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What Stereotypes Do Koreans Have on Foreigners?

June 27, 2013


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Hay guise!

For starters, let’s just start off by expressing our hesitation to do topics that don’t paint Korea in the greatest light. This is why we spend far too long in our videos giving multiple disclaimers, rather than just freely talking about what’s on our mind. Yes, we know that a lot of you Nasties here on the blog are really cool people who really understand us and what we’re saying, and won’t think that we’re vile scumbags for making this video, and so you’re not as likely going to get offended. But there are also new viewers of our videos, viewers who won’t know the kind of people we are, and who will possibly take things out of context. Videos on sensitive topics like this have more shareability than, say, videos about how we lost weight, you know? It’s these new viewers need disclaimers, not you guise. Correction: new viewers and Tumblr, even though we know that there are some corners of Tumblr that can’t be salvaged, regardless of whether we put in 1 disclaimer or 100. We’re overflowing with white privilege so we need to get social justice policed. Got it. Let the reblogging begin!

Now that our disclaimer on disclaimers is out of the way, let’s just say how uncomfortable we were with this topic, frankly because we’re worried that people might fear coming to Korea because they think everyone will perceive them in one of the ways we discussed in the video, which is totally unfair to say. No matter what country you go to, there will always be racism and stereotypes. Every country has its own cocktail of beliefs. No one is safe from being misperceived.

That shouldn’t be a deterrent from you visiting other countries, though. Just like how it’s not fair to say that everyone acts a specific way, it’s also not fair to think that everyone in a country thinks that everyone from another country act a specific way. We’ve met loads of really cool people who don’t share these beliefs, loads of cool people who we’ve made lasting friendships with, and it’d be a shame if fear of the bigotry of a few soured the chance for you to experience the awesomeness of the many, you know?

Some of the stereotypes we discussed in this video we didn’t actually hear about until we started researching the topic and asking our friends, so it’s not even like these stereotypes are universal. What one friend suggests another has never heard of. The ones that affect us, though, we could talk about more comfortably, like the Russian Saram solicitation and the perception of being unqualified teachers and sexual deviants. I remember back when we were still teaching and making videos, we’d read comments about us on Korean sites about being unqualified to teach, and “losers” that couldn’t find jobs in Canada. The idea of foreign teachers being “losers” is one that we read a lot, not only about ourselves but also about a lot of other teachers. That seems to be a common phrase when describing foreign teachers. We’d respond like “Unqualified to teach? Losers? I got my Bachelors of Education! I’m qualified to teach!” I didn’t really know how to respond to being a loser, though. What can you say to that? “I’m not a loser! You are! BOOYA!” And then high-five myself and leave. That taught em. That taught em real good…

Also, there were a few stereotypes that we couldn’t really discuss to any greater depth apart from just basically listing them, like the perceptions of people from Malaysia, the Philippines, and China. These are stereotypes that we haven’t actually experienced, nor do we have friends here who experienced them. We were just told about them. If anyone wants to add to these – in a civil way, of course – please do. As for what our black friends have experienced, we can only relay that to you from what they’ve told us, and what we mentioned in this video was corroborated by a few different people we know.

Side note: I just remembered this old video we did, which is relevant: Russian Saram?

I’m sure that there are a lot more stereotypes that we didn’t mention. Don’t even get us started on perceptions of Japan and Japanese people. Whoa. Now there’s a sensitive topic that demands the utmost caution in wording. I’m sure some people are going to ask about prostitution in Korea now after Se7en got caught at a Rub&Tug: another topic that’ll be difficult to handle without offending people. Anyhoodledoodlepoodle, if you don’t mind, we’re gonna get our shotguns and put our backs against the wall for the next few days. Soo Zee will get back to translating the angry Korean comments we’ll get on other sites. Spudgy will guard the door. Teeeeeeaaaaammmmm BREAK!



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What Stereotypes Do Koreans Have on Foreigners?


