Hallyu and Racism... Let's talk about it (as best we can)

Hey Y’all.

I wanted to make this topic because of the awful stills that came out from Penthouse 3. It was so disappointing to see. There is empirical evidence that Kpop is a hotbed for cultural appropriation of African American culture, and those Penthouse stills are the worst that I have seen in a long time. A complete caricature, and I do think that Logan Lee’s whole outfit is racist. International fans are outraged, but much like Backstreet Rookie, I doubt they will do anything about it. As I said in the Penthouse 3 post, I will not be finishing this drama. I’ve also seen problematic things in dramas about Southeast Asian citizens as well. The stereotypes aren’t cool. It’s definitely an issue.

Once again there is this interesting tension between Korean and international audiences. I saw many Korean posters thinking this stuff is funny, and it’s just not. I think that as the industry continues to export entertainment globally, they have a duty to educate themselves and strive to respect all the people they are trying to sell to. Just look at the diversity on this forum! It’s great that so many different people enjoy the content, but this kind of stuff really taints it. I know that it is a largely homogenous society, but ignorance is no longer acceptable as an excuse in this age of Information at our fingertips.

Some productions do get it right. But there’s still a long way to go.


Since I’m not watching that drama, would you please share a link of these offending stills?


[t**]Penthouse3Jun 11 2021Penthouse3…was that last episode. racist ash I didn’t like it at all what are the writers on…
[S**mad**]Penthouse_3Jun 12 2021 Penthouse This episode 2 ruined the season like the culture appropriation was that necessary!!! This is racist
[b***k****l]Penthouse3Jun 11 2021 Penthouse_3 The fact that the actor playing logan grew in america and agreed to play a role like this is just a huge turn off for me. I guess the money is too good eh? White people are portrayed as classy business people on this show while the one time black people are shown, they portray them as thugs (i even noticed how alex had black guards plzzzzz) :confused: I didn’t care much about the tats but the damn dreads did it for me. This is ignorance! Cultural appropriation!

It seems you are not the only one that feels there is a marked racist issue in PENTHOUSE 3 drama. I have also noticed a lot of disparage when it comes to religion (I avoid dramas that cross that line) bc no matter the belief we may have: ALL RELIGIONS deserve respect. I think dramas like that deserve no viewing support bc if not, they’ll continue making dramas like that and the vicious cycle won’t stop.


“Penthouse 3” Under Fire For Alleged Cultural Appropriation After Photos Of Park Eun Seok’s New Character Gets Released - JazmineMedia


I completely agree. There is definitely ways to create content without disrespecting groups of people whether by race, religion, orientation, etc.


I think it all depends on how the character is portrayed in the drama. How can an outfit be racist in itself? I thought it is pretty cool and dashing. Of course, if he is shown as an obnoxious person like the one in Backstreet Rookie, with the flies around him and the unwashed implications, then of course it’s hateful and racist. (I was very put off by that one). But is this character in Penthouse portrayed in a negative way or not?
From what you write on your first post, I assume you took offense just from the stills. The episode has come out now, have you watched it? Are you still of the same opinion?


I understand your sentiment about wanting to know more information. Usually, I do that too, but I think some things do not need the drama context if it is blatant. I believe that this is the case here. I think its hard to be nuanced in this depiction.

Even so, I saw comments of people who actually watched it, and they said they were made uncomfortable.

I would liken this instance to the outrage from Joseon Exorcist. It can be hard to understand the outrage, but historical context mattered over the drama context. Once it is seen as blatant, there’s no reason to continue with the drama. That’s what is happening here too i think, but for international audiences.


They have been producing cultural stereotypes for a long time as the Korean audience sees the world through television also, they need to take the time to think things through by asking …Being African American my self, I oft times wait for the time bomb in a foreign production to hit me, when it first hit me was in Heirs …the white surfer dude…really ???

But they have been getting better with representation as they have expanded the cast of non Asian extras, so you don’t keep seeing the same people over and over speaking that slow , prove I am a foreigner English, to a scene in The King Eternal Monarch , it looked like the king gave a speech at an HCBU…


This response will likely get me toasted here, but I have to say it. The K-Pop side of Hallyu actually exists and thrives because of racism…hear me out here …

Have you ever thought about the large number if K-Pop idols from Western countries ? Isn’t it strange they had to get to Korea to get their talent noticed ? Name on the American pop charts one Asian singer. If racism didn’t exist in the Western media, people like Nancy ( Mommoland ) , Jessi , Jay Park, Wendy ( Red Velvet ) would have charted and had careers in their own countries.

It’s a sad double bladed axe to talk about , but the world as a whole could do better.


It’s a question of style and taste, isn’t it? Conan Gray is half-Japanese, Joji too, Bella Poarch is of philippine origin. Gray and Joji made it trough YT, Bella Poarch came from TikTok. All of them seem to have been quite ambitious and, above all, hardworking

1 Like

If Hollywood can get away with movies featuring lame Eastern European gangsters who wear silly tracksuits and talk with an awful accent, then why can’t Hallyuwood do the same with whatever this is?! Double standards and all that.

Of course, the best course of action would be for the entire entertainment industry to stop such horrible practices.


