Drama Casting & News
Western actors becoming more visible on Korean TV
by | August 14, 2009 | 79 Comments

Here’s an article that takes a look at the growing trend of non-Korean actors being featured on television, which caught my eye because it talks about one of the leads in the new weekend comic drama Tamra the Island, which I’m enjoying.

“Foreigners on television are no longer unfamiliar”

On the 8th, viewers watching MBC’s new weekend drama Tamra the Island [탐나는도다] may have cocked their heads. That was because of the appearance of the lead French actor with the golden hair and blue eyes in the role of William. Hwang Chan-bin, birth name Pierre Deporte, is a Frenchman who attended high school in Korea. He couldn’t forget his home country and after graduating from university he returned to Korea and first met the public on the program Global Talk Show [aka Misuda, 미녀들의 수다], and now has even appeared in a television drama.

A few facts: 23-year-old Hwang Chan-bin (I’ll use his stage name since that’s what he’s going by these days) was born in France and first worked in Korea as a model. He is fluent in Korean, judging from the posts he’s made on his mini-homepage.

In the drama (Episode 1 recap here), Hwang plays a 17th-century Englishman named William who washes onto Jeju Island, and even shares a kiss with the drama’s lead, Seo Woo. If you’re wondering why he’s English and not French, it’s because the original manhwa character is English — which also explains why he is unfortunately styled so glaringly blond. One of the things I like about Tamra‘s handling of William is that he’s a sweet, nice guy, and while it’s an important element that he is a foreigner (particularly on the closed-off island of Tamra), they don’t make such a big deal of it. At least, main character Beo-jin doesn’t; I’m sure there will be troubles ahead when the more narrow-minded villagers find out about his presence.


Assorted Gems

Next month, another Western actor will appear in the drama Assorted Gems [보석비빔밥], the new project by writer Im Sung-han of Love in Heaven [하늘이시여]: American Michael Blunck. He’s a wakeboarder who has lived in Korea for nearly fifteen years. He doesn’t have much acting experience, but he has an attractive appearance and excellent Korean language skills.

There are more than 1 million foreigners visiting and living in Korea, and the appearance of a multicultural Korean society is increasing on television.

Although dramas like Golden Bride and Namchon Beyond the Mountain dealt with foreign women immigrating to Korea, most of the roles have been acted by Korean actresses. As the number of foreigners living in Korea grows, more non-Korean actors are stepping into acting roles themselves, and Korean viewers have begun to accept them as members of Korean society.

For instance, Golden Bride starred actress Lee Young-ah as a Vietnamese (and half-Korean) woman who marries a Korean man. I’d venture to guess that casting a Korean actress is mostly out of concern for language and acting talent, although there was a Vietnamese actress, Haiyen (another Misuda graduate), who played a supporting character in the KBS drama Flowers For My Life.


Golden Bride, Flowers For My Life

Last week, KBS’s variety program 1 Night, 2 Days had a special “Traveling With Foreign Friends” segment. There were students who had come to Korea from India, the Ivory Coast, America, and Japan, and six participants including Kang Ho-dong took off on a trip to Jeonnam and Cheongsan-do. Their skin color and outer appearances may be different, but they formed friendships with their companions as they traveled to the beach and enjoyed Korea’s nature.

The original program to start this trend is KBS’s Global Talk Show [aka Misuda, aka Chatting with Beauties]. The program is cruising in is fourth year of popularity, and features a panel of women foreigners and their discussion about Korea from their point of view. PD Lee Ki-won said, “Our society is quickly changing into a multicultural one. We were educated as children to have pride in our homogeneous nation, but these times, with our 1 million foreign residents, are demanding that we change our awareness. I hope that through Misuda, we can reflect the changing consciousness of Korean society.”

The problem is, the television roles for foreigners still don’t mix in freely, and the perspective on directing foreign actors is still as the “other.” We’re still at the level where the casting of a foreign actor stimulates curiosity with viewers. Goryeo University sociology professor Hyun Taek-soo says, “In order to become a truly multicultural society, we have to move past curiosity to understanding and natural harmony. In the States and elsewhere, they don’t have programs like Misuda, whose perspective on racial prejudice is so severe. In multicultural societies, they aren’t ‘others’ but members of society.”

Via Mk.co.kr

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79 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. ichigopan

    That’s pretty awesome to see foreign actors on Korean dramas. Especially with Hwang Chan-bin in a prominent role. Most of the time, foreign actors show up as villains or extras. It’s nice to see some progress in breaking down barriers and stereotypes.

