement, IMHO—regardless of the “intention,” the very idea that to use racist language and actions directed at an individual of a particular race in such an open manner to “improve the show’s mood” is itself indicative of society’s racism; this incident could happen because Korean society is racist in that it favors white people while holding people of color in contempt; and the worst part is that the producers are seemingly clueless as to just how racist what happened was.

I know some commenters have stated their belief that this isn’t a big deal—the joke may have been of bad taste, but it was still just a joke. Before, I would have said this incident was born more of ignorance than actual racism, but if the Hines Ward craze should have taught us anything, it’s that while there are exceptions, the fact remains that not all “foreigners” are treated equal. Many Koreans acknowledge as much, and there is no point pretending anymore that negative stereotypes concerning blacks and other “dark-skinned” ethnic groups (and conversly, generally positive stereotypes about white folk) don’t exist.

Another thing about this whole mess irks me (as it did the Kyunghang Shinmun reporter I linked below), and it’s this—the show seems like an opportunity for Korean male entertainers to flirt with a bunch of foreign female exchange students and Russian models. I have to wonder what KBS2 might think of a show featuring a panel of five Korean female entertainers covorting with a bunch of foreign male exchange students and English teachers.

Somehow, I doubt that would go over real well.

ORIGINAL POST: KBS2 is under fire from viewers and netizens for what many consider to be racism during its “global talk show” entitled “Minyeodeului Suda” (The Beauties’ Chatterbox).

minyeodeul.jpg.

The program brings together 16 lovely and unmarried young women residing in Korea to discuss Korean culture and Korean men, and in the process hopes to break down cultural barriers. The show includes a panel of five (Korean) men. Among the questions (from the website):

  • What was the most embarrassing thing to happen to you in Korea?
  • What kind of things do Koreans do that you can understand least?
  • What dating places have you gone with your Korean boyfriend?
  • When have you felt, “Ah, I’ve become a real Korean now”?
  • What are five good things about Korean men?
  • What Korean entertainer would you like to have as a boyfriend?

The show also apparently has “corners” featuring foreign women doing all the stupid little things foreigners are supposed to do on Korean TV, including a song-and-dance section, a “trying Korean food” section and a Korean dictation section.

All was as it should be—maybe—until lovely African-American Leslie Benfield was performing a rendition of a Korean song. It was then that one of the panel—singer Cheon Myeong-hun—jumped up on stage wearing a rasta wig and began chanting “sikameos, sikameos,” a reference to a black-face routine made famous by comedian Lee Bong-won.

sikamus2.gif

Not cool, said many of the program’s viewers. Not cool at all.

Especially since Ms. Benfield had confessed on the show’s first episode that she’d been disregarded by her boyfriend’s parents because she’s black.

The show’s production team, however, told StarNews there was no racist intent behind Cheon’s stunt. They explained Cheon did what he did to give the show’s atmosphere a bit of a boost. They also said they have no intention of dropping Cheon from the show.

This isn’t the first time the show has run into problems—viewers had criticized previous episodes for incorrectly explaining Korean culture and Korean sayings. Others have criticized it for “sexually commercializing” foreign women and seemingly emphasizing physical contact between the panel and the guest women over actual discussion.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • michael

    Maybe Cheon can team up with Michael Richards and do Vegas.

  • montclaire

    What was that Korean girl group that did the black-face and golliwog-wig routine a few years ago? That wasn’t racist either of course.

  • http://www.galbijim.com galbijim

    Big time 눈치 없다.

  • http://x85130c4.spaces.live.com/ Mark

    Not a single drop of ink….

  • railwaycharm

    Oh, that was what this is all about. I caught it but could not figure out what the Sam Hill was going on!

  • Gerno

    montclaire,
    It was the Bubble Sisters

  • partypooper

    If Cheon tried that in the States, we’d have him hanging from a tree with a fork up his ass.

  • Maekchu

    It sounds like the show is a weak attempt to boost the Korean male psyche much like the current trend of showing Western women (and some celebrities like Gwynneth Paltrow) with Korean men in TV commercials.

    Questions such as these give it away:

    * What dating places have you gone with your Korean boyfriend?
    * What are five good things about Korean men?
    * What Korean entertainer would you like to have as a boyfriend?

    If the true intent of this show was to breakdown cultural barriers, they wouldn’t be asking such asinine questions to such a preselected group of women.

  • montclaire

    Thanks Gerno! That was driving me crazy.
    Maekchu: you’re right of course. The underlying question was “Why are we Korean men so darned irresistible?” It was TV as virtual Russian room salon.
    I will revise my opinion when I see, no, when I’m invited to take part in, Foreign Stud Chatterbox.

  • hoju_saram

    I think it’s harmless fun for the most part (although the Bubble Sisters routine went a bit far) Still, I wonder when the next episode of “white men dating korean women” will be on TV. My guess, after years of wandering around korea with my hanguk girlfriend and listening to the not-very-impressed banter in the background is never, ever.

  • R. Elgin

    Cheez, that was not a good thing to do. The producer should be replaced with someone with more common sense and taste.

    I wonder if the Korean Broadcasting Commission has to say about this.

  • mcnut

    5 good things about korean men???

    hahaha i am sure that was a brain stifler!!!!

    the only one i ever came up with was making korean women

  • michael

    Looking at the still photos from that show I just think Cheon’s an asshole. Sounds like the producers are ignorant smacktards as well.

  • montclaire

    The Five Things

    The way they shout when they sneeze,
    and spit into the breeze,
    The way they park where they please,
    And the cruel way they tease
    Tied-up animals.
    But that’s only four.

