Monday, March 05, 2012

Three decades of blackface in Korea

[Update: I added a couple extra paragraphs and two photos, which are marked below. Also, as a commenter below reminded me, this video was linked to in the comments at Roboseyo a few days ago showing a recent performance on Star King ridiculing a Maori haka (or as it's called there, '마오리족 뽀뽀뽀' - click box 26/30 above the screen and scroll to near the end). They should be invited to New Zealand to perform in front of these fellows.]

In the past week or so there's been discussion about the use of blackface on Korean television (again), with Eat Your Kimchi, Roboseyo (twice), the Unlikely Expat, Kushibo and Expat Hell discussing it. [Update: Gord Sellar has as well.] It's been reported in the Korean language media and in the Korea Times as well, which have focused especially on youtube videos which have been posted in response.
Other clips, however, are continuously being uploaded. Black men, women and even Caucasians have joined in the attack. Some expats living in Korea have also written about it recently on their blogs.
Ah, yes. When foreigners criticize something about Korea, they are 'attacking' it. Much as when the Donga Ilbo interviewed Anti-English Spectrum leader Lee Eun-ung about negative foreign media reports about his group and asked "Why are you receiving such attacks?"

I've done some searching and found references to blackface in a play in 1978, where an actor or two made themselves up to look like two black convicts (one may be pictured in blackface at that link, but it's a rather dark photo). Actors were most certainly made up to look black in a 1982 musical version of 'Roots' (based on Alex Haley's novel and the TV series), which featured African music and jazz. The article about it includes these photos:

[Edit begins]

In this February 1981 Joongang Ilbo article, titled "Fraudulent black makeup - hands were white," which collected readers' opinions of recent TV shows, there is a complaint that a KBS detective show with an episode titled 'Nigerian dream' was done with too little effort, because the actor only had black on his face on not on his hands, which were white. I think that may give some insight into what was expected of actors portraying black people (as above in Roots) - that in order to appear authentic, the actor had to be in (full!) black makeup.

This February 1985 Joongang Ilbo article describes the efforts two actors went to to attract people in Myeongdong to a performance of the South African play 'Woza Albert!' This included an actor in blackface on the street handing out playbills and another dressed as a clown. The play is said to "deal with the problem of racism in South Africa" and also that it could be seen on Broadway. If I had to guess, I would imagine the actors performed in blackface.

[Edit ends]

It doesn't seem to have been until 1986 that blackface became associated with comedy. As stories by Yonhap and E Daily explain, on an August 25, 2010 MBC show, comedian Lee Bong-won explained the circumstances surrounding the creation of and sudden disappearance of the popular 'sikeomeonseu' performances he did with Jang Du-seok at that time.

Lee Bong-won

Lee Bong -won performed in blackface doing the "Sikeomeonseu' routine for more than a year in 1986 and 1987 on the KBS program "Show Video Jockey". He described the impact the program had, saying that when 'sikeomeonseu' was broadcast, it was so popular that children who couldn't paint their faces black instead found another way - and drove sales of coal briquettes up. This performance stopped at the end of 1987, he explained, because during the 1988 Olympics there would be people coming from Africa, and they decided then that "We don't want to denigrate black people" and "It would be better not to do it." [Note: Wikipedia says their performance went from 1987 to 1988.]

Lee doing the 'sikeomeonseu' skit in the 1980s.

This sketch was helped out by a Chuseok comedy song festival which showed the 'black eagles,' which was the first time he'd heard rap, and the gag was presented due to curiosity with 'music that was like talking.' Apparently, rap was used in the 'sikeomeonseu' performances.

As this (via the Marmot) explains, 'sikeomeonseu' comes from 시커멓다 ('black as coal,' 'jet black'). Nothing more is said, but I would guess '시커먼스' is a portmanteau of 시커멓다 and 퍼포먼스 ('performance' hangeulized) ('퍼포먼스' does show up in articles at that time). As this article notes, Lee would dance on stage in a rasta wig in blackface and shout to the music, "시커먼스, 시커먼스. 망했다, 망했어" (the latter meaning 'ruined' or 'doomed').


Lee Bong-won and Jang Du-seok (from here)

Netizens who saw the show in 2010 discussing the history of 'sikeomeonseu' had various opinions: "'Sikeomeonseu' was really fun, but that it was discontinued due to the Olympics is too bad, and surprising." "Comedy in those days was really fun, and I want to see it again." "I hope to see the resurrection of authentic comedy." Elsewhere netizens said the program was where they heard rap music for the first time.

