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COMMENTS

Ok, so this is a question that was really difficult for us to answer. We were asked this week if foreigners are treated any differently here in Korea, to which we definitely say yes. As for how differently we’re treated, that really depends on the foreigner you’re talking to.

We personally happen to have good experiences in Korea. Everyone is really nice to us. Nobody’s been terribly rude, and we haven’t experienced any outright racism. People greet us with smiling faces, give us great service everywhere we go, and overall give us a fantastic experience of the country, one that we hopefully convey in our videos and website. However, we do make it a point to try and speak Korean as much as we can, to compliment the meal (in Korean) when we visit new restaurants we like, and make an overall effort to be “Korean”.

But the way we’ve been treated isn’t the same as how others have been treated. Some people do have terrible stories of experiences of racism and discrimination. Since we have never experienced this directly, and have only heard it from a friend of a friend, or via a comment on a blog, we can only comment on people’s anecdotes and the patterns that we’ve noticed.

Without meaning to sound arrogant, we believe that our experience in Korea is great not just because of our personalities, but also because of how we look. No, we’re not supermodels, but we fit a very nice archetype of what a “foreigner” should look like according to what Korea has been taught. Martina is a blonde haired and blue eyed girl. Simon is a tall guy. We’re both white. We’re not noticeably overweight. We’re married and smiley. We are, more or less, what Korea wants in English teachers.

A lot of our friends can’t say the same thing. We have good friends, good teachers who are good people, who have been denied teaching jobs because they’re too Asian looking, too overweight, too not-white. We have good friends here who are black who have had some Korean people walk up to them and try to touch their hair or skin. Not all the time, mind you, but occasionally. We’ve have overweight friends who have been told outright by co-workers that they’re fat, too fat, that they should go on a diet (and they intend it to be a matter-of-fact “I’m helping you” kind of way).

But, again, we can’t comment on this accurately, or make a video about it, because it’s not our experience. We’re lucky here, we know, and our experiences here have been fantastic. As foreigners, we aren’t treated poorly here at all.

There is one thing, though, that makes us cringe occasionally, and that’s being pointed out as foreigners. Many, many times, when we’re walking outside, we’ll hear people (especially kids) say in Korea say “Oh! Weigookin!” which you might have seen from our Korean Like a Pro videos. We weren’t making something up there. We’re often pointed at and called foreigners. It’s not insulting, but it’s kindof saddening at times. Yes, we know that we’re not Korean, but being reminded so often that we’re outsiders who are not part of your culture, is quite sad. We think this must be especially upsetting for those “foreigners” that have settled in Korea with a Korean husband or wife and are now, for the most part, Korean. It feels at times like we’ll always just be floating on the surface, no matter how long we stay here, no matter how many videos we make about how much we love this place. We’ll always just be outsiders looking in, and we’ll always be reminded of this fact.

We know that being called a foreigner in public isn’t necessarily malicious. It’s a genuine expression of shock. After all, a lot of Korean people do have dark hair and eyes, and so when they see Martina’s blue eyes and blonde hair, it’s surprising, not something they’re used to. When they see Simon in his giant form (there aren’t many Korean people as tall as Simon) and his big red mohawk, it’s not surprising to us that they’re surprised by us, and naturally they express their surprise. This surprise is amplified in small towns who perhaps have never met someone from another country.

We think it just feels especially weird for us because we’re from Toronto, which is exceptionally multicultural. Never in Toronto did we look at someone and call them a foreigner. The thought never crossed our minds. Everyone in Toronto is just from Toronto. No one’s an outsider even though we all look different and are perhaps from different countries before we came to Canada.

The only sense of outright racism that we sensed was from the senior citizens, who occasionally, barely ever really, might give us stink face and mumble something about foreigners while looking at us. Or maybe it’s not stink face: maybe that’s just their faces from being so old. But, you know, we don’t really hold it against old people for being racist in Korea. Old people seem to be racist everywhere. Hands up if you got a racist grandma or grandpa! Don’t lie! You know you’ve cringed and/or almost got beat up from your grandparents outrightly insensitive comment made in public! Guys? Anyone? No?…oh…

Anyhow, overall, we love it here in Korea. TL;DR – We have had a fantastic, fantastic experience, as have many of our friends. Are foreigners treated differently here? Yes, but not so terribly that it would in any way negate our experience.

ToFebruary
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  1. Heather K.

    Hi there, new to EYK here! Just finished watching Lee Michelle’s
    “Without You” mv and wanted to know how biracial people are treated in
    South Korea? I’m biracial myself and it’s not that troublesome in the
    U.S. anymore, but when I travel to other countries, I’m always asked
    “What are you?” and get weird stares. Is being biracial treated as a type of stigma in South Korea or is it being more accepted in a homogenous culture?

  2. Angelina

    I so want to know where you buy your accessories, they are SO CUTE!!!

  3. Lol, green hair? Yes, I probably would stare and want to touch them. But only cuz it would be Daesung, most probably. :P
    Sorry I dont have anything…contributing to say. :P

  4. Leslie Kim

    omg the racist elders… i tell myself that they can’t help it, it was acceptable when they were growing up, korea has a very homogeneous society, etc, but it still floored me when i told my grandpa that i was studying stem cells, and he told me i should discover that changes people’s skin color from black to white >< i was like grandpa… you know that's NOT ok, right…?
    i can't really speak to being a gyopo in korea (koreans abroad… although i'm not sure that i count under that definition, since i wasn't born in korea to begin with); it's been a while since i've visited, and most of that time i was insulated by my family. but there was one time when i was with my grandma, and we ran into one of her neighbors, and there was the usual round of introductions
    "this is my granddaughter"
    "oh, is she visiting?""yes, from america" "oh that's why she has such lovely curves :D" (nota bene: on the scale from keira knightley to beyonce, i am definitely closer to keira knightley….) the thing i heard most, though, was how wonderful it was that my parents hadn't neglected my korean education (i suspect if i hadn't been reasonably fluent, they would've treated me with a lot more disdain)

  5. Idk about racist grandparents because i only have 1 and i rarely see her so i have never really heard a racist comment from her and idk about my other grandparents because they have all passed away but my parents are lol for some reason they seem really against the idea of me or my brothers marrying outside my race.

  6. I really want to move to Korea but i heard they can be pretty Racist especially to black people, and that’s a scary thought for me. I was picked on as a kid for my religion and i’m afraid to be in another similar situation like that. Do you guys think I should still give Korea a try?

  7. Can i ask, what if you’re an asian? Like non korean tho. ( i’m vietnamese-australian) would it be weird?

  8. Roberto Perez

    Whites talking about racism… twilight zone.

  9. I’m lucky — I don’t have a racist grandma!!!
    My grandma rocks! I think she’s even more “modern-minded” then my mum! lol

  10. Haha, everything you guys have talked about for South Korea applies to China as well~

  11. Well I better head to the gym big time before I move to Korea this year, I am overweight, but this should motivate me to start shedding some pounds before I constantly hear how fat I am.  I am sure students will point this fact out on a regular basis.

  12. Allison Williams

    I’m currently living in Taiwan, and like you guys, I’ve had pretty much the same experiences-although I’ve never been outright pointed at and called “foreigner” (at least I haven’t caught anyone doing that), I have gotten stares and looks-mainly because I am a young woman, and most foreigners in Taiwan are older men. My Taiwanese friends and I have also joked about how I also don’t look like the stereotypical foreigner-I DO have blue eyes, but I’m a brunette with copper highlights (so yes, the “orange” hair is another stare point-I have caught Taiwanese people staring at my hair), I am extremely pale (I’m a vampire, like Martina),plus I’m 5’1”, so I’m around average Asian girl height-in fact most of my Taiwanese female friends are taller than me. So most of the reactions I get are ones of surprise, mainly from my height, since foreigners-even the girls-are supposed to be “giants”.

  13. I’ve wanted to be a teacher in Korea too, but now I’m kinda scared. I’m not over weight, I’m thin but I’m of Mexican decent and I have pretty dark skin. Does this mean I won’t get a job as easily as say a white person? :/

  14. Yeah, my Grandma was racist as heck. She literally wouldn’t let my mom attend her Senior prom because she was going with a black guy. This was the seventies. My mom only got to go when she brought a white guy home for Grannie to approve of (who was actually gay, but Grannie didn’t need to know that ;-D). She also frequently referred to any and all Asians as “Japs”.

    Oh, Racist Grandma. You’d have a heart attack if you knew I was going to South Korea.

  15. Anonymous

    hello guys i wonder if you know about what korean boys like in foringers girls, i wonder this because im a overweight person..im not realy english as you noticed  do you understood what i tried to say? thanks anyway

  16. Anonymous

    hello there i wonder such i´m a overweith person is that a bad point of beuty to korean guys?

  17. abrielle krumrie

    I’ve seriously considered teaching in Asia when I finish college for the last 5 years, but now I’m hesitating because I’ve heard so many terrible things about what happens to overweight people there/the way they’re treated.  I’m an overweight 22 year old woman – would they reject me outright/treat me like crap?