I couldn’t see any racist gesture (did I miss any), what bothered me was more the artistical interpretation of his character, I think it was a total faux-pas in particular the wig. I just saw a “Bob Marley and some rapper from the hood” and it feels it’s totally outdated… I’m not sure who the artistic director was and what the writer really wrote…

His character simply felt out of place… the tattoos were quite impressive I haven’t seen something like this, not that I liked it or am a fan of tattoos…

Also the character was from the States so this seems sort of feasible… why the racism issue??

1 Like

I am in partial agreement with you, it is not a racial stereotype , but more of a cultural one, as this is not the first drama I have seen where Asian people “from the States” have appeared in dreadlocks ; a poor attempt at making foreigners exotic I guess

1 Like

Thanks to everyone who has responded.

I think all countries should be held to a higher standard when it comes to depictions of foreigners in film. There’s too much information out here in 2021 to still be doing this. It’s disappointing to see and the creatives behind these movies/shows need to just do better and be more creative. Too many complaints about how “everyone is sensitive and PC. Can’t make fun of women anymore, can’t make fun of cultures anymore, can’t make fun of LGBTQIA any more.” I say no, you can’t. Just be better. There are plenty of brilliant things that don’t happen at the expense others.

Overall, I cannot watch things that depict other cultures in problematic ways. I saw a clip from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and vowed that I would never watch it because of it’s racist depiction of an Asian man (who was played by a white man). I don’t understand why that movie is beloved by many people. I think I feel the same way here with penthouse. Maybe these stereotypes bother me more than others but I cannot stand to see it.

Since hallyu is expanding and Korea is opening up to foreigners more and more, I think they should be mindful as they attempt to add more diverse characters. I just wanted to have a conversation about it here since this is a forum with K content.


Totally agree with you, but for our voice to be heard, I believe we should not give viewership to dramas/movies depicted like that. I was watching Mr. Kim convenience store, and at one point I felt he was being rude and disrespectful to the gay community so I got totally turned off and then he continues and tells his daughter how black ppl love to steal, and that’s when I said; I’m done. It’s not comedy/funny to me, if they have to humiliate others. Before that, he was funny by playing the protective Dad so I was happily watching and Boom! it made a complete turn around, and I did the same thing and took the show out of my watch list and gave it a thumbs down.


Update: Park Eun Seok has apologized, which is hard to do in a public setting. I respect this and recognize his sincerity.

Park Eun Seok Apologizes For Racist Portrayal Of His Character In The “Penthouse 3” - JazmineMedia


I watched the clip of the scene. I don’t think the actor interpreted the role as a caricature. He was serious and passionate.
This portrayal has nothing to do with the Jamaican style in “Backstreet Rookie”, that was really, really offensive. And, although he was a bit darker than the usual white-washed Korean actors, he wasn’t significantly darker than his brother whom we saw afterwards. So you cannot really talk of blackface.
Apart from all that… Did the actor choose the concept and the costume? It’s usually not. Why is he apologizing? In case, it should be the writer or director or producer or whoever came up with the idea.


I agree with everything you said except this. It’s not all that unreal or offensive for two people to talk in the language they are comfortable with, while understanding each other. I do it all the time with friends.


How can people communicate in two different language?

Like always, I didn’t proofread what I wrote and forgot to clarify this as…

It just seems ridiculous to me, and ‘‘the offensiveness’’ quote/unquote, comes from the sense to see them so Insistent in portraying the way a black person ‘‘Talks’’ by making a Korean man, who obviously Knows Korean to be speaking only in English to a woman who obviously can’t communicate in English. They wanted the ‘‘Black’’ role to be 100% (they didn’t let anything fly by). G*d forbid, he spoke in Korean and kill the Whole character portrayal in the drama.

I’m also not saying communicating like This (2 or even more language) is not possible, my son answers to me in English, when I speak to him in Spanish bc I want him to at least understand Spanish; so he can understand my mother, his grandmother. I do it as much as possible and it works fine with us, too (although I can’t make him speak Spanish since he totally refuse to do so) Don’t ask me why bc I don’t know. When he was small he knew to speak both, but as years went by he lost interest in speaking in Spanish, and basically forgot how to speak in Spanish. At least the girls can speak both and my oldest son, too.


There was no mention of blackface… its cultural appropriation, and the look of it was a caricature. Going into the history and psychology as to why it was indeed a caricature and why this is a trigger for Black Americans is too hard to synthesize in this post. If you are curious, please look into reliable articles that can explain it better than I can.

Here’s the thing, when a group of people expresses hurt over something, and many people outside that group are even made uncomfortable by it, no matter the intention of the individuals who caused it, we must believe those who have been hurt. Even if we don’t see it or understand it. We don’t have to support it or agree, but at the very least, don’t tell them they are wrong/strange for feeling it.

Even Park Eun Seok recognized the need to apologize for his actions. He was responsible. So are the writers and producers. They should apologize too. He has a voice, actors have creative license to give input into their roles. At any point, he could have said “no this isn’t cool. I won’t wear this.” Even if people don’t agree that he has autonomy in his position, when we hurt people, even unintentionally, we can apologize. We don’t have to double down or place blame on others. I respect that he took responsibility. Many people cannot admit wrong. He did.