Korean Sociological Image #10: “Blackface”

Cyon Black and White Adverisement

Spare a thought for the hapless LG Cyon marketing department: after 12 years in the business, it must be really difficult to think of interesting names for new phones.

No, really. How else to explain the singularly uninspired choice of “Black and White” for the latest, well…black and white LV-7400 phones to come out? Sure, the likes of “Lollipop” and “Ice Cream” may hardly have been all that creative either, but at least they spawned quirky and memorable advertising campaigns. Whereas this series of advertisements for the LV-7400 seems dull, uninspired, and above all too literal, although in fairness they do provide a instant and dramatic representation of the product, and the commercial itself has a mild eroticism and sensuality to it that compels you to look more closely.

But of course, it wasn’t their relative lack of artistic merits made me sit up and take notice. If you haven’t already figured out why for yourself, then take a closer look:

Cyon Black and White Phone Adverisement

Cyon Black and White Adverisement Black Guy

Yes, that is indeed not a Black man, but a Caucasian man somehow painted black.

On the surface, that is just bizarre: was it really so difficult to find a genuine Black guy? No of course not, and given the extra time and effort involved in painting a Caucasian one then it must have been a deliberate choice. But why? Good question, especially as it would have been far more logical and consistent to have also included a Black woman painted white. Without one, then it’s simply confusing more than anything else (is the “coloring” supposed to signify something or not?), albeit by no means the first time an otherwise original and/or creative concept for a Korean advertisement has had a flawed execution. But could the advertisement be construed as racist in any sense?

To answer, my first thought was to turn to Michael Hurt post’s about other Korean examples of the “Blackface” phenomenon at the Scribblings of the Metropolitician, and I broadly agree that the examples he gives are indeed offensive. Moreover, a huge multinational company like LG (of which Cyon is just the name of its mobile phone arm) would be well aware that such advertisements would probably be highly problematic in Western markets, and as such cannot claim ignorance of their racist connotations and history, a parallel of which is Coreana’s use of Nazi imagery in a cosmetics commercial (see Brian in Jeollanam-do here and here for more on that). Nor do I accept the argument that images that Westerners would find problematic are automatically rendered acceptable simply by virtue or being made by and for Koreans, a culturally-relativist Girls' Generation Original Album Coverargument that at the very least is highly patronizing to the latter.

But still, despite all that I really do think that one’s gut reaction to such advertisements should be to give the various Korean institutions, companies, and/or individuals behind them the benefit of the doubt, and use them as an opportunity for education. In particular, because Korean society almost completely lacks any sense of political correctness (which can be as refreshing as it is annoying), and as, for instance, the recent controversy over the use of icons of its former Japanese colonizers for Girls’ Generation’s new album cover (see here and here) demonstrate, or the choice of a comfort woman theme for a series of erotic photos, many Korean companies can display a shocking ignorance of what might offend just fellow Koreans, let alone foreigners. Moreover, considering that: until as late as 2006 Korean social science textbooks stated that Korea was a homogeneous society and that *cough* this was a source of national strength (see #1 here); that a great deal of manifestations of supposedly Western culture in the music industry especially are mere imitations of domestic acts that have come before them, sans non-Koreans’ cultural baggage and angst; and finally that, in Japan at least there are:

…teenagers who used to dress up, and maybe still do, in a fashion known as Ganguro (ガングロ), which literally means “black-face.”

According to a Western video report on this phenomenon, this look does not come from people of African descent; instead, its origins are traceable to a Japanese comic’s donning of blackface in order to clown around in a loincloth in the guise of an aboriginal Australian.

Mix&Match Cyon Korean Phone AdvertisementWith influences on Korea also (again, see Michael’s post), then it’s almost surprising that offensive advertisements and so on don’t crop up more often, and perhaps demonstrate that Korean society is improving in this regard, albeit more slowly than surely (see below).

But by providing that context, I’ve possibly lost sight of what was my intended main point, which is that while intent is not the only consideration in judging such an advertisement it is still probably the most important, and accordingly I’m at a loss as to how the Cyon advertisements could be construed as a deliberate attempt to demean Black people somehow, regardless of how much offense it may or may not generate: indeed, if that was the intention, then it could certainly have been done much more directly!