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  1. I worked closely with a Korean woman for about 2 years and found many of the stereotypes to be accurate. The sad part was I grew up watching a WWE-style world view, and was a little dismayed to find that she was very devious, shallow and a poor driver. The up-speak was also a huge problem because I never knew if she was asking, or telling me something. I’m a fairly common American working man, and was shocked on how offended that she was when I called her new husband a “decent fella” (which is a solid compliment around here). More-so, the other Koreans in the location came across as the “all talk, no action” type when it came to anything escalating as well as being the first to show off a new car or some gym muscles. Bottom line, I’m glad left that dump!

    6 months ago
  2. I think the reason he thinks your rich is because in korea they majority of people live in apartments and a farm is huge to compare to an apartment. A way to tell him u aren’t rich is if you explain that in the us that is not rich but a hard life

    1 year ago
  3. Apparently it’s quite a popular thing to discuss among young Korean men durinv military service…”riding the white horse”. Like I said in my comment above, my boyfriend is Korean bit he wants nothing to do with this kind of talk. However, I will say it’s quite interesting to see older Korean men’s reactions to both my bf and myself when we’re together at a company outing or whatever. My bf’s company directors would normally mot gove him the time of day at the “end of the year party”, but last December he took me with him and literally every high ranking person from his company (& many people lower than hkm) came over to greet us (aka “oogle at the foreigner”). They even pulled me up on stage and (even though I can speak Korean) forced me to answer personal questions in English so that the MC could should show off his English skills. Smh…. white horse? More like side show attraction.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still love Korea…faults and all.

    2 years ago
  4. How do they feel about South Asians?

    2 years ago
  5. Kim

    there are people that sweat but they don’t smell i think it due to the lack of hormones or something.

    2 years ago
  6. wut

    when there was an article about an american lady sticking with his boyfriend after his loss of arms and legs in iraq.
    koreans believed that this is something only americans can do(also criticized korean girls…anyway)
    so don’t worry plenty of south korean love and respect america and americans.

    2 years ago
    • Oh, yes- I heard about that. It is definitely assuring to know that though… I mean, it would be pretty intimidating to be given the stink-eye everywhere you go!

      2 years ago
  7. “I remember back when we were still teaching and making videos, we’d read comments about us on Korean sites about being unqualified to teach, and “losers” that couldn’t find jobs in Canada. The idea of foreign teachers being “losers” is one that we read a lot, not only about ourselves but also about a lot of other teachers. That seems to be a common phrase when describing foreign teachers. We’d respond like “Unqualified to teach? Losers? I got my Bachelors of Education! I’m qualified to teach!” I didn’t really know how to respond to being a loser, though. What can you say to that? “I’m not a loser! You are! BOOYA!” And then high-five myself and leave. That taught em. That taught em real good…”

    I don’t think these comments should hurt or offend you because they don’t know you in person… those are just mean remarks that started with lack of information and fear of the unknown.

    I agree with what you said that every country has its own perceptions on foreign people… I can even say there are prototypes among my own people…

    I’ve seen different movies… seen music videos… that don’t quite represent foreigners in a favorable light… Of course not all people are like that but… people tend to believe those things until they are proven to be wrong…

    Love you guise!


    2 years ago
  8. i wish you guys would do more “korean like a pro” videos! they were funny!

    a lot of this stuff is really similar to Japan… and i can relate to a lot of the interaccial dating stuff. though i think Japan might be a bit more forward on this point. there are soooo many white dudes married to Japanese women, and i don’t know any who have ever gotten yelled at by old people…. but the white-girl/j-boy combo is still a lot rarer… and in a lot of cases we are still not seen as “wife material” and mostly as being “easy”. although i know a handful of girls who are married to japanese guys, so it is starting to change too.

    and yes! no deodorant! god! why!!! although the “no stink” part is not really true… it just takes a lot more for them to start sweating/stinking… have you never had a class come back from P.E. and really really wish they had deodorant in this country? or gone to a concert where you are huddled with a million sweaty young people? trust me…some of them smell.

    but anyways, this was a good one, and i think you guys did a good job at remaining mostly PC for the whole thing! well done!

    2 years ago
  9. I have all my older friends tilling me to go to Korea and find a Korean Man. Props for being a forign girl but i don’t want to just date i would rather marry you too.