  2. onie80

    i’m very happy about that …I wish, they will not only feature westerners in their movies (i’m not a westerner so i wish more representation).. i guess they do little by little. I hope foreigners will be seen in a better light now, given everything i hear

    BTW i want to watch the segment if 1N2D do u know where i can watch it ?

  3. Samsooki

    I was watching New Heart (recently completed drama), and there is this scene where an English VIP gets a heart attack on a golf course and has to be saved by Ji Sung (first year resident). They bring the VIP back to the hospital and after he gets better, he thanks everyone and then leaves. But he thanks everyone in Korean and his pronunciation was waaaaay better than I thought it would be.

    Not sure who the actor was, but his Korean was really good – I would guess that he has spent considerable time in Korea, because you can’t really get to that kind of fluidity just by practicing on your own. It wasn’t a major role, but it was notable to me because of the level of proficiency of that guy. He opens his mouth, and you hear Korean spoken with an English accent, but the pronunciation is still really good. Was kind of amusing!

    I am pretty envious of that kind of language ability. I was at a grocery store back in my law school days and I heard this guy talking to his gf in flawless rapid Korean about this and that, telling a funny lewd joke in Korean (I figured it was his gf because of the subject matter). I turn around after a bit, and I only see a Korean girl and no Korean guy – maybe he took off to get something else. So I turn around again, and again I hear a Korean guy talking. So I quickly turn around again, and its this white guy speaking in absolutely perfect Korean! Sigh… wish I had that kind of ability.

    If someone could give me a choice between $1M and the ability to speak fluently in Korean, I would choose the latter.

  4. 098634

    they’re still horrible actors. everything they do just cringe worthy.

  5. 098634

    but Hwang Chan-bin the French guy who plays William is a step above many white actors who just seem and act awkward *remembers the first 20 minutes of Tamra, the Island*

  6. Tippy

    There’s hope for me yet! Wahoooo!

    Things to do today:
    1. Master the Korean language
    2. Learn how to act

  7. LadyIgraine

    I remember seeing the first foreigner in a Korean drama through “Stairway to Heaven.” A caucasian man(don’t know his name) played Kwon Sangwoo’s bodyguard. I think everyone is familiar with that drama, and I think everyone will remember the kindhearted bodyguard.

  8. Anonymous

    Everytime I buy food from the korean stores arounds my city, I always say “thank you” in Korean. I sometimes hesitate and feel weird saying it so I mumble it when I finish checking out. LOL

  9. keepsake

    I didn’t know that homogeneity is so revered in Korea until I started watching Korean dramas. I am glad that the Korean society is gradually more receptive of foreigners. How about the mixed race korean actors? aren’t they still very severly judged? just to name a few,…Lee Yoo Jin who denied that she was bi-racial until just a few years ago. Don’t they get unequal treatment in the business industry, worse than say..pure westerners?
    Frankly, Korea is still a long waste from being a multi cultural country that can operate like its western counterparts albeit that you can never eliminate prejudice and racism.

  10. 10 BellaMafia

    I always wonder how Hwang Chan Bin speaks Korean fluently… ic.. he went to high school in Korea.
    How’s his acting? What ‘cha think?

    @ Samsooki… you should choose $1M, use that money to buy a house in Korea, and hire a bunch of private tutors to teach the language, there you go…! :-).
    Btw, I always thought you’re Korean.. ooppss….

  11. 11 keepsake

    The ironic thing is that the Korean society may frown upon inter-racial marriage or give unequal treatment to mixed raced kids but you see that a lot of the Korean stars are making themselves to look more and more like a westerner.

    I don’t know how Lee Yoo Jin was able to hide her bi-racial identity (she’s half latino half Korean) for so long when you can obviously tell that she looks very different than a typical pure breed Korean. eh…..I dyed my hair and..wear color contacts?? haha

  12. 12 Biscuit

    ^I was just about to mention him! I don’t think he was a bodyguard though, more of a personal assistant. But he was also the first time I saw a foreigner in a Korean drama.

    The thing is, I’m so use to Korea being a homogeneous society, that seeing more and more foreigners on tv all of a sudden is really strange. Not in a bad way, but I’m not use to seeing them on tv/dramas often.