On a final note though, I’m reluctant to let Cyon completely off the hook, for take its advertisement from last year for the “mix&match SH-240 series of phones on the right for instance (source). In isolation, then they’re not bad at all (sex sells after all), but again, consistent and logical would have been alternative advertisements with a Caucasian man and a Korean women getting it on also, let alone Koreans with partners of other ethnicities, and I see such a lack as both very deliberate and emblematic of the Korean media’s *cough* issues with such relationships even in 2009 (see here, here, here, and here). But that’s another blog post, albeit one which I have to write very soon as part of my preparation for this conference in August!

Update, October 17) See here for another controversial example of “contemporary blackface,” this time from the French version of Vogue magazine.

(For more posts in the “Korean Sociological Image” series, see here)

52 thoughts on “Korean Sociological Image #10: “Blackface”

  1. Holy cow !!!

    they painted white dude black ..lol .
    its definitely something that would have been unacceptable here in US .

    i hope Koreans would stop making fun of black people .Well..they do make fun of us for having a big noses too unfortunately.

    In US Americans do make fun of Asians too , so its a two way street i guess .
    I do notice that more Asian models appear on American ads now , before it was only blacks or whites though !!!

    • Well there’s the color of his eyes for one, which I accept may be contacts, but if so, again beg the question of why. But actually the first things I noticed were the shape of his skull, which doesn’t seem very Negroid to me, and then the unnatural tone of his skin, especially in the second picture in the post. Seriously, in many of them he literally seems like a brown version of my very Caucasian self.

      Remember that larger versions of the pictures in the post are available by clicking on them, and many more are available at the “Black and White” section of Cyon website. In some of those, he has some brown discoloration and brown residue on his otherwise very pink fingernails, which again make me think he’s been dyed somehow. Seeing as he moved back to Alabama 7 years ago then I don’t have my Black friend’s fingernails on hand to check myself unfortunately, so could anybody with access :) please let me know what normal Black people’s fingernails look like?

      Other than that, I can’t really add more evidence. But considering that the dozen or so people I showed these ads to to confirm my suspicions about him also thought that he was Caucasian, then his true ethnicity is very ambiguous, and so even if he is in fact Black then he’s a very bad choice for the ad. And what’s with the blue eyes?

    • Have you ever seen a black person in real life?! I’m honestly asking! I doubt you have, since you asked this question.

      1. His features
      2. His eye color
      3. His palms are also painted black. WTF?!
      4. His scalp color and blotchy tone
      5. His greasy sheen
      6. He is the same exact color and tone all over in an unnatural way.

      And the most obvious one:

      6. HIS CHEST IS WHITE WHERE THE BLACK PAINT STOPS.

      Whoever painted this dude probably has never seen a black person either, or they wouldn’t have painted half the spots the way they did. They must not know what human skin looks like either, since they didn’t even bother with variations and natural fading/darkening. Look at some pictures of black people, then look at a picture of Wentworth Miller (which is who that model reminds me of). Enlightened now?

  2. -He’s a fake black man. Notice that Djimon Hounsou (blood diamond black dude) gets to model underwear marketed to American/European (ie White) men. I still think in Korea, using a black dude for anything other than ‘authentic’ hip-hop or african tourism, is a marketing no-no. But do you think Koreans object to Black men with white women?
    -And the other ad, it’s ASIAN MEN STEALING MY WHITE WOMEN!

  3. this black guy sure looks scary!! I thought there is something weird about him, but making a white guy black??
    srly.
    weirdness.

  4. The only reason I can think why they would do this is because, like nick said, marketing using black people in Korea just wouldn’t go down very well. There are blog posts all over the web on the issue of racism and racist sentiment towards black people, south-east Asians, Arabs etc in Korea, so I don’t think we need to go into the details here, but I think that’s partly the reason. What I think I’m trying to say is, if it was a genuine black man, only the white phone would sell.

    Like everyone else, I just can’t work out this advert. I think he’s clearly caucasian, he looks a bit similar to that guy from Prison Break who was so popular in Korea, but I don’t know what possessed them to think that playing with people’s race made good marketing sense, or why the white woman isn’t really a black woman painted white.

