SBS has garnered backlash from international fans and the international POC community after airing and uploading a skit containing blackface.
On April 19, SBS aired a deplorably offensive skit from their gag show, People Looking for a Laugh, that is outrageous and unacceptable and has garnered a great deal of criticism.
In the skit, the main character, named Hyunhee, argues with her father about her dreams of becoming a comedian while dressed in her audition “costume”. Hyunhee’s “costume” comprises blackface, a cheetah-print top, a grass skirt made of cabbage, and cornrows topped with a feathered headdress.
The insensitive humor doesn’t stop with how Hyunhee is dressed, however, as the rest of the skit features offensive jokes about her appearance and what she does while she’s dressed in the costume. Hyunhee’s brother’s remark, “Oh look it’s the human evolution timeline,” exemplifies the kind of insensitive and downright offensive commentary throughout.
The final scene of the skit shows Hyunhee dancing to “The Circle of Life” in a manner that embodies several African stereotypes.
The skit has, understandably, caused an uproar within the international K-Pop and POC community who are outraged at not only this incident but the fact that blackface and the stereotyping of the black community continue to be a rampant issue in South Korean entertainment. Indeed blackface has a history of rearing its ugly head in Korean variety shows where it is supposed to signify a character with African heritage and even in idol performances.
Whether you believe that blackface’s prevalence in the Korean entertainment industry is out of sheer ignorance or is a manifestation of underlying racism, its use in this or any other context remains unacceptable.
It is, perhaps, time for an industry that includes the talents of Sam Okyere, Michelle Lee, Insooni, and Yoon Mi Rae to educate themselves on cultural sensitivity. (Or at least learn that blackface is not okay. Period. End of story.)
See the offensive skit below: