[Third in a series on Korea’s muticultural future] A rising number of multicultural entertainers reflect a changing industry - and nation
As a Multicultural person, who also worked in B-Movies when he was a younger man…He salutes these Korean-Others artists who have blazed the trail and even today are facing the lingering prejudice. Yet, slowly, a new younger generation is growing up that is moving to accept them. THIS IS GREAT!! BUT THERE IS MUCH MORE TO GO…
Korean War Baby- Don Gordon Bell
March 09, 2010
A long struggle for multicultural stars - INSIDE JoongAng Daily
At 20 years old, Kim In-soon had a beautiful voice, but she eked out a living singing at pubs. Then one night, a producer heard her perform, and her life in show business began. She debuted as a member of the female trio the Hee Sisters, and became part of Korea’s first archetypical “girl group.”
In spangle-studded dresses and form-fitting spandex, the trio stole the hearts of many male fans, but Kim was forced to put on an extra piece of clothing every time she appeared with the group: a hat or handkerchief to hide her hair.
Insooni’s mother Yang-bae passed away in 2005. When Kim was born, her mother’s family forced her either to abandon her child or be disowned. Kim Yang-bae chose her daughter.
When it came time to give birth to her own daughter in 1993, Insooni flew to the United States to ensure she would be an American citizen. The singer has publicly said that she did this because she was afraid her child would have the same dark skin that caused her so much pain. While other mothers may count the number of their babies’ fingers or toes right after they are born, Insooni checked her daughter’s skin color.
Ten years later, camera flashes splattered across the face of another beautiful young woman as she cried her eyes out. “If I had come out and said that I’m mixed, I was afraid of being discriminated against,” actress Lee Yu-Jin told reporters in May 2003.
It had come to light that Lee’s name was listed on her grandfather’s family register, not her father’s, making Lee and her mother sisters on paper. At this press conference Lee, then 26, confessed her long-held secret - that her father was an American of Spanish descent who served as a soldier here.
After the press conference, it took Lee, who was a regular on many hit TV sitcoms, dramas, shows and glossy magazine covers, nearly six years to come back to a major TV drama last year.
When the JoongAng Daily asked to interview Lee, her manager, Kil Jin, said, “She’s had enough of it. She doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m so sorry.”
The continuing pain Lee is experiencing shows that, despite the progress that has been made in Korean society, the issue of discrimination against multicultural people is far from resolved.
Hey Girl, you look hot! To hell with 'em, keep your head up!
After majoring in business and theater at Boston University, Richard came to Korea hoping to learn more about his mother’s country, and landed the role of Allen. It was his first audition for a professional role, and he had more than 100 competitors. The doctor’s character is based on an actual figure who arrived in Korea in 1884 as a missionary and established the very first Western hospital in Korea.
R&B singer and rapper, Yoon Mi-rae, born Natasha Shanta Reid, is also trying to keep the focus off her cultural identity. She has an African-American father.
An official from Jungle Entertainment, which represents Yoon, said, “She feels uncomfortable talking about [her background].” But Yoon, often called Korea’s best female rapper, does communicate about her ancestry - through her music. One song titled “Black Happiness” has lyrics that read, loosely translated into English, “People finger-pointing at my mommy / My poppy is an African-American soldier / I can see sadness in Mommy’s eyes / I feel guilty so I wash my face with white soap .?.?. I have to put white makeup on to hide my dark skin.”
There has certainly been a shift in attitude toward multicultural entertainers in Korea over the past several decades, from Insooni to Lee Yu-jin, and most recently Richard.
Yoon Su-il, a multicultural singer who often performed with Insooni during the 1970s, agrees.
“I think this nation is becoming a multicultural society, and viewers and the public accept multicultural entertainers without hard feelings, meaning people start to see them as their neighbors,” said the 55-year-old singer-songwriter, whose 1982 hit “Apartment” is still a favorite for many Koreans.
For Yoon, who was born to a GI father and a Korean mother, music was his sole consolation. “Growing up, I kept thinking, ‘Can I go on living like this in Korea?’ because of my different looks. So I grabbed a guitar and got into the music industry because that field was less closed to people like me.”
Today, Korea has more multicultural entertainers than ever before. Heartthrob Daniel Henney, Julien Kang, Dennis Oh, Ricky Kim and Kim Deanna are all multicultural stars who often appear in TV commercials, musicals and dramas.
Henney, who was born to a Korean-American adoptee mother and a British-American father, made his first appearance in the 2005 hit TV drama “My Lovely Sam-soon,” playing the part of Dr. Henry Kim. His good looks, gentle manner and sunny smile were enough to melt the hearts of many female viewers.
“You know I am a HonHyulAh (혼혈아) like Daniel Henney.” Wife’s Cousin frowned and scowled, “I hate that guy, think he is really something. SheeBal!” “Yeah, Korean women seem to like him though…I heard...say he is handsome.” This really set him off, but the next race was coming up to draw his attention away from ranting about ‘Half-Breeds who take their women’ syndrome. Apparently, cousin did not put 2 + 2 together that the Korean War Baby’s name card was talking about HIM, because his prejudice was showing. This is typical of the racism against any “OTHER’s” who dates Their women. One would think that “cousin” having lived 9 years in New York City would be less intimidated by Daniel Henney. But alas, not so.
YOU SEE? THE KOREAN WAR BABY IS NOT MAKING THIS UP. The country has a LONG WAY to go, but things are looking up!!! Thanks to all the New Mixed-Blood, oh have to be PC, Multicultural Korean Artists/Musician/actors. The KWB salutes you all. Semper Fi!