I was pointed to this 2010 interview by a commenter at Roboseyo who said, "Apparently, the Korean media companies knew enough to knock that shit off in 88." Interestingly enough, that very interview with Lee Bong-won in 2010 also included an appearance by this guest...

...who then danced together with Lee and others.

With the Olympics long over, I guess there's no need to worry now?

I don't know how popular blackface was in the 1990s, but it really got attention again in 2003, as the KT explains:
Some even claim that the incident can be seen as a second round of the “Bubble Sisters controversy” which occurred back in 2003. Bubble Sisters, a Korean female band, made their debut by performing blackfaced. It drew controversy when the reason behind their makeup was known to be their lack of confidence in their appearance. People claimed it was racially discriminating to depict black people as “ugly and fat.”
Talk about missing the point completely. I'm not sure if it was Korean netizens saying that, but foreigners were most certainly appalled by the use of blackface in and of itself, not to mention all of the other accessories (pajamas? curlers?). See the Metropolitician's post about them here (from which this photo was taken):

(From here)

They later stopped using blackface (and have recorded several albums). It would seem that their first cd (see the cover art and booklet here) was re-issued without photos of them in blackface.

In December 2006, an incident occurred on the program Minyeodeului suda (a better title for which might have been 'In a room salon with attractive foreign women') when two women - one of them black - were singing the song 'Oppa' on stage while a panel of Korean men hooted along. As the song was ending, one of the men, singer Cheon Myeong-hun, put on a rasta wig and started jumping to the music and shouting.

He was in fact shouting "시커먼스, 시커먼스. 망했다, 망했어" - just like in Lee Bong-won's 'sikeomeonseu' routine.

What happened next, no one could have predicted. Korean netizens reacted negatively to what he did, particularly because he was doing it in front of a black woman, which they thought was racist. Oranckay, whose blog is no longer with us, said at the time that he thought it was the most hopeful thing he'd ever seen in regard to racism in Korea. The incident was covered at the Marmot's Hole and Metropolitician.

Less than a year later, in September 2007, the two sikeomeonseu actors reunited on Gag Concert's Chuseok special and performed with Kikeosseumyeon, a Gag Concert feature they influenced which was a part of the show from late 2007 to early 2008 (I don't know if that influence extended to blackface, however).

2007 also brought us what might be the most bizarre use of blackface (or body, in this case) I've seen: Topless Raelians painted black to promote clitoraid to help African women who have suffered female circumcision (photos from here and here).

This 2009 article about a model getting into trouble in the US for blackface would suggest that there is some awareness of how offensive the practice is considered to be.

In May 2010, Muhandojeon (Unlimited Challenge) comedians HaHa and No Hong-cheol decided to cheer viewers up after being 7 weeks off the air due to the Cheonan sinking and an MBC strike by dressing up as African natives. (More photos are here).

Two months later saw another use of blackface on TV:

In November 2011 this photo was posted on Twitter as part of a teaser for a cosmetics ad with the title "aren't we pretty?"

In December 2011, Saturday Night Live Korea featured women in blackface performing as dream girls.

Which brings us up to the present incident. On January 21, the Lunar New Year special of MBC’s 'Quiz that Changes the World' featured comedians Lee Gyeong-sil and Kim Ji-seon in blackface wearing basketball jerseys and singing, trying (and failing) to keep straight faces.

It might have passed unnoticed had MBC not uploaded the video to their Youtube account, which led to some rather angry comments and video responses. The video has since been removed, but if you'd like to see it, email the person I got it from at Slomo1919 at gmail dot com (there was no file extension on the one I downloaded, but it's likely an MP4 file - I just dragged it into my media player).

As allkpop posted,
Some netizens commented, "They weren’t ridiculing African Americans; they were simply parodying the Korean cartoon character from 'Dooly'."

The production team also released an official apology on their homepage, stating,

"On the Lunar New Year special broadcast on January 21st, the cast parodied a cartoon character during the ‘Family Karoke’ segment of the show. However, there were viewers from abroad who felt uncomfortable while watching the show, so we would like to offer our sincere apology.

A Korean cartoon character was being parodied, so while viewers within Korea knew that the parody was of the cartoon character, international viewers were not offered a sufficient explanation – causing a misunderstanding. This is something that occurred because we did not think carefully at the time about the fact that many international viewers also have gained a high interest in the show with the spread of the Hallyu wave. In the future, we will think through the selection of the material, no matter how small it is, so that we will not cause any discomfort to our viewers.
So it's all a misunderstanding. They were supposed to be dressed as Maikol, (Micheal), a character from Dooly based on Michael Jackson. What could be wrong with that?

