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We Might Be Racists

In poetry, there is nothing quite like a “found poem”. A poem where the words have been floating around, you’ve heard them before, but then someone captured all those words and put them in the right order, in the right rhythms to make it sing. This one on money is one of my favorites. It makes me wonder how much poetry in my life that I miss…I mean, it’s right there, I know all those words, but I missed it. I never saw the beauty until someone put it all in order for me.

Last night, I was reading this post, that made me ask a single question — Is this common? Would I find more of this if I looked? (OK, that’s two questions)

And suddenly I “found” this racism. I’m becoming ghastly aware of and sensitive to the thought that “my people” might be racist. And just like found poetry makes me hear poetry and rhythm out of everyday words, I now see that in small ways, insidious mannerisms and off-the-cuff, under-the-breath, behind-closed-doors statements, perhaps a great obstacle that the Korean-American church must face in order for the gospel to be released in power is to address this racism.

So here is what I’ve found, at least excerpts from. You can click on a quote to go to the original post (and this is only a cursory search mind you):

It is, as Michael Breen, author of a provocative book on Korea entitled “The Koreans: Who They are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies,” wrote, “While many foreigners have very warm experiences with some Koreans, they often feel rejected by Koreans in general. They are rejected because Koreans are so nationalistic and have a racist obsession with their blood.” This is the great “Korean wall” that makes globalization so problematic in Korea.


South