    Perhaps it’s like a black board and having a single white dot on it. Something that was always completely black now has a white dot.. it’s different and it sticks out completely. Again, it’s not bad.. that white dot is certainly get larger. and it’s something to really get use to.

    oh. and one problem that happened in the past was that every time they had foreigners featured in dramas (like the American women at the beginning of Fantasy Couple), they can’t act -_- And it’s really strange.. their acting -_-
    I heard from one person that sometimes they get college students to do roles.
    Maybe that’s why it was always weird seeing foreigners in dramas, since they always picked the people who couldn’t act >.>

  13. 13 Alexi

    I think Caucasian foreigners and non-Caucasian foreigners are probably viewed, and treated pretty differently in Korea.

  14. 14 Samsooki

    @10 BellaMafia –

    @ Samsooki… you should choose $1M, use that money to buy a house in Korea, and hire a bunch of private tutors to teach the language, there you go…! .
    Btw, I always thought you’re Korean.. ooppss….

    Well, my parents are Korean…so that makes me Korean-American I guess. I was born in the Midwest and raised mostly in new england private schools, so up until college, I really didn’t see myself as anything but “American.” When I first got to college, I was like, “OMG there are so many Asian-looking people…” And I didn’t really like the way that any of them looked or how they all seemed to congregate together like clique-y sheep. And then when I went to Korea for a summer, I was like, “OMG, there are sooooooo many Korean people here….” It was SUCH a shock to see that many Korean people just walking around and not worrying about whether there were too many of them in one place (and whether that made them seem clique-y). Of course, when I got back from Korea, I was all like, “Korean stuff rocks!” and i just wanted to listen to k-pop and stuff… *roll eyes* I was just a tad bit impressionable… lol.

    My Korean listening, reading and writing is pretty decent, but actually speaking is problematic. Even with a Korean house and Korean tutors, my Korean speaking ability would always be accented, always be strange, always be a little lacking.

    Contrast that with, say, Hwang Chan-bin. Sigh, more power to him, and kudos. I bet he can speak French and Korean fluently, and I bet he also knows or is learning English too….

    I would definitely choose the perfect speaking ability over $1M. People with ears and tongues to speak multiple languages are so blessed… makes me envious just thinking about it…

  15. 15 spunah

    Just my humble opinion, but I think it’s going to take a loooong time for Korea to truly think “multiculturally,” and integrate non-ethnic looking actors into media in a natural way. I mean, America is only just settling into its seat comfortably enough to consider Asian actors as mainstream, i.e. Sandra Oh, Lucy Liu….Korea is still very internally single-minded and exclusive while externally campaigning diversity. The first steps with Misuda and other variety shows are very encouraging though, and I’m sure the genuine intention is there.

  16. 16 Selly

    I think the adding of foreigners out of Asia (I know Eva is Asian bu she was also brought up in England) became most famous with SUJU Full House and Eva.. she was/is on Misuda =]

  17. 17 Biscuit

    @Keepsake

    In the way that I see it, it’s not about wanting to look like a westerner/etc, it’s merely that the features they want just happens to be considered “western”.
    idk, double eye-lid? I know people who want it, not because they want to look Caucasian, but because of that belief that it makes your eyes look bigger..

    On the other hand, about “Koreans not liking Westerners, but wanting to look like Westerners”, from listening to all the old ajummas talking – the part about Westerners they don’t appreciate has more to do with culture. I mean, it has nothing to do with appearance. The ajummas can’t even stand the girls who are ethnically Korean, but act all Americanish since they always complain about it whenever they come back from grocery shopping at the LA Korean Galleria :/

    My dad, a non-Korean (my mom is Korean, making me mixed) told me this (He was in Korea during the army) told me that theres a difference when you truly try to learn the culture and respect it, than not caring at all and giving disrespect. Like speaking. Theres a difference between having an accent yet truly trying hard to pronounce it, than compared to a person who doesn’t even put effort into pronouncing it correctly.

    That’s why he always tells me that even though I don’t speak full Korean, always make sure that I try my best to give respect to the language and pronounce it the correct way. Even if I have an obvious accent, the Koreans will always appreciate the effort. (My sister speaks it in a sloppy matter… like saying Hal-meo-ni as HARRRmony.. and claims she’s speaking Korean and boasts her Korean speaking abilities that she’s multi-lanugual -she only knows a few word here and there-, yet she speaks with such a sloppy way without truly caring if it’s actually correct, it ticks off the Koreans.)

