Racism - an "invisible" subject in k-drama

I happened to read this article today, about a Colombian man married to a Korean woman, and the racial abuse he had to withstand. He quotes several instances, and it seems it’s rampant.
(In the photo you’ll see that this man is light-skinned, he could easily be taken for a European: what must be the situation for a black person?)

But you never see racism in k-drama, not even as a passing scene, let alone as the main subject.
The only time I saw something was in the 2013 film “A Wonderful Moment” a.k.a “My Little Hero” (starring Kim Rae Won), about a Korean-Philipino boy who is cast to play a Korean king in a musical. The boy, Ji Dae Han, is actually Korean-Sri Lankan.

Have you seen any other one?


Actually I saw it quite a few times in Kdrama. To pick an example let’s go for Blow Breeze as I can’t think of anything else at the moment. In there a North Korean family fled to South Korea and want to look for a family member. But they face a lot of difficulties just because they are from North Korea. And no that doesn’t happen just because it’s Kdrama, it happens in real life too.


Yes, I hadn’t thought of North Koreans. That yes, I’ve seen many times. In “Blow Breeze”, in Doctor Stranger, in the 2-episode “Ballerino”, and also in a beautiful KBS drama special about a man who hates North Koreans and he has to welcome into his house his son’s North Korean widow.

It is invisible because 95% (or plus ) of those series involve only Koreans. I would not say Korean or Chinese are totaly exempt of racism. It is another topic but I get sometimes very infuriated with the way, Korean boys are treating the women!!

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Racism is not the only issue in Asian dramas the portrayal of women is outrageous! That is the reason why I am so turned off by Asian dramas. The women are always portrayed as maids of their husband and mother/father in laws. They are treated with disrespect and are ignorant that have no brains or drunken with no brains. They are always poor while the guy is always the rich CEO.

I just don’t bother watching those bc I am fed up the way women are portrayed over and over again. Is sickening to see young girls of this new generation accepting this as a norm. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Unacceptable in my eyes.


I’m going to speak on behalf of the Asian people (the ones that are born + raised from Asia) as one myself, but what I’m going to say does not apply to all Asians. We’re still very traditional people to this day, and that also means that we still have the same culture as hundreds of years before. The newer generation is doing better [regarding racism and sexism] and raised with more Western ideas, but many are still influenced by what family teaches them. The worst things that mainland born + raised Asians tend to think that people who are darker than pale/tan skin are “dirty” and that women are supposed to take care of kids and do chores, etc. That’s why you see so many Asians who are using products to make their skin paler and men not respecting women like they’re supposed to; it’s the culture that still remains. Like @angelight313_168 said, this is so unacceptable to me and my family, but it’s not like we can change a whole culture that’s existed for centuries in most parts of Asia; it’s too difficult to change that. It’s like saying, “Okay, Americans, you aren’t allowed to speak English anymore. You can only speak Latin now.” That’s… difficult.

But all in all, it’s the culture they/we grew up with, and it’s going to be difficult to completely get rid of the bad parts of it.


It’s tough enough to do in much more open places like North America and Europe.

In repressive societies with a lot less immigration (because they aren’t desirable locations) like Korea, China, India and others - you’re not going to get people to talk about it.

They might want to talk about discrimination their people face abroad but they’re not going to reflect on their own attitudes and prejudices to people from abroad who come to work, study and/or live in their country.


It happens in every culture and we just have to make sure that our children and all our future generation does not accept that as a norm. We women have demonstrated that we are capable of putting up a business and be competitive in the world. We work and sometimes even earn more money than man.

A marriage should always be a 50/50 thing. When I worked I came home to cook and clean and tend to my husband I was a maid, a slave. I told my daughter when you fall in love find a man that shares the workload with you don’t put up with this. If she cooks her husband sets the table serves the drinks and help her. They share everything together bc he says she works too is only fair I also help her with the workload when we both get home.

