Saturday, December 16, 2006

Monoracial nation inexplicably racist!

That's right, Korea, a country with one racial group and an identity based almost entirely on eating food nobody else likes and shunning outsiders, is racist and doesn't even know it. I'm talking about an incident (dealt with in English on The Marmot's Hole blog) on the asinine KBS TV show "The Beauties' Chatterbox". The show features beautiful young foreign women (mostly exchange students and dancers from former soviet satellites) who speak fluent Korean discussing Korea and how great, unique and interesting it is (eventually: being an acquired taste, it takes a looong time to grow to love Korea). One of the young ladies, African-American Leslie Bensfield, was singing a Korean song when singer Cheon Myeong-Hun appeared on stage in a rasta wig and began doing Korea's own version of the classic American blackface, chanting "shickamunce!" (transliteration mine and mine alone), roughly translated: "I'm really black!"

None of this should be any surprise in a country where I've had grown men approach me child-like and either grab my belly and go "Fat" or touch my head and say "No hair!" with a strong sense of wide-eyed wonder. The shock is KBS's reaction to large amounts of criticism from viewers, both Korean and foreign: nothing. They have said it is not racist and that Cheon will continue to appear on the terrible show, despite the incident and being even less talented and attractive than the average Korean pop-star and having crooked teeth.

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