K-pop stars asked to be cautious on racial prejudice

By Kim Jong-chan

“Now is the time to provide K-pop stars with education programs on racial prejudice,” said top singer Tiger JK in a column contributed to “All K-pop,” an Internet K-pop site for foreign fans.

As K-pop gains popularity across the world, an increasing number of foreign fans are watching Korean entertainment programs.

There are also growing calls for K-pop idols to “be culturally sensitive,” with industry sources expressing concern that thoughtless make-up, comments and gestures could be insulting to certain people or countries.

K-pop stars and other Koreans should listen to Tiger JK’s advice, the sources said Wednesday.

On March 29, an article about Korean singers demeaning colored people was posted on the English-language online community titled “Oh No They Didn’t (ONTD).”

Also posted were photographs of K-pop singers made up as colored people and imitating their voices.

An entertainment industry source familiar with the U.S. market said, “The U.S. is one of the most culturally tolerant societies in the world. But when it comes to racial matters, Americans are also very sensitive.”

Meanwhile, a poll showed the popularity of Korean popular culture in Asia and other parts of the world is beneficial to businesses seeking to expand overseas.

The survey on 300 companies conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) showed 51.9 percent of respondents saying “hallyu” contributed to greater sales abroad, according to Yonhap News Agency Wednesday. Hallyu, or “The Korean Wave,” refers to the popularity of TV shows and music that have secured hordes of fans in Asia, Europe and the American continent.

The country’s largest private economic organization with 135,000 members said the Korean wave has exerted the greatest effect on the cultural content field, tourism and retail.

The survey said 86.7 percent of cultural content businesses had better sales, with numbers reaching 85.7 percent and 75 percent for tourism and retail, respectively.

 

Credit: The Korea Times

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