When we get married we are not punching bags/baby factory/maids to our husband. As long as we find a man that can understand that we don’t become part of this vicious cycle and we make new traditions and break all those old traditions that are so wrong in so many ways. Let’s keep the good one’s and work on getting rid of the bad ones…One day at a time for our future generations…:slight_smile:


If you want to see positive examples of women, you can try

  • Woman with a suitcase. The man tries to treat her condescendingly but she takes none of that.
  • Madame Antoine (refreshingly, she does not become stupid even when she falls in love)
  • Ms Temper & Nam Jung Gi (she is the driving force that completely changes a man’s life and gives him the idea of self-dignity etc.). The male lead is a very good actor and the theme is very important.
  • It’s OK that’s love. Beautiful, beautiful series.
  • I Do I Do. Noona romance with domineering female who dares to face social outcry. Not a wow series, but pleasantly watchable.
  • I need romance 3. The guy is pursuing the woman (in the sweetest way).
  • On the way to the airport. The husband is treating the woman as you say, and she is initially meek, but she finds herself and her strength. Very satisfying.
  • 20 again. Again, the ultimate despised woman. Who finds herself. Very satisfying ending.
  • Sunny. It’s a film, not a series. I’ll just say one thing: don’t miss that one! It’s about women’s friendship and how they help each other revive their true fighting selves.
  • Producer. Gong Hyo Jin (Jealousy Incarnate) plays a professional woman who takes no shit. And it’s a very good series generally.
  • The Man living in our house. The female character is very strong and the relationship is very good.
  • Stone Day” - A very interesting and very realistic depiction of marriage 20 years after the flowery courtship. It’s a 1-hour KBS drama special . To be found here: https://www.viki.com/videos/1087443v-unexpected-life-drama-specials-stone-day-episode-9
    At the beginning you see a typical “wife as 2nd hand citizen” situation which will make your blood boil. But things are not always exactly as they seem.


If you go to the kpop forum discussion, the third person commenting writes:

No comment…


I have seen most of them and will look into the one’s I haven’t seen yet. I hope other women watch them too and get inspired especially our young girls here watching dramas so that they change such a distorted perception of women’s role in life.

Thank you for sharing and I must include TUNNEL the girl there has an awesome role as a criminal profiler psychologist/professor expert. Is the first time I see her acting and I’m really loving it bc these are the type/kind of dramas I love to watch. Women empowered and showing we grew with the centuries and are no longer slaves to disgusting custom and traditions that devalue the women’s worth in society.

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I have only seen shows where people are prejudice toward them because they are different, poor or handicapped

Gap Dong and Memories of Murder (handicapped man)
Werewolf Boy
Gu Family Book (demon/gumiho)
To the Beatuiful You (the lead female talks about white people calling her names when she was in America)

Well, if we extend the subject of this thread to sexism and discrimination of all kinds, then we would also have to talk of the depiction of gays in many k-dramas. And also the very real discrimination against ex prison convicts. Even in a fluffy stupid drama like “Panda and Hedgehog”, that theme was serious. The tribulations of an ex-convict are present in the currently airing “Father is Strange”. This man who spent time in prison (while being innocent, but this is another story) had to face intense bullying and ostracism when he came out - which led him to extreme measures, because there was the very real possibility that he would never get a job, he and his family were going to be harrassed no end by everybody, everywhere they went.

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I haven’t watch any dramas with depicted racism. Maybe because it’s taboo like people above said or bad adversement for their entertainment dramas.

But I know that it exists in Asia and everywhere.
We have different kind of racisms : the one against foreigners, the one against people with a different skin color, the one against people with another religion, etc. This type of differences and some others can be subject to racism.

