Sam Okyere, a Ghanaian TV personality in South Korea, opened up on the racism he experienced in a recent episode of the talk show “As You Say”.
Okyere flew to South Korea in 2009 to study computer engineering as a government scholar. However, when opportunities in entertainment came, he had to make a choice.
As it turned out, Sam’s decision led to the stardom he currently enjoys. He made appearances on South Korean variety shows, dramas and even the 2015 film “Intimate Enemies”, KDramaStars said.
While Sam’s journey to fame in the country’s cutthroat entertainment industry sounds smooth, it was not without challenges — especially on the topic of racism.
Sam is often called by the nickname “black hyung”, which means “black brother”, but he hopes people would just address him as “Okyere hyung” or “Okyere dongsaeng” without citing his skin color.
The 25-year-old told “As You Say” (via Allkpop):
“The Korean word that I loved the most since I started learning Korean after coming to South Korea in 2009 was ‘Woori’ (‘We’). But I wonder if ‘woori’ applies to someone like me of color.”
Apparently, he’s tired of hearing stereotypical questions:
“When I tell people that I’m from Africa, I get a lot of startling questions like, ‘Do you grow a lion at your house?’ I get it so often that now I just respond by saying that my father has two lions. That’s how much Koreans are unknowledgeable about Black people and Africa.”
He also recalled one incident in a subway when one auntie prevented him from getting a seat. He quoted her as saying, “What is a black thing doing here in Korea? Go back to your country.”
Unfortunately, passengers were too busy to bother:
“What hurt more was that the other Korean people just sat there and watched. It made me wonder if Koreans just watch foreigners without helping them in difficult situations.”