Now, it could be argued that this is typical of depictions of foreigners in Korea which highlight certain racial characteristics:

Look at the size of that thumb. (From here)

Needless to say, both images below, of blackface and the cartoon character with gigantic lips, are rather representative of American historical depictions of blackface and black cartoon characters or caricatures.

"'Cane' I be your valentine?" Good lord. (from here).
(Though it could be worse.)

Korean commenters on Eat You Kimchi's original post, however, have twisted themselves into contorted shapes saying that foreigners simply don't understand, it's just a parody, Maikol is actually Korean, because he speaks Korean, you know, and is not black. One commenter pointed out that he has been portrayed in 'real life' as a Korean before:

Another commenter, however, pointed out other depictions of him such as this one on Gag Concert:

As it turns out, on this show from 2010, it was also Maikol who was either supposed to be portrayed, or who was referred to:

"Original Maikol'

Two of the other photos at that link show one of the actresses from the most recent incident, who had previously done herself up in blackface to portray Maikol. The commenter also adds that "So if you look at this point of view, all of them have black paint - to the level where you can misunderstand for a black person[.]"

Silly me. How could anyone have mistaken Maikol for a black person?

(From the video clip here [since removed].)

And why is it that Maikol looks so similar to these people, who one assumes are supposed to be Africans (despite the fact they all speak Korean)? (From this Dooly episode, via the Unlikely Expat.)

Bones in the nose are a not-uncommon way of depicting Africans in Korea. For example, here is an entry from an early 1990s English dictionary, one of many compiled and posted by the Metropolitician:

One cartoon which took me awhile to find was this one (via Joi Ito), published by the Hankyoreh in the aftermath of Roh Moo-hyun's impeachment in March 2004, which looks at the reaction of foreign bloggers to the impeachment:

Comments by white or Chinese bloggers about how it's a right wing coup d'état, impeachment with no reason, only the citizens will be hurt, and calling conservatives 'idiots' are juxtaposed with an ignorant African savage who has no idea what's going on. This from the 'progressive' Hankyoreh. No, tell us how you really feel.

There's more to tease from the most recent incident, however. Note below the song 'Maikol' is singing.


The Korea Times explains it by saying "The title of the song means products grown within one’s own land are the best." The song became popular in early 1993, and its lyrics, by Bae Il-ho, can be found here. The song begins by asking 'Who are you, who am I? In the land where we were born, sintoburi' and then names different places around the country, and describes 'show window mannequins dancing with foreign products.' After naming several Korean food products (rice, barley, beans, red beans, gochujang, doenjang, kimchi, ggakdugi), he asks why one would look for other people's things, and says, 'Don't forget, you and I are Korean,' answering the question asked in the first line.

But as for what 'sintoburi' means, a comic distributed by Nonghyup (hat tip to seouldout) to elementary school students in 1990 explained to children how buying foreign goods would destroy Korea's farms, leaving the country vulnerable to rapacious foreigners who could charge whatever they wanted, and send food which was rotten by the time it arrived. The solution was to monitor your parents when they went to the market and stop them from buying foreign goods. In the midst of this comes a discription of sintoburi, in which, according to the hanja, sin = body, to = soil, bul = not, i = 2. So, body and soil are one (as illustrated by an episode from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms), so you should buy only Korean goods. While it might seem simply a patriotic song, when seen in the context of how it was sold to children in the comic book, it doesn't seem so innocuous - especially when sung by someone in blackface.

But wait. The comic also has a scene which is rather topical:

[First day back after summer vacation]
The teacher is coming!
Hold on a second… during vacation did a student transfer from Africa?