  • iheartblueballs

    ideas that the producers considered, but ultimately cut due to lack of time:

    having 15 monkeys run on stage dressed like leslie.

    surrounding leslie with 8 korean men dressed up in leopard skins with bones through their noses.

    having the bubble sisters join leslie for a dance-off.

    asking leslie to compete in a spear-chucking contest with an african-american korean-league basketball player.

    pitting leslie against a baboon in a watermelon eating contest.

  • gbevers

    At least some of the viewers and “netizens” have enough good sense to realize that what Cheon did was stupid and a display of prejudice even if the KBS producers do not. I see that as progess.

  • michael

    Monclaire, that was like Noel Coward or something–you’re on a roll.

    I agree with Mr. Bevers that it’s some kind of progress that some viewers and nutizens have a clue, but this is a program on a state-operated network. This thoughtless shit gets really old.

  • montclaire

    Right, gbevers. It took black residents, as I remember, to point out how bad that Bubble Sisters thing was.

  • mins0306

    I was wondering when this show will show up in this blog(no pun intended)

    I’ve watched this show since it began airing three weeks ago, and to put it mildly, I have a hard time figuring what the main concept behind this show is.

    If this show was meant to “breakdown cultural barriers”, it is failing miserably, because it looks more like Korea and Korean men in particular, trying to impress 16 foreign women with its unique and superior culture.(Yes sarcasm mode is on) Maybe that’s the reason that the cast of 16 is changing every week.

    Anyways I see this show broadcasting until spring. That will be when KBS will announce their spring line up and drop this show, for some reason or another.

  • montclaire

    You’re always the only one who appreciates my poetic efforts, Michael!

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    I saw it too — although the rastaman wig was dopey and insensitive in the extreme, there was nothing dumber or more offensive about this program than any of the other tripe “variety” programs on Korean television. My daughters love these shows (and, distressingly, the mutilated-corpse parade every night on OCN The CSI Channel), so I get to see a lot of them. It’s as mindless and bereft of redeeming value as if MTV’s Total Request Live was the mainstream programming on the US boradcast networks. Even Beavis & Butthead would be an improvement.

    But “overly” rude and insensitive to the lovely black girl? As if there were an appropriate level of rudeness.

    I have to admit, there is one type of Korean programming I like very much — the treacly family-reunion (“I got separated from my mom in the department store 30 years ago and haven’t seen her since”) shows which are trundled out around the holidays. Both in variety-show and documentary styles. They always have me sobbing (albeit in a manly fashion) and I wish there were more of that kind of thing on the air in the US — imagine “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” without the yammering prat on the bullhorn and the giant-house pornography.

  • pawikirogi

    1. seems harmless to me.

    2. when will they have a show with white men and korean women? perhaps when america starts showing shows with black men and white women(largest group of inter-racial couples in america). i remember they tried to do that in the 80s and it backfired instantly. i wonder why. well, i don’t wonder why since i know why. just like you know why you’re never on korean tv.

    3. a bunch of conservative white guys concerned about blacks? don’t believe it. just a proxy to promote their own racism. pathetic.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Would that Cheon guy find it funny if he went to sing on Japanese TV and one of the hosts, dressed in a Choson era peasant’s hanbok, began tossing handfuls of garlic at the audience during his performance? Probably not.

  • michael

    Monclaire, Korea’s always good for the poetic treatment, right? Like Sondheim said, “Send in the clowns.”

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    1. seems harmless to me.

    No doubt it would.

    2. when will they have a show with white men and korean women? perhaps when america starts showing shows with black men and white women(largest group of inter-racial couples in america). i remember they tried to do that in the 80s and it backfired instantly. i wonder why. well, i don’t wonder why since i know why. just like you know why you’re never on korean tv.

    U.S. TV doesn’t show black men with white chicks? OK.

    3. a bunch of conservative white guys concerned about blacks? don’t believe it. just a proxy to promote their own racism. pathetic.

    If you say so. Keep buildin’ them strawmen, Pawi.

  • montclaire

    For your sake, Michael, I remembered the Fifth Thing:
    The way they cling to their omoni’s.

    Astonishingly, though, Pawi has a valid point. It’s always painful seeing one of those Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington and Ashley Judd pairings and knowing that neither side will be allowed to show the slightest sexual interest in the other.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Astonishingly, though, Pawi has a valid point. It’s always painful seeing one of those Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington and Ashley Judd pairings and knowing that neither side will be allowed to show the slightest sexual interest in the other.

    OK, Denzel and Ashley would be fine, but damn, Morgan and Ashley? Isn’t that almost as bad as the Sean Connery-Catherine Zeta-Jones thing in “Entrapment?”

  • SomeguyinKorea

    pawi, once again, nice try at trolling…but, again, I’m neither conservative nor white.

    By the way, I have seen plenty of TV shows that feature interracial couples in the US, Canada, and the UK. I’ve even seen some in Korea too (as recently as last night, in fact). The reason the other posters (and many Korean netizens, for that matter) are taking issue with the show is that it appears it is more about stroking the egos of Korean men than promoting cultural understanding between foreigners and Koreans.

  • http://asiapages.wordpress.com/ jodi

    I’m actually happily surprised to hear that there was a netizen outrage regarding this.

    I heard a story not too long ago of a formal event that took place between some American and Korean naval officers on one of the ROK ships in which some famous Korean comedians were invited to perform. It was a formal enough event in which everyone had to be dressed in their “dress blues” so it’s not like this was a backyard BBQ or anything.

    Anyway, the Americans of course had no idea what was being said during the comedy act, but the language barrier did not prevent one of them from becoming a little offended when a female officer (who was African American) was apparently the target of jokes by the comedians.

    I wasn’t there to see it and only heard about it first hand. I am not sure if the fact that she was African American was so much an issue as the fact that she was an American (foreign) female officer.

