This is a questions that I get asked often. There are a number of Black people who love Korean food and culture, but hear that Korean people are very racist. They see Koreans as sticking to their own and not branching out to other groups. It should be noted that there can be differences between what people see from Korean Americans and from actual Koreans who live in Korea. It should also be noted that one person’s experience may not be your experience. For me, the Korean Americans I have dealt with are some of the most racist people I’ve ever come across; and openly act in a way that shows me they are not comfortable with Black people. But since this is not the case with all Korean Americans, you should not conclude that any Korean American you met will be this way.
For this blog, I will summarize the stories of how Black people, specifically Black men, have been viewed by Koreans in Korea. This will be taken from stories that I’ve heard both in Korea from Korean people, as well as stories from Black men who served in the military and who were some of the first #외국인’s in Korea. Please keep in mind that no one person can speak for an entire nation; and that other people may tell a different story. But if you have dealt with racism from a Korean or a Korean American before, this may explain why that happened. It will not excuse it, but it may help you understand it better.
The Start of a Negative View
Korea is a place where most people are considered fully Korean. According to some statistics, up to 97% of the population is considered to be ethnically Korean. For a generation, and even for people in some parts of Korea today, the only people they ever see face to face are Asian. So when soldiers from other countries came to Korea for the war, it was shocking to see them. Some children would shout out “Waygookin, Waygookin, Waygookin!!!!” when they saw these foreigners. Many Black soldiers would hang out in the streets of Seoul with the common people, and many started falling in love with Korean women. But the marriages that resulted from these unions were viewed as a problem by people of other races.
Quickly, negative propaganda started spreading about Black men and how they behaved. Besides these stories, many Koreans were told that if their daughters married a White man, he would take better care of them. Also, their grandchildren would have lighter skin and be treated better by society. As a result, many parents told their daughters that Black men were not an option. Korean women who married Black men were viewed in a negative light by many. This started the prejudice that many developed for Black people in Korea.
The Results of Marrying a Black Man
What about the Korean women who married Black men? Many of these women faced prejudice and hatred for their decision. But what life did they report having? Many, not all Korean women who married a Black man, said that their husband enjoyed Korean food and culture. He encouraged her to have Korean friends, and that their new family in American was very welcoming to them. Many of these husbands even willing to move back to Korea to help take care of her family. She kept her identity as a Korean woman. She was able to teach Korean language and culture to her children. As one Korean woman put it, her Black husband made her “feel like a Princess” everyday. These stories helped to prove that the negative stories that Koreans have heard about Black people were false.
How Do Koreans Feel About Black People Today?
There are still prejudice in Korea among many of the older generation. But there are plenty of younger and middle aged Koreans in Korea who love and accept Black people and culture. A number of women are openly admitting that they find Black men attractive. And a number of Korean men are admitting they love Black women. More and more, younger Koreans are open to marrying someone who is Black or Latino. As one woman told me while I was visiting her family near the southern coast of Korea, “Many women here feel the blacker, the better.”
When I was in Korea, I did not feel any hate. I only felt love from everyone I met. Complete strangers were kind and loving to me. From my own experience, the prejudice in Korea towards Black people is fading away quickly. Many are able to see just people, not skin color anymore. And a number of Korean people admitted they wanted to see more Black people move to Korea, so that the older generation could see that the old, negative views that they were taught are false.
If you are afraid to visit Korea or to get involved in Korean culture, just give it a chance. Korean people are wonderful people who are often misunderstood. To get people to take a chance on you, you must be willing to take a chance on them. If you are Black and want to marry someone Korean, you can visit channels on YouTube such as Lily Petals World and HershNoeie to see stories about happy families that are Korean and Black. You can also see the struggles and joys they have gone through, and see that true love is both beautiful and colorblind.
What About Korean Americans?
I mentioned earlier that Korean Americans are some of the most racist people I’ve ever met in my life. Why do I feel that some of them are more closed minded than Koreans who are actually in Korea? A Korean in Korea does not have to try to be Korean. They are Korean. Many of the Korean Americans that I’ve had dealings with sometimes try to act like they are “Super Korean” and will be more likely to hold on to older ways of thinking. These are the Korean people who tend to be the most arrogant and rude. But that does not describe every Korean American. Many are open minded about life, and will accept friendship and love from anyone who is willing to give it.
True Korean culture is about love and family. Sometimes, it takes time to truly feel like you are family. But when you met true Korean people, you will be welcomed regardless of your skin color. Don’t let the negative views of others cause you to miss out on a wonderful future. The truth is that Korean people do not hate Black people, or anyone for that matter. If you show them love, they will love you back as well.
What are your thoughts? Have you had similar experiences in dealing with Koreans and Korean Americans? If so, please leave a comment below. And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to #askthewaygookin.
You can see a video I made on this topic on my YouTube Channel by clicking here. Please be sure to like the video and subscribe.