  18. 18 f

    Korea still has a long way to go…

  19. 19 AWC

    I really appreciated the last point made in the article, about Korea having to move past curiosity to an understanding of foreigners. When I lived in Korea (I came back to the States a year ago), people were very friendly and encouraging, even when I made mistakes. But I realized that it was nearly impossible to ever truly be accepted in that country. I could be 85, having lived in Korea all my life, be married to a Korean, and speak Korean fluently, but I would always be “the other”.

    I love that country, so I’m happy to read thoughtful articles like this about how things are changing and what still needs to be done. I also agree strongly with the point made by Biscuit – to gain respect and appreciation from any group of people, you need to make an effort to show respect to them

  20. 20 Ora

    I’m hoping that with more caucasian actors becoming more visible in dramas, more caucasian actresses will also become visible as well.

  21. 21 Samsooki

    @19 AWC –
    I really appreciated the last point made in the article, about Korea having to move past curiosity to an understanding of foreigners. When I lived in Korea (I came back to the States a year ago), people were very friendly and encouraging, even when I made mistakes. But I realized that it was nearly impossible to ever truly be accepted in that country. I could be 85, having lived in Korea all my life, be married to a Korean, and speak Korean fluently, but I would always be “the other”.

    I’m not sure if “acceptance” is something that can be expected of any country, and I’m not sure if there is any country, including the United States, where a non-majority person can expect to be treated equally from a person-to-person perspective.

    There was a recent (Gallup??) poll where African Americans were asked if racism were still a serious issue in this country, and half said that it was, and almost 90% said that it was at the very least, an issue they had to deal with on regular basis. And these are American citizens who were born here, lived here all their lives, could speak English properly, be married to an American citizen, etc.

    The idea of accepting someone who doesn’t look like you, isn’t just a problem that Korea has. It is a problem that every society, every people, throughout history has had to deal with. I deal with it on occasion too, and sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had been born and raised in Korea rather than here.

    I don’t think it is a necessarily a cultural or ethnic thing – accepting people who don’t look like you has to be taught, or, rather, what should NOT be taught is the non-acceptance of people who don’t look like you. Still, in Korea’s case, there is a lot of learning to do, and it may take a generation or two, plus a progressive mindset, to be more culturally-accepting.

    (That said, the preference of one’s own culture for personal reasons (or even arbitrary reasons) is not the same thing as the non-acceptance of another culture or the non-acceptance of a person who looks different…. you can be accepting of other cultures and still prefer your own, no? this is a tricky issue, and something that might have to be discussed on an open thread one day.)

  22. 22 TestingJake

    I like the change. I would say the roles that are given has to be picked carefully. I mean I watch american TV and would not want to see some of the same roles portrayed in america on Korean TV. One thing I would like to see is more roles given to actors and actresses of different asian countries.

    I would too like to see maybe a person of any type of black decent rather they be from an asian country , USA , england or wherever given a role and not one of a thief or potential rapist. I haven’t seen many mixed with black or blacks in K dramas and when I do they are usually robbing or causing a problems. I wonder if this is the image that Korea (or the world has of those with black decent )have of those who are of black decent ? I love korea and K – dramas and movies and hope to visit one day , but am afraid of the reception I might get being that I am bi-racial.

  23. 23 EM

    Interesting article, I was just discussing this the other day after watching Tamra that I hope western actors would be given more prominence on korean dramas, not just small side roles but leading roles.

    After watching Episode 2 of Tamra, it really made me think that Pierre deserves to carry on getting major character roles because his acting was a lot better than I expected…there was the one scene when he comforted the girl and I thought he had the most expressive eyes. His english scenes may be awkward but I thought his acting was a lot more natural when speaking korean. Funny that.
    Yet Im still doubtful that he will because considering kdramas there’s not much that would suit him being a westerner because most are so heavily focused around korean culture that it would make it difficult to go beyond the stereotypical ‘foreign’ character they always have to play.

  24. 24 Gia

    I want denis o’neil back
    Miss him in sweet Spy

  25. 25 Snikki

    Re: Korean language

    It’s very hard to learn (for me at least). My SIL who is fluent in both Korean and Japanese said it herself. Though my brother learned it quickly…hmm. I guess it’s case by case basis. I envy polyglots!

  26. 26 SooAzn

    I am glad that some Asian country at least becoming very aware of foreigners. In Japan, although there are many foreigners, they still don’t accept them as much, culture-wise and media-wise. I still haven’t seen any of them in drama ever as main character. Foreigners tend to be in the drama as an extra. I know for sure many Asians are still uncomfortable with the idea of foreigners in Asia. I know that because the comments about them aren’t that nice. But at least some people are taking one step toward the multicultural society.