  18. Luciana Simões Mania

    I never got beaten up because of a comment made by my grandma, but that’s because I was a kid back then. She died long ago, but I still remember that she was really racist. My mother is too. So I really know what you mean!

  19. Hello my name is Mark Snippe from Holland and i want to now more about dating in korea and is it easy to date a korean woman as a foreigner  ?? do korean women find foreigners attractive ?? maybe you can make  a segment about this ? i am a long man and i have blond hair do the like this in Korea ? thank you i love your site :) 

  20. Antonia McClean

    Nice Video :) I’m a European NZlander and I recently came back from a short visit to Seoul,  I totally had a moment when  waiting for a friend at the top of a pretty empty subway exit.  This old guy walked past me like super close and totally glared at me strongly in the eyes. I just think he really wanted to see my blue eyes lol

  21. great video!:D how many years or months it takes to learn korean??is it very difficult?

  22. I had the same experience in Japan, I’d get the “can I touch your [fill in the blank]?” a lot, especially being the only black girl with braids in my head there. Sometimes it got annoying and upsetting being stared at but yeah, it wasn’t every day people were just gawking and it wasn’t everyone and it really was good to keep in mind their lack of contact with someone like me. I neve really took it as racism because we were all just foreigners. Now living in the heart of Texas…there’s a den of political incorrectness and racist grannies. 

  23. Karlie Leung

    I visited my Caucasian friend in Seoul this past spring. We were at Insa-dong, which was a really touristy area, and got yelled at by a random old lady for speaking English. My friend told me that it happened to her a couple times before. I just think it was ridiculous that we got yelled at at a place full of tourists and foreigners while the Koreans just watched and walked away.

  24. 지원 송

     im a college student and got 3000 words to go on for the paper but didnt even start writing it cuz ive been watching this all day it’s so funny

  25. 아 님들 좀 욱긴듯 ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ 잼나요 더 올려주셈.

  26. Koreans, in general, are quite cordial to the “white man” – perhaps partly because the “white man” knows English, which is a hot “commodity” in South Korea. However, I’ve heard of instances of Koreans not being too cordial to black or mixed Americans. But times are changing.

    You guys probably heard of the Hines Ward story, right? He’s the wide receiver from the Pittsburgh Steelers football team. It was really neat to see breakthrough in prejudices against other races and mixed races from the Korean point of view.

    One thing I know is that being a foreigner, from what I hear, is not too bad. South Koreans have changed in their mentality to accept other cultures and races, even mixed races.

    Doesn’t hurt that thousands of American GIs are still stationed up there in the border.

    We love our foreigners! Why am I talking like I’m full blown Korean? I am, but I’m more Americanized. 

  27. Sterling Wiedemann

    I gotta tell you guys I love your show! Keep going!

  28. Anonymous

    I think you don’t have to worry too much about it. There always will be people who don’t embrace the differeces everywhere. but never mind and i am sure you will be fine. Koreans have a tendency to get scared when it comes to speaking English. but in generall most people are quite friendly i would say. If you are gonna study at school (uni?) it should be way easier to hang out with other students. !! Good luck with your study and hope you have great experience there!! :) :)

  29. I am a Korean who is living in England and have been to most of the western countries. Although what you’ve posted on here are majorly from your experience, opinions and from what you’ve heard from your friends etc, I just found it’s kinda little bit exaggerated. Touching black people’s skin in the public? Treating you better because you have a lighter skin than others? It sounds very 90s in Korea. Do you live in Seoul? My home is in Seoul and I visit there in every summer/winter vacation(I am a college student),  and I barely find any such cases you mentioned in Seoul. As becoming a global city, Seoul should be considered as an exception from the impression you got from living in Korea. In addition, I can’t find it is appropriate that you try to compare living in Toronto to Korea. Since I’ve lived in Europe for several years, I saw/experienced many cases of segregation/glaring/staring at different races from the majority race  in European cities. That is because I am an Asian and have a different color from the whites, although the major cities such as Paris,London, Frankfurt etc can be considered as exceptions.  This is very similar to the cases in Korea that you pointed out, and I believe it’s kinda hard to expect your life in TORONTO or Canada(an immigration country that has a short history) in Korea, which has much longer history and a strong identity as much as some European countries do. Lastly, I just have a little question that can you define ethnically what Canadians are? I presume the Koreans you just mentioned that called you an American is just because there are much more Americans they bump into than that of Canadians in Korea. I visit the US regularly and I cannot say the deep animosity toward blacks you find from a good number of white Americans or even from some of people in the western countries could ever compare to Koreans’ curiosity toward them. 

    • They never suggested that any racism is worse in Korea than other countries… and even said they don’t believe most of the reactions are racism but are genuine curiosity. Did you not watch the whole video? They did say they have had friends with some bad experiences and they all tend to be non-white or overweight. 

      I have seen a video of this black guy with dreadlocks that teaches on Jeju Island… at this festival this Korean woman did go right up to him and start touching his hair without asking… although that could be considered very rude he definitely took it as her being curious especially when she wanted to take pictures with him afterwards lol. 

      Simon and Martina obviously love SoKo… just because they admit they have heard of a few bad experiences doesn’t mean they are overexaggerating, they barely mentioned anything negative and even said those instances should be taken in a more positive way ;) 

      • Hello. Thank you for your opinion. I would like to point out that I’ve never written any words that is “overexaggerating” if you’d ever read what I originally posted on here again thoroughly. About blacks on my comment, I wasn’t trying to defend Korea nor say that it’s not worse in racism than anywhere around the world. Instead, I was trying to balance the point what they made, a view from whites, as I am a Korean who is living in Europe. In addition, I wanted to let bernadettee[: to know that it’s kinda weird to generalize that Koreans do dislike blacks or anyone non whites. Perhaps, some are really prefer whites to another races, but that kinda people you bump into do not speak for all the people in this nation. You should come to Seoul and find it how the people in this city are globalised in such issues.  Like i said, I visit the US very often, and I wouldn’t say white Americans or even African Americans are racists just because few of them have deep animosity toward the other racial groups. I am not telling you my opinions are absolutely right, yet I’d like to emphasize that some of the point of view from them as foreigners in Korea may have errors or may have distorted what the native people’s general notions. The reason why people in Toronto never care anyone who has different color from them is just because they have a multi-cultural society, and Canada widely accepted immigrants from all over the world historically. That is same to the US, and I sometimes found it is such an ignorance that some people from these countries try to point out that the old history countries are too “homogeneous”. It is obviously awkward to ask such liberal atmospheres  to the countries that have more than 5000 years history with a strong identity as it is not such immigration countries like the US and Canada that have only less than 500 years history. 

    • pink cupcake

      I think you are being too harsh at Simon and Martina here.

      Toronto, or Canada in general is a very multicultural country and Korea is one of the most homogenous nations. Obviously most Koreans are not going to be experienced in being politically correct when dealing with different races compared to Canadians. Simon was merely pointing out the differences and not comparing the two to put Korea down. It is obvious they have good intentions and love Korea. And you have to remember you are a Korean visiting Korea so your experience will be different from non-Koreans visiting Korea.

      I really don’t think what Simon or Martina said is exaggerated. I had Korean friends living in Korea ask me questions that were just jaw dropping. Some of them were: do white or black people smell differently, do all white women have big chests, are all North Americans fat, are all white people hairy, and yes I’ve been asked if I’ve ever touched an afro or a black person’s hair and how it felt. And yes they tend to have nicer views on caucasians over other races only because most of their experiences and views of different races come from Hollywood media.
      The people asking questions weren’t being racist or had malicious intention, but just purely curious since they have never had chance to be around foreigners close enough.

      They are just stating their and their friend’s experiences and I think they have a very unbiased and honest perspective in many aspects and I appreciate them for that.
      If anything, they have put more positive light to Korea than anything else I came across.

      • NgocTranLe
        NgocTranLe

        Exactly. I remember watching a video on a small city that didn’t have many tourists (because it was right in the middle of the country area) in Vietnam. There was this one black guy who was going around just touring/visiting/sight-seeing/whatever-he-was-doing-there. There were many people who were VERY intrigued and curious of his very very very curly and short hair and of his skin. He even out right pointed to his hair and bended down so they can touch his hair and feel how curly it is, and he was laughing and they were laughing and that was that.