    My boyfriend was one of the Americans attending and he told me that while he didn’t understand what was being said to make everyone laugh, he felt a little sorry for the woman because it felt as if the comedians were making her the entertainment for the night in an inappropriate way.

    Anyway, I wasn’t there to see it myself but I was surprised to hear his observations about it all. I do know the female officer it happened to but she has never mentioned the situation to me before.

  • hardyandtiny

    Oh my! A Korean person mimicked a black person during a performance. That’s racist, prejudice, insensitive, rude,…….

    Give me a break! It’s a joke on stage. What’s so terrible? It’s racist humor not racism. This has nothing to do with Cheon’s personal opinion of black people or how he conducts himself off stage in public. It’s just a bad joke…maybe.

  • montclaire

    And the free copy of “Fork Up Your Ass: The Best of Michael Richards” goes to…Hardyandtiny!

  • SomeguyinKorea

    montclaire, anytime Ashley Judd isn’t naked in one of her movies is a sad day for all men, regardless of their colour.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Basides, pawikirogi is wrong that US television doesn’t show black men with white women, especially now that the NBA is back in season.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    hardyandtiny, what gets me is not the joke itself but the fact that the singer/bad comedian and TV producer don’t get that it could be offensive to some.

    And Pawi, I wouldn’t be so quick to judge those of us who were offended by this. Don’t forget that some Koreans get offended for what appears to be some of the most trivial things, such as the name of a body of water on a map. So, I’d say that if you are Korean indeed, you’d need to remember that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    PS. I’m sorry if I’ve offended Ashley Judd, but I really think she should shoot all are scenes in the buff.

  • montclaire

    Sounds reasonable to me, Someguy. But to avoid charges of sexism, Morgan Freeman has to be naked too.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    monclaire, that’s okay, I can always put my hands over my eyes during the ‘scary’ parts of the movie. Plus, DVDs can be fastforwarded. Besides, if they were smart, they’d sell two versions of the DVD. One version with Morgan Freeman, and the other without.

  • hardyandtiny

    “hardyandtiny, what gets me is not the joke itself but the fact that the singer/bad comedian and TV producer don’t get that it could be offensive to some.”

    We had to go through Buddy Hackett’s producers allowing ridiculous imitations of Chinese guys to see Margaret Cho’s producers allow an imitation of a white guy on his period, and so on. Why should we expect Korean producers and the Korean audience to be in perfect synch with our taste in comedy?
    This type of thing doesn’t bother me, it’s just a different stage of development.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Morgan Freeman’s not even 70 yet — he’s far too young for Catherine Zeta Jones.

  • michael

    “it’s just a different stage of development” The infantile stage.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    And to think Ashley Judd is a hockey fan.

    The Whalers should have marketed themselves so well.

    Apparently, she also dated Bobbie DeNiro, which surprised the hell out of me, because I was under the impression—and this is where it ties in (albeit slightly) with the post—that Bobbie D dated only black women.

  • gbnhj

    A nude geriatric Morgan Freeman, on the screen with Ashley Judd, is not going to help anyone (except, possibly, Mr. Freeman himself). That is just scary.

  • http://hojupjimong.wordpress.com/ JiMong

    Oh my…

    If you’ve been watched these kind Korean entertainment programs, you would easily know Cheon is just a primitive clown (언제나 튀어 보이고싶은) to almost every program he appeared. I do not think his act was from deep racism as much as Michael Richards does. It is a brainless copycat producer and KBS running stupid show like this that need to get blamed.

  • hardyandtiny

    michael you said that, not me. I think it’s at a different stage.

  • michael

    I’m not really sure what “different stage” means here H&T, but if even Koreans criticized it then maybe it was out of bounds, and in my view it was offensive.

  • mins0306

    We had to go through Buddy Hackett’s producers allowing ridiculous imitations of Chinese guys to see Margaret Cho’s producers allow an imitation of a white guy on his period, and so on. Why should we expect Korean producers and the Korean audience to be in perfect synch with our taste in comedy?
    This type of thing doesn’t bother me, it’s just a different stage of development.

    hardyandtiny,

    Saying that we are doing something because someone else has done it before is no excuse for doing something that is 100% wrong.

    Instead of following someone else, wouldn’t it be better for principles to guide you in your judgement?

    Because if you can’t follow your principles that you have helped prove to the world that Koreans lack principles, that they can’t distinguish between right and wrong, and most of all can’t think for themselves instead letting nationalism and the inferiority complex doing the thinking for them.

  • montclaire

    Hardyandtiny has a point too. This is not a multiracial society and makes no hypocritical claims to be one – unlike America, which was priding itself on being a melting pot even back in slavery days.
    True, it claims to want globalization when it doesn’t really. But we can’t expect the Koreans to get with it overnight. The West pokes fun at minorities too whenever they are too small or placid to complain noisily enough. Case in point: the open comedic season on Eastern Europeans (viz Borat), the ongoing use of offensive Indian logos in college sports.
    The positive aspect to all this is that so many Koreans themselves took offense.

  • http://www.lostnomad.org/ Nomad

    How the heck did this thread get sidetracked to a nude Morgan Freeman?

  • estebanko

    Considering past/present racial tension between Koreans and blacks this incident should have at least called the producers to apologize publicly. Wanna really stroke your ego? Be a man and apologize when you’ve made a mistake.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    My wife made a very interesting point about this: you’d never see a TV show featuring Koreans being asked why they like Americans.

    And Robert (Bobby K.), I know for a fact that Bobby D. also likes white women because he used to date one of my brother’s co-workers.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Another criticism made of the show, BTW, is that the selection is seriously skewed. Lots of white and Asian girls, but there are exactly as many ebony lasses as there are Mongolian ones—one each. And none—that’s right, none—are from the African continent. This is not to say I don’t appreciate Asian women or my melanin-deficient sisters, of course. But you’d have thought they’d have found at least one girl from, say, Haebangchon Litte Nigeria if for no other reason that make the show a bit more representative.