  27. 27 Miki

    I disagree that in the States, people not of the majority (typically white protestants) is not considered the “other”. It’s one of the reasons why those of the majority feels so uncomfortable when they visit a neighborhood made up of largely what is considered a minority. They experience what most minority experience on a day-to-day basis. The feeling that although no one has commented on it, you are still different, still fewer, and still stick out. Just because no one treats you badly doesn’t mean you don’t notice it.

    I wonder what would happen if I live in Vietnam. I’m 100% Vietnamese, and I still get a feeling of unease when mingling with strangers where I’m the only Asian, let alone Vietnamese. Visiting Vietnam a few months ago gave a feeling of relief… To understand every language, to not see anything different, to not stick out myself merely because of my ethnicity. Only after experiencing the complete feeling of belonging do you realize your feelings of unease here. But then again, since I’m “American” on the inside, what I said and did sort of stuck out… *sigh* It’s not easy. Only when we have world peace and maybe even the disintegration of countries will the true acceptance of different ethnicities and cultures appear.

  28. 28 AWC

    21 Samsooki
    I’m not sure if “acceptance” is something that can be expected of any country, and I’m not sure if there is any country, including the United States, where a non-majority person can expect to be treated equally from a person-to-person perspective.

    27 Miki
    I disagree that in the States, people not of the majority (typically white protestants) is not considered the “other”. It’s one of the reasons why those of the majority feels so uncomfortable when they visit a neighborhood made up of largely what is considered a minority. They experience what most minority experience on a day-to-day basis. The feeling that although no one has commented on it, you are still different, still fewer, and still stick out. Just because no one treats you badly doesn’t mean you don’t notice it.

    I definitely agree that this is a problem for every country in the world. The United States still has quite a ways to go, because it’s certainly not as if people from African, Asian, or any descent other than White European are nearly as visible as they should be in the media here. It’s also not a problem that lies merely at a cultural level. People’s brains are hard-wired to react to what’s different. Instead, it’s a challenge that everyone faces, to teach themselves to be as color-blind as possible.

  29. 29 c_gunawan541

    Hmm… i live in Singapore and it’s a multicultural country. We often see foreigners everywhere and we have culture harmony day stuffs which i really appreciate.
    Singapore have indians, chinese, malays, caucasians in their national day posters which i think it’s really great. And in their pledge, they always have “equal and racial harmony”.
    But when i went to the states for a year, i think i can see the difference between both countries in terms of how they deal with other cultures.

    The states is still in term of accepting. Although many people hates discrimination, it’s still a commonly widespread problem in the states. Most of them don’t show it vocally or obviously but it’s more like a silent treatment.

    BTW, back to topic. Tamra is pretty entertaining though i don’t think i’ll stick with it to the end. Sageuk is still ughhh weird for me. And that french guy is too blonde, i like his natural hair color better.

  30. 30 budsdiana

    @29

    In my opinion Singapore has it easier to make “multi-cultural” works because its a small nation state, and population wise is quite “small.”. But compared to the US of A the vastness of the country and the huge population, its quite a different dynamics, just my two cents.

  31. 31 scarlettraces

    it’s not so much that non-Koreans acting in Korean shows ‘can’t act’, but a mixture of a couple of things. each country/nationality tends to have a style of acting (compare japan and korea, for example, where the korean style is much more focused on subtle changes in the face, and japan’s on more exaggerated body language. this is a generalisation and will change from drama to drama, of course). and it tends to be difficult for directors to direct actors when a second language is being used – either the director’s or the actor’s. for instance a french director working in english tends to produce a different kind of film than his/her films in french (like Ozon’s Angel). sometimes this is fine but mostly it ends up with a performance that sounds and looks stilted. (although a lot of the foreigners i’ve seen in asian telly were clearly picked for convenience and not acting skills. yes.)

    • 31.1 kb

      I think the bad acting is just because there’s a smaller pool of people to choose from when picking a non-Korean. And they are probably people looking to be extras not real actors. The thing that irks me the most is when they have English dialogue and it makes no sense. Like in My Lovely Sam Soon, Daniel Henney says “hand phone.” Americans do not call their cell phones “hand phone”. Even mobile (although British/UK) would’ve been more acceptable. And loads more of awkward English dialogue which was probably written by a nonfluent speaker. Why doesn’t the actor provide some input into what a real American/foreigner would actually say?

