Popular actor Kang Ki Young is receiving criticism for a recent Instagram post.
Kang Ki Kang is one of the most beloved actors, appearing in numerous hit K-Dramas, including Extraordinary Attorney Woo, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.
While he has many fans around the world, he has managed to offend some of them.
Kang Ki Young has been busy lately promoting his new film The Point Men (also known as Bargaining).
The Point Men is an action crime thriller directed by Yim Soon Rye, one of the few leading female auteurs of Korean New Wave cinema known to make movies related to Korean social issues and humanism. The story is based on the real-life event “2007 South Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan and the subsequent rescue mission,” and stars Hyun Bin.
A story about a diplomat and a National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent who struggle and risk their lives on foreign soil to save Korean hostages that have been abducted in the Middle East. The film is based on true events of 2007 South Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan, when 23 South Korean missionaries were captured and held hostage in Afghanistan. Hyun Bin playing a NIS agent conducts a rescue operation and negotiations with the help of diplomat played by Hwang Jung-min.
— Wikipedia’s description for The Point Men
The film was originally slated to be released in September 2022 but was postponed to January 18, 2023, due to COVID-19 and the actors’ schedules.
Kang Ki Young also stars in The Point Men as Qasim, the one local interpreter in Afghanistan. His character is Korean but fluent in both Pashto and Dari, the languages spoken in Afghanistan.
Despite the serious nature of the film, Kang Ki Young, as usual, brings a positive light to his role. He has been praised for his energy and improvisation in his acting.
He is a master of improvisation created by his unique survival instinct and will bring to the audience with his witty words in the negotiation scene.
Notably, Kang Ki Young poured a lot of passion into bringing to life the character of Qasim.
— Kdrama Diary
Still, netizens had mixed reactions when Kang Ki Young shared what appeared to be a behind-the-scenes photo from The Point Men on Instagram to celebrate the release. He appeared almost unrecognizable as his character…
movie <bargaining> D-Day
— Kang Ki Young’s caption
Some Korean netizens, including actors Choi Jin Hyuk and Gong Hyo Jin, found Kang Ki Young’s photo amusing.
Gong Hyo Jin: lolol can’t wait
Choi Jin Hyuk: hyung why is this so funny lolol
International netizens were quick to point out how offensive Kang Ki Young’s post could be. They pointed out that it appeared that he was not only in costume for his role but was wearing darker makeup. Still, some hoped it was merely a combination of a natural tan and a shadow, causing him to appear unusually darker in complexion.
But there was an overwhelming response of backlash. Some even encouraged Kang Ki Young to delete the post, concerned that he had committed brownface.
Brownface is a racist phenomenon, similar to blackface, in which a light-skinned person attempts to portray themselves as a “brown” person of color. It has been used in minstrel shows that relied heavily on mocking others’ culture, race, etc.
This may include mimicry of Middle Eastern, North African, Southeast Asian, Melanesian, Micronesian, Polynesian, Hispanic, Native American, Southern Italians, Sicilians, and/or South Asian ethnic identity by using makeup, hair-dye, and/or by wearing traditional ethnic clothing.
International netizens called Kang Ki Young out for brownface, appropriating Middle Eastern, specifically Arab people. Arab netizens weighed in too, and the responses were divided. Some found it funny, and some agreed with the majority that it was inappropriate.
While The Point Men is based in Afghanistan, it was actually filmed in the Arab nation of Jordan.
Looking at the photo he posted with the official images from the film proves that he did appear naturally darker than usual (normally, he portrays characters who work indoors for one thing). Still, it’s concerning that there were reactions who found his post “funny.”
Interestingly, Hyun Bin garnered attention for his role in the film as he appeared “unrecognizable” as well. Read more below.