  • montclaire

    Yes, I would have loved to see the blank look on the Nigerian woman’s face when asked what she likes about Korean men, where they take her on dates, etc.

  • hardyandtiny

    “mins0306
    Saying that we are doing something because someone else has done it before is no excuse for doing something that is 100% wrong.
    Instead of following someone else, wouldn’t it be better for principles to guide you in your judgement?”

    It’s all principles for me. I do not find anything wrong with a performer going on stage and using any words or make-up as part of a performance. The history of stage performance in this part of the world may have passed through this stage a hundred times, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.

  • michael

    H&T, stage performance in this part of the world is completely taken from the West, since there wasn’t standup comedy or panel shows in the Chosun Dynasty. Even the blackface gimmick comes from the West. So if you can pick and chose elements from other cultures, why go for the stupidest, racist ones?

    Also, I’d like to think the standards on a state-funded public broadcaster would be a little higher than lame Amos ‘n Andy impersonations.

  • mins0306

    In the first episode, the Korean male panel all got up, bowed, and apologized when one of the foreign women mentioned an incident where they have been offended by the Koreans.

    Wonder if they meant it or did it just for show?

    Which also begs the question, why did they drop the apology routine starting
    from the second episode?

  • estebanko

    I agree with michael on cultural differences between the two and its implications. Worse yet the humor wasn’t even clever and was going straight for a racist lowbrow kind.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    My wife also thinks that the show is rather sleezy because they dress up the women in suggestive clothes. She says it makes foreign women look dumb and easy. As Monclaire was saying, it’s a basically a TV room salon.

  • hardyandtiny

    “I’m not really sure what “different stage” means here H&T, but if even Koreans criticized it then maybe it was out of bounds, and in my view it was offensive. ”

    I mean maybe five hundred years ago Koreans were at the same stage as now, and some Korean family became famous as performers for making jokes about darker skinned Koreans and everybody had a good laugh. Then one day people started to complain, etc…And, here we are again, at the same stage.
    The same stages keep cycling around. The Koreans are now at a different stage and beginning to synch with, for example, the Americans.

  • estebanko

    Historically though racial tension between Koreans and blacks has been notoriously hateful and violent as past events like L.A. riot has demonstrated. Even in conversations I’d hear word “ggamdungyi” used casually.

    Until there is more understanding between the two races I think it’s safer to leave racial jokes to someone like Dave Chappelle.

  • hardyandtiny

    H&T, stage performance in this part of the world is completely taken from the West, since there wasn’t standup comedy or panel shows in the Chosun Dynasty.

    I disagree, the stage is human/universal. If someone stands up and tells a joke or does a dance then you have a performer on stage. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Korean guy after work near a rice field 600 years ago or Kat Williams at the Apollo in 2006. Human beings have been doing stand-up all over the world for 30,000 years.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    And for what it’s worth, the Canadian chick Dominique is quite cute.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Which also begs the question, why did they drop the apology routine starting
    from the second episode? ”

    It was for show, an attempt to make the men seem curtious. More appologies may have occured, but airing them would have probably made for some pretty boring programming…and suggested that Korean men don’t know how to treat a lady, which is probably not the message that the producer is trying to convey.

    I wonder… There has been talk of using TV dramas to boost the birthrate in Korea, to make young ladies want to get pregnant. Do you think this may have a similar goal. Could it be aimed at making foreign women more attractive to Korean men as potential spouses because the number of men greatly outnumber the women here? If that’s the case, the show would be quite telling of what Korean men find attractive, or at least of what the producers and men of their generation find attractive.

  • iheartblueballs

    plenty of western comics use race in their routines, but there’s a significant difference. western comics make fun of the cultural differences between races based on behavior, which can be funny.

    korean comics make fun of the differences in appearance (blackface, bignose, etc), which is infantile, usually offensive, and never funny.

    take your pick for the reasons why: they’re pandering to a base of racists. they’re too stupid or ignorant to comprehend or even care about the behavioral differences. they really think an afro or a big schnoz is high-level humor.

    then ask yourself why almost all korean comics are either fat, ugly, goofy-looking, or a combination of those three. because their appearance is 99% of their act.

  • montclaire

    I agree, Robert. For a Canadian gal she’s distinctly anthropomorphic. But I prefer the Malaysian gal underneath. Underneath Dominique’s pic I mean.

  • montclaire

    iheartblueballs: The emphasis on visual humor has a lot to do with the national inability to handle satire. I remember during the cloning scandal with Hwang Whatshisname, one comedy show did a skit about kimbap that had been swapped at the last minute (as Hwang claimed his stem cells had been), and everyone was outraged, including the Hwang haters.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Noel? She might be from New Brunswick. That surname is somewhat common in the Acadian peninsula.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acadian_Peninsula

  • mins0306

    As Monclaire was saying, it’s a basically a TV room salon.

    Now that you mention it, at the beginning of the show, where they have the women stand up and do a dance routine, looks like something out of a room salom.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    BTW, are they actually making fun of this girl’s pronunciation (Elyzaveta Vialova) or are they using what she wrote in herself.

    For a Canadian gal she’s distinctly anthropomorphic.

    I confess, it took me a while to get that. 

    Noel? She might be from New Brunswick.

    New Brunswick? Well, say no more!

  • montclaire

    Alas, it’s the closest thing to a room salon I’ll ever be able to afford.

  • seoulmilk

    does this parallel with what rosie o’donnell did last week?
    http://newsbusters.org/node/9538
    anyway, for what is worth, i’m gald few people were able to notice how insensitve the guy’s act was. btw, if someone decides to comment on rosie, please don’t let the comments steer into ala morgan freeman comments above, ie rosie being naked.