You! What black people’s country did you come from?
I’m Republic of Korea Saebom Elementary School 5th grade 1st class Park Daljae!
Well then why are you sitting there with a blackface?
I ended up looking like this after spending all vacation by the sea.
I thought he was sitting there because maybe a black African had transferred.
While nowhere near as offensive as the Hankyoreh cartoon above, it shares with it the characteristic of being completely unnecessary. This is one example of what children were reading at schools (again, the images of the 1990s English dictionary posted by the Metropolitician give further examples of how ideas about race were shaped). But even the elementary school English books used up until a year ago depicted black characters in much the same way we've seen above:

What I presume to have been a foreign English teacher with some time on their hands has compiled a number of images and videos of Peter (who appeared in the grade 5 and 6 textbooks) at a blog called Black Peter, where he re-imagines many of the books' characters in rather dark ways, such as in this post, which offers commentary on this video:

If you were wondering what part Peter gets to play in the musical he does with his classmates, well, have a look here. Considering the defensive response (or outright denial) of many (apparently Korean) commenters at Eat Your Kimchi's post, and comments like, "'Sikeomeonseu' was really fun, but that it was discontinued due to the Olympics is too bad, and surprising," it would appear that a good many people simply can't conceive of why it is offensive. But I imagine that each one of these incidents prompts a little more understanding (or if not that, then a pragmatic desire by media companies not to offend). While those images above from the textbook discontinued a year ago were offensive, the national textbooks for grade 5 and 6 last year were greatly improved:

(Foreigners still can't use chopsticks. Baby steps.)

Here is the depiction of the black character in this year's textbook:
  So things are improving. And that may have something to do with the fact that there have been increasing numbers of foreigners - some of them black - working in the public school system over the last 5 years. Still, I have my doubts whether this incident will put an end to the use of blackface for laughs on Korean television.


Matt McLellan said...

Korea also has an interesting history re: depictions of Polynesians.

kushibo said...

I'm divided on this. On the one hand, right now there is absolutely no reason for anyone in broadcast media to not understand that this is seen as offensive.

However, the usage of blackface in America and blackface in Korea (or elsewhere in Asia) is completely different, since the former used it as a systemic way of routinely denigrating Blacks in order to continually justify segregation and other institutionally practices while simultaneously keeping Blacks from the upper echelons of fame and celebrity idoldom.

None of that is the case in Korea (or elsewhere in Asia).

As well, there is considerable inconsistency which erodes the claims that "it's so obviously wrong." In the LG blackface post, I pointed out Fox's use of blackface (and whiteface) as the driving device for an entire show. Meanwhile, "America's Next Top Model" (shown in Korea), had "race play" (including blackface) as the highlight of an entire episode.

Ultimately this becomes an issue of intent to denigrate, and overcoming ignorance. Dooly, even innocently, was racist in the same way that Sambo restaurant logos were racist back in the day: even if not meant to be malicious, it is a device to look down and ridicule another race/ethnicity. That makes the recent MBC shoot unacceptable out of the gate in a way that LG's black/white may not have been.

But with competing images (the beloved Bing Crosby did blackface, while Mickey Rooney did yellow face!), including some contemporary ones ("White Girls," etc.), how can someone not from North America know the ins and outs of North American sensitivities.

Heck, even Australians sometimes don't have a clue.

kushibo said...

I forgot to mention Robert Downey Jr's blackface run in Tropic Thunder, and depictions of Obama with a bone through his nose, which don't seem to work into a frothy offensiveness like you'd think they would.

James said...

A blackface performance of Roots?

Mind. Blown.

Great post btw.

"None of that is the case in Korea (or elsewhere in Asia)."

Bullshit. There might be exceptions, but once an actor "darkens up" they are walking on thin ice in terms of racial sensitivity. A lot of these videos show black-face characters acting the fool, and this is _exactly_ what American blackface minstrelsy was all about.

As for your examples of racism in America, yeah, well, no duh. There's still plenty of racism to go around and two (or ten) wrongs never make a right.

The movie White Chicks was trashed by critics and stands as an example of the Bad Hollywood movie. Granted it was popular, but it was also black dudes using white make-up. Again, not my thing, but you can sort of see how there's a major difference.

Bing Crosby and Mickey Rooney were popular in the 1950's when it was acceptable to get away with this stuff. It took a lot of work to get this to change and again, 1950's racist stereotypes were racist.

So if your point is that America has a racist past and to this day struggles with racism, I agree. If you're trying to say that after 30 years South Korea still gets a pass on this stuff, you're absolutely wrong.

Also, the man responsible for the "Obama as witch doctor" was forced to resign from his Republican party position if I'm not mistaken. There was a lot of outrage about it, and it was a perfect example of a racist doofus acting like a racist doofus.

As for Downey, well, I thought it was a horrible film myself. What they were trying to do was point out the stupidity of the American film system in general by using blatant stereotypes -- mentally handicapped, blacks, asians, etc. I thought it failed miserably, but it was an attempt (I think) to criticize the very stereotypes so often on display in Hollywood films.