    And they may not have had racist intentions, but they should still know better – they wouldn’t appreciate a white person being decorated to look like a Korean to portray a Korean in an American ad campaign.

  5. @Seamus: Actually, the guy from Prison Break (Wentworth Miller) is half black.

    I agree with your opinion– it’s not the actual skin color that makes people uncomfortable. You could paint this model green and he’d still be an attractive figure to the target audience. A black man who looks black, regardless of his skin tone, would not “palatable” to Korean consumers.

    But let’s not pretend that westerners are immune to this either– quick, name a hot black woman! Most white people will say Halle Berry, and the rest will be thinking of Aisha Tyler’s face but can’t remember her name. But let’s be honest, they may be brown in color, but otherwise look very Caucasian.

    • Andrew, (IN AMERICA) “half black” means ALL black. If Halle Berry was a mugger and she robbed you in an alley, when you make your police report, you very well that you would say a BLACK women robbed you.

  6. Random movie or maybe not so random movie comes to mind. The Wayan brothers in “White Chicks”. Black guys, cross dressing in white face. Apparently the movie did pretty good in the box office

  7. I’ll stipulate that your arguments are convincing as rationalizations that South Korean companies could spin effectively and convincingly. It’s conceivable ad execs are savvy about local attitudes, including exposure to markets, like Japan’s. I’ll even agree catering to such attitudes is not equivocating, even if in an American context, it’s offensive. I’ll even go with your argument, that un-PC South Koreans provide some refreshing notoriety to ads, e.h. naked babies’ butts.

    But, have South Korean companies decided just not to try to sell to other markets? Even though Seoul needs to let the won appreciate and encourage domestic consumption, South Korean companies seem hell-bent on an export strategy regardless of how much Americans continue to save. Is this shock and awe to get South Korean consumers to buy one of the few products they do throw money down for? I just shudder to think how xenophobic and chauvinistic advertising might become if cellphone, ramyon, and cosmetics companies continue to play to the worst instincts of the populace.

  8. Korea is a racist country–let the record show it once and for all. This kind of advertisement is just the tip of the iceberg. Advertisers and the general public know exactly what they are doing when they behave this way and they really don’t seem to care, unless someone calls them on it. Even in that case, they simply brush it away, only to commit a similarly racist act in the future.

    I find further offense at the models, actors, and celebrities who allow this sort of behavior to continue. The man in the Cyon ad had to be fully cognizant of what he was being asked to do and is therefore complicit in this act of racism.

  9. Huh. I’m gonna just pass right by the first ad. Although… it’s interesting that the second commenter, posting under a Korean name, claims not to see that the man is white under the paint. Is this actually plausible? Are there so few accurate images of black people in Korea that you could make that mistake?

    So I feel like I was starting to get somewhere with my knowledge of Korea and that Girls Generation thing has just blown me out of the water. Did people object to this? Or was it a case of courting controversy to sell albums? I thought the war was much, much too much of a sore spot for that kind of sexual parody.

    The ad with the Korean man and the white woman is, umm, unambiguous. It’s funny, though, because it seems like the couple you can show in Korean advertising is the less likely pairing in the real world.

  10. Sarah, don’t want to seem like I’m being rude but the second poster, dooberap, isn’t a Korean name, neither are they Korean, according to their blog.

    As for your final point, in a way you’re right, as the Korean media do certainly seem to have some insecurities about acknowledging or portraying Korean women with non-Korean men, despite this being by far the more common situation, especially with “international couples” involving a westerner and a Korean.

  11. Sarah, to your last point about it being funny to see a Korean man with a white women-

    I’m a Korean American man in the US and my last 2 relationships have been with white women. It is probably true, even in the US (I have no real stats) that the Asian-male, white female relationship is less in number than the white male, Asian female relationship. But I assure you that the Asian male and white female relationship is relatively common. In fact my cousin is married to a white women. And a good friend, who is Filipino American is also married to a white women.

    Here in the US, I have not seen a single ad with an Asian male and a white female couple. (Which isn’t to say one doesn’t exist) But I have seen some movies ads that pair Asian men with Black or Hispanic women.

    For me, the ad with the Asian male and white female couple is refreshing.

