The K-Pop phenomenon of Korean music has been gaining steam in America with recent sold-out world tours, packed arenas, and huge amounts of adoring fans. Even Swizz Beatz is planning to pair American artists and big K-Pop acts.
The biggest acts include solo acts like BoA and Kangta, R&B boy band SHINee and girl group Girls’ Generation who have helped solidify Korean pop music as a legitimate international craze. But upon deeper investigation, a troubling aspect of the music’s rise to popularity emerges.
Some acts use a disturbing amount of “imagery, language and behavior” that seems shockingly insensitive and racist, according to a story in Jezebel.
Most notably, some even perform in Blackface.
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The offensive look has been a trend within K-Pop for years with the Bubble Sisters (pictured) donning dark makeup dating as far back as 2003. Writer Tay Symone at ONTD also describes how Gikwang of K-Pop group BEAST/B2ST has been seen in full Blackface eating watermelon.
But Blackface is just one aspect of a racial insensitivity some K-Pop acts have expressed. Watch below to see a Girls’ Generation member attempt an impression of what she thinks is “acting Black.”
For a genre to be gaining such traction in the United States, it’s hard to understand how it’s partly at the expense of Black people.
Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog VeryArtistical.com.