A few weeks ago, I read the very first volume of Amazing magazine, a series of interviews with people living in Korea. Of the more than 100 pages, an interview with a man from the Congo stood out for me. He said that he experienced some racism when he first arrived in Korea. Some Koreans seemed to be afraid of black people, changed seats so as not to sit next to black people, and whispered about his skin color. I wondered if this racism against black people is common in Korea. Then, I found an e-publication called “Black in Korea,” which shares the experiences of black people here. Additionally, I learned that the founder, Jacque Amadi visited Korea this March for the first time. I thought that she may have a different view about Korea as a blogger who tried to open up dialogue between Koreans and black people. Check out her story!
- I have been interested in K-pop culture for years. First, I was introduced to K-Pop, as most people are, through 2NE1. I randomly found their videos on YouTube. Soon after my interests expanded into K-Dramas. And before I knew it, I was eating Korean foods, buying Korean cosmetics, and studying Korean fashion trends. I have a slight obsession with Style Nanda. Their site and pieces are amazing. My love for K-pop culture inspired me to get TEFL certified, and make plans to teach in Korea. I know that a country is more than its pop culture and I was excited to experience something new. I ended up staying stateside though, and put off my dream of visiting until recently.
- I finally mustered up the courage to solo travel to South Korea late last year. I started my blog as a way to document my own journey and also share stories from other Black people who either live in, travel to, or love South Korea. I used to obsessively watch several Black YouTubers who were living in South Korea, and I thought it would be great for Black people to have a singular place to read stories and find like-minded people.
One and only in Korea
- The one thing that made me fall in love with Korea was definitely watching K-dramas! I know that what you see on TV is never how things really are, but I think entertainment is a reflection of a culture’s values. While the US likes racier programs with sex scenes a-plenty, Korean shows are all about love and friendship. The last drama I watched was Moorim School (무림학교), but I LOVED Oh My Ghostess (오 나의 귀신님) and Oh My Venus (오 마이 비너스). I may start watching Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예) soon as well.
- After visiting, I love Korea even more! People are so generous. Every store gave samples, and every restaurant brought out extra food. A lot of Korean culture reminds me of my Nigerian culture, in the way they welcome guests and give you more than you expected.
- While traveling I ate… a lot! I also went out to clubs, went shopping, and interviewed many wonderful people – including Koreans! I wanted to visit Korea, but I also wanted to learn more about the culture and how Korean culture intertwines with the Black experience. So I sat down to interview people about interracial dating, race relations, and culture clashes.
- I had previously written about Sam and how he is changing the perception of Africans in South Korea and I sent it to him. I told him I would also love to interview him for my blog and he said yes! It was very easy actually and he is a super nice guy. You can read it here.
- People are much quieter in the subway compared to the United States. They are also more polite and South Korea is extremely safe! I am usually very aware of my surroundings in America, but in Korea I walked around with no worries. I also enjoyed Korean nightlife. Koreans party way later than Americans do!
- I stayed in the Hongdae area of Seoul, but also visited Itaewon, Insadong, Yongsan and Gangnam. I am not much of a sight-seer so I did not visit the palace or do the DMZ tour. I mostly shopped, ate, and got to know people!
- I thought I would have to brace myself for stares and racism, but I did not experience anything like that. South Korea is a wonderful place to visit. And while I know from speaking with both native Koreans and Black expats that there is some prejudice, as a short-term traveler I felt perfectly fine. When it comes to living in South Korea long-term, I do think Black people will eventually run into some frustrating experiences. From stories I have heard dating is an issue, as well as prejudice in the workplace. I hope this changes with time.
- My perception of Korea is even better than before and I will be coming back later this year hopefully! I met so many wonderful people and I have never experienced so much kindness and hospitality. Hopefully my blog can lead me to doing business in Korea, but for now I will continue to write for fun, and for the passion I have for representing Black people who live in a homogeneous society. So many people have already told me my blog makes them want to visit and that makes me so happy!
- Don’t be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone. The world is not as scary as people would have us believe, and if it has been your dream to travel, but you are afraid because of “racism” punch that fear in the face, buy a ticket, and see for yourself! If you want to keep up with me, my experiences and blog, visit my website and YouTube channel.
Just the facts: Social media edition
Check out Black in Korea’s social media and website.