Posted in Korea, Portfolio, Uncategorized

Update: Racism in Korea

Well, I actually can’t believe how time flies. I was on facebook a few days ago and I got one of those reminders about what I was doing on that day in previous years. I came across a post that I had made 2 years ago! It shocked me because it felt as though I had only posted it a year ago. I have been in Korea for almost 3 years now! Crazy!
When I saw the post, I thought, I should probably make an update or an alternative version to it. So, if you haven’t already go and check out ‘Racism in Korea?’

Now, when I was reading over the blog post, I was thinking, I still agree with all of the points I made in that post, but I couldn’t decide if my view on racism in Korea has changed or not. Also, apart from an updated version, I thought that maybe I should make a post about size in Korea instead of Racism. So I will do both. This post will be an update on ‘Racism in Korea?’ and then I will make another post about size in Korea.

Racism in Korea – Update

So, I mentioned in my last post that people stare. They still stare. It’s not a big issue. I have actually started to notice it more but as I said in my first post, I don’t think they are staring at me because of my race. When I do notice them staring, it still doesn’t bother me.

I have actually had more people speaking to me! This kinds of proves that people aren’t as racist as you make them out to be. There are two ways people start speaking to me. The first one is just straight up talking to me, even before I have acknowledged them. The second is, they stare at me and I catch their eye and smile at them. If they are close enough and confident, they usually speak to me. Asking me where I am from, what I am doing in Korea, if I can speak Korean and so on.

Now, in my original post, I gave 4 main points that I hear people mentioning when they speak about racism here. I am going to speak about those 4 points again.

  1. Taxi drivers driving off –  Now, I am not going to lie, I have experienced taxi drivers driving past me. But I still do not put this down to racism. Yes, it is so frustrating when they drive off and I get angry too, but I thought to myself why are they doing this. I have noticed a few things when they drive off. First thing is that there is someone standing further down the road, maybe the taxi driver thinks they were waiting first. Second is that maybe the driver was going to fast to slow down safely. Everyone in Korea knows that the drivers, especially taxi and bus drivers, are crazy. They speed all the time.
  2. Taxi drivers refusing to take you – Another thing that has happened to me more. Now, the taxi driver has stopped. They have seen your skin colour and they stopped. You tell them a location. As I mentioned in my previous blog, people get in taxi’s without saying hello. They just say the place they want to go. I will defend taxi drivers in that case. But there have been times where I have said hello to the taxi driver, told him where I want to go, and he or she says no. Now, it is frustrating. Especially if you are in a rush. But again, I think their are reasons why they have refused, apart from your race.
    A. You are on the wrong side of the road.
    B. You have hailed down a taxi which is going to a different location. There are different kinds of taxi’s in Korea. There are some in Seoul which go towards Incheon or other surrounding cities. Generally if you get one that is going east, it will not go all the way across the city and take you west.
    C. You have asked them to take you somewhere really close. I understand that sometimes you just need a taxi to take you one subway stop away, but for them, they need to think about their income. They would rather wait and take someone who is going a bit further.
    D. You have asked them to take you somewhere too far. The opposite of my third point. Taxi’s usually have to think about your final destination. Will they be able to get another person easily from your final destination? Is it worth the money going across a motorway and having to drive back without a customer?
    There are many reasons apart from your race.
  3. Not respecting the countries culture – I obviously still agree with this point. I have learnt a lot about Korean culture being here and I have also improved my Korean speaking skills. So, generally, Koreans are very pleased and feel good about the fact that I understand their country and their language.
  4. Dress code – Now, this is one that I kind of have a different opinion about. Since I have been in Korea, cleavage, shoulders and backs have been put on show more. Before, it was all about covering your top and wearing a short skirt. But now, Korean women are also showing their chest, shoulders and backs.
    Working in a company with 90% women has showed me a lot. This one kind of leads into the next post that I will make about size in Korea. So I will try and keep it as related to race as possible. For some reason, it is fine for Korean teachers to wear short skirts and have their shoulders exposed without anyone batting an eye at them. But as soon as my skirt was ‘too short’ (still longer than the Korean teachers), It was an issue. Now, it is so hard for me to say that this is to do with race, and I actually don’t think it is. It is to do with size. And so I will leave this here!