    2 years ago
  10. ” homosexuality is a disease ” … every time I hear this, I get annoyed. Every time someone says that I just say: ” go back to school ” or ” it seems your biology knowledge is decreasing ”

    This was an interesting video, since stereotypes will always be there -.- not to mention racism..

    2 years ago
  11. wow. thats crazy. I know I get the ignorant ish from other people but my parents on the other hand are very supportive of what I choose to do.
    I admit my mom was upset with me because I told her I wanted to move overseas and study in Japan but now both my parents are happy that I know what I want.
    my sister was ignorant at first too and but now she thinks its cool. I just finished college and now I’m trying to start planning out my goals so I can go to Japan.
    So don’t worry I’m sure that your family will eventually come around to the idea of you living in Korea and traveling. Frankly I understand because traveling to new places has so much to show and teach a person culturally.

    2 years ago
  12. i wonder how i will survive in korea?! i am a C cup (no big deal or problem) but i have 42 inch (106.7 cm) hips that will be the death of me in korea. :*(

    2 years ago
  13. Martina and Simon, you talked about racial stereotypes, but what about gender stereotypes?? I get the feeling that Korea is still very patriarchal, so what’s their attitude towards foreign women? I remember you talking about how Simon would be acknowledged but not Martina… is it different if you’re single?? Thanks for this TLDR ^-^

    2 years ago
  14. The whole we don’t like America thing has more to do with foreign policies carried out by the American government than with actions of individual Americans. it does not help that America has been so influential politically, economically and culturally in the world and that such influence came at the cost of erosion of traditional values in many countries.

    The interesting thing that I have encountered is that many people from most countries like Americans, the people, but dislike the country as a whole and this dichotomy is true among both Europeans and Asians. I’m a Korean now living in America and when I go back to Korean I often encounter Koreans who dislike America as a country but somehow still love hanging out with Americans because they are cool and fun.

    As a Korean male, I can fully attest to the whole riding the white horse thing. Many Korean and Japanese men have fantasies about white women, especially ones with blonde hair and blue eyes so hooking up with a white woman is viewed as a exotic and special achievement. This tendency is not as prevalent as it used to be just because there are a lot more Caucasians in Korea now but you can still see it.

    2 years ago
  15. Ah sterotypes. Unfortunately the sterotype about Caucasian women having big breasts and bums isn’t true in my case. Sigh.

    2 years ago
  16. This was a really nice video though i almost choked at the “white privilege” thing, why would someone just say that, tumblr is just i don’t know… even Grimes got crazy tumblr hate for expressing her music choices, oh well you cant win ’em all and also i think this viral TED talk video from this lovely author will help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg maybe sharing this will help beat stereotypes and negativity it actually makes a lot of sense.

    2 years ago
  17. Ermagerd! Im not from an Asian country but the misconception of the super duper rich white thing is the same in my country too, the same damn thing! Even the morality angle yup no country is perfect indeed.

    2 years ago
  18. A question for next week:
    What is some of the things you find most frustrating about the Kpop industry? Is there situations you suffer from epic facepalms?

    2 years ago
  19. Kim

    just wondering if there is any stereotypes about australians?

    2 years ago
  20. I’ve met a lot of Americans who do that (for whatever reason) and it just makes me feel stupid (because I don’t know where that particular place is) :/

    So, personally, I wouldn’t recommend it; but if your safety is at stake, maybe just say another country. My dad’s had people hold machetes to his neck and ask, “Are you American?” I wont say what country it was

    2 years ago
    • zsc

      Blink once if it’s a “bad” part of Hawaii. My mom worked on a cruise ship that stopped there, and was immediately told where NOT to go (We’re American).

      2 years ago
    • But that is usually what i say if someone asks me is Alabama (cause it is true) and don’t feel bad, i bet most of those people don’t even know where other states are themselves.

      2 years ago
  21. what do S&M mean with korean think abt philippines n malaysia saram??

    2 years ago
  22. I wonder if there’s any stereotypes about Australian people?
    Is it the same reaction with how they see Canadians?

    2 years ago
  23. I’m from Alabama, and trust me they don’t know where it is lol. The only states my students knew about were California and New York, usually.