      In Hong Kong, there is this trend as well of non-Chinese appearing on TV. Long time actor Gregory Charles River is from Australia but speaks nearly perfect Cantonese. Sadly, he got typecasted into evil foreigner (mostly in historical dramas where a Brit cheats someone out of a lot of money). He was in loads of dramas in the 90s but retired from drama acting. Now there are two ethnically Indian actors and they even get their own storylines!

  32. 32 spuf

    I’ve dropped about a handful of Korean dramas that have depicted Westerners in a negative light with baseless reasoning. Brilliant Legacy would be one example – where no more than ten minutes into the first episode there was a moment where the dialogue went off on a tangent about blacks and their supposed, ‘natural behavior.’ I believe it was expressed in one line, but that was enough to completely turn me away from the program.

    I can understand why this can be jarring for some, but I don’t particularly mind the racial fusion in Korean entertainment, so long as there’s a real justification of certain characters being non-Korean or Western. I must admit, I’m a little tired of seeing European ‘catches’ depicted by fairly average-looking Western actors. It’s real bizarro casting if you ask me…

  33. 33 skjdf

    the guy from tamra island attended both middle and highschool in korea. his mother is korean (step) so his more korean than white on the inside.

  34. 34 hmmm

    i wouldnt call misuda a popular program. there average rating in korea is 5% last time thanks to snsd they got up to 10% lol.

  35. 35 w.e

    koreans negative view on foreigners in korea is naturally because foreigners that come to korea are either retarded american soldiers, english teachers who think they are the shit and doesnt need to learn and respect korean culture, and illegal immigrants from other asian countries that come to ilegally work and not pay taxes and etc. blablabala . the only non korean immigrants that have an okay image are just the europeans because they actually have a sense or intelligence when it comes to behaving with respect. americans are just so… immature

    • 35.1 Alexadubu

      I don’t see why these english teachers are bad examples of foreigners~ they are the ones working their asses of teaching Koreans to speak english properly.

      I am a Korean medical student now living in Australia and because of these english teachers that I became who I am now.

      Its very sad to see that you just placed Korean people as american hating jerks. I pity you.

      Just so you know, we don’t prefer Europeans over anyone. People are people. We based them on their actions and morals.

      You are being a hypocrite and these are the people we Koreans hate.

  36. 36 javabeans

    A 5% rating is a strong number for any show that isn’t prime-time. pretty good for late-night.

  37. 37 KTX

    Wow, these comments are really really interesting and thoughtful! Makes me want to think over all of these issues that have been brought up.

  38. 38 afternoontea

    @Spuf

    I dropped Brilliant Legacy for that same reason. lol, Our “natural behavior” yet, your popstars love appropriating this so-called natural behavior. Give me a break.

    Korea (and Japan) still has a long way to go in terms of the way people of color are portrayed on-screen.

  39. 39 absolution

    @afternoontea

    That doesn’t make any sense. lol, “our” popstars only do what’s popular. You just got to love this reasoning that permeates from victims of minority politics. It always spirals to this ‘us and them’ mentality. Look, it’s a tv show, not a soapbox convention. Now I’m sure you were surprised to find black stereotypes outside of the US …but we get American channels too. But I’m guessing you’re also the type to get indignant by satire.

    By the way, the feeling’s mutual buddy.

  40. 40 yvhsien

    @Samsooki
    I am with you. Rather than $1 million, please give me the ability to learn any languages quickly and fluently.

    If Koreans have a hard time accepting mixed Koreans then they definitely have a long way to go. In most places, not only is this mixed race accepted but sometimes thought to be a cool thing. Even though certain nicknames are given i.e. ‘hapa’ (in Hawaiian) to depict a caucasian and Asian mix, ‘kopi susu’ (in Malaysia) for an Indian and Chinese mix etc., they are not meant to be degrading. In fact, those who are of mixed race use these nicknames to identify their ethnicity to others.

    I’ve heard of Misuda and would love to be on it but first, I will have to keep learning Korean and hope to master it fast.

