A paparazzo’s comment at the Met Gala
The photographer can be seen and heard in a video calling out to Johnny, “Johnny Suh, over here! On this side, please!” Unable to get Johnny’s attention, the paparazzo mutters under his breath, “He doesn’t understand a word I’m saying. F*ck.”
Born in Chicago, however, Johnny Suh is a perfectly fluent English speaker.
The original poster of the video, @dygenre, initially uploaded the video to Twitter to share her excitement at spotting the K-pop idol, but the video quickly blew up to reach 300,000 views on Twitter and an additional 16,000 views on TikTok, with many netizens calling out the paparazzo for his remark.
Twitter user @214yongss accused the paparazzo of xenophobia and unprofessionalism.
Another user, @BUSHI_101, noted the celebrity photographer didn’t pronounce Johnny’s last name Suh correctly.
The video’s original uploader eventually identified the paparazzo as Erwyn Diaz, whose Instagram account is private, sharing that Diaz had asked for their and Johny’s handle to tag them both in his story.
A user who goes by @globalmyeon purportedly messaged Diaz, who apparently apologized, saying, “Not at all racist, that’s insane, I genuinely assumed he was foreign and just didn’t understand us photographers calling him out, Clearly, I was wrong, but I am not a racist at all … I love Asian culture and all cultures.”
This is not the first instance in which Johnny has faced a similar remark in the U.S. While on their “Neo City — The Origin” U.S. concert tour back in 2019, NCT was invited to “KTLA 5 Morning News” on May 15, where the show’s host Sam Rubin told Johnny, “By the way, your English is phenomenal.”
Johnny then whispered into the mic, “Well … yeah I’m from Chicago,” leading bandmate Mark to clap and laugh while looking into the camera, smiling alongside Johnny.
Rubin then made an apology on Facebook, writing, “Based on the information provided by the Band’s own management team, I was led to believe they did not speak English very well. This was my error not to do additional research, and I am sorry and apologize if any fans were offended. Thanks again for watching and deepest and most sincere apology for anyone who took any offense.”
Johnny expressed in an interview with Vogue just how meaningful attending the Met Gala was for him.
“I’m honored — it’s a dream coming true. Growing up as a teenager in the States, I’ve always seen all of the stars I loved attending.”
It is a dream manifested after years in the making. Johnny posted a fashionable photo to Twitter with bandmate Taeyong during their U.S. tour Chicago stop back on May 7, 2019, a day after the Met Gala. In the tweet, Johnny wrote, “What a day for fashion,” and used the hashtag MetGala.
This year, he joined forces with Vietnamese American designer Peter Do, who is also a new attendee to the Met Gala, for his three-piece look.
“It’s the perfect blend of classic with what fashion is now – everything is tailored perfectly for me, so I feel comfortable and confident,” Johnny said about the outfit. “Do creates such incredible womenswear, so seeing how he’s adapted these designs specifically for me just makes it even more special.”
“We took the traditional satin lapel of a tuxedo, which was popularized throughout America in the Gilded Age, and decided to render the whole suit in a sleek black silk crepe backed satin,” Do adds. “Our signature sharp tailoring in the coat, vest and trousers is present, but made fluid with the softness of the silk. Menswear has always been an inspiration for our design process, so this feels rather natural. For us, clothing goes beyond gender lines and is rather about who that person is than what they identify as.”
“We are extremely thrilled to be dressing Johnny of NCT for our very first Met, especially since K-Pop has been a part of the brand in many different ways. It’s the music of my youth. It’s unreal to think that just four years ago we started the brand in my bedroom, and now we’re here!”
Johnny is now the fifth male K-pop idol to attend the Met Gala, joining the likes of EXO‘s Lay, PSY, Rain and Super Junior‘s Siwon.