  • taxman

    “Another criticism made of the show, BTW, is that the selection is seriously skewed. Lots of white and Asian girls, but there are exactly as many ebony lasses as there are Mongolian ones—one each”

    Thats still better odds than this http://www.nbc.com/Deal_or_No_Deal/

    I can count 3 african americans but only among them is actually dark-skinned…Their skin is more “white” than most SE asians.

  • hardyandtiny

    “plenty of western comics use race in their routines, but there’s a significant difference. western comics make fun of the cultural differences between races based on behavior, which can be funny.”

    Maybe that doesn’t work in Korea.

    “take your pick for the reasons why: they’re pandering to a base of racists. they’re too stupid or ignorant to comprehend or even care about the behavioral differences. they really think an afro or a big schnoz is high-level humor.”

    Why are they racists? It’s comedy.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Thats still better odds than this http://www.nbc.com/Deal_or_No_Deal/

    I can count 3 african americans but only among them is actually dark-skinned…Their skin is more “white” than most SE asians.

    Fair enough, although for the record, I count four, although I’m not sure about one. And also for the record, the stated aim of “Deal of No Deal” isn’t to promote greater cultural understanding, as is the case with “Minyeodeului Suda.”

    anyway, for what is worth, i’m gald few people were able to notice how insensitve the guy’s act was. btw, if someone decides to comment on rosie, please don’t let the comments steer into ala morgan freeman comments above, ie rosie being naked.

    Christ, what type of monster do you take me for? Even this comment section has standards.

  • seoulmilk

    sorry robert. i was surprised people could even bring up morgan freeman being naked, so just as a precaution…i had to you know. now back to dominique…

  • hardyandtiny

    If Barbara Walters called Richard Pryor a nigger during sex does that count as racism or does giving up your pussy negate a racist remark?

  • montclaire

    While we’re pleading for inclusivism, why such an exclusively young collection of foreign gals? Wasn’t Cindy Sheehan in country during filming?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Robert, that’s New Brunswick, Canada…not New Brunswick, New Jersey.

  • Breaktrack

    All of you people have it wrong. You see there is no racism in Korea!! Even if there was/is racism in Korea it would be ok. You see it would be ok for Koreans to make jokes about others ethnicity, but others can’t do it to them because Koreans were/have been victims for so long. Just ask Jay Leno. Why, in my Korean language book, an African person is described as having hair like a monkey. A little drawing is included too! That isn’t racism though, oh no sir. I forget the name of the book, but I’ll find it. Jeez, c’mon people, Koreans doing anything racist is just a load of crap. Only white’s that do that, racism a white, western thing, not a Korean thing.

  • montclaire

    True. Breaktrack’s grasp of political correctness is impeccable. Only whites can be racist. Non-whites are…ethnocentric.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    Any youtubes on this yet?

  • estebanko

    Here’s hoping for Obama ’08 just so that all of Korea will give blacks little more respect.

  • montclaire

    I like that Cultural Solidarity statement. We kvetch about Korea but the country is certainly improving.

    If I may address the Korean people directly: get rid of those negative stereotypes of blacks, but for God’s sake, leave the positive stereotypes of white people alone.

  • Ruffie

    The NBC show “Heroes” has been showing serious African American/caucasian relationships for months now. An African American male /caucasian female relationship, plus an African american female / caucasian male relationship. People also fly, bend time, read minds, see the future and sponaneously regenerate on the show, but otherwise it’s pretty realistic.

  • railwaycharm

    What do the K-girls do when they show picturs of their black boyfriends? Show the negatives?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Rail, that’s not very funny.

  • railwaycharm

    Come on now… lighten up… oops, I did it again…

  • Hugh

    “this incident could happen because Korean society is racist in that it favors white people while holding people of color in contempt; ”

    White man, our racism is really somehow your fault.

    Ah yeah, we are so favored here. Nobody minds us dating their daughter, or even a Korean woman who is a total stranger. No one holds white English teachers or white GI’s or foreign businessmen (lone star scumbags stealing from the nation, right?) in contempt here. We are not mocked on the streets by random children, and if any dispute occurs the law is squarely on our side.

    Our white fucking cup runneth over, ‘Cultural Solidarity’.

    Dicks.

  • railwaycharm

    I know, and we don’t even get big wedding tackle out of the deal! We will take the n*ggers and the Ch*nks, but not the Irish!

  • a-letheia

    My girlfriend (Korean) wants to know what kind of dumb-ass women go on this show?

  • judge judy

    My girlfriend (Korean) wants to know what kind of dumb-ass women go on this show?

    i watched about twenty minutes of the show on the weekend and was surprised that the girls went along with the whole thing. they were either dumbasses or knieve, maybe a bit of both. still, it was sad to see them pander to typical korean stereotypes of foreign women.

    in the end, though, it takes two to tango and kudos go to the women who didn’t take part in such shenanigans.

  • estebanko

    Jerry Springer is better show than this.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    It looks to me like social change has passed the producers/stars of this show by. Even a couple of years ago, I could imagine having seen a scene like this, and there wouldn’t have been any public uproar. Cheon Myeong-hun was just doing schtick similar to what he’s done in the past (according to JiMong), and the producers probably didn’t even anticipate any negative reaction. Caught by surprise by the reaction they didn’t anticipate and wouldn’t have had any reason to expect even in the recent past, they’re mishandling things badly.

    I wonder what it was that changed public perceptions, though, and prepared Korean society to speak out about this event? Was it because of the whole Hines Ward thing (with the usual caveats that he was referring preferential treatment because of his star status, there was the whole “loyal Korean mother” thing going on, etc.)?