  41. 41 ayme

    @samsooki — all i can say is well said! you’ve outlined what is more or less same perspective I have in my mind. it’s unfortunate that with a country like Korea who stands at 13th most economical country in the world that somehow people are still not receptive to people who are not same colour as themselves! I’m from Asia myself & have a handful of Korean people I’ve met and thankfully they don’t look at my skin colour, matter of fact they encourage me to go visit Korea one day! I heard some negative things about when you go visit Korea and you’re not as light-skinned as most of them are, they sort of look down on you, I’m not sure if they feel superior because of the skin colour or whatever but I still love these people, their rich culture, not to mention their food, the awesome Korean dramas, their gorgeous actors, actresses, etc. I just wanna say, let’s all be color-less and no matter what our colour or culture, let’s embrace one another, after all this Universe is for all of us to share!
    Re foreigners who are embarking in the Korean entertainment world, it’s really a step in the right direction I think!
    Re Korean language: I’ve been learning and self-teaching — i’m now able to read & write but still have a long way to go in terms of understanding every word I’m writing or reading! Overall what I can say is albeit some of the negative things I’m hearing about Korea, I’m fascinated with their beautiful country, their modern technology, rich culture and I can go on & on and hoping that one day I get to experience it through my own eyes & words! Saranghae Korea!

  42. 42 Charlo

    What I REALLY hope to see is some dark-skinned actors/actresses. That’ll be really taking a big step forward. Caucasian is a great step as well, but there are plenty of Koreans who discriminate just because your skin is dark (think about it, paler skin is seen as beautiful and feminine). I heard that just until a few years ago, dark skinned teachers weren’t accepted in Korean schools.

    Sorta random, but I’ve read on wiki (it’s mostly accurate shut up!) that there was a violent dispute that stemmed from Korean grocery shop owners who purposely charged black customers more money because they believed that they do most/all of the shop lifting.

    Either way, I hope that we see more variety in Korean media (in general, HA).

  43. 43 chajjye

    i find learning the korean language easy and hard. unlike chinese which is hard to pick up and advance, korean hangul is quite easy to pick up but the grammar and honorifics stuff is confusing at times.

    nevertheless, the reason y i kept on at kpop was mainly because of the language. i know everyone say it sounds rude and all, but to me, it sounds eloquent. hehe. the ending sounds are more rounded i guess.

    but yeah, i like to be a polyglot. staying in malaysia kinda helps though our grammar would be so wrong thanks to the bibimbap-ness of our language. mix everything and anything altogether. XD

    i agree that wherever you go, society will tend to have a certain degree of impression for each race. even in malaysia, the multiracial country, there is often that racial conflict, no thanks to the further politicking meddling. :(

    korea still has a long way to go after being a homogeneous race for so long. it’s good that they do things like love in asia, which highlights interracial marriages. i have yet to find a young corporate couple in that show though. it’d be good to see how young koreans marry non-koreans who are working as well, not just staying at home and taking care of the family (talking bout women here). but yes, misuda is a good place to start.

  44. 44 Anonymous

    @39 absolution

    I think what the poster is trying to say is it’s ok for kpopstars to emulate black people,yet still think of them as barbarians. Someone once told me that it was weird that black people liked kpop and that they should get away from their culture but,if you look at some of the influences those popstars have you’ll see michael jackson,maxwell,notorius b.i.g,etc. like who’s the real hypocrite?

    Anyways,I’m half black/korean and I would claim my black side over my Korean side any day of the week. It’s sad I know,but I doubt I would be ever accepted as Korean by Koreans,unless I win Superbowl MVP or something like that.

    It’s wonderful that Korea is finally getting some ‘multiculturalism’ but it’s going to take more than a few drama roles to achieve

  45. 45 afternoontea

    @Anonymous

    That’s exactly what I was saying. It just seems really hypocritical.

    Comments like the one made to your friend are why it’s still going to take some time for things. I’ve been lucky to only have Koreans respond positively after they hear of my interest in their culture.

    Yeah you see how well Hines Ward was accepted after he won the MVP award. Maybe his work in Korea will mean that more multiracial children, regardless of sports achievements, will be accepted as Korean.

  46. 46 ontology

    @44 & 45

    You’re basically telling me Koreans have to reach a certain quota to do pop music. Is that right? Ridiculous. Unless we as people ascend to the level of “tolerance” that the black Americans have set, the Korean teens cannot sing and dance or it’ll somehow be deemed hypocritical. What a douche nozzle. Did these pop stars all join an anti-hip-hop union that I didn’t know about? See this what kills me about black people. Al Sharpton and all these fake two-faced moral crusaders. Want people to change their minds about you? Hmmm I don’t know, maybe improving your image wouldn’t bad idea. Remember, hate is a two way street.