  12. Pingback: Globalization and . . . no, wait, what? | canarytrap.net

  13. Alex, you’re spot on with your comment about the US media re: asian male and white female, although I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s relatively common. I’m sort of new to this blog (I enjoy it btw, it’s a good perspective) since I’m looking it from a standpoint of a Korean American living here in the US. It’s interesting to see foreigners in Korea complain about the overt racism that they run into almost daily (I’m not defending any of it, it is racism period). But some of the complaining is almost phrased in a way as if to make it seem like the same or very very very similar racism (ie, the pairing of the white woman w/ the korean male in that ad) doesn’t exist here in the US. It does. And it’s not, “well, but in KOREA they do it so blatently…” It’s the same, really, it’s the same.

    I’m sure people will ‘admit’ to this fact, that this subtle racism can be found in the US, but it’s a racism a lot of non-asian foreigners might have to imagine what it’d be like but never had to experience. To see it manifested towards foriegners living in Korea in the same way is at the very least, interesting.

  14. John, you are right. Relatively common is a bit much. I think what I meant was that a WF/AM relationship is not some kind of exotic freak show, at least from where I’m sitting. And of course, not that anyone in here has said that.

    Just like you, I find the attitudes towards foreigners in Korea interesting. Sometimes I am extremely disturbed as with the LG ad. And sometimes I admit that if the “foreigner” is over the top self righteous about how post-racist it is back home, I feel a devilish sense of schadenfreude because I know this isn’t true, at least as far as the US is concerned. Having said that, I’m pretty certain that Koreans are far more overt about categorizing and generalizing people in racial terms than here in the US.

  15. Yup, it is more overt in Korea, but that emphasizes the very fact that it’s so subtle here in the US. And that’s the scary thing. Racism here has become a PC thing that’s over the years / decades become an act for a lot of people. People grow up knowing how to “act” like they’re not racist instead of learning why racism is wrong. People act in ways that suggest they’re not racist, but like the point about how you’ll never see an ad like the one above with the asian male (this is just in the media btw, I don’t even want to get started with everyday subtle forms of racism I experience just in life), racism is very much alive and thriving.

    It’s real racism hiding behind a veil of fake, self-proclaimed “surely i’m not racist” facade, and it’s a good thing some people recognize this already. The scary scary scary thing is those who don’t, and they truly believe that their self-proclaimed non-racist PC comments and behavior are truly not racist (and for that, non-ignorant) … and delusion usually leads to pretty bad situations.

    So this overt Korean racism is pretty whack. But I’m not sure what’s more dangerous … they’re both pretty bad to a point that makes me wonder really, how far ahead is the US’s “post-racism era” than society makes us think we are (obviously I think there’s a ton of progress to be made).

  16. t-hype said it exactly right. it’s simply a rip-off of the equally bad Sony ad. Korea constantly rips off Japanese ads. I’ve seen an hour long special on Korean tv that showed commerical after commercial cut and paste from a Japanese equivalent.

    And the copying is always half-assed and of lower quality. Precisely like this ad. There’s nothing deep to dig here. It was simply a matter of a “PD” looking at a Japanese ad and saying “get me white model. get me black model.” When they told him no black model, it was, “shave his head, paint him black.”

    Simple as that. No further thought.

  17. Regarding the PC veil over racism in America, it reminds me of this hilariously absurd Amazon product that I stumbled across a couple of years ago:

    Rebel Endor Trooper (African American). African American?! I feel compelled to point out that (1) there is no such country as “America” in the Star Wars mythology, and (2) there is no such continent as “Africa”, either. In my experience, the only people who are offended by calling someone “Black” are White people. Actually, some of my Black friends get offended at being called “African-American” because, let’s face it – They’ve never even set foot on the continent. That there even needs to be a hyphenated American is evidence that the country is still divided by ethnic identity.

    • Ahh but you speak with an ignorant tongue Alex, “African-American” is a valid ETHNICITY, just as valid as Italian-American, German-American Nigerian-American, Kenyan-American etc.

      I am African-American, my girl friend is Nigerian-American and would slap someone if they dared call her an AA.

      Btw, President Obama is NOT African-American as some idiots call him, he is KENYAN-American, yet another ethnicity, his wife is African-American.