So yeah, racism is a problem everywhere, and to this day in America. It seems that South Korean media execs could at least figure out that black face is a no-no. I mean, how hard would that be?

James said...

And man, I love your blog (for posts like this in particular) but Blogger's robo-protection is absolutely horrendous. Please consider changing it, because the discussion here is usually so interesting!

kushibo said...

James, I think you missed several points I was making. First, it is not "bullshit" that "none of this is the case Korea (or elsewhere in East Asia)," simply because it is racially insensitive. I was describing a much weightier aspect of blackface in America that goes beyond the insensitive mockery in Korea (and elsewhere in East Asia).

As for the recent examples, you thinking those recent movies sucked does not make their existence any less confusing for people who are bewildered by the complicated way in which blackface, whiteface, and yellowface are offered up in North American pop culture.

"White Girls," "Tropic Thunder," and "America's Next Top Model" all are viewed in Korea, yet they don't come with a set of directions for why those are okay (if in fact they are okay) and classic stuff is not.

Interestingly, given that I've mentioned "America's Next Top Model," my word captcha is "yourtyrA." It's followed by "lanstit," but that doesn't make any sense.

kushibo said...

"Apparently, the Korean media companies knew enough to knock that shit off in 88." Interestingly enough, that very interview with Lee Bong-won in 2010 also included an appearance by this guest...

I also wanted to make a point about institutional memory. If people knew to knock it off in 1988, and for the most part it was pretty much knocked off, twenty years later, young Turks may not know why it was knocked off.

How many people under thirty remember when Ted Danson got in trouble for doing blackface in a sketch with Whoopie Goldberg, for example?

James said...

"yet they don't come with a set of directions for why those are okay"

Agreed, but why is this still an issue for certain SK tv execs, writers, and performers after 1988?

"How many people under thirty remember when Ted Danson got in trouble for doing blackface in a sketch with Whoopie Goldberg, for example?"

Blackface minstrelsy "peaked" if you will in the 19th century in America. I wasn't alive then, but I know I'd catch hell if I performed in grease-paint.

And again, every time you bring up an example of modern-day minstrelsy a la Whoopi Goldberg/Ted Danson it's a reminder that people get into serious trouble when they do this in America.

Just because Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" had actors in blackface doesn't mean it's ever OK. That was a film specifically about blackface and its persistence to this day.

Again, two wrongs don't make a right. Hollywood movies with offensive asian stereotypes are ugly and should be shunned. Koreans who perform in blackface should at the very least be informed that this is unacceptable behavior, just like pulling the skin around my eyes back and saying "I'm Ching-Chong-Chinaman."

matt said...

Matt McLellan:
Thanks for reminding me of that. I've posted that in an update above.

I'd agree that black face in Korea does not carry the weight of the past it does in the US.

In the 1981 Joongang Ilbo article I linked to in an edit above, there is a complaint that a KBS detective show with an episode titled 'Nigerian dream' was done with too little effort, because the actor only had black on his face on not on his hands, which were white, which I think that gives some insight into what was expected of actors portraying black people - that in order to appear authentic, the actor had to be in (full) black makeup.

Thinking about that and that some of the examples above are not out to deliberately ridicule black people - though, of course, many of them (along with the cartoons) are - I would say that outright condemnation might not always be the most effective way to go, especially since it tends to lead to a 'circle the wagons' effect.

Though it has been fallen back on a lot by defensive Korean netizens, it probably is worth noting that the worst examples which look so much like stereotypical black face (other than the atrocity that is the Bubble Sisters) with the unpainted giant lips and clown features are modeled after Maikol, himself a racist cartoon character. I think most cases of black face in Korea don't quite reach the level of offensiveness as the Maikol clones or the bubble sisters, as the latter to appear to outright modeled on traditional black face.

Oh, and since the reason for sikeomeonseu's retirement wasn't apparently known until 2010, I'm not sure if the institutional memory argument works. I'm not sure there was much black face in the 1990s or before the Bubble Sisters, though. I haven't found any evidence so far, but then the pre-internet age doesn't lend itself to television preservation very well (especially considering a lot of pre 1990s shows were not preserved in Korea).

matt said...

Thanks. Not sure what could be done with the comments. Changing from Blogger would be a nightmare, since so many of my posts have several links to my own older posts... Links within links within links...

matt said...