  30. I’m really glad to see this… I’ve been maaajorly freaking out because I’ll be studying in Korea starting next month, and I’m going to stand out majorly because I’m half black (though relatively light skinned, I guess) and maaajorly overweight… so of course, I’ve been really worried about being in Korea because the average Korean is obviously a looot smaller than I am, and also we learned about Korean attitudes towards Blacks in my Korean Politics course (it’s not really fair to say “Koreans don’t like Black people.” There are a lot of nuances, tbh)… what was the point of this comment again? Uhhm. Oh, yeah. Thanks for posting this! Perfect timing [:

  31. When I visited Korea, I had a bit of a different experience. I’m actually Korean, but am adopted so all my life except 5 months has been in American culture. One day when I was there with my family, we went to a restaurant for dinner (Outback steakhouse – how un-Korean, I know. Don’t worry, didn’t only eat American food there), and the waiter saw a table with 3 Caucasians and one Korean and thought ‘Yay! I have someone who can translate!’ Little did he know that my Korean consists of poorly pronounced ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’. Once he found out that his supposed ace in the hole wasn’t really that, he fled. We felt so bad cause he looked like he was gonna cry! They sent another waiter who could speak English. There were times when I felt a bit like the outsider with double shame cause I couldn’t speak my motherland’s tongue (add to that how I’m abnormally tall for a Korean and was probably the worst dressed Korean around. Everyone seemed so nicely dressed!). However, don’t get me wrong, I loved my visits there and I found the Korean people to be some of the most friendly people around. Sure there are going to be people who don’t like differences, but that’s going to happen everywhere there are humans. And I would almost rather have the direct, open staring than the smiling facade that some Americans put on to cover their racial prejudices.

    • Suzanne

      Your last sentence is food for thought, Holly. I cannot STAND that cheerful face that tastes as nice as chocolate cake sweetened with aspartame. Whenever I go out with Spanish speaking friends and we chat, the older ones always have that “façade” waiting for us. If they had any guts at all, they would launch into their “speak American!” tirades that they only discuss with fellow racists. That level of brutal honesty you discuss is perhaps the better alternative!

  32. t’s really funny to see you guys speak Korean almost perfectly.(-: Especially  we guk in(외국인).

  33. I have 2 funny stories. My brother-in-law is from El Salvador and the summer following my sister’s wedding his family had a reception there for all the family and friends who couldn’t come to the US for the actual wedding. So my family got to go to El Salvador. My mom and I have dark brown hair, blue eyes, and we both tan very easily. My other family members are basically super white, with blonde, light brown, or red hair, and they don’t tan, they burn. Everyone stared at us because we were obviously foreigners, but whenever people at the hotels or restaurants needed to talk to us they went straight to my mom and me. My mom doesn’t really know any Spanish besides hola and I only knew a little, not enough to successfully converse with anyone. It was explained to us that they assumed my mom and I were from Spain, because of our lighter skin and our eyes, and that my mom just remarried some white guy, getting his kids as part of the deal. haha

    And my other story is that last summer my sister and I went on a trip to Europe offered by my school. That year the trip was to France and Spain. When we were in Paris, my teacher was getting pictures of us in front of the Arc de Triomphe. There was a group of some Asian ladies there, obviously tourists as well, and they started jumping into the picture with us and handed their cameras to my teacher so she could get a picture of them with us. We were all pretty shocked and thinking, “What just happened here?” It was weird, but amusing.

  34.        I’m from a little country in Europe, last year I went working to another european country, and people can tell right away you’re not ‘one of them’ even if you do look like them.
          the things you guys are telling and the comments I read can’t even be qualified as racism judging by the things that personally happened to me in a country from my own continent, and when we’re supposed to have (almost) the same cultural values  :(. just saying

    • Yeah, but these guys are putting a really, really happy cheerful spin on their experiences in Korea. What is ludicrous is when foreigners are excluded from certain establishments or activities because they are foreign. The thing that makes it particularly frustrating and galling is that there’s not even a pretense or excuse; many Koreans seem to think it’s just fine or their prerogative to openly exclude people because they are foreign and/or of a different race, they don’t seem to understand that it’s discrimination.

      Koreans can be very welcoming to foreigners, particularly tourists. But they constantly want to put and keep people in their respective boxes, delineating “in” group and “out” group, “us” and “them.” As much as the novelty of foreign status may work in the favor of a good-looking caucasian, he or she will constantly be reminded that he/she is NOT one of “us,” the Korean people. And while that’s fine for the visitor or the short-term dweller, it becomes hurtful in the long run.

      Foreignness is not yet run-of-the-mill to Koreans. It is alternately intriguing and threatening, and you see inferiority/superiority complexes play out in the way Koreans relate to foreigners of different races and national origins.

      My personal observation is that Koreans feel most comfortable and at ease with foreigners when they are reduced to benign token status, like harmless clowns or curiosities. I recall being with a Korean who gushed, “Wow, your Korean is so great!” I pointed out that our mutual foreign friend X spoke fluent Korean, which was much better than mine. He responded, “Yes, but his Korean is… too good. We feel a little scared when we listen to him. But your Korean is so cute, like a little child! I love to hear it!” Mm-hmm. My friend is threatening, because he can fully express himself and speak his mind. I always sensed that, but it was revealing to hear it stated openly.

      • I won’t try to disagree or discredit any of the experiences you’ve mentioned here, but I will outright refute your opening sentence, that we’re putting a spin on our experiences.  Are you suggesting that our experiences have been bad and that we’re lying about them, that we’re intentionally falsifying our report of these experiences?

  35. Some great observations!  Having lived in Korea three years myself as a tall red haired ginger I have my share of stories to tell.  One in particular was an elderly Korean lady trying to pick the freckles off of my arms.

  36. hmmm, I wouldn’t know about Korea or even Canada, but in my latin american experience I did have a racist grandmother xD I think it’s more of an old world kind of thing, and her racism was towards black people, which now I remember and find curious because in here it’s either dark skinned people or americans. (she loved white americans)

    I’m thinking about it now and I have to say the whole pointing at people or looking at them and stuff (except for the touching darker skin thing, though here I guess it would be staring at asian eyes) I think can be found in any country. I guess it’s less likely if you don’t stick out as much, but the whole not hiring as an english teacher because they don’t fit the stereotype is something I’ve only heard of in Korea. I also read somewhere that koreans and japanese people are less inclined to accept people even after they become “real” koreans/japanese because of their background. I also know people like that here that even after years of living here are still considered foreigners because of the way they look. I think its a sore spot in every country, no matter what they say (again, I wouldn’t know about Canada)

    I read somewhere else that having a foreign friend in Korea was like having a pretty accesory or something like that, I wouldn’t know, but I did have foreign friends and sadly sometimes(and I’ve seen this in the US as well) instead of by their names we would refer to them by their country, just for fun.
    I’ve had it happen to me as well, and while it stung a bit, it didn’t bother me as I never had the intention of fitting in in that country. It must be tough for those who do. I guess it’s something that they have to live with. makes me feel thankful for my foreign ancestors.

  37. downthelane

    My aunt and uncle lived in korea for 10 months last summer and I went to visit them. No one was ever rude to me, but many people would stop me and tell me that I am pretty and they want to give me a hug, I was once asked to have my picture taken with some young korean men which was a little bit akward. At first I was very startled and unsure of what to do, but I had it easy. My aunt has 3 children who are very young, they all have blue eyes and bleach blond hair, we were often stopped in the street by elderly people grabbing them and hugging them, or even just to say that they are cute. The worse thing that happened is when a couple requested some pictures with the children, and it ended up being a odd photo shoot type deal. By the end of their stay I know my aunt was frustrated and ended up being very rude to some people. I always try to be patient, and set clear boundries of what is and is not ok although it can be tough. I still love korea and it’s people!

  38. downthelane

    My aunt and uncle lived in korea for 10 months last summer and I went to visit them. No one was ever rude to me, but many people would stop me and tell me that I am pretty and they want to give me a hug, I was once asked to have my picture taken with some young korean men which was a little bit akward. At first I was very startled and unsure of what to do, but I had it easy. My aunt has 3 children who are very young, they all have blue eyes and bleach blond hair, we were often stopped in the street by elderly people grabbing them and hugging them, or even just to say that they are cute. The worse thing that happened is when a couple requested some pictures with the children, and it ended up being a odd photo shoot type deal, by the end of their stay I know my aunt was frustrated and ended up being very rude to some people. I always try to be patient, and set clear boundries of what is and is not ok. I still love korea and it’s people!

  39. Speaking of racistme, Reading some comment here; 
    Being from Malayan race, my skin are brownish/tan, ppl here will call me black, and there’s no problem to it.. Why does African American so sensitif to be called black? What’s so wrong with it? Why is it being racist? they are indeed black.. Like Indian are red, Caucasian are white, Malayan are brown..
    The concept racist it self only come to me after studying the west culture.. It seem west ppl are over sensitive over everything.. Like not too long ago, Brian joke in oh my school.. I found it funny, pure joke, there’s no harm intended, but suddenly it accused as racist againts African American (Btw, what if they arent American, what should I call them[the negroid race] in appropriate manner?)

    • I would definitely not say “negroid” :-/ That sounds worse than black… although I say black all the time. Americans can be pretty sensitive about race… i’ve gotten less like that since i’ve been with my asian boyfriend. But I grew up in an all white area with very few other races… so when someone joked about some race-related, they meant it. My filipino boyfriend makes racist jokes with me all the time though… I often feel like people that are non-white feel more comfortable saying whatever they want. I think when you’re white here… I dunno, some of us just want to be respectful. There are just some things that other races can say and white people cannot. 

    • Ida Reis

      Well, i don’t know pretty well about the african american stuff but i was born and live in portugal and at the time my mom came (in the 80′s) there where a really few people that were racist. but the times changed really fast here, to the point that are even mixed couples and, although are still some people afraid, if you call them black there is nothing wrong with it because, in fact, there are many that are proud of their skin tone and culture. from what i know and heard the nordic countries are the most racist.
      i guess they feel that if you call them that way, its racist to them :/

    • To tell you the truth, i really don’t know why,i mean i’m black(african american) i really didn’t get offended by Brian on Oh my School,it’s was really good and i thought it was funny,i really don’t know why

    • Black people aren’t black. Indians aren’t red and Caucasians aren’t white. I can’t believe 5 people actually agreed with that bull. Everyone in world is shade of browns and yellows and reds.

  40. I think the grandma did that face to express how spicy the 불 떡북이 is…. The overweight thing is that in South Korea (most (about 80%)) are usually “in-shape” (more like underweight).

  41. Anonymous

    Oh my uncle is racist! D: Though I wouldn’t call him old…just 50. :P
    I’m worried about being treated badly if I go to Korea, since I’m tan…

  42. i think i’ve been in korea for too long, i stare at 외국인’s when i see them too….even though i’m also a 외국인…maybe its more like ‘oh my its a fellow foreigner?  what could they be doing here?’ and then i try to eavesdrop on their conversation to see if i can figure out why they’re in korea and stuff haha XD  i’m asian-looking so usually i don’t get the stares from koreans unless i pick up my phone and start speaking english, THEN they start staring.  

  43. Anonymous

    I have actually tried dukbokki in Korea too. And I might say, Simon and Martina aren’t kidding. They are really spicy. And the hard part was, I was eating it right after I bought it. So, I was walking with my dad and cousins and eating them. And all of the sudden my face turned red and I drank 3 bottles of water. I actually saw some Koreans slightly laughing at me. T…T though I don’t blame them, there were 3 more dukbokki’s left and I couldn’t take it anymore and my cousins won’t eat them so I threw them away. T….T

  44. The world is changing faster than homogenous cultures can adapt, I think.I’d wager this kind of foreigner treatment happens in a good majority of the world. I’m Vietnamese, and I remember when I went to Italy/France two years ago, street vendors would often approach my friends and I (also Asian) and speak phrases like “saranghae” “aishiteru” to get our attention, though we clearly spoke English with one another. 

    We met with my friend’s aunt who has been living in France for many, many years now. She’s married to a French man. However, when she was with us the street vendors treated her as a tourist as well until she told them off in French. 

  45. Anonymous

    Martina your decorations are to awesome to be ignored….i was just staring at the cupboard….do you want some coffee…..er i actually do :P

  46. I went to a cafe in Dongdaemun once and even though my friend and I ordered in Korean the waiter stared at me for about a minute, then ran away and came back to instead ask my other friend, a Korean, what we had ordered. The waiter looked scared too, it was really awkward.

    Also, sometimes I found myself pointing out other foreigners.  XD

  47. Korea isn’t the only racist Asian country. While I was in China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a Caucasian man came onto the bus and the Chinese people around him started petting his arm (because Asians have a lot less arm hair than Caucasians). But, if you think being treated as a foreigner is bad, trust me, white people have it easy in Asia. I’m a Chinese American, born and raised in America. When I go to China to visit relatives or to vacation, the natives assume I’m Chinese. I know firsthand how Chinese people treat their own, which is a lot worse than they treat foreigners. When foreigners are around, the natives put these huge fake grins on their faces and play nice. Sure it’s because they plan to con you, but regardless, it’s a whole lot nicer than they treat their own. if you were born and raised there, if you are white and look “American,” you’ll never know how China is really like. I’ve talked with my Korean friends, and they tell me that Korea is much of the same way. Also, about the commenting on weight thing, you guys are just getting the tip of the iceberg. My Korean friends and I are all teens, and our parents tell us on an almost daily basis that we’re “fat, have a hippo butt, need to lose weight, etc.”

    • Totally agree with you! My family moved to Canada when I was very young but I still go back to China and Hong Kong to visit relatives and for holiday. I can speak the language, so I don’t have a problem with the native people making fun of me about that (although I’ve had random Chinese people (usually older) in Canada talk about me in front of my face that I can’t speak Chinese…..so I start speaking Chinese to them cause I get annoyed…). For sure I know what you mean when you say that if you are white, you get treated nicer in China, even if it’s not totally sincere at times. Although Canada is an awesome place to live, I can still see instances when white people get treated nicer when I visit Chinese stores/restaurants/etc…but it doesn’t really bother me all that much anymore cause it’s just the way it is. :)

  48. I worry about going to visit there. I have Korean friends and they are lovely but in any country, there is always someone to point out the obvious. I am very open-minded when meeting people and my friends wonder how I  have so many international friends. I attend University and my goal is to learn and that means being open-minded. I am adopted and I am like the only black person but I love them for their personalities. You have to see beyond you physical features. We were all created differently but that is what makes the world unique. We can’t always be Black, White, Yellow or Blue. We can’t always have the same culture because someone will rebel and want something NEW ^_^! But keep in mind, Korea, like many Asian culture haven’t had the pleasure of meeting new cultures so it is so much more strict and enclosed.

  49. From what I’ve heard, the surprise of foreigners is the same over in Japan. It’s becoming less so, because japan seems to be rocketing into the western culture, but it’s still something of a novel thing for them, as you said – out in the boonies or with the elderly.

  50. I’m black and British. I wonder how I’m going to fare out there. Currently at university and me and a friend are considering moving to Korea when we graduate. TBH I get white people asking me to touch my hair, and this is in England!

  51. now i wish i had green hair and purple eyes…*cries*

  52. they tell foreigners to lose weight, but what about shindong??? LOOOL

    • That’s what’s sad. 

      It’s kinda like in the States, where the fat guy is supposed to be jolly and hil-air-ious, so as long as you fit that archetype as a clown of sorts, then and only then, is your “obesity” celebrated. 

      Shin-dong himself has stated recently in Yoo Jae Suk’s Nohl-Luh-Wha that he feels like the joke of the group. If you’re a comedian, then you are by extension expected to be the fool. 

    • I know you meant this as a joke and a lot of other people do that too but TBH how would you feel if you were Shindong. He makes fun of himself too but he also does mention occasionally that he doesn’t really feel good when people do that. I never liked the way people made fun of him. My friends who don’t know Suju will be like “Hey there’s a fat dude in Suju right?” and I just don’t like the way people call him fat. It’s kinda hurtful and sad that because his image is like that he makes fun of himself. Anyway this is not a personal attack or anything but it’s just what I feel. :)

  53. Trish Reedy

    As a noticeably overweight American living in Seoul I have been very blessed to not have experienced any major discrimination in my short time here. I’ve actually lost a lot of weight from all of the walking you do everyday, because no foreigner really owns a car here, and the major change in diet. I do get stares all day long, but I think it’s mainly because I have very blue eyes. I also have tattoos in hard to cover up places like my forearm and the inside of my ankle. (but I’ve seen more tattoos as of late because of the summer on Koreans.) As for the weight thing I have students tell me I’m fat. I have patience with them and say “English speakers don’t really like that.” Then they kind of understand.
    The only real discrimination I’ve experienced was (on my birthday) some ajjushi telling me to go away because he didn’t want to move for me to walk by him while getting out of a taxi. But I think he was just being a d-bag. There have been times when even ajjumas will help me out by telling me that everyone is getting off the subway, or the countless times people give their seats on subways and buses for me. The best story is when an ajjushi tapped me on the shoulder and asked me how to spell “steak”. That’s all he wanted. I’ve also had a couple of people tell me they are very happy I’m here and they have been very helpful and nice. 
    This video seems really well timed for me as I was thinking about this more in depth last night. I actually felt really bad about being a foreigner living here for most of the day today and then I saw the topic of this video. It made me feel more at ease knowing I’m not the only foreigner that it bothers at times. Thanks for that!

    • I’m so glad that you are in Korea. Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world just 60 years ago, being even poorer than Somalia. It’s considered by economists to be the greatest economic miracle of our generation. The vast increase in wealth doesn’t mean, however, that society and culture has had a chance to adapt with the same rapidity. 

      As much as we refer to Seoul as a cosmopolitan locale and a mega-city, the denizens of Korea are still becoming accustomed to receiving any attention at all outside of North Korean international news cycles. Just having “foreigners” there will, I’m sure, open up Korea to the world as a whole outside of what’s in their ultra-high speed internet and Samsung LCD monitors. 

      Like Simon and Martina said, it would be great if English teachers would also spend a little bit of time to talk about differences in culture and greater sensitivity to it. A lot of people outside of Korea look at Koreans as racists even when they’re just being ridiculously blunt as many Koreans are wont to do.

  54. Haha, I do exactly the same thing!  When someone calls me 외국인 I point back at them say 한국인이다!  I have a white friend who bought a shirt that says 외국인 on it and wore it around Korea.  It was so funny to see people’s laughter and expressions when he walked by.  It’s quite weird because if you think about someone wearing a shirt that says “Foreigner” or “Black” or “Yellow” etc. in America, that would def. be viewed as something super wrong.

    PS.  I saw you both a couple of months ago in 신촌 haha

  55. The young vain kids and young vain adults in Korea love to comment about people’s weight.  It is like a greeting for them.  Instead of “How has your day been?” when you first catch up with someone, it is “You gained some weight!” or “You lost some weight!” or something to that effect.  It is a cultural thing for them.  It is really weird, but that is just the way it is for the younger Koreans.  They say this to everyone they are acquainted with regardless of whether that person is underweight, just right, or overweight.  It is just the way it is.  I am of Korean background, but very Australian in my ways, and I can’t speak much Korean, but whenever I have been in Korea when I was young, my cousins would always greet me with those weight comments, even if it has only been a couple of days since I last saw them.  I found it really annoying.  It is clear that many younger Koreans are really vain and obsessed about their weight, as well as loving to comment about the weight of people they know to others and to that person directly.

    Whereas over here in Australia, the greeting is always “How was your weekend?” or “What do you have planned for the weekend?”, which I find really annoying as well after hearing it for the third time in a day.

  56. Anonymous

    This sort of thing doesn’t only happen in Korea. I experienced it as an American in Switzerland too. I was told by a Swiss one time that they could spot an American a mile away because of the Niki’s they were wearing. There are closed minded people in all cultures, there is no way of getting around it. It makes me wonder how the American-Korean pop Idol’s survive in this culture.

  57. martina, i LLLLOOOOVEEE your ulzzang glasses!!!

  58. Hopefully everything goes ok for me. I’m chubby, Samoan (pretty tanned, but some what light skin because I haven’t been going to the beach much lately), can’t handle spicy food if my life depended on it. I plan on going to South Korea next year for school. Hopefully by then I’d have lost some weight.

  59. Well, I’m half korean, half chinese-portugese and have been called out as ‘외국인새끼’ countless times, even from KIDS! Beat this. Can’t help but feel terrible yet each time my blood nears boiling point. LOL. BUT BUT…Recent years, it seems to be getting better though I do not reside in South Korea.

  60. Facepalms ….regarding racist elders. Thankfully I only have one who really, REALLY doesn’t *get* that times have changed and some things said outloud….ya know…. with other people around- are extremely offensive.
    It’s an uncle of mine, in his mid-80′s…and in his head, he’s still living in what I call “the Colonel Sanders Era” of the American South. He would never (in his head) be so impolite as to make deragatory remarks towards anyone — as it would be ungentlemanly. But he sees no error in referring to African-Americans as *coloreds* and Asians as *the yellow peoples*. I swear – when I go to visit, it’s like entering a time portal…all it’s missing is mint-juleps & hoop skirts. (I suspect Racist Korean Grandmas simply live in another corner of that same time-port) ;) 

  61. I wonder if I will get the foreigner treatment when I got to India on Wednesday XD

  62. I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN ABOUT HAVING A RACIST GRANDPARENT! :O My grandma grew up during the 20s, at the height of the Ku Klux Klan in America, and her dad was a part of the Klan.  So naturally, she always would be saying the… *cough cough* ‘n’ word haphazardly, which really made us almost get murdered O.o Anyways, I do wish that cultures would be more accepting of other cultures, but I guess that’s just how it goes *shrugs* World peace anyone…anyone? Please? 

  63. Dear Simon and Martina,
        Please, please, oh please stop saying that it is super hot in South Korea.  I headed over to weather.com to check the high in South Korea for the next ten days and it is approximately 83 degrees.  Eighty-three degrees!!! In Houston, Texas ( you know, the place with all the guns lol) the average for the next ten days is 99 degrees with a heat index of like 104 degrees!! You make me feel so bad when you say you guys are melting because I wish it was 83 degrees here :(  Hahaha sorry for the rant!  On a side note, I’ve always wondered how South Koreans react when it comes to a Hispanic person. Do you guys think I would receive weirder looks then the both of you do? 

    • Jared Sargent

      it may be hotter in houston, but check the humidity and precipitation. boom. sweaty.

    • Anonymous

      They act really surprise
      They r not used to see a Hispanic trying to “make contact” with them
      I swear this happened to my patents n I this past weekend: we were really hungry n we decided to eat at a Korean restaurant
      When we got in people in there where shock n they didn’t know how to act around us so i asked the waiter if we were offending them by being in there
      The guy told me that some white n black people had eaten there before but they( the owners of the restaurant that r some old Korean people) have never seen a skin color in between plus they tought that Hispanics only eat Chinese fast food
      In the end they apologize for being rude n gave us super spicy noodles as an apology cuz the waiter thought we were Mexicans n that we could handle the spicyness of those noodles
      Aigo … We made progress ….. But we have a long way to go

    • Anonymous

      They act really surprise
      They r not used to see a Hispanic trying to “make contact” with them
      I swear this happened to my patents n I this past weekend: we were really hungry n we decided to eat at a Korean restaurant
      When we got in people in there where shock n they didn’t know how to act around us so i asked the waiter if we were offending them by being in there
      The guy told me that some white n black people had eaten there before but they( the owners of the restaurant that r some old Korean people) have never seen a skin color in between plus they tought that Hispanics only eat Chinese fast food
      In the end they apologize for being rude n gave us super spicy noodles as an apology cuz the waiter thought we were Mexicans n that we could handle the spicyness of those noodles
      Aigo … We made progress ….. But we have a long way to go

    • LOL….Laura…I’m in Austin. Just yesterday I had a friend in L.A. tweet me that she was dying of the heat….so I weather.dot.commed-it….85 midday, 70′s at night. (I made this face ಠ_ಠ◄—- I call it ‘stank eye’) We’ve had a SEVERE drought for 3 years….it rains …maybe 5 minutes, once a month….for THREE years. p.s. our expected high for Friday is 103F – no clouds, no humidity – just bone-scorching sunshine, yet another day ~ ☼so yeah….I “feel” ya ~ ;)

    • Anonymous

      Hahaha actually, it’s quite different.. the types of “hot” :). Lol in Korea, as with most other parts of asia that experience yearly monsoon seasons followed by a heat wave, it is very very humid and sticky and standing in the sun is no different than standing im the shade. And in my personal experience, humid heat is way more uncomfortable than dry heat, and humid heat in say Florida is not as bad as Seoul sometimes (from my experience). But still, you are right as Houston may have higher temperatures than Seoul, but remember Simon and Martina are from Toronto.. you know in canada where we all live in igloos. :P

    • Anonymous

      PS, i dont think youre wrong and as a person who detests heat past 30 degrees celcius, im glad i am not in seoul, and CERTAINLY not in Houston xD

    • Veronica Perez

      Me to Ive been wanting to go to korea but don’t know how they would react to a hispanic person…. are there any hispanic people in korea…

    • Turner Wright

      To those below, the humidity in Houston is actually pretty comparable to Korea, but I still think Texas heat overpowers Korean any day of the week. I certainly thought it was a cool down coming from Dallas to Seoul.

    • Anonymous

      wah really curious about that too, I would like to travel after uni, and I have been considering teaching english abroad…and of course SK is one of my picks….but I am mexican/american +__+ 

    • Trish Reedy

      I’m from Houston as well but I’m a foreigner living in Seoul. When they say it’s hot they actually aren’t joking or exaggerating. I thought that Houston was the most humid place on the planet but honestly, it’s nothing compared to here. It may be only 83, but it’s so much more humid which makes it seem hotter. I’ve never sweat so much in my life. Even at 10am it’s hotter than the heat of the day in Houston. It seriously sucks.

  64. jazzyfish

    LOL, the dark skinned ppl reminds me of  The Karate Kid movie…
    She’s like, oo! Can I touch your hair?

  65. Cynthia Essiambre

    Now I’m afraid to go to Korea because I’m chubby ;_;

  66. Cynthia Essiambre

    Inconceivable! 

  67. Too Asian? That’s funny. And true. Even my cousins English teachers in China are usually Caucasian because for some reason.. if you look Asian (despite being American/Canadian/Australian), you don’t know as much English or are as ‘legit’ as someone Caucasian? Haha. I don’t know. The whole thing is hilarious to me.

  68. im screwed then. I am fat, hispanic, and my eyes are kind of small. I am planning on going to Korea next year. Let’s see how that goes. I hope i had at least lost weight by then, which is my goal right now, plus trying to learn some korean also.

    • lol me too. I’m chubby but Samoan with big eyes. I plan on going to South Korea next year too for school lol. 