      ” Actually, some of my Black friends get offended at being called “African-American” because, let’s face it – They’ve never even set foot on the continent. ”

      Ok, by your logic, my best friend and his wife are Italian, they have NEVER SET FOOT IN ITALY, they do NOT speak a word of Italian, so they are not Italian right?

      • I think you completely missed the point I was making. You are insisting that your ancestral roots are somehow apparent to everyone else. That might be legitimate if you walked around with a shirt that said, “I am an African-American,” or maybe your girlfriend’s reads, “I am a Nigerian-American.” But what an annoying society it would be if I had to inquire about the background history of every person I ever met in order to refer to their personal identity.

        By the way, since when were Nigeria and Kenya dislodged from the African continent? And I’ve heard Black Americans refer to White Americans as, “damn Euros,” which is just as bad as assuming that every Black person in America is an African-American.

        My daughter? She’s whatever she wants to be, but I really hope she never insists on people calling her a 1/2-Korean-2/5-German-1/10-French-American (or whatever else happens to be mixed in there, which I don’t even care about at this point).

        “Ok, by your logic, my best friend and his wife are Italian, they have NEVER SET FOOT IN ITALY, they do NOT speak a word of Italian, so they are not Italian right?”

        Exactly. They’re Americans, and many native-born Italians might even reject them outright. I’ll never convince you of this argument because, ultimately, identity is very personal and you choose whichever one suits you. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t be offended and “slap someone” who can’t read your mind or be able to distinguish between Eastern and Western African facial features.

        Also, and more importantly, I’m saying that there is no such thing as an African-American Rebel Endor Trooper in Star Wars. That’s the real issue here.

        • “I think you completely missed the point I was making. You are insisting that your ancestral roots are somehow apparent to everyone else. That might be legitimate if you walked around with a shirt that said, “I am an African-American,” or maybe your girlfriend’s reads, “I am a Nigerian-American.” But what an annoying society it would be if I had to inquire about the background history of every person I ever met in order to refer to their personal identity.”

          Perhaps you missed my point Alex, all I saying is that African-American is an ethnicity, and that NOT all blacks in America are African-American such as out current president.

          “By the way, since when were Nigeria and Kenya dislodged from the African continent?”

          In the same vein as Italy and Germany was dislodged from Europe.

          ” And I’ve heard Black Americans refer to White Americans as, “damn Euros,” which is just as bad as assuming that every Black person in America is an African-American.”

          No, not all blacks in America are AA.

          “My daughter? She’s whatever she wants to be, but I really hope she never insists on people calling her a 1/2-Korean-2/5-German-1/10-French-American (or whatever else happens to be mixed in there, which I don’t even care about at this point).”

          She IS what she looks like.

          “Ok, by your logic, my best friend and his wife are Italian, they have NEVER SET FOOT IN ITALY, they do NOT speak a word of Italian, so they are not Italian right?”

          “Exactly. They’re Americans, and many native-born Italians might even reject them outright.”

          LOL! I dare you to tell an Italian in my friends category that he is not an Italian.

          ” I’ll never convince you of this argument because, ultimately, identity is very personal and you choose whichever one suits you. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t be offended and “slap someone” who can’t read your mind or be able to distinguish between Eastern and Western African facial features.”

          It is not that hard to distinguish.

          “Also, and more importantly, I’m saying that there is no such thing as an African-American Rebel Endor Trooper in Star Wars. That’s the real issue here.”

          Irrelevant.

  18. So, it was ridiculous to me that Dooberap could not see that this model was white. Then when someone replied and explained, that was even more ridiculous. Negroid skull shape? come on! Yes, it exists, but in today’s society, that is by no means a reliable way of telling someone’s race just by looking. In America, you can name ANY supposedly ‘white’ feature and I can find a Black person with it…on my facebook, I promise. The BEST reason to explain that this man is in fact, painted black (and in my opinion, the one that should have been used), is the fact that the skin on his palms are also painted! Black people, no matter what shade, do not have black palms. You learn something new everyday! The only other dead giveaway (since I guess we could reason that the skin discoloration DOES in fact happen in nature), is the area under his eyes (tear duct area). It’s bright pink and is pretty much always the first giveaway where blackface is concerned…these particular make-up artists just happened to be dumb enough to paint both sides of this guy’s hands though. WTF.

