It’s 2018 and yet colorism is still alive and well in Asia.
The region’s obsession with light skin recently became the topic of discussion on Twitter after a netizen pointed out how many Koreans “look down on” Filipinos for their dark skin.
The tweet posted by @royaltykai last week has gone viral with 17,000 retweets and 37,000 likes, and resurfaced on Reddit earlier today.
“[T]he whole Philippines is in love with [K]orean culture and promote [K]orean media everywhere… meanwhile [K]oreans look down on the [P]hilippines so much that they use the word ‘[F]ilipino’ as an insult for darker skinned [K]oreans… name something sadder,” the tweet reads.
the whole philippines is in love with korean culture and promote korean media everywhere… meanwhile koreans look down on the philippines so much that they use the word “filipino” as an insult for darker skinned koreans… name something sadder pic.twitter.com/aPuF7tWorz
— d (@royaltykai) July 16, 2018
While Hallyu (Korean Wave) only recently reached mainstream success in the west with acts like Gangnam Style singer Psy and, more recently, boyband BTS, most of Asia has been obsessed with Korean pop culture for over a decade.
This is especially true in the Philippines, where dubbed versions of Korean dramas are mainstays on TV networks’ primetime blocks and idol groups like BTS (and its predecessors Super Junior and Big Bang) have massive fanbases.
The irony pointed out in @royaltykai’s tweet is further highlighted by that fact that there is a sizable Korean community who move to the Philippines to live or learn English.
Photos included in the tweet were screenshots from the Korean TV show Hello Counselor where the guest recounts how he had a difficult time in school because of his dark skin (relative to most Koreans) and how he was teased and called a “Filipino.”
Many netizens’ reactions to the tweet were angry.
“They’re disgusting,” said @YixingsThot
@FayssAki spoke out against colorism. “I don’t understand why the colors of the skin are so much matter (sic) to everyone? Colors don’t define urself. It is ur heart an ur manner.”
I don’t understand why the colors of the skin are so much matter to everyone? Colors don’t define urself. It is ur heart and ur manner.
— Alexa (@FayssAki) July 17, 2018
Others pointed out how Filipinos tend to put other races up on a pedestal.
“We (/us) Filipinos are too nice and forgiving when it comes to other countries,” @heychanyeolie said.
“Don’t we have a history of worshipping those who basically walk on our faces tho?” @myeung_ pointed out.
Don’t we have a history of worshipping those who basically walk on our faces tho
— michiko (@myeung_) July 17, 2018
“The problem with us is we keep praising them and putting them up on a pedestal just becs of the fact they’re [K]orean. Bcs of kpop and kdramas, we have setup (sic) a mentality that they are perfect w/o even realizing it,” @sheevathegreat said.
Problema din kasi sa atin. We keep praising them and putting them up on a pedestal just bcs of the fact that they're korean. Bcs of kpop and kdramas, we have setup a mentality that they are perfect w/o even realizing it.
— shìng✨ (@sheevathegreat) July 17, 2018
Fans of Korean pop culture weren’t shocked by the tweet and said that they’ve noticed the same kind of discrimination in K-pop.
“Koreans really have a prejudice against dark-skinned people,” @MisterSemiColon said in Filipino. He then gave examples of Korean idols who have been teased for having darker skin.
“We really need to have a discussion about colorism and how it perpetuate (sic) unrealistic beauty standards,” he said.
May prejudice talaga ang mga Koreans sa mga dark-skinned people. Si Kai (Exo) and Yuri (SNSD) nga nagiging tampulan ng tukso dahil maitim raw sila. WTF? Kailangan talaga natin magkaroon ng discussion about colorism and how it perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards.
— Sass Surot (@MisterSemiColon) July 17, 2018
@maejasminelily agreed. “[I]’m into kpop/indie/hiphop but not the ppl, some of them are too racist and some are too obsessed with physical appearances, like [I]’m totally fine with that most of the time but downgrading? Nah.”
tbh im into kpop/indie/hiphop but not the ppl , some of them are too racist and some are too obsessed with physical appearances, like im totally fine with that most of the time but downgrading? Nah.
— ☆ (@maejasminelily) July 17, 2018
Some netizens said that Filipinos are also guilty of discriminating based on skin tone and race.
“Something sadder: Filipinos using ‘Aeta, Badjao, Muslim/ Moro’ as derogatory terms. Meanwhile those groups of people have to live here in a country that looks down on them because of years of colonial mentality and a perceived class system based on skin color, religion, etc.,” @cresent_blest said.
@imapotaoto said: “Well some [F]ilipinos generalize some [K]orean male as gays too because their features are too feminine for a guy.”
Well some filipinos generalize some korean male as gays too because their features are too feminine for a guy.
— mitochondriaㅋㅋ (@imapotaoto) July 17, 2018
Netizen @ayyeitsira raised the idea of a Korean pop culture boycott.
“Just a random thought, but imagine if Philippines boycott (idk if it’s the right term) the Korean industry? No Filipino watching a Kdrama or a Kpop mv. And half-blooded Filipinos who lives in other countries. Then followed by their foreign friends. And followed. And so.”
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