    • 연준 인

      Don’t worry Yanny!!! Well, as a Korean high school student, it hurts when foreigners generalize that “Koreans think foreigners are weird and they’re different from us” cuz this is NOT true, at least in my town… Koreans are used to foreigners cuz we’re taught that acquainting with foreigners is a MUST in this globalized(or globalizing) society. PLUS, it’s not surprising to see foreigners here since there are lots of them. It doesn’t matter if you are Hispanic or American YOU WILL FEEL WELCOMED HERE! So, cheer up!!! ^^ (urgghh  my english sucks…)

  69. Wats sad is that here people look at me like who is she or wat is she. Im a quarter korean, not even half! and i bet they would stare… OMG CURLY HAIRED KOREAN? O.o awww sadness…. :(

  70. Reminds me of one of the kdramas I watched (I think it was ‘Stairway to Heaven’) where one of the minor characters was a white guy who spoke korean perfectly.  The running joke in the drama was people would tend to double take when they saw him or heard him speak korean.  And they’d ask him what he was and he’d always answer that he’s Korean.  And they’d just look at him confused and walk away.

    • 연준 인

      I recall that he is in fact a Korean. I heard that he was born in Germany and raised in Germany, but his special love for Korea made him change his nationality! ^^ his Korean name is 이참 (LEE CHAM)

  71. These days it’s a whole lot better then when I was a kid.  I used to spend the summer in Korea growing up and since I am half and half, I used to get a lot of stares, but nothing compared to my friends who were half black and Korean.   Thankfully as time goes by and Korea has become a international society, most Koreans are more open and welcoming of people of all races.  But I do wish random people would stop telling me I am fat.   Its bad enough it’s a hot topic at family gatherings, that and my “old miss” status. HA HA

  72. deadlyxmunchkin

    Wait I’m hispanic so I’m tanned and Asians have really white skin so if a Korean sees me will they hate on me? :/
    I hardly see Asian with tan people!! -_-

  73. natalynn chun

    im chinese, but for some reason im rather mixed looking. like i dont
    have black hair, my hair is like reddish/brownihs/yellow/idk a mix of
    those LOL. according to my grandma, we’re not “full chinese” but i got
    the more prevelant non chinese looking genes. so, when i was in HK and
    taiwan, people kept on looking at me and at the hotel, they stared and
    tried to speak english to me T.T im glad i live in SF where there is a diverse population :DDD

    oh and my mom is racist, not my grandma. she always thinks black people
    or mexican people are drug dealers and dangerious T.T (i have black and
    mexican friends. :D im not racist, as a side note)

  74. Anonymous

    Lol I have experienced this first hand.  When I went to China with my family, people kept walking up to my dad(who is sorta chubby) and rubbed his stomach while saying “Ahh Buddha! Buddha!” it was actually really funny.
    And when we went to the zoo, a woman with 2 kids came up to my mom and I and asked for a picture with us. so its like: Yay we get to go to the zoo! Yay Monkeys, Lions, Tigers- foreigners? OMG we have to take a picture with them O-O” It was so awkward.
    Super funny though xD

  75. Anonymous

    Simon and Martina, as both former public school teachers, tell me you can’t relate to this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ31pdj7AjU

    So hilarious and dead on.

  76. This is such a great, informative video! I have definitely wondered about the Koreans’ opinions towards foreigners, and now I have a better insight. I myself have really curly blond hair and blue eyes, and want to teach English in South Korea, so now I understand more what to expect when I go there. Thank you so much for this :)

    And it is totally true about how racist grandparents are everywhere. I have experienced the shock of pretty racist comments from my grandmother a few different times, so I understand where you’re coming from.

  77. I’m a ginger…
    I really wonder how they would look at me… xD

  78. This is interesting to me because I am african american and have been teaching English in Japan for two years. Before I came, some other people told me how they have a “black friend” who said when they lived in Japan, people tried to lick them and crazy stuff like that. hahaha!! I think my experience here has been similar to yours in Korea. I have had nothing but wonderful encounters, and no one has ever been outwardly racist or discriminatory toward me. In general I am a very smiley, optimistic person and I’ve made a lot of good friends here. (And no one has ever tried to lick me. haha!!)

    But I know a girl of caribbean descent (and she’s a little overweight as well) who had horrible things to say about her teaching experience in Korea and all the racism she faced. I thought about going to Korea after Japan to teach, but she kinda discouraged me. Part of me thinks, well, she and I are very different people–personality-wise and appearance-wise–so I shouldn’t let her experience influence me too heavily. But still. haha! Hearing her stories definitely nulled my desire to go to Korea.

    • I really don’t want you to be discouraged by your friends’ experience because we have tons of friends (all colours and sizes of the rainbow) and they haven’t had any problems. It really does depend on the person and their outlook. Also, many times people have a bad experience with one person they work with and they’ll translate that one person as “all of Korea is racist”. But I think you should at least visit on vacation to experience Korea through your eyes.

      • jazzyfish

        I <3 how you spelled colours! (colors for me) I'm always tempted to spell it this way in school.
        omo! Only 3 minutes ago?
        Can you guys reply if you see this? I would be soo happy if you could!

        •  YO! *Martina puts jazzyfish into a headlock and dishes out mass amount of noogies
          BUUWahAHAHAhhAHHAHAhAHAHa! *Martina runs away

        • jazzyfish

          *sits on floor dazed*
          *celebrates w/ confetti*
          YAYYYYY!!!! I’ve never been so happy to headlocked! XD
          Thank you soo much!
          ( Cause its pretty boring here in NY >.<)

  79. Martina! Where did you get your glasses? They are awesome!

  80. therrycherry16

    lol racist old people. thats everywhere 

  81. I’m living in Japan with my Japanese husband, and most people are really nice about me being a foreigner (since I’m European and all), but sometimes it bothers me how much it’s coming up in conversations with people I barely know. They don’t mean it in a bad way, but having people stare at you because you’re sitting down in the train is kind of uncomfortable and I haven’t gotten quite used to it yet.Then again, when people hear me speak Japanese they’re very surprised and happy.There aren’t that many foreigners in Japan and Korea, so most people don’t even have a foreigner in their school class when they grow up, and it’s just very … foreign and interesting to them. Plus, I don’t know about Korea, but in Japan people barely speak English, so they’re always afraid of having to speak English to you.

  82. *raises hand* Racist grandmothers are really prevalent where I’m from. XD I live in Arkansas in the US, which has a lot of different races and has had a lot of different races for a while. I don’t if maybe they haven’t moved on from the civil rights movement or what, but a lot of old people are racist. I understand the curiosity about foreigners though, lol. I have a friend whose mother was in the Navy, so she lived in Japan for 3 years when she was younger. People would come up and play with her hair and stuff because she’s super blonde and has blue eyes. 

  83. I am so so proud of being Canadian. ♥

    By 2017, researchers have predicted that there will be no dominant race!How exciting is that? I believe we’ll be the first country. :D

  84. Hahahaha! Once i was out at IHop with my mom, sister, and stepdad. We sat at a table that had some Chinese people behind us, and their grandma sat and stared at us the whole time because my stepdad is white xD

  85. okay, it’s not the only thing I noted from this video but I have to point it out! This time, I’m sure: it is from Princess Bride!! Am I the only who noticed that? Inconceivable!!

    (apart from that, I really enjoyed your video! Your videos are in the same time really funny and really instructive about korean culture…you’re doing really great)

    ps: obviously I’m not a native english speaker, so forgive my mistakes! ^^

    • i agree, i’ve noticed the “inconceivable” too! ^_^ makes me grin everytime! i love that movie.

      also, your english is much better than a lot of people who speak english as their first language….actually, if you didn’t point out that you’re a non-native english speaker, no one would have noticed…..you used “your” and “you’re” correctly….do you know how many people do NOT know the difference?? i mean educated, high-positioned people!

  86. Heh, I too follow up “waygookin!” comments with “hangook saram!” The message doesn’t seem to get across, but most people laugh.

  87. lol this made me laugh bless the old grandma she really cared for the foreingers

  88. Toni Stevens-Oliver

    You should trying being  미국 사람 with two 한국 사람 kids.  People point, stare and talk openly about you.  Some would even come up and start petting my kids.  A few were put out that we and the children could not speak much Korean.  We are determined to learn more so we know what they are saying about us when we go in December. Most people though, were very kind.  One guy even gave us Korean Language lessons on a long subway ride. 

  89. When my family visited China, my sister and I sometimes got weird looks from native Chinese people (we’re Chinese but live in the US) because we’d speak English to each other. China, like Korea, is a lot more homogenous than the US/Canada, so I guess our fluent English stuck out xP

  90. Anonymous

    Well, I’m heading over to SK end of August to teach, and I’m looking forward to the reactions I’ll get as a tall (5’11″) Hispanic American.  At least I’m thin—yay? =/

  91. This past Spring Break I went to Korea, and I am a green-eyed/blonde haired Canadian, and I literally got mobbed everywhere I went; it was bizarre! Groups of people would just run up to me and put their arm around me while their friends took pictures, and this happened like every 3 minutes. I have never experienced such a thing. I thought maybe all these people had mistaken me for some sort of celebrity, but our tourguide explained that most Koreans are not exactly accustomed to seeing younger white people in Korea (I’m 18, by the way). Everyone was very friendly though, perhaps a little too friendly. Another ongoing thing that happened was people touching my arms because I have hair on my arms (because I’m of European descent), and they were fascinated with my eyelashes and eyebrows. I will never forget visiting S Korea and being mobbed… such a funny experience!