    2 years ago
  24. I am so glad for this topic finally got addressed, I never been to Korea; but i do intend on someday going and working there. But in my 6 years in Sydney i have has exposure to some of these Racial stereotypes.
    I am Sri Lankan by the way, so Brown guy most of the time mistaken for Indian or Nepalese or Mexican.
    But some of my best friends who are Korean, got off on the wrong foot.
    At first they didnt want to talk to me, because they thought i was a day labourer.
    Or a factory worker. And this was followed on by the next most racist thing i heard being “My you speak such good English”

    2 years ago
  25. Stereotypes about russians are always so rude and silly. It’s really irritates sometimes.
    We’re nice!BOOYA!=)))

    2 years ago
  26. When I studied abroad in Japan last year, I was asked twice if I was Russian (though I am American with eastern European roots)! I asked one of my Japanese guy friends who originally thought I could be Russian why this could be and he said it’s because of my fair skin and light brown hair.

    After watching this EYK video, it made a lot more sense where this stereotype is coming from XD Whoa!

    2 years ago
  27. As a Korean I agree with ‘ust some korean’.

    “If someone asked Korean a question about first impression about Germany, they must say “oh! diligent, great car, good at soccer, great beer AND GERMANS APOLOGIZE FOR THEIR ACTIONS DURING WWⅡ UNLIKE JAPANESE!!!””

    This is so true hahaha.
    And koreans who have traveled Germany usually have good impressions, so that helps too I think.

    2 years ago
  28. We’ve met loads of really cool people who don’t share these beliefs, loads of cool people who we’ve made lasting friendships with, and it’d be a shame if fear of the bigotry of a few soured the chance for you to experience the awesomeness of the many, you know?

    I completely agree with you there. I mentioned in my other comment that I’ve experienced a lot of stereotyping, and racism, in a lot of countries.

    But I’d also like to mention that besides the polar opposite groups of narrow-minded racists and open friendly people, most people are in between, having misconceptions of other cultures just from a lack of knowledge, INCLUDING ME. If I wanted to avoid such treatment, I’d end up a hermit.

    So I decided to be friends with people of different cultures – not only the open-minded cool people who don’t have strange beliefs, but also the ignorant racist people. I was ignorant of, say, Basque culture, until I met a Basque guy and made friends with him. If he had gotten offended by my stupid comments and avoided me, then I never would have learnt anything. Instead, he was patient with me, corrected me when I was insensitive, and helped me become a more understanding person.

    So: If you have the guts, try to make friends with ignorant stereotyping people; and prove them wrong ^^b

    On that note; thank you Natz for being friends with me. I never knew anything about Barbados until you came along <3

    2 years ago
    • Lols. Trust me, before Rihanna very few people even knew Barbados existed. I remember when people used to ask me if it was a part of Jamaica and whether we had cars and roads and stuff. I remember a joke about a Bajan telling people that we lived in trees and wore grass skirts… And people actually believed them.

      I have always been the sort of person to make friends with people who came from a different background to my own. My best friend from secondary school is a Sai Baba devotee Sindhi, my first friend in college was a white girl from Ohio who had an adopted black sister and brother. One of my closest friends is an animal rights activist, vegan Jew. All very different from me but we spent a lot of time learning about each others cultures. And when one of us was mistaken or ignorant of something, we would teach each other.

      Thanks for being friends with me too. We learn alot from each other.

      2 years ago
  29. Thank you for the confirmation!! :D

    2 years ago
  30. Say hi to the Aussie dude for me :p

    2 years ago
  31. I love this video!! Thank you S&M, my parents were nodding the whole time. Even though my parents are almost 60, they still get asked in the taxi, “Which hotel do you want to go to?” whenever they go to Thailand; because the taxi drivers just assume that my mom is a Thai prostitute whom my Australian dad is just hooking up with for the night. When we lived in Indonesia, my mom used to carry around my sister (who looks very white), and people would always ask her, “Where’s her mother?” – assuming my mom was a maid. So my mom totally sympathised with Korean girls who get looked down on when they date white guys. :(