In general, my opinion is that Korea is still not as racist as people make it out to be. Race is such a touchy topic, especially now. So, it is important to just forget about your race. As I said before, even though someone is staring at you, it doesn’t mean that they are thinking racist thoughts. Be positive and give others the benefit of the doubt. Maybe then you will realise that their stares could be something positive. A compliment. You never know!


Posted in Korea, Uncategorized

Racism in Korea?

Even before coming to Korea, I have seen so many videos and blog posts of people saying that they are victims of racism in Korea. I am going to address this matter. 

People should not confuse curiosity and naivety with racism.

The thing that I noticed during both of my times in Korea, is that people stare. People stare at white people, people stare at Indian people, people stare at Black people. This is reality. I get stared at in Hackney (London)! One of the most culturally diverse towns in the world, so of course people will stare in a country that has only recently (in the past 5-10 years) seen an increase in foreigners. I have actually received more racism from Americans than Koreans since living here (But that’ll have to be another post).

I believe that instead of the colour of your skin, it is your attitude and the way that you present yourself which depends on the type of attention you get. This could easily explain several points that people make when talking about racism in Korea. 

1. Taxi drivers driving off – I actually have never experienced this in Korea. But there can be a possible reason why it could happen. If you see the light in the taxi window flashing, it is hired already. Only when the writing is a solid red colour is the taxi free. 

2. Taxi drivers refusing to take you – I have seen this happen but it is because the foreigner simply jumped in the taxi or popped their head into the window and stated the place where they wanted to go. I understand the taxi driver at this point. It is common decency to say hello or excuse me to a person before talking to them. I’m pretty sure all foreigners here know how to say ‘hello’ in Korean.

3. Not respecting the countries culture – Now, this is the one point which has to be stressed the most. You are in a foreign country. I know, I always hear American and sometimes British people say ‘I’m not a foreigner’. For some reason it has become hard for some western people to accept that, we are in fact foreigners in Korea and everywhere around the world apart from our home countries! When you are in a foreign country, you must slightly adapt to the way things run. 
I’m not saying be fluent in Korean before you get here or change your personality so you fit in. Just be respectful. Before moving to another country to live, you should educate yourself a little bit in understanding how respect works in that country. Otherwise you have nobody to blame but yourself. This sounds a bit harsh but you need to get off your high horse. 

4. Clothing culture – Now I know this is also one that foreigners won’t understand. One way which I can explain it is, would you go to Saudi Arabia wearing a Bikini? If you answer yes, good luck. You won’t even get past immigration no matter where you are from or who you are.
In Korea, it is simple. Wear the shortest skirt you want but do not show cleavage. If you aren’t slim, then unfortunately no matter what you wear you will probably be stared at. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It is known that Koreans (especially women) have slim frames. People who stare are merely curious and maybe a little judgmental but it is not about race. Korea is known as a country which considers appearance a lot. Appearance, not race.

5. Smile!! If somebody is staring at you, don’t give them a full teeth smile, just smile a little. Chances are they will smile back at you. 

6. Live your life without caring about what other people think. When I first came to Korea, I didn’t notice people staring at me but my friends would notice it. Even this time, I wouldn’t notice but people who I am with would notice. I know they are staring at me, but I don’t care so it doesn’t bother me.
So, listen to your music, talk to your friend, sit on your phone, stare in to space, read a book. Do anything to take your attention off people staring at you. 

The most important thing that I want people to take out of this blog post is that YOU are making it a big deal. You are assuming that Koreans are being racist. Change your attitude and the reasons why you think people are staring at you. I am almost certain that then you will enjoy your time here more. I have received nothing but kindness from Koreans since I have been in Korea. I am sure that this is because I respect the Korean culture, I give out positive energy and I do not focus on negatives. 

So, think positive people!! 

If you have a different opinion to mine or if you agree with what I have said in this blog post, please let me know by commenting below ^^