WTF Is Up With K-Pop and Blackface?!

Illustration for article titled WTF Is Up With K-Pop and Blackface?!

K-Pop has been gaining popularity in America, with a sold-out world tour last autumn showcasing a number of acts from SHINee to Girls' Generation—that featured stops at NYC's Madison Square Garden and LA's Staples Center—cementing Korean pop music as an international sensation. So now that K-Pop has the world's attention, people are looking a little more closely at what these groups are all about, and are uncovering some disturbing imagery, language and behavior with regards to racism. Namely: Blackface.

But the offensive incidences aren't limited to just blackface (as pictured above, with Gikwang of K-Pop group BEAST/B2ST eating some watermelon). Tay Symone at ONTD mentions the infamous story of one of the Girls' Generation singers, Taeyeon, saying Alicia Keys is "pretty for a black girl." Another Girls' Generation singer, Yuri, went on a TV show and did an impression of what she thought was "acting black."

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Illustration for article titled WTF Is Up With K-Pop and Blackface?!

This actually has been going on within K-Pop for sometime, at least since the Bubble Sisters — an all-girl group that based their entire image on black face — first hit the scene in 2003. Their tactics may have been offensive, but they were only one group doing it. Now it would seem that it's something of an epidemic within K-Pop.

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K-POP or KKK-POP? Covert Anti-Black Music Scene Sweeping America[ONTD]

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DISCUSSION

arischwartz
Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

Race is an interesting issue in Asia, and one that's not terribly well-discussed (either broadly or in any depth). There are the usual topics of Japan vs Korea and all that, but for the most part, I think most Northeast Asians have little direct experience with these topics because, as others have mentioned, Northeast Asian countries are widely homogenous (exceptions include China of course, despite their belief otherwise.)

But it's always funny to listen to various Asian groups scream bloody murder over perceived or real racism/bigotry while they openly and unabashedly commit acts of bigotry themselves. This is an interesting such example from Koreans, who are still very much upset about Japanese treatment of Koreans in the past and present (Koreans in Japan still face very real bigotry.)

However, I think that the problem is mainly that there is no context in which to understand these problems other than imported media. I suspect that this will improve over time, but I do urge many people to withhold judgment of all Koreans or Asians over this stuff— there's a lot of room to grow over there, but growth is happening.

That said, wow. Just wow.