I saw a documentary a few years ago about Asian people who lived in Western countries and then came back to their mainland. What the woman was saying was : “You see, I’m like a banana. Yellow outside but white inside. I’m not recognized as a citizen in the country I’m living or I don’t feel at home in the country I was raised and in the country of my ancestors, I’m not recognized as one neither.” (the banana metaphor and the feelings are exact but the words I used are not the way she said it but it’s the same meaning).
What she meant was people from her mainland (in Asia) don’t see her as Asian because she was taught a different culture, she has different values and even in her behaviour, the way she talks, her different upbringing from other Asian kids is showing.
So even if she has the looks of an Asian, their physical characters (yellow peel of the banana), she’s different inside from Asian people raised in Asia (white : westerners).
What was interesting was people don’t treat her the same way (of course because she’s different).
And that to the fundamental questions : Where’s my home ? What’s my identity ?
She met an identity crisis because she thought of finding her home and identity going back in Asia but she was met with another kind of “racism”.
Some older ones don’t like some westerners values or behaviour. You’ll be critiziced, you’ll be ignored, you’ll be called with names, you’ll be treated differently than a lambda Asian etc.

It’s the feelings of some Asian people not every Asian living abroad and not everyone’s reaction.

In the reality show My Neighbor, Charles (foreigners living in South Korea), I remember watching an episode where young children were afraid of an African dancer because they never saw someone with dark skin and he was in his tribal costume so they were afraid because of differences and what they heard about, and in their own reality they can compare him with “demon” because of the skin color and clothes. They were whispering between themselves “He’s all black !” and they didn’t dare to approach him. But after dancing and the man was smiling and nice with children, playing and all, children changed their behaviour little by little. Instead of feeling fear, they were laughing and having a good time. At the end, they were becoming more friendly with the man.

In the same show, there was an episode with one Muslim woman and her children. She was wearing the hijab and she was teaching the prayers to her daughter who was young so she wasn’t wearing a hijab outdoors. The young girl didn’t want to wear a hijab outdoors because she was afraid to be different from other children and how people will react to it. Maybe other children will laugh at her or exclude her because she’s different, they might think that she’s weird when she will do her prayers. And she was afraid to lose her friends (parents can tell to their children not to hang out with her, parental influence).
And her mother told her something like : “You can explain them that it’s because of your religion”. Etc I dont really remember what she told her daughter.

People are influenced by what they are told from teachers, family, friends. We are not born knowing what racism is. People are not born racist but they can become racists. Humans created it.


I don’t know if this is relevant to post here, but is there anyone who remembers the racism issue from Taiwanese drama “Refresh Man”? Those scenes are mainly about a Taiwanese boy who tries to disguise into a Black Man to advertise and promote an soap product. Those are immediately received many feedbacks and immediately deleted. Even Viki has to apologize!


To be honest…I have been a fan of K-Drama now about a year and in my experience the biggest shocker I have found is the abuse women place on men in Korean drama’s… Seems every episode a woman is putting her hands on a male character. Face slaps, ect… I am really shocked to see so much of it… If anything its the men taking the beating…


I saw one but really sneaky racism in i can see your voice. A black man was here and the singer one who need to choose if the person know how to sing or not say to this man " people like you don’t know how to sing, i bet you don’t know too".
I was like…excuse me ? Black people can’t sing ? Are u…I don’t have any words
Steevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and i can’t tell all don’t know how to sing ?

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I haven’t watched it.
Did “people like you” refer to his skin colour? The black man was not part of another category except for being black?
But this drama is on my watch list anyway, so I suppose I’ll see it shortly.

Haven’t seen that yet. Can you give me at least one of the name of any drama? I don’t watch too many dramas since I’m picky with what I like. So far, I can’t recall seeing that happening in the dramas I saw.

Superiors like Chief of police hitting the guys that work under him, yes. A woman hitting a man, no.

I think these scenes are so ridiculous in US that’s assault, punishable by law. Of course, besides being the most disgusting behavior in any society. It’s not funny at all, but abusive.

" i can see your voice" is a tv show where someone famous need to discover if the different people in front of him know or don’t know how to sing. Their is different part like clip, lip sync and the famous one need to choose the eliminate candidate, and that’s the moment where he said " people like you…blabla" so we know a little about candidate (only when they are korean) when they are eliminate. So when he said " people like you"…it’s obviously about his skin color.

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