A friend asked me to post this:

A Kyopo teacher I work with excused Korean black face on TV saying "This is Korea" which is basically what most people over at EatYourKimchi probably mean to say and which I've heard so many other times about most any other criticism of S. Korea. So, I don't expect change for a LONG LONG time just like most anything else in S. Korea. BTW, has anyone seen that Billy Crystal just last week or so as the host of the Academy Awards appeared in a bit of black face (minus the big lips and bone through nose)? He was imitating Sammy Davis Jr., he was criticized but it was justified by saying he was imitating someone. So, maybe the Korean Dream Girls get a pass?
Sammy Davis Jr.'s daughter says the late 'Rat Packer' wouldn't have been offended... [Link.]

James said...

Also: Fred Armisen doing Obama on SNL doesn't bother me because it's a straight impersonation, whereas the whole point of blackface minstrelsy was to reinforce racial stereotypes.

A tricky line, but not the sort of circumspection I could attribute to many of the examples of blackface in SK.

Roboseyo said...


I switched to Disqus when blogger came up with the stupid comment verification stuff... it even let me import all comments from previous blog posts. That was cool. I'm generally happy with it, and it's a lot more customizable than blogger comments, which don't have many options.

Best of all: it gives me IP addresses of commenters, and the option to ban commenters, or put IP addresses on a "moderate" list, which blogger doesn't.

I'm not sure if it's possible to get your comments OUT of disqus once you're in... it looks like I might be in for the stay now... but disqus has been pretty good so far.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a dead topic, but for anyone who stumbles upon this in the future, I just want to point out that most comedy/acting in Korea is very overdone. The style doesn't appeal to foreigners at all (save for Psy....), nor is it understood (including Psy). If you've ever watched a variety show in Korea, you know what I'm talking about. Yes, Koreans give themselves a tan and exaggerate what they think it is to be black to an offensive level, but they're also doing that for any other character (nerd, model, hobo, mother-in-law...). I truly believe it's not meant to be malicious and we should take it in the spirit it was intended.

However, I am aware that Koreans are overwhelmingly racist as a body, and that it is not okay. Much of that is fear-based and with increasing education and exposure, that is slowly changing. America has had maybe a 150 yr head start and the great leaders in the NAACP to help them along.

As a side note, many European countries are similarly homogeneous and close-minded. As an example, the majority of my Russian friends believe that all Chinese people are cheap and smell like fish. They hail from a diverse collection of cities and socio-economic classes in Russia. Why don't people get upset about that mentality? I'm not sure I understand the outrage at Koreans being racist but not liking it thrown back at them, but then not jumping on others for being racist.... it's all so confusing to me.

Unknown said...

Stereotypes are stereotypes. They only widened the gap between people and people believe this misrepresentation as being true. Just stop it!!! For once, put yourself in someone else's shoes. Would Koreans think this was innocent humor if it was done in the US? I doubt it. Obviously, Koreans had to think of this blackface was offensive because they stopped it for the Olympics! If it had no ill intent, why stop? Also, why Black people? I don't see any whiteface parodies or Hispanic parodies! That why this is so wrong! One sided and hypocritical. I'm really hurt because I enjoy South Korean culture immensely. If Koreans want others to love and respect their culture, you should do the same for other people and their culture. No one is greater than the next to be in a position to poke fun at anyone else. Make light of things in your community. When i read this i was like "God, why do the world hate black people? We are butt of EVERYONE'S joke?" But I'm glad to see that things are changing.

El Generalissimo said...

Great post, thank you! If you don't mind, I've linked it to a blog I maintain for students; they will be expected to have read and understood the history of black face in Korea as part of a larger elective assignment. As for a fairly comprehensive overview of the subject, this is by far the best I've found on the internet. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

Just came upon this because of a friend's recent posting about someone he saw on the street in Daegu wearing blackface. It was very informative and even though I know this posting is from a while ago obviously it is still an issue that has no easy answers.

Thank you again for doing so much research into the history of it!

Carmen said...

I wish you would have done more research. That picture you are accusing Eric of being in blackface is a REAL screencap of Eddie Griffin from "Undercover Brother". It's not even Eric. The korean article is talking about how they look so alike that people thought it was Eric in the picture.

If you don't believe me, google Undercover Brother, go to images and if you scroll down a few pages, you'll see that screencap.

matt said...

Thanks for pointing that out. Apologies for the carelessness - it's been removed.

Anonymous said...

As for cartoon depictions, there was also this Munwha Ilbo article:

You have it here:

pandabear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matt said...

If this video is what you're referring to, then no, since his face is not painted.