TV Personality in Korea Sparks Debate Over Using Blackface, Doing ‘Slant-eye’
Television personality Sam Okyere’s criticism of South Korean students dressed as the dancing pallbearers in Ghana backfired after social media users pointed out that he did a slant-eye gesture on TV in 2015.
The 29-year-old Ghanaian TV personality expressed outrage last week after a picture of students from Uijeongbu High School dressed up as the Ghana Dancing Pallbearers surfaced online, according to Korea Herald.
Okyere called out the photo of the students in “blackface,” describing it as very offensive and “not funny at all.”
“There have been so many instances both on and off air where people paint their faces black here in Korean think it’s funny! It’s not and I am highly against it and highly disappointed,” he wrote in English.
“It is truly unfortunate and saddening that this is occurring in the year 2020,” he said in his now-deleted Instagram post, We Are Resonate reported. “As a black person, black people are very offended by such actions. I understand you wanted to reenact the culture but painting the face was not needed. I wish there aren’t such actions in Korea. Please, let’s respect each other’s cultures.”
However, social media users reminded Okyere about the moment he did a slant-eye gesture in an episode of JTBC’s “Abnormal Summit” in 2015 when he participated in the Ugly Face Competition.
Okyere took down his Instagram post following the backlash. He updated his apology in Korean on August 7 and said he had no intention of humiliating the students.
“I had gone too far in expressing my opinion, and I apologize for using their picture without their consent,” he said, adding that he did not mean to belittle the Korean education with his criticism. He also admitted that he was unaware of the hashtag #teakpop, a derogatory expression used on social media when discussing Korean pop culture.
“I had received a big love for a long time in South Korea, and I believe I was indiscreet this time,” he said. “I apologize again. I will become a more educated person.”
Despite the criticism, Okyere did receive support for his objection to blackface, with the hashtag #I_Stand_with_Sam_Okyere, Korea JoongAng Daily reported.
“Korean society must learn. We must reflect on our ‘ignorance’ and we need an ‘education.’ For sure,” culture critic Son Hee-jung said on her Facebook page.
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