  19. “The BEST reason to explain that this man is in fact, painted black (and in my opinion, the one that should have been used), is the fact that the skin on his palms are also painted!”

    That’s what I linked to towards the top of these comments.

  20. Alex,

    yeah, the AA vs. Black thing is a tricky topic. I think even among the AA/Black community there is a difference of opinion. I prefer to go with whatever the individual wants to be called. Of course finding out the individual’s preference is not that easy without appearing too forward.

    Like most, I prefer Asian American or Korean American over Oriental, Yellow, or Brown. I once helped a friend get a liquor license and had to fill out a form. There was a section for ethnicity and I checked Asian American. But there was also a section for skin tone. White, Black, or Brown. Uh, I was stumped! I would never be classified as White or Black. And I have never been classified nor ever called Brown. I think if Yellow was one of the choices I would have checked it. I looked at the lawyer who said I should check Brown and I protested, claiming that my skin tone has never been described as brown. He rolled his eyes and we settled on white. Obviously this is a tricky topic for me too!

  21. I am a Taiwanese who lives in the US, and in my opinion this whole political correctness business is totally BS. I don’t see why it should be offensive at all to imitate whatever characteristics that one finds attractive regardless of the “racial” origin of those characteristics.
    .
    Let’s look at White Americans for example. Just about every white woman i know shave their legs. Should i be offended and say they’re trying to be Asian? And should i be offended when a blonde girl choose to dye her hair black. or when she go to a tanning saloon to change her skin color to a color that’s similar to mine?
    .
    Most non-Asians have naturally curly or wavy hairs, should it offend me if they choose to straighten them? and should i be offended if a green eyed girl choose to wear black contact lens?

  22. ” I don’t see why it should be offensive at all to imitate whatever characteristics that one finds attractive regardless of the “racial” origin of those characteristics. ”
    The point they are making is that they are not imitating brown skin for it’s attractive color. The ad unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, is imitating dark skin to do black face. You should read more about that, because when a white person dresses up like a black person for black face, it’s clearly not to emulate them in any flattering way.
    About using a white guy, they might think that because a lot black people don’t have small lips, tall nose bridges, and pointed nose tips, along with dark skin, the average Korean would not find a real black person attractive and decide to not buy the phone. A white person would sell better, even with dark skin.

  23. Candice wrote:

    The point they are making is that they are not imitating brown skin for it’s attractive color. The ad unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, is imitating dark skin to do black face. You should read more about that, because when a white person dresses up like a black person for black face, it’s clearly not to emulate them in any flattering way.

    Do we know the actual reasons they are “imitating brown skin”? Has anyone here or elsewhere actually gotten that information from them? It seems we are speculating on their intent when it is by no means a given.

    About using a white guy, they might think that because a lot black people don’t have small lips, tall nose bridges, and pointed nose tips, along with dark skin, the average Korean would not find a real black person attractive and decide to not buy the phone. A white person would sell better, even with dark skin.

    Again, this is mere speculation. In the edgy world of advertising, there could be dozens of different reasons to do have deliberately chosen a White man that has nothing to do with the attractiveness or unattractiveness of “a real black person.”

    The ad unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, is imitating dark skin to do black face. You should read more about that, because when a white person dresses up like a black person for black face, it’s clearly not to emulate them in any flattering way.

    This statement (and others like it) is the primary reason I’m leaving another comment. It underscores the basic problem with the outrage that comes from this: Koreans (or Japanese or whoever does this on occasion) are racist if they do this because we in the United States have a cultural taboo about this. Moreover, that cultural taboo is a recent one AND it is not always followed. Anybody from outside the US (and probably Canada and maybe Britain) may be bewildered by the convoluted nature of when it’s okay and when it’s not.

    So here’s the challenge: Since this does bubble up from time to time in Korea and elsewhere in Asia, pretend your a PR representative who has to explain to your clients (a) why this is wrong, (b) why it was extremely commonplace in the past, (c) in what kinds of cases it is still “okay,” like Tropic Thunder, “Black. White.”, or even White Chicks. Particularly focus on (c), since the recent examples, not just the still beloved classics like Holiday Inn, are the ones that throw people off and think it’s okay since Hollywood still does it.