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    …”receiving preferential treatment,” not “referring preferential treatment”….

  • http://jalanasia-afrika.blogspot.com/ aaronm

    A couple of questions beg to be asked here. Firstly, is it cultural insecurity that gives rise to the same group of asinine questions asked of any foreigner in the Korean Media? Arirang seem to be the pass masters of this. Can anyone watch that channel without experiencing the urge to scrub oneself with a wire brush and turps afterwards?

    Secondly, since when did Korean men become an heuristic group? Isn’t the plea for five good things about them somewhat redundant? Kim the accountant may hockle phlegm but not beat his wife like Lee the teacher does. Similarly, Park the farmer may be a soju addled dunce, but could have severed maternal ties. Seems to me that the producers of this show do a grave injustice to Korean manhood in suggesting they are all alike.

  • seouldout

    Judge Judy called it. Given that these participants have been in Korea for years and speak the language they know the deal and have chosen to collaborate.

    Fortunate for them they don’t live in an era where this happens to collaborators.

    Michael at the metropolitician sums it up –

    This show…is…racist, sexist claptrap for…nationalist penis stroking.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Can anyone watch that channel without experiencing the urge to scrub oneself with a wire brush and turps afterwards?”

    Actually, no. When Arirgang comes up while I’m channel surfing, I blurt out “Fuck no!” and quickly switch to another channel (true story).

  • cm

    If you have a problem with this, why not give a piece of your mind here:

    http://www.kbs.co.kr/2tv/enter/suda/board/index.html

    instead of moping around in expat sites, complaining about Koreans and preaching to the converted? Why not take your complaints directly to Korean netizens? I mean, doesn’t it make sense to let your complaints heard where they can actually read what you’re complaining about?
    After all, how is the awareness of racism supposed to spread if nobody knows that there is a problem here?

  • michael

    LOL I have the same reaction SomeguyinKorea. What’s with the exagerrated eee-nun-ci-a-tion on that channel? It just screams “overcompensation.”

  • dogbertt

    this incident could happen because Korean society is racist in that it favors white people while holding people of color in contempt

    No, it could happen because Korean society is racist in that it favors Koreans while holding others in contempt.

  • dogbertt

    instead of moping around in expat sites, complaining about Koreans and preaching to the converted? Why not take your complaints directly to Korean netizens? I mean, doesn’t it make sense to let your complaints heard where they can actually read what you’re complaining about?

    How do you know some of us don’t? When you “ass-ume”…etc.

  • cm

    dogbertt, you’re one of the racists, so it would be kind of pot calling the kettle black.

  • railwaycharm

    CM,

    You think dogbert is wrong? Of course Koreans feel that way, how elese can they hate themselves while slighting others at the same time?

  • dogbertt

    I’m not Korean, cm.

  • http://jalanasia-afrika.blogspot.com/ aaronm

    Michael said

    LOL I have the same reaction SomeguyinKorea. What’s with the exagerrated eee-nun-ci-a-tion on that channel? It just screams “overcompensation.”

    It’s not just that, it’s also the fact that it’s painfully evident most of their scripts are written by Korean Hagwon teachers or machine translations. Witness the endless repetition of the name of a subject of a sentence rather than the native speaker tendency to insert a pronoun such as “it”; eg, ” The Kimchi this, the kimchi that, they eat the soddin kimchi” ad nauseum. This phenomenon has precipitated more than one drunken assault on my TV set whilst channel surfing on a friday night.

  • http://www.wmga.net captbbq

    hmmm… btw, who goes by the screen name “서양인”, anyone here? I’ve posted a couple times on the netizen boards a while ago, but usually when I went there I see that guy(girl?) sparring away.

    In fact, the reason I stopped posting was because I already saw Koreans making my case for me, and the least desirable thing would be for me, or other westerners, to start bashing koreans on the netizen boards and in essence turn those few against us.

    Anyway, as far as showing western women to be easy is concerned, western society shares most of the blame for this. Every time I see an American movie or TV show, it portrays women as being easy. Case in point, the movie Departed, where the phsycologist moves in with her detective boyfriend after a couple weeks of dating, then goes out and screws a homeless drug addict patient of hers with hardly any explanation in the plot of their relationship.

    Now what exactly does that say in Korean cultural terms? You can’t blame Koreans for something western media started and perpetuates.

    And don’t get me started on the “born again virgin” skit in last nights casino/Las Vegas drama on AFN.

  • railwaycharm

    Sometimes I cry out for the narrator to fix the script and speak like a human. It is so robotic and sad. Arriang had a nice piece on the other night about Kyoto. It was painful to watch however, the footage made up for it, sort of. They need help!

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Anyway, as far as showing western women to be easy is concerned, western society shares most of the blame for this. Every time I see an American movie or TV show, it portrays women as being easy.”

    I disagree. When was the last time you say Ashley Judd naked in a movie? They have her all covered up, you’d think she’s a nun.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I disagree. When was the last time you say Ashley Judd naked in a movie? They have her all covered up, you’d think she’s a nun.

    Good point. I think someone should lodge a protest with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

  • montclaire

    I think, Someguy, she showed a fair amount of flesh (though admittedly nowhere near enough) in a recentish thriller co-starring Andy Garcia.

  • montclaire

    As for the accents on Arirang, are they really to do with overcompensation, or more a matter of a California Kyopo accent? I notice that Asians who’ve grown up in LA have an extraordinarily broad American accent.

  • michael

    I mean the overly careful pro-nun-ci-a-tion of every word. Anyway, what little I’ve seen on Arirang has been exruciatingly boring.

    Ashley Judd was nekkid a lot in that movie with Luke Perry…I remember well… :)

  • seouldout

    Golly, over 100 comments and the Japanese are yet to be blamed. The cosmic order is out of whack.