    Funny thing is; I’ve been on the receiving end of a LOT of stereotypes, because I’m of mixed heritage and I’ve lived in about 10 countries. When I’m in Australia, they either assume I’m Asian, American (and suffer for it), Canadian, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Indian, Middle-Eastern, or Danish; but never Australian. In Indonesia, they assume I’m Australian, American (and get death threats for it), Chinese, Filipino, Arabic (and benefit from it), Taiwanese, or just White – and then all the guys brag that they’ve slept with me or some crap. In Thailand….well I’m just one of those bastard kids right….yea I don’t like being in Thailand. In Japan, they’ll generally settle with me being Australian, but some people think I’m from Okinawa, which is quite a compliment. In America, I was Chinese. Etc etc.

    Ah, another topic that I’ve found interesting when moving around is body hair. I never shaved my legs when I lived in Southeast Asia because noone else did (they didn’t need to), but my genetics gave me, well, hairy legs, and guys used to yell at me from the side of the road, calling me a gorilla :'(

    Speaking of stereotypes, a while back I saw this video with accurately represents a lot of the stereotypes on America. Even though I identify with a lot of those countries, I found it really funny! Check it out :D


    2 years ago
  32. Haha I remember telling my co-teacher where I went to university and what I studied and she was like “well then…what are you doing here?!” *gasp* you mean I actually CHOSE to teach in Korea?!

    As for the Canadian/American thing I actually found the opposite is true? My boyfriend’s Canadian and I’m American and Koreans usually tell me how awesome America is and kinda just ignore him…but maybe that’s because it’s a younger crowd? I’ve had some taxi adjusshi’s that didn’t like Americans but that’s it.

    I’m not sure if this is a stereotype but many Koreans seem utterly shocked when I speak even a little Korean. Because I’m white I can’t learn a new language? I live here too! But they are usually very nice about it. I could just say “안영” and they would say I speak Korean well.

    Anyway that’s my take. Very interesting topic.

    2 years ago
  33. That actually sounds horrible D: Even without them knowing what they were saying I would feel slightly bad and embarrassed if that happened to me.

    2 years ago
  34. another meaning for white horse. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8j2ej5jqQw

    2 years ago
  35. If you set your flow from Newest to Best it’s the second one day I think. :)

    2 years ago
  36. I used to be very self conscious because of the stereotypes and thoughts about African American women. BUT now I still want to visit Korea, and like S & M said there are stereotypes and racism everywhere. I guess it will have to be an experience for me and my fiance because we are both African American and dark skinned lol!

    2 years ago
  37. This made me think way back to high school biology and our lesson on genetics. One day my teacher called on me because well why lie I so was not paying attention in class and asked me “If a black rabbit and white rabbit have a baby, what color will it be?” Being my smart ass self I replied “Gray” which got the whole class laughing in an uproar. I looked at my teacher and said “My mom is white (German/French heritage), my dad is a hispanic man with a very dark completion, My skin tone is somewhere between those two shades. I think it is very plausible a black rabbit and white rabbit will have a gray baby even if science says the black gene is dominate.” He giggled, told me that was a great answer but next time to pay attention in class. BTW I somehow managed to find the answer in my book will giving him this shpeel.

    On a side not, I do have a frustration that I get lumped in the category of hispanic only. I love celebrating and embracing the cultural differences between my two cultures. Southern white and hispanic, because I was told once “Oh you’re families that kind of white.” *face palm* haha Stereotypes, racism really is everywhere.

    Okay one more. I have a Korean friend, here everyone calls her Chinita, spanish for Chinese girl. She’s embraced it but always clarifies that she’s really Korean. Awhile back though she came to me and said “I always correct people that I’m Korean, but lately I let them believe I’m Chinese because I don’t want them to think I’m one of those crazy Northern ones.” And I could honestly understand where she is coming from.

    2 years ago
  38. I like how they have the whole “riding the white horse” thing and yet they say foreigners are the perverted ones xDD

    2 years ago
  39. Just wondering. I’m vietnamese american. Is there a stereotype for vietnamese people in South Korea? Thanks for replying !!!

    2 years ago