  24. ” The point they are making is that they are not imitating brown skin for it’s attractive color. The ad unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, is imitating dark skin to do black face. You should read more about that, because when a white person dresses up like a black person for black face, it’s clearly not to emulate them in any flattering way.

    Do we know the actual reasons they are “imitating brown skin”? Has anyone here or elsewhere actually gotten that information from them? It seems we are speculating on their intent when it is by no means a given.”

    Let’s put a white guy with a big swastika on his chest in an add, hell even throw a Buddah in behind him. What would people think? Connotations are there when using certain material whether intended or not. It’s like seeing a guy with an electric guitar and saying, “how do we know it’s not classical music?”.

  25. Joey wrote:

    Let’s put a white guy with a big swastika on his chest in an add, hell even throw a Buddah in behind him. What would people think?

    Good example. Korean-run Buddhist temples in the United States deliberately avoid having the “Buddhist swastika” anywhere where the general public can see it.

  26. Sarah wrote:

    It’s funny, though, because it seems like the couple you can show in Korean advertising is the less likely pairing in the real world.

    This is from eleven years ago, but it still isn’t that far off from the current reality:

    Today, almost one-third of U.S.-born Hispanics ages 25 to 34 are married to non-Hispanic whites. In addition, 36 percent of young Asian Pacific American men born in the United States marry white women, and 45 percent of U.S.-born Asian Pacific American women took white husbands. The vast majority of Native Americans also marry whites.

    Seamus wrote:

    As for your final point, in a way you’re right, as the Korean media do certainly seem to have some insecurities about acknowledging or portraying Korean women with non-Korean men, despite this being by far the more common situation, especially with “international couples” involving a westerner and a Korean.

    Are you sure Korean female + non-Korean male are “the far more common situation” in Korea? With one-eighth of all marriages in Korea today being “international marriages” and many of them being driven by “bachelor farmers” (I’m a Prairie Home Companion fan) in the countryside where it is one of three marriages, Korean male + non-Korean female may be at parity or dominant in the ROK now.

  27. To Kushibo:
    I was only explaining to lee1234 why the ad might be offensive.And if he knew what black face was, then he would understand why it might not be appropriate. I didn’t write that sentence out well, but what I meant was that people might mistake it for blackface even if they didn’t mean it,but I didn’t know if it was intentional or not.
    And I was only speculating about why they didn’t use a black man instead.

  28. Ah, I’m sorry if anyone misunderstood me. I should have mentioned that the flipside of the ad with the white woman and Korean man is the total lack of such images here in the US. White man + any woman is the norm, sadly.

  29. All in all Koreans are insecure about who they are, they are now saying they are part European? Go figure! They make fun of blacks but still emmulate them in songs and other things, but when the shoes is turn on them they cry wolf. Korean are a pretentious bunch they cannot accept being who they are and not feeling good in their own skin, they want to be and look like others.
    On the other hand blacks know who they are and love who they are curves and all.

  30. OK i have read many of your posts and I honestly think that you should take a deep step back. Your blog does reflect the truth about Korean society but everything is in the negative light all the time. What do think people will think of my country? It probably looks like crap, thanks to your posts. Indeed, you’re married to a respectful Korean woman but that does not give you the right to depict someone else’s country this way. Do you have any respect your your wife’s people at all? If you do, you won’t be doing this!

    You should either show the good and the bad or just close this blog. Your blog is just too disrespectful for me and the other Koreans.

    Imagine: How would you feel if a Korean person or any foreigner had a blog of sociological problems or New Zealand (where you are from) in that person’s language?

  31. Wow. this isn’t the blog for the response to the question, but the African-American versus black thing came up, so here is where I’ll practice my answer: African Americans are Americans of African descent with unknown specific tribal or national affiliations. Blacks refer to the “race” ( I dunno “breed’?) of people with features commonly found in the ethnic stocks of Africa. If I steal your purse I’m a black male criminal; if I’m receiving the Nobel Prize I am an African American Physicist. Thanks for the practice, let me copy and paste…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s