    Somehow the Japanese are to blame.

    About Arirang, you wouldn’t believe it by what’s aired, but the BBC was hired as a consultant in ’95 or ’96 to get the production up and running. Yet another high-priced study tossed into Korea’s dustbin. A dozen or so random foreigners with no broadcasting experience were hired, then crowbarred into odd shows, and finally fired when the currency collapsed. In the end Arirang has fallen into the hakwon trap of sponsoring English camps and hiring kyopos whose sole native-speaker skill is flailing their hands and arms about while speaking. The previous host of “Pops In Seoul” rarely uttered a grammatically correct sentence and the female panelist of “Korea Today” is almost is bad, especially when she moves off the script into “free talking” neverland. Of special note is that male narrator of everything who came from the Pyongyang School of Strident Emote Broadcasting. Unlistenable.

  • a-letheia

    I wonder if the anchors are told to speak with that over-enunciated nasal style since it appeals to Korean ears. After all, I think Arirang is made with Koreans in mind, not foreigners, just like the “English” slogans that every company has and the “English” on the back of the Korea Herald.

    In addition, the anchors’ Konglish is no doubt re-enforced by the editorial process. First crap is written in Korean, translated to English by an underpaid Korean, and then given to an underpaid foreigner or two to fix up. The result is a kind of Konglish transliteration that generally makes sense but is full of emotional nuances and ‘non sequiturs’ that would never make a normal broadcast in an English speaking country.

  • seoulmilk

    it’s funny how comments that go past 20 or so steers away from the main topic. having said that, whoever made the comment about arirang trying to “overcompensate” is correct. i find it annoying.

    as for koreans being racist, i think it’s more ignorance than racism. it’s not like the korean streets are filled with different nationalities where koreans can interact with peoples of different culture. not an excuse, but what do you expect? one can counter by saying america or any european countries have more racism, in terms of outright hatred for a group of people. and to deny that is like koreans denying their ignorance. my point? none. but it does annoy me when someone calls a whole group of people racists when one do not see the faults with his/her own culture/country, or himself. by this logic, yes, many koreans annoy me. by no means am i defending koreans, i just find it annoying when someone labels a whole group of people. as for how koreans treat one race over the other, a lot has to do with what’s portrayed in the news and hollywood, since that’s the only chance for many to see what’s outside of the country.

  • michael

    Seoulmilk, all due respect, I just think the “more ignorance than racism” excuse doesn’t work in 2006. Koreans are allowed to travel overseas, they are exposed to other cultures, and it’s not the Hermit Kingdom anymore. Also, I wouldn’t say all Koreans are racist, that’s ignorant too. But this Cheon is a twat, his routine is inexcusable.

  • Maekchu

    I can’t take Arirang at all. As others have pointed out, the exaggerated enunciation is just too painful; both the English and Hangul mal.

    I don’t recall the lady’s name, but there is a newswoman anchor that speaks near perfect English but the few bits of Korean language she throws out during her news broadcasts is ridiculous. Seoul becomes: Suuh-Uuuuuuuuuuuul every time.

    “Today in Suuh-Uuuuuuuuuuuul, there were candlelight vigils…….” I just can’t take it.

    Arirang…bringing dorkiness to the world.

  • seoulmilk

    michael, i agree with the twat comment on cheon. as for “more ignorance than racism” excuse, maybe it doesn’t have much weight. but i just think, even if it’s 2006, korean society cannot change overnight. they still have long ways to go.

  • seouldout

    Ahn Chak Hee (approx. spelling) I believe is the over enunciator of Suuh-Uuuuuuuuuuuul. She was one the of bright spots in the dismal picture until she started that nonsense.

    Another dreadful show is “Heart to Heart”. Typical interview: “Today, we have the world-renowned, Michelin 3-star chef from Paris, Pierre Grenouille, who’s in Seoul for 3 dyas. Chef Grenouille, as you know, in these days the Korean wave is sweeping the world. What do you think about the globalization of Korean wave cuisine?”

    The rest of the show devoted to talking about Korea.

    Oh, the banality.

  • montclaire

    And actually it’s NOT Suh-UUUlll in English any more than Paris is Paree in English – or New York is New York in Korean, for that matter. (Correct Korean pronunciation = nyu yo’k’eu.)
    Dim-witted nationalists always bridle at pronouncing “their” names in a foreign way, which is why you get Hispanic newscasters on US television news saying Mehico and Onduras. But the correct way to pronounce Seoul in English is to rhyme it with bowl.

  • http://parkatcircle.com patrick

    Does anyone know how Leslie Benfield feels about it? She’s laughing in the picture…

  • http://jalanasia-afrika.blogspot.com/ aaronm

    Maybe she has Stockholm Syndrome to the point that she’s used to laughing to cover up her embarrassment.

  • Wedge

    That’s funny, Arirang is part of the “premium package” on Yongsan Cable, so there’s no threat of actually stumbling on that pablum. But, still, I thought the whole idea of government propaganda was to make it as widely available as possible.

  • jdog2050

    Oh god…arirang. Let’s not even start. I think the one bright spot to arirang is that no one fucking watches it.

    After living in Korea for a bit now, I don’t think I can heckle their interview style too much since it’s the same shit Koreans ask, eventually, whenever they meet a new foreigner (Uhh, do you like Kimchi? How do you like Korea? Do you know bibimbap?).

    On the subject of the show…ya know, I’m black, and I’ve had kids make fun of my nose, try to touch my hair, blah blah. That is in the “ignorance not racism” department. But this guy is a star. He’s got money. He’s probably traveled. He should fucking know better.

  • http://x85130c4.spaces.live.com/ Mark

    Planet of the K-Apes.

