Do South Koreans Feel “Visually Superior” To Other Asian Races? Netizens Divided Over TikToker’s Claim
A TikTok claiming that South Korean people feel visually superior to other Asians has gone viral on a Korean online forum, generating varied opinions from netizens.
In the TikTok, user @phuongviviyam talked about the lookism and racism that she feels are prevalent in South Korea by citing two K-Pop idols as examples. She first spoke about Hanni from NewJeans, and pointed out that despite Korean people’s usual discriminatory views towards Vietnamese people and Southeast Asians, Hanni has been well-received by the Korean media because she looks “Korean-passing.”
When she first debuted, a bunch of Korean people were like ‘Oh I didn’t even know that you’re Vietnamese because you look Korean.’ And by saying that is such a backhanded compliment becuase it’s basically saying that because you look like us, who they perceive to be like the visually superior race…um, you look good.
She then contrasted the public perception of Hanni with that of Lisa from BLACKPINK. According to her, Lisa is not as popular in Korea as she is internationally because she has Thai facial features.
And we can see this clearly with like BLACPINK’s Lisa who is clearly the most popular international member but she’s still the least popular member in South Korea and it’s because like she’s Thai and she looks Thai. Like she looks Southeast Asian.
She concluded the video by saying that having spent two years in South Korea, she has realized the “lookism and racism” in the country are “insane.”
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When a Korean netizen reposted the TikTok’s content with screenshots and translations, the post immediately went viral, garnering over 100,00 views and 1,000+ comments in less than a day. Netizens appeared to be highly divided in the comment section, with some agreeing to the TikToker’s views while others calling it “victim mentality.”
- “What is she saying? ‘You look Japanese,’ ‘You look Chinese,’ ‘You look Vietnamese,’ ‘You look Indian,’ you’re supposed to take these literally. Don’t twist the meaning. There is no sense of superiority when someone says, ‘You look Korean.'”
- “It means we’re surprised that you look so much like Koreans. It doesn’t imply that we’re complimenting you for looking Korean. And I feel if Lisa appeared on TV shows as frequently as Nickhun, she also would’ve been very popular.”
- “And what about it?”
- “LOL, what is this again? LOL. I believe in nationalism, and even then, I don’t think we’re superior.”
- “What are you saying? It literally means that you look Korean, LOL. That includes ugly Koreans too.”
- “But it means what it literally says, though? Doesn’t it imply that it’s fascinating when someone looks Korean?”
- “Hm, I don’t know much about idols, but isn’t it true that even Western mixed-race idols are rarely the most popular member of their groups? I think our country likes the familiar appearance of Northeast Asians.”
- “What she pointed out isn’t racist, but it’s true that our racism is severe.”
- “I don’t agree with the specific argument, but I feel she’s right about the severe racism.”
- “We are indeed very racist towards Southeast Asians, but the example here is wrong. Kazuha is an idol who is often told she looks Korean and she’s Japanese. It’s just about certain faces that Koreans prefer.”
- “The argument in the video is not that strong, but I get what she’s saying. Still, considering it a sense of superiority is a stretch. ‘Koreans are crazily racist’ is a very accurate statement, though.”