Recently, netizens dug up old photos from an episode of MBC‘s variety program Infinite Challenge from 2007, and they found a detail that made them believe the show predicted the future.
Disney‘s live-action film The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey, recently hit theaters. As the first Black actress to play Ariel, Bailey made history by being a representation for young Black girls who look like her.
One thing Bailey changed up for the live-action remake was her hair. Whereas the classic animated version of Ariel had wavy, red hair, Bailey decided to stay true to her Black heritage and represent her identity by keeping her dreadlocks.
The Oscar-nominated hair department head, Camille Friend, created Bailey’s “Ariel” hairstyle—and it wasn’t easy.
In an interview with Variety, Camille Friend shared that she began with Bailey’s roots.
I went to meet with Halle’s family. Her mother is spiritual and they’re a kind family… I started to understand who she was and why the natural hair element was important to keep.
— Camille Friend
Friend did not want to cut any of Bailey’s natural hair or use a wig, so she had to recreate an iconic “red-haired princess look” without cutting the actress’ locs. She also shared that the whole wrap process took roughly 12 to 14 hours.
In addition, Friend revealed that a lot of detail—and money—went into adding the red color to Bailey’s hair with Keratin tips.
It’s three shades of red… I’m not guesstimating, but we probably spent at least $150,000 because we had to redo it and take it out. You couldn’t use it and we’d have to start again. It was a process.
— Camille Friend
Friend added loose hair pieces to create the illusion that Ariel’s locs were floating—because naturally, they don’t float in water.
Keeping Bailey’s locs was a long process, but it was necessary for Bailey to portray Ariel in her own way. When the teasers for The Little Mermaid were released, many people immediately noticed her hair.
Recently, netizens found screenshots from an episode of Infinite Challenge in 2007 and posted them on various online communities. On June 2, a post titled “The Infinite Challenge Prophecy, which is really scary at this point“ showed photos of comedian Jeong Hyeong Don cosplaying as a mermaid.
The episode’s concept was for the Infinite Challenge members to take low-budget calendar photos. For the month of July, Jeong Hyeong Don took pictures dressed up as Ariel at a swimming pool.
What netizens couldn’t help but notice was his hair; he wasn’t wearing a red wig like most people who dress up as Ariel does—he wore a wig with braids. The captions made fun of the comedian, saying, “Not a mermaid but a sea monster” and “a mermaid that will haunt your dreams!”
In response to these screenshots, netizens commented how eerie it was that Jeong Hyeong Don wore braids instead of a red wig from all the hairstyles. Someone claimed that there was a time traveler in the Infinite Challenge production team. Others were not so kind towards Bailey.
- “Wait, him copying the dreadlocks gives me goosebumps; they must have looked into the future, right?
- “They could’ve simply put a red wig on him, but seeing that he’s wearing braids, I’m convinced there’s a time traveler in the production team”
- “Jeong Hyeong Don is prettier, f*ck”
- “Did they have no other content to bring from the future because the earth was destroyed?”
Other netizens made jokes.
The actress once said in an interview that she was able to get to where she is because of her superiors that helped her. I guess she meant Jeong Hyeong Don.
Some Korean netizens have vocalized their dislike for Bailey being cast as Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid by posting racist and hateful comments. However, many Koreans supported and celebrated Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel.
Meanwhile, Korean celebrities, agencies, and television programs have a history of cultural appropriation, whether wearing dreadlocks, headdresses, or blackface. It happened frequently in the 1990s and 2000s before people knew what cultural appropriation was; although more people are educated on it now, there are still cases where artists and entertainment programs get called out for cultural appropriation.