During an interview promoting Spider-Man: Homecoming in South Korea, Tom Holland complimented Korean-American Eric Nam on his English and asked him how he learned it.
According to Koreaboo, Nam, GQ Korea’s Man of the Year 2016 and Forbes 30 under 30 in Asia 2017, interviewed both Holland and costar Jacob Batalon in English and translated for the Korean audience due to technical difficulties with subtitles. They had been conversing in English without issue – all three appearing to have native-level English proficiency – with Nam occasionally speaking Korean to the camera to convey what had been said.
At about the 12:50 mark, Holland couldn’t help but be impressed with Nam’s speaking ability – his English-speaking ability, that is.
“You speak great English, though, man. How did you learn English?” Holland asked earnestly.
“I’m American. So, you know…there you go. Surprise!” Nam responded.
Batalon then asked how Nam learned Korean, to which Nam replied that he learned Korean when he arrived in South Korea.
“Oh sh*t…I mean…Oh SHOOT! Is what I meant to say…” Batalon cheekily reacted.
The trio moved speedily along, Holland perhaps seemingly unaware of just how awkward the question he asked could possibly be; although they were in South Korea and this might seem like a logical question, Asian-Americans are often consistently made to feel like they somehow don’t belong in the country they call home because of their “otherness”. Asking questions like “where are you from” and “how did you learn English” can serve as a bitter reminder that people view you as an outsider, or different, and it may offend some Asian-Americans, Latinx, or other groups who are often perceived as immigrants.
Fans had mixed reactions to the question:
What do you think? Cringey question or totally innocuous? Let us know in the comments!