  92. I raise my hand! Especially for my Korean grandmother. She’ll point out people in public who are overweight or dressed funny and will attempt (and fail) to whisper to me about it. She also believes that all Korean food has no fat, and that to lose weight you just have to eat kimchi and rice by the bucket. I love her dearly, but sometimes she’s so blunt I want to crawl in a hole and hide.

  93. I gotta say, even Asian looking, well, Asians like me get kind of interesting looks there. It’s probably the style of clothes and manner of act – small things like ordering right when you enter a restaurant and not ponder over the menu. For me, I’d be recognised as a China citizen, if not Japanese, before I start speaking in English and I’ll be asked where I’m from.. It’s cute how surprised people there will get when they realise you know a bit of Korean though, even a simple “Annyonghaseyo” gets you tons of praise. ^^

  94. Anonymous

    Oh yes, I have heard the racist-grandparent-comments….and every so often the racist-father-comments…..I think it is a lot more prominent in smaller towns where there aren’t a lot of different ethnicities present.

  95. One thing I noticed when I studied abroad in Japan last summer was that while all the Japanese people were staring at me, I stared at all the other foreigners that I passed on the streets.  And they would stare back!  However, I never said anything because I didn’t know what country they were from, if they spoke English or even if they had something against Americans (where I may accidentally stir up trouble).  One time one of my friends from school was showing us around Shinjuku and we passed a couple on the street.  My friend turned to me and said “Time to play the ‘guess which country the other foreigner is from’ game!”  That made me laugh because that was exactly what I was thinking right before he said it! ^^

  96. Taheera Virani

    I was in Korea last summer and I came back and have been here since February, and most all my experiences have been really good. I’m American but my parents are from India, so obviously I look very different. I’m noticeably overweight too, so knowing that some Koreans are quite straightforward and will tell you that you’re overweight, I was really worried about coming here. But… no one has commented on it thus far. When I get stared at, I just smile to the person or even say 안녕하세요. I usually get smiles back. Sometimes I even get complimented and told that I’m pretty. Even the old people I have encountered have been amazingly nice. There are a couple exceptions here and there, of course, but for the most part, I haven’t had any problems…. 

    • ryanunmole123

      Really? I’m india-american too but I seem to be on more of a dark side, so not to be rude or anything but would you consider yourself dark or fair for an indian person?

      • Taheera Virani

        Er, well, I’m not fair-skinned, but I’m not very dark either. Somewhere in the middle? Definitely, noticeably Indian though. People have come up to me and been like: “=O Are you Indian?” to me in Korean before xD 

    • Tuhina Das

      ahh thanks so much for sharing! I’m Indian-American as well and I was planning on visiting Korea next summer for vacation, and I wasn’t at all sure how Koreans perceive Indian people. this makes me feel a little less insecure haha (because honestly, that sort of “they’re-an-outsider” mentality that exists in some people in asian countries is a bit scary to me). thank youu!

  97. my hand is up, some day my parents are even bad i just ninja off into a corner and pretend i dont know them some days  but i still love em.

  98. Not weird, just curious looks.
    It’s just that unlike the US or other multicultural places, Korea is just ENTIRELY uniquely Korean ethnicity and nationality, and because it is just so far from any Caucasian country, it’s rare to see any.
    However, because of media, Koreans aren’t so ignorant about Caucasians and won’t freak out about you, just some curious looks maybe, but even then it’s not that bad.

  99. Racist people in Michigan are fairly common… I went away to college (U. of Michigan) and my first visit back home I brought pictures of all my friends which included lots of different races and my Greek friend who had a black boyfriend at the time. My great-grandmother said,”I don’t know what I do if *someone* in our family married a black man!”… as she eyes me up and down. My quiet, mild-mannered mother got angry and said,”You’d deal with it.” Go Mom!! :D 

    I’m so glad my mother has always been open to other kinds of people… she was a nurse in an area with mostly black people so I spent a lot of time around other races when I was little and I think I missed that when she got a different job. I’m very lucky that some of my family doesn’t care about those things since I have a Filipino boyfriend… i’ve yet to introduce him to my grandpa though :( I’m too chicken… lol. 

  100. I’m in Korea since 2 weeks. I’m staying at hanyang university for International Summer School Program … and I experienced the same XDD~  when i was walking at e-markt ..  a little kid went: OH!  foreigner, and another went like: american !! ..  while im from europe the netherlands xD  so was like omgg nooozz  they think im american  ã… ã… ~~~~ at first i was a bit uncomfortable with people pointing at me but that faded pretty fast  ^^~ The korean people I met untill now are so nice ;D!!  im so happy im here ^^~~

  101. Oh, I had no idea that dark skinned or overweight people were treated like this in South Korea! This surprises me a lot and in a negative way! :( I’m European girl with white skin and green eyes. I’ve never been to South Korea myself, but my friends from Poland were. They are all blonde with white skin and been treared almost as Hollywood stars in Seoul. They told me that strangers were inviting them for dinner and when they went to the club, Korean guys hit on them (despite some of these guys had gfs which they admitted themselves lol). I’ve been only to Japan twice and I received a very good treating there, some Japanese thought that I’m a model, even eldery people. And  not only Korean stare A LOT but Japanese did that too. They even took pictures with their mobile phones or cameras…

  102. Thanks for clearing this up.  I have a friend from Seoul and once said that some people might look at me if I were to walk with her in the street.

  103. Ok so we know that people can be interested in ‘typicaly western’ looks ie pale skin, blonde n blue eyed, and maybee a bit wierd with african descent or other asians, but what about other world types like Indian or southern Europeans? Those of us with darker skin and dark eyes but typicaly western faces and builds?  Do you think that there may be wierd reactions?

  104. I think something similar happens in my country, I remember when I dated a korean boy it was the same. Everybody said “oh look a chinese man” LOL everybody thinks all asians are chinese jaja and about weight mm… I really didnt have problems with him about that, but I remember once he mentioned that Im “big” to wear korean clothes -__-

    • Well don’t worry because I’m also “too big” to wear Korean clothes since the cutest clothing is often “free” size which means one size fits all….well, if you don’t have curvy hips and big boobs. HAHAHAHA! *Martina cries over all the cute things she can’t buy* It’s not an insult to our body, it’s just a fact that we have different body structures. :D

  105. Shilpa Idnani

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  106. Glen Lee

    When Korean people say the word “fat” it’s not the same meaning you (English native speaker) are thinking. I mean slightly different meaning in Korean. Maybe becuase they don’t know the word “chubby” or “obesity”, they have a tendency to use the word “fat”. Likewise when u say to korean child, he or she is 뚱보 or 뚱띵이. It’s not that much insulting like you feel the word ” fat”

  107. Anonymous

    While my grandparents usually do not make racist remarks in public (grandpa, sometimes, but he has Alzheimer’s, so… yeah) I do remember my mother being very upset once when I was a kid.  We had gone to visit family in another state, where my mom grew up, and she wanted to take me and my sister to a park she went to when she was our age.  My grandma was very firm that we should go because “the wrong kind of people go there, now.”  She meant black people, and my mother was so upset, I don’t think she talked to my grandmother for the rest of the day. Even mentioning it years later annoyed her.  Good news is, grandma doesn’t say those type of things anymore, but, yeah.  I know the feeling, there.

  108. I’ve been staying in South Korea for a more than a month now, and even though I AM Asian, I seem to get a LOT of stares/glances whenever I enter a room, the cafeteria, the train cabin etc. I don’t know why Koreans do that a lot. I’m from Singapore and I might not be as vampire-looking as Koreans here, but I’m pretty much on the fair-skinned side. I kept thinking it’s because of my height (I’m a 1.7m girl) and most girls in Korea are pretty short (even with like 6-inch heels LOL). Anyway, it doesn’t affect me much, but it just gets really uncomfortable sometimes when I’m entering the cafeteria with my friends and literally ALL the Koreans’ heads will turn towards us *cues grand entrance fanfare* hahahaha. I hope any Korean reading this can explain to me, or maybe they have some sort of special radar that can automatically detect “aliens” (yep they call foreigners that here).

    Some of the ahjummas/ahjusshis here are pretty friendly, especially during train rides when they seem keen to talk to foreign youngsters. BUT, I went to Busan with a group of Hongkong/Singaporean friends and in barely 2 days, we met like 4 grandpas who literally approached us and cussed at us! Okay not all 4, but one of them gave us a loooooong lecture in Korean idk why. We are Asians! Why did we get that kind of treatment! :O And I do notice Westerners or the type get better service than us. Oh Korea… :( But I still like it here though, once you learn to use their language a bit, most Koreans will be pretty friendly to you. They’ll just stare a lot when they hear you speaking English though.

