A Malaysian content creator recently opened up about experiencing alleged discrimination and ill treatment by locals during a 2015 trip to South Korea.
No plans of returning: TikTok user Pastu Anep, known for sharing his travel escapades on the platform, recounted two incidents that he claimed marred his South Korean trip in a now-viral clip posted on Nov. 15. In the video that has been viewed over 360,000 times, Anep shares that the incidents left him bewildered and made him vow to never return to the country.
About the incidents: According to Anep, an intoxicated older man lashed out at him during a subway ride. A young woman reportedly intervened to explain that the man seemed to be offended because he thought Anep resembled former U.S. President Barack Obama. The bizarre incident prompted Anep to exit the subway for his safety.
Another incident unfolded in Seoul‘s bustling Myeongdong area, where Anep allegedly faced hostility from a shopkeeper after he tried to inquire about a bag in English. The shopkeeper purportedly scolded him, snatched the bag, and told him to “go back to your country.”
Netizens’ reaction: Anep’s revelation on TikTok sparked a wave of reactions, with some netizens expressing empathy and sharing similar encounters.
“Yes, the elderly people there are a bit grumpy,” one user commented. “My friends and I were chatting quite loudly on the train, and they kept grumbling and giving us disapproving looks.”
“Some Koreans seem to not prefer people from ASEAN countries who have slightly darker skin,” according to another. “If you’re fair-skinned, it’s okay. I don’t know if they have a negative perception of darker skin tones, and they also seem to dislike overweight people.”
Others, however, defended South Korea, emphasizing their positive experiences.
“I went in 2019, the experience was good,” a commenter wrote. “When it came to shopping, they really treated us well. I did a lot of shopping 😁.”
“When I went to Korea before, I didn’t face any issues like that,” another shared. “Everyone was friendly. Until I myself made new friends there.”
“I have been to Korea three times, the longest being 15 days,” chimed in a user. “No bad experiences, stayed in homestays and apartments, all were good 🥰🥰🥰.”
Nuanced experiences: Acknowledging the subjectivity of his account, he later noted, “I don’t know what others have gone through, but this is my real experience, and I will never go to South Korea ever again.”
In a follow-up post, Anep shared some of the positive things he encountered while in the country. Among these include a woman who helped him after the incident in the subway and even took him to a karaoke place.