Seoul Travel Answers

change location

Traveling to Korea

by lilmisstorii Online Now Feb 29, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Well, um...hi everyone. I'm a bit new here and have never contributed to a forum, so excuse my naive and ill structured questions and concerns.

I am contemplating going to Korea, more specific, Seoul. I am concerned because I am of colour, African American, black, same difference, and I've heard a great deal about Korea, regarding race. Please do not take this offensivesly, I am not making speculations, no, I am just wondering. By the way, I would like a little relationship help, I am, coincidentally, extremely, attracted to Asians, especially Koreans. But I will not get my hopes up, considering I know nothing of how things go over in Korea. Thank you...I am really looking forward to the answers you all give AND going to Korea. To be exact, I am ecstatic.

Quote & Answer
4 Answers
  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    Re: Traveling to Korea

    by DSwede Online Now Mar 2, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Honestly speaking, if you are black, there will be some negative attention. It will not be rampant, but it is there. Even if you meet people of the younger generations who are more open about race, their family and parents may not accept it. Not saying it is impossible, but do not expect it to be easy nor quick.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • olddude's Profile Photo

    Re: Traveling to Korea

    by olddude Online Now Mar 3, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    No offense Dave, but I believe I am far more qualified to answer this question than you. That said, more matter-of-factly, people are people. I do not know what you heard, but Koreans are individuals, just like Americans and it does no one any good to paint them with a broad brush regarding race. So, how you are treated in general will be indifferent...as they do towards any foreigner. However, due to the color of your skin, certain opinions will already have been formed about you before ever meeting you based on their limited exposure to or knowledge of black people...much like the US...we as a race are stereotyped. BTW, we are a lot easier to spot in public than other races, so be prepared to be stared at....especially away from Seoul or any military base...where it is rare to see us.

    For some reason, many Koreans think all black people can sing, like hip hop/rap and can dance. We are also supposed to be great basketball players for some reason. Unfortunately, most of the exposure Koreans get about blacks is from TV or the US military forces...mainly in Itaewon and Pyongtaek. US TV does not portray blacks in a positive light for the most part. However, having a black US President has dispelled some of that stereotype. Going further, those they are usually exposed to us in person are loud boisterous folks that continue the stereotype. In other words, many blacks who go to Korea tend to act like Koreans expect them to and are therefore treated the same....sorry fact.

    However, if you go there with true intentions of actually getting to know people and not just trying to "get some", then you will be treated with respect as will anyone else, regardless of color. If you speak a little Korean (not just for shopping) all the the better. Because I am college educated, understand the culture, and speak, read and write Korean, I didn't have as many of the issues, I assume you heard. Plus, I lived in a nice home, had a nice car and was part of a nuclear family. Many Koreans believe most blacks come from broken homes and are somehow "less than". So, when they see a family of African Americans doing well educationally and financially, it upsets their stereotype.

    I spent a total of 8 years living in Korea and consider it my second home. In fact, on many levels, I feel more welcome and at home in Korea, than I do in many parts of the US. By that I mean, that Koreans are open and honest and giving people, regardless of race. However, you only get to make one first impression. Screw that up and your race really doesn't matter. So, I suggest you study the true Korea and not base what you have heard....especially if you are using Korean-Americans as a yardstick before you go there.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    Re: Traveling to Korea

    by DSwede Online Now Mar 3, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Believe me, no offense taken. I know many, like yourself who loved it and Korea became a comfortable home. But I also know many who where isolated and had a much harder time.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
  • olddude's Profile Photo

    Re: Traveling to Korea

    by olddude Online Now Mar 3, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    It has been my experience that people will only do to you what you allow them to do to you. Therefore, if someone felt isolated or had a hard time, they allowed themselves to feel that way instead of turning it around in their mind and chalking it up to their ignorance.

    I'm not saying i didn't experience some racism/xeophobia in Korea. However, being from Alabama and being old enough to remember separate water fountains, whatever the Koreans feel or do kind of makes me chuckle. Those who had a hard time probably have never experienced overt racism in their lives and did not have the mental tools to rise above it. BTW, I wouldn't call it racism in Korea so much as it is xenophobia. People tend to fear (demonized) or put down what they do not know or understand.

    I lived in a high rise for a time while I was there and was pretty good friends with a Korean family a few floors above me. I had known them for years. Anyway, on one occasion, they had family visiting from out of town and got on the elevator the same time that I did. I got "the look" from one of his visiting female family members and she said, (in Korean of course) "I didn't know you had (Korean for the "N" word) living in your building. I immediately turned around, looked her in the eye, and asked her, in Korean if she had a problem with me. She turned about 20 shades of red. He laughed and told her, yes...and they speak Korean too. She could not respond as she was so shocked that a black man could understand and have a retort. He apologized to me for her ignorance and I was later told he set her straight. She was from out in the country and was just saying what she had heard and learned and had never really met a black person in real life. Communication is the key to understanding.

    Be the first to rate this answer!

    Was this helpful? Quote & Answer
Your Answer
Advanced Editor View Guidelines

Near Seoul