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  • cm

    Mark is a malcontent, and offers absolutely no worthwhile contribution. Best to ignore him.

    Korea is slowly but gradually going multi racial, and complaints like these

    http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/special/200612/kt2006121219555767650.htm

    are just going to get louder. It will be up to Korea to decide on how to deal with racism and discrimination today, to thwart off a serious societal-wide racial conflict. So far, Korea is in the awareness stage. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

  • Jing

    Fuck Suh-Ulllll. (>^_^)>8===D~~~(.Y.) Hancheng 4 life. Keeping it real since 2005!

    yes, this was just an excuse to use a pearl necklace emoticon.

  • http://www.zzoozzoo.net ZZOOzzoo

    …a pearl necklace emoticon?!

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  • estebanko

    the incident was undeniably racist and strong public out cry followed. if this happened 5 years ago I think it would have been business as usual.

  • Jing

    Don’t know what a pearl necklace is? Go to wikipedia!

    Is it just me, or is anyone else surprised by the fact that there are cute waegook babes in Korea? I was under the impression (perhaps mistaken) that the expatriate community in Korea and really Asia at large, was simply a sausage festival judgeing by the posters here.

    How common are Canadian English Hagwon teachers of the female variety? Are they hot?

    Inquisitive yet horny minds want to know.

  • wjk

    Jing, they seem to be mostly half Koreans or half something east Asian.

    If you meant by Fuck Seoul, Hancheng for life, as in Chinese clout over Korea for life,

    I’d like to say, **** the Chinese.

  • Jing

    You are reading way too much into my feeble tongue in cheek faux ghetto joke.

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  • Sonagi

    Well, Jing, you really know how to make friends in the blogsphere. Hope for your sake that you’re more personable in the flesh than you are online.

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  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    It’s OK, Jing. I thought it was cute.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    I noticed Pawi has been strangely quiet since his/her first post. So now it’s okay for us to complain about the show’s racism because Koreans do so too?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200403/kt2004031019154244430.htm

    It makes you wonder if it was a deliberate attempt at humiliating Miss Benfield.

  • mins0306

    SomeguyinKorea, I don’t see any attempts at humiliation, although I do detect a hint of patronizing.

    Also Miss Benfield, is a contract worker not a regular employee, which means the Seoul Metropolitan Government can fire her on a whim. Not a good position I might add.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Her power lies in the fact that she’s the first non-Korean to hold such a position. This makes her our symbolic leader, therefore she’s a threat to the ethnic nationalists.”(conspiracy theorist returned in his cage somewhere in the deep corners of my subconscious)

  • http://x85130c4.spaces.live.com/ Mark

    cm,

    I take it you’re a K-ape rather than human.

    Stop the planet, I want to get off.

  • http://junecho.blogspot.com june

    I can’t believe that I read the word sikameos (시커먼스). I still remember that the two comedians with big afro wigs danced around and made fun of African descents. When the show was popular (it was around the middle 1980s), Korea didn’t have PC at all. But things have been changed, and I don’t think that offensive words could be used on TV any more.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    There’s a TV show on right now where the guests have to spot the real ‘half-Korean’ from half a dozen actors. How the hell could this be entertainment?

  • http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal ZenKimchi

    Please seed the bit torrent.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    My guess is “iloveseoul” doesn’t know how to seed. My torrent client (XTorrent for Mac OS X) is currently looking for the seed and thanks to the mighty bandwidth of Korea Telecom I’ll have a 2MBps upload going once I get the download complete. But first, iloveseoul will have to seed — or deliver a CD to me and I’ll take care of the seeding.

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  • logoman

    I am very disturbed by the posts on this site.

    I think some of you here seriously need proper education regarding what is racism. It’s just shocking to witness the site full of people generalizing and stereotyping Korean people(that is RACISM). I do agree that what happend on that stupid TV program should never happened again. Yet, that does not mean that generalizing every Korean people as racists is justifiable. More to say, some of the racial jokes that you are pulling is very disturbing, and even down-right scary. You guys are sounding like haters.

    Racism is everywhere, man. Don’t think your country is free from that. I have lived in Canada for a half of my life, and I had always thought that racism in Canada is relatively minimal compared to other countries, until I heard this story. One of my Korean friend living in Toronto got scorned by a police officer, and what he said was pretty shocking: “I hate fucking koreans! You korean fuckers are always fighting!”. Since then, he got this impression that Canada is a country full of racists. He also mention something about people shouting at him things like “Go back to North KOrea!”, “fucking chink” Those verbal assaults are surprisingly frequent.

    In Russia, I read a newpaper article that the biggest trend over there is to follow Neo-nazi. Can you believe that? And most scary thing is that those Neo-nazi followers are targetting foreigners. Number of foreign people got murdered, mostly asians, was record-high, last year.

  • Gillian

    So, let me see if I understand this, one the one hand, Koreans “Should” offer an appology, but Foreigners get charged with a “Crime.” Okay. I understand now…..
    http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200612/14/200612142001142179900090409041.html

  • hanja

    Perhaps the show has changed since 2006. However, from recently seeing it and talking to Korean friends about it, it seems to actually be a voice for foreigners in Korea who are interested enough to learn the language, who have relationships with Korean people, who criticize but also love Korea. The women speak about their own experiences as well as about their own countries. The questions are generally open-ended and the women seem to speak their minds without censorship. Most Koreans I’ve spoken with are impressed with the women’s abilities in speaking Korean and enjoy the different perspectives the women bring on Korean culture. To me, the women seem to speak and act with dignity, and are not asked to do anything that would not be proper for a Korean woman to do.

  • hanja

    So… I wonder, can anyone answer how the producers seemed to have gotten the picture? Have any of you noticed a change it the program? Because the scene from 2006 seems completely inappropriate to me…

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