    • I’m not mad at you, I’m just going to point things out:
      I’m currently in Korea and have been for about a month, and I am Asian too (Korean-American).
      I’m 154 cm, light to medium tan, but, as my cousin pointed out, I do not look Korean at all, and look entirely Japanese.
      I don’t speak Korean fluently, and choose English instead when talking to my sister.
      I never get stared at when I speak English. People just totally ignore it, or if my cousin is translating something I don’t understand, then people may ask “oh, are they from America?”
      But that’s pretty much it.
      Also, you may be a little upset because you don’t know Korean culture that well yet.
      For one thing, just because you’re Asian doesn’t mean that Koreans love you.
      Korea loves Koreans because we are just that prideful and love ourselves too much and we look down on other countries (well not me specifically…).
      And grandpas would NEVER just randomly go up to you and cuss at you, it’s just not the culture unless they had dementia or something. I guarantee that you might not have been aware of it, but you probably were doing something that ticked them off.
      The reason why you get stared it is because it’s simple: Koreans just stare at EVERYONE regardless. Koreans are very judgmental, and just judge anyone on the spot. Because you are tall, it is noticeable.
      I get looked at sometimes because I look really Japanese, and oftentimes in marketplaces, shopkeepers always try to talk to me in Japanese.
      Don’t be offended, but Korean culture is VERY different.

    • If I may, it doesn’t matter if you’re Asian, just that you’re not Korean.

  109. Wonder what happens to the foreigners who are Asian – but aren’t Korean…

  110. LoL i love how spudgy suddenly pop out in each of your videos… xD

  111. Anonymous

    I heard from friends of mine that when they went to Japan, (also a country with not too many foreigners) people thought they were famous. Yes, he is has a height about 2 meters and she is model height, both slender and very pretty. He has dark thick hair, green eyes, and she has long, long, (to her hips) strait blond hair and huge blue eyes. They get stares, at home as well. But some people actually asked them if they were famous and asked for their photo to be taken with them. They laughed so much when telling me this story :D They did not go to the normal tourist places, so that’s probably why, because in Tokyo not a single person looked at them funny :) 

  112. Ah yes…fat people and Asians. I think this is a cultural thing among all Asian countries and not just Korea. When I was dating a Chinese guy he told me everyday that I was too fat and needed to lose weight but said he was only making a big deal about it because he was worried about my health. Later when I’d lost weight he attributed it to his nagging that helped me out the most (but we’d broken up by then). -_-;;

  113. Anonymous

    this is super true. well im korean but i dont live in korea so everytime i come to korea and i speak with my brother in english everyone looks at us and says “look at them there
    talking in english.” once me and my brother were fighting in english and one girl said to her friends “look there fighting in english” im at korea now and some people look at some people dont. i think it’s funny when they look at me and are all surprised because i’m fluent in english.

    • Lol wow we have the same situation type haha. I’m in Korea now and I speak English a lot because I’m more comfortable with it, but no one ever looks at me and my sister. Some students do, but adults never.

  114. I heard you guys went to U of T St. George! I am from here too! Visit soon :)

  115. Kevin Nguyen

    I’d like to thank you guys for approaching this topic with a light heart. Some people take it more seriously than you two and i hope more people can see it this way also. Great response to a touchy subject :D Korea does have an obsession about weight and beauty, so I’m not surprised about the fatty fat fat xD

  116. “What are all the Koreans doing here?!”

    LOLOL I love that response! 

  117. Haha! I had a great grandma like that! On her 96st birthday or so we ate in a chinese restaurant and then when the waiter walked away she was like ‘Ok! Where’s my purse?!?!’ :P

  118. When I was living in Korea (in Seoul, mind you, not out in the boonies somewhere), I generally didn’t get any overt racism…. except for this one time that a middle aged dude on the metro HIT me.  The train was not crowded, I was standing by the doors minding my own business, and as this guy left the subway car he went out of his way to punch me on the arm as he left.  He shouted something too, but I don’t speak a lot of Korean so I have no idea what.  Out of all my time there, that experience is the one that I remember most clearly.  I still don’t know why… I’m a small, non-threatening girl!  Come on!

  119. …and yes, when I showed my Nana my SoKo food pics, she promptly announced that “it’s dog! they eat dog, you know!!!” *sigh* NANA!!!!

  120. I’ve been to Toronto. Pretty awesome. I wouldn’t mind spending some more time up there one day.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve always wanted to spend some time abroad, specifically in an Asian country, for quite some time now, and the thought often crosses my mind that no matter how much time I decide to spend there, I’ll always be seen as an outsider. How much does this feeling of being an outsider affect you guys, and do you have any way of dealing with it? Or is it that your experience in Korea is so positive that it’s not really that prominent?

    • I agree, I used to date this guy long distance in Toronto (about four hours from me) and even thought about moving there. It always felt like such a clean, safe city. 

      • It’s a tradeoff, that’s for sure. Simon and Martina have only been in Korea three years, so I’m not sure how it’ll affect them over time, but I know a few lifers who have just had to come to terms with it. Some get bitter. Some accept it and try to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. 

        Personally, it wears me down over time. Yeah, you like the attention, but at the same time, you just want to blend in for a single day.

  121. As a “too not-white” person who is also “too not skinny,” I was very nervous when I took a recent trip to SoKo. I did my best to speak the language and I actually played Youtube “Charlycheer’s” game: Whenever someone made eye contact with me, I smiled. This does wonders. 

    I did get some looks, but nothing hostile – more “oh, a black person…” then “welp, back to my awesome show on my cell phone!” Maybe it was because I was in Seoul, where the unofficial motto is 빨리, 빨리!…but I found the Korean people to be open, curious, willing to communicate (a sweet old man was trying his hardest to talk with me- and not in a “russian saram” way – and kind woman made sure we didn’t get lost and told me I did a good job with my Korean). Most of all Koreans are proud of their culture, and considering all they’ve had to endure to sustain it, I can’t be mad about it. 

    That being said, I was only there for a short time, and I’m sure being there over time you learn the intricacies of feeling and undercurrents of things that affect those feelings…and I still plan to go back to SoKo as soon as I can.

  122. I was kind of worried about how my friend, sister, and I were going to be treated/perceived when I was in Korea, but I figured since I couldn’t understand the language, I could at least be ignorant towards any possible comments. But I was happy that almost all we received were stares/glances, which is nothing because I get that EVERYWHERE. A lot of ajumas complimented my looks, especially my hair, and I didn’t mind the couple of them who touched my hair. Even if my mom wasn’t there to translate for me, I still wouldn’t have minded. Again, people do that to me here in the states without permission. xD;; All of the students (elementary to high school) and a few adults we came across often wanted to just practice their English, especially with my friend who is as white skinned as they come as well as having the blonde hair/blue eyes combo. Just about everyone went out of their way to be kind or, as you said, didn’t care we were there.

    The only time I felt out of place was at Jagalchi Market in Busan, where I assume not too many foreigners frequent. People out right pointed at me to my face. ^^;; It did put me off for a bit, but it didn’t ruin anything for me. Oh! And a school girl took a cell pic of us at a train station, which I posed for then took a photo of them right back. That was awesomely amusing to me as I’m sure it was for them.

  123. I’m from Montreal, in Quebec, and it’s kind of the same as in Toronto I would think : there is a lot of multiculturalism. So for me neither there is no such thing as being “a foreigner”. In fact a lot of “white people” feel more awkward in Montreal when they are coming from another smaller city than many non-Canadian that have lived here for a while.

    And I also p-p-p-put my hands up, as I have a racist grandpa! (my grandma is not that bad at least) 

  124. Danielle Ransom

    I have the racist grandma! “Take my pepper spray if you’re going on a bike ride! The Mexican construction workers are out down the street!”
    Me: *facepalm* “GRANDMA!”

    Well hopefully one day Korea will become popular enough a destination to visit that foreigners are no longer a novelty, but commonly-seen guests to be embraced!

  125. Christopher Lozo

    hahaha i have the racist  grandma hahahaha

  126. My grandma cusses at people who don’t give up their seat to her in the bus. lol But I don’t think she is racist O.O

    Canadian Grannies don’t bake yummy cookies for their grandchildren? 

    • And I like in Singapore….

      And Singapore is a multiracial country, we don’t really point at the ‘foreigners’ cos’ I can’t tell whether they are Foreigners or People living ing Singapore unless I hear them speak a foreign language.
      no racist grandmothers or grandpops in my country ^_^

      • we got something against china nationals but nothing against the other foreigners.they called us disgusting on a survey for no apparent reason! yup and there are no racist grannies and grandpas in sg but i can’t speak my own language which is chinese and chinese grannies and grandpas speak chinese and i can’t understand anything 

  127. Anonymous

    I’m multiracial, but I was brought up to pretty much judge people for who they are and not what color they are. It’s like the, “I thought I was white for years” sort of thing. I saw “white” as a person thing and not as a color thing. Then I realized I had a racist grandma *hand up* and it kind of changed everything. Not for the worse, I just learned something different. 

    I also wanted to mention that I visited Toronto a few years ago and felt so comfortable because we met some nice and genuine people. It was almost a culture shock to find not a multicultural city, but a generally NICE city. TO has got a lot of good people. :)

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