    Thanks for elaborating your pedigree. I’ll be sure to address you as a black person from now on.

    You know, if going multicultural (which I doubt Korea will ever be in the near future) means harboring self-righteous imperialist assholes, it’s better to not even go through the destructive minority riots that’ll come with the transition. Not worth it at all.

  47. 47 mina

    is it just me or does he look like this french guy who was in a documentary about people learning korea?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DN_tM9aG4g

    O_o

  48. 48 Meagan

    I’m not too keen on this.
    If I want to see white people, all I have to do is turn on the TV at home.
    Every channel, every show, WHITE PPL EVERYWHERE!!!! LOL.
    I don’t mean this to offend. I just don’t want everything to be westernized. It’s already westernized enough as it is.

  49. 49 yellowK

    @ alex (13), TestingJake(22), afternoontea(45) and annoymous(44)

    I agree with the majority of post, korea (japan) and this world as a whole has a long way to go. But as someone mentioned, its great that their are more foreigners on television but the majority of them (or at least those presented in a positive manner) are caucasion, of lighter skin. I too would *love* to see someone of a darker complexion portrayed in a positive light. Maybe I’m oblivious but I can’t think of any dramas where I’ve seen that yet all sorts of examples come to mind of derogatory roles. When I say someone of color I don’t necessarily mean Black, yet someday I hope to see a move beyond the stereotypical “dangerious/brute/gangsta/thug/maid” roles that I’ve seen. [sooo cringe-worthy/frustrating]

    Even though I think Pierre looks silly beyond belief (the brown hair really is fitting) its great that he has such a prominent role and hope he does well. As for the acting of the foreign people I know a lot of us (myself included) see that and believe its horrible– but I wonder, maybe the intended audience doesn’t mind or notice. The best example I can think of is when the main characters are supposed to be fluent in english and “speak” it. though not always the case, I can’t understand what they’re saying minus the subtitles. yet, if you weren’t familiar with the english language you wouldn’t be bothered, right? when they speak french or some other language that isn’t my foreign tongue I can’t tell the difference. it’s just “(insert language)” that I don’t understand and no isn’t korean.

    FINALLY (*READ* BEFORE YOU RANT): I really can’t respond to the statement two replies above me (#46). Honestly whoever posted that didn’t bother to read what afternoontea and annoymous said. their ignorance is clearly expressed.

    to be honest I do feel that i understand where these posters may be coming from. no, all music is not inspired by America nor is all rap/hiphop/etc a direct copy off what’s happening in the US. *But* in our globalized society there is serious transculturation going on. so when mannerisms that are associated with people of color are immulated yet these same people can’t be accepted…its not just Blacks (foreigners in general) but I too sense an inconsistency.

  50. 50 TestingJake

    Wow. I don’t how to reply to #46. I am multi racial and yes part of that is black. I am proud to be every race that I am mixed with. As a member of the black community I wish people would judge everyone on their on individual merit. I must say I am not a fan of sharpton or jackson , I do not agree with them being the self appointed speakers of the black community ( i wasn’t there for that vote) and at times shameful at the over zealousness to make any little situation one of racism and then themselves turn around and do things that can be seen as so. I know people of black decent have a bad rap, turn on the news or even a tv show and what do you see a person of black decent acting a fool. Every race has these fools , but the ones of the black community are the ones most displayed. ( not saying this intentional or if it really is based on mass numbers) , but it seems many races judge everyone of black decent because of this. I have worked hard to not to be lumped into that category. I am proud of my black side , but do find it embarrassing at times when I mentioned it after witnessing someone of my race do something that seems to destroy everything I have worked for the try to hold up a positive role. I wish I could see this changing , but I do not see it. I just wish everyone would meet a person on a person to person basis rather than you are this or part that and I seen that group of people on news robbing or saw them down the street mugging. Yes I share that groups race and proud of it , but that does not make me a bad person. I am a realist when it comes to the world and I know even though I judge not by the color or lump people in by genetic association that I will receive the same fair judgment back. I just wish the world was like that. # 46 I do find your comments offensive , but you are entitled to your opinion and the way you chose to express it.

    Like I said before I am in love with most asian cultures with Korean being at the top of the list. I am trying to understand the language from relatives and friends and plan on visiting when I get the chance , but I am apprehensive about it because of my mixed race , while I am quite light I have features that make it known that I am mixed.

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