Really interesting. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, so I have a lot to say. It makes sense that because a country is mostly ethnically Asian, most of the actors would be Asian. I think right now the countries are broadening their horizons by accepting Asian actors and entertainers from other Asian countries, or Asian-Americans, or entertainers who are biracial.
I can think of a good amount of biracial entertainers in the Korean entertainment industry. Julian Kang, mentioned in this article, is actually half-Korean (and Canadian, not American.) He was also on a season of We Got Married and in High Kick through the roof. Daniel Henny is an American, half-Korean actor, that’s had a lot of success in Korea. He was in Kim Sam Soon, and also was the lead in Seducing Mr. Perfect, where he spoke English. Yoon Mirae/Tasha is half-black, half Korean and is a crazy talented singer-rapper. I believe she’s American, and is married to Tiger JK who is Korean-American; they have a child, Jordan, who occasionally makes appearances at concerts or on TV. Insooni and Lee Michelle are half-black singers who grew up in Korea: what they’ve said about being mixed, especially half-black, growing up in Korea makes me think that racial prejudice is still pretty strong and that might be one reason we don’t see more actors of different races. I know that for a long time it was hard, if not impossible, to get a Korean birth certificate for a child where the father was a foreigner. During it’s history Korea was attacked and controlled by several different entities (China, Japan) and part of the unwillingness to accept mixed-race children came from a reaction to that, an urge to protect Korean culture and bloodlines. Frankly, even in more ethnically diverse countries, interracial marriages and biracial children are still in the process of being accepted. I am half-black, half-white, and I can actually recall someone hazing my family from a car. I grew up in a very liberal part of California. (Any Americans recall the reaction to a certain Cheerios Commercial?) Anyway, I don’t know the situation in Korea now, but I have seen MANY mixed kids in variety shows like Hello Baby and We Got Married. Most of them have had one parent from a different Asian country, or one white parent. I did read something that suggested you have it easier being biracial or a foreigner in Korea if you’re pretty, but I guess that’s everywhere.
For foreign celebs, Sam Hammington is an Australian comedian. For some reason, even though they’re quite different in age, I always confuse him with Robert Holley, who is an American born, naturalized Korean citizen and television personality known for speaking Korean in a Busan dialect. I saw him on an episode of Mamma Mia with his son, who is half-Korean (and seemed kinda cocky, but whatever, he’s a kid.) I also saw a French singer at some point, who’s name I can’t remember at all, with her son. I’ve seen a few episodes of Hello Counselor where foreigners appeared. Abigail Alderete is from Paraguay, and played Chris on Playful Kiss. She also was recently on a show where foreigners teach English with Sam Hammington, Bradley Ray Moore of Busker Busker, and Sam Otswiri from Ghana.
Now that I’m at the end of this lengthy introduction, I’m not quite sure what I was trying to say. But any thought from others would be welcome.
I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about my
obsession fondness of korean dramas and anime/manga, and she asked an interesting question. She knows that I’m someone who actively tries to support diversity, particularly in television series and literature. So when I told her about my watching of Korean, Japanese and Chinese entertainment, her response was “But there’s nothing but Asians in those shows”.
For the most part, she’s right. I then also mentioned that Nollywood and Bollywood are similar as well. But then, I asked her why she thinks these things, and on a western level, stations like BET were set up? She shrugged and said “Because each culture wants their own entertainment”. And she’s right, but there are more factors than that. Here in North America, people of color weren’t even allowed on television and movies for a time…
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