Racism in the 21st Century
Racism in the 21st Century
  • Reporter Kim Seo-yeon
  • 승인 2019.01.05 00:14
  • 댓글 0
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▲ A South Korean student was attacked on Oxford Street - one of the busiest streets of London / The Independent
▲ A South Korean student was attacked on Oxford Street - one of the busiest streets of London / The Independent

Recently, there have been a few incidents where Asians were confronted with severe open racism. On Nov. 17, one of the most well-known Italian designer brands, Dolce & Gabbana, D&B, uploaded a series of short advertisement videos for a runway fashion show in Shanghai that was eventually cancelled due to an international outcry against the brand’s racism. The videos featured a Chinese model - dressed in a traditional Chinese dress with traditional Chinese music playing in the background – constantly struggling and failing to eat Italian food with chopsticks. Whilst the female Chinese model constantly failed at eating pizza, cannoli, and spaghetti with the East Asian eating utensils, she repeatedly smiled and expressed gestures of being surprised and not knowing what to do. The narrator in the video even commanded the woman to “use those two little sticks to eat the pizza” and patronisingly asked, “Is that (cannoli) too big for you?” The videos initiated an uproar against the brand for denouncing the Chinese culture of using chopsticks, and the brand was further accused of portraying Chinese women as submissive, silent, and shy. However, instead of apologising, the brand further angered the Chinese as captures of messages from D&B’s co-founder Stefano Gabbana and the official D&B Instagram account were leaked and posted by an Instagram account that openly criticises the dark sides of the fashion industry. The messages reprimanded China and the country’s culture, where China was described as a ‘dog-eating’ and ‘ignorant dirty smelling mafia’ country. Although the brand tried to cover up the situation with a post and a video explaining that the accounts had been hacked, the damage had already been done. The Chinese celebrities started to boycott the Shanghai fashion show, and D&G was removed from major Chinese retailers. With China being one of the biggest consumers of designer brands, accounting for approximately 30 percent of the global luxury goods sales.

There have also been racial attacks against South Koreans in the UK – one in Brighton and one in London. On Oct. 15, a 20-year-old South Korean student was attacked by three teenagers for ‘being Asian’. Jo Min-su, the friend of the victim who wanted to be known as Mr. Kim, posted a video showing Mr. Kim talking to the teenagers, and suddenly one of the teens hitting him with a champagne bottle and running away. Jo explained that the situation started off with the attacker throwing a bottle of wine behind Mr. Kim, and that although Mr. Kim tried to walk away from the situation, the teens continuously made racial faces, gestures, and insulted him with racial words. When reasoned for such behaviour, the attacker answered, ‘Because you are f***ing Asian’.  For ‘being Asian’, Mr. Kim was insulted, beaten up, and permanently scarred. 

Moreover, another South Korean student studying in the UK claims to have experienced a racially aggravated assault. Lee described her traumatizing experience in a petition uploaded on change.org with a title ‘Raise the awareness of Hate crime in Oxford Street’. On Nov. 11, Lee Yeon-jeong was walking through Oxford Street – one of the busiest streets in London – when a group of teenagers started to throw rubbish at her and her friend. When asked to stop, one of the teens mocked her by saying, “Oh, you speak English? You alright?”, and the group started to physically assault Lee. As she was thrown to the ground, punched in the face, and kicked in the body, only two people tried to help her out and the other numerous pedestrians simply ignored the situation or filmed it. Whilst she was being violently attacked, she screamed ‘This is 21st century, stop being racists.’ Her petition illustrating the incident has now gained more than 32,000 supports, and she hopes that the attackers will be punished properly; she said that she does not want other people to be victimized, and that violence towards people regarding their race will be eliminated.

Just like what Lee cried out to the racist attackers, it is indeed the 21st century where countries from all over the globe constantly communicate with each other, and diversity has become a matter of course to accept. Such immature and prejudiced behaviours should never be tolerated- even under all circumstances. As students of a university that will yield international leaders of the science and technology, we, Postechians, must never endure such discriminating attitudes, stand up against racism, and, most importantly, maintain unpaired view towards all cultures.

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