KCON LA, the annual convention celebrating Korean culture and music, has come under fire for the ethnic preference indicated in one of its staff vacancy ad listings.
Preferred ethnicities: The issue was first brought to light on Tuesday when a Twitter user shared a screenshot of the requirements page for KCON LA‘s backstage staff, which explicitly stated that the preferred ethnicities for the role were Asian and white/European descent.
The requirements listed several responsibilities for the position, such as greeting and responding to visitors, conveying product information, and providing general support. It also emphasized the need for engaging, energetic, and reliable individuals, with previous event experience preferred.
“Kcon is actually racist as hell wtf,” the user wrote.
“Kcon doesn’t want black or brown people to work the main parts of the convention,” the poster added.
“It’s only on this website too so it’s very sus cuz this is where they get the workers ppl would most see and interact with.”
The user also highlighted why the listing was able to state the race requirement. “Because it’s not illegal to be specific about race/gender/age when it’s labeled as an ‘acting/performing’ gig,” they tweeted
The outrage over the stated ethnic preference also spread on Reddit, where many similarly accused KCON LA of engaging in discriminatory practices.
Responding to backlash: The posting was revised shortly after the online backlash, with the ethnicity requirement being changed to “All Ethnicities.”
However, some users questioned the timing, noting that the change occurred on the same day the application window closed, potentially preventing non-Asian or non-White individuals from applying.
KCON USA, the organizer of the event, took to Instagram on Wednesday to address the issue, denying that they neither authorized nor endorsed the listing. The organizers also assured the public of their commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
We strongly denounce any actions of racial profiling or any form of discrimination whatsoever, and indeed this runs counter to the very core spirit of KCON where inclusivity and diversity is celebrated. Moving forward, we will take action to prevent any such instances related to our event.
In a subsequent post, KCON USA shared their discovery that the posting had been created by an outside vendor hired by one of KCON’s agencies without their knowledge or approval. The agency has since reportedly terminated its relationship with the vendor.
We want to extend a heartfelt apology to all the KCON fans who rightfully expect to be respected and admired and not excluded. In the course of looking into this matter, many of us read your comments and we reaffirmed our commitment to making KCON a place for everyone to enjoy.
The show continues: KCON LA is set to go ahead as planned from August 18 to 20 at the Crypto.com Arena and LA Convention Center. The convention will feature performances from popular K-pop groups each day, including Cravity, Monsta X, NCT, Itzy, and Stray Kids.