People of colour face racism no matter where they go. But sometimes, it's more overt in some countries than in others.
Ghanaian TV personality Sam Okyere recently shared the racist experiences he faced in South Korea on an episode of the talk show “As You Say."
Okyere went to South Korea in 2009 to study computer engineering, but eventually made the switch to the entertainment biz and made appearances on Korean variety shows, dramas and the 2015 movie "Intimate Enemies."
But even though he found a home for himself in South Korea, he explained that he faced a significant amount of racism.
"When I tell people that I’m from Africa, I get a lot of startling questions like, ‘Do you grow a lion at your house?’ I get it so often that now I just respond by saying that my father has two lions. That’s how much Koreans are unknowledgeable about black people and Africa," he said.
He also discussed an incident on a subway when a Korean woman wouldn't let him take a seat. According to Okyere, she said "What is a black bastard like you doing in Korea? Go back to your country.”
And unfortunately, subway passengers didn't back him up.
"What hurt more was that the other Korean people just sat there and watched. It made me wonder if Koreans just watch foreigners without helping them in difficult situations," he said.
To get better insight into what South Korean people think of black people, the team at Asian Boss took to the streets to find out — and the revelations are eye-opening and disheartening.
One of the questions they asked was, "What kind of stereotypes or perceptions do you think Korean society has about black people? For example, where are they from, their character or social status, etc.”
One woman replied, "I think most Koreans would assume that they are from Africa, which could be used to make fun of them."
They also talked about how they occasionally witness racism towards black people.
"Blacks definitely get made fun of. Because people think they don’t understand Korean, they’d say things like ‘negro’ or ‘blackie.’ I hear people saying things like that on occasion," said one South Korean.
Others talked about the stereotype perpetuated by Western movies and TV shows that black people as dangerous.
"Black people are dangerous because you see them in the movies shooting people and doing drugs," said another woman on common black stereotypes.
In fact, many of the South Koreans that were interviewed say they base their perceptions of black people by what they see on screen.
"Even in the American movies Koreans grew up watching, black people are portrayed as poor while white people are always seen as rich and elitist. The movies definitely help form certain perceptions," said one South Korean.
They also talked about the racism they themselves experience when they travel outside South Korea.
"I remember getting insulted and intimidated for being Asian," said one woman. Another said, "They'd treat me like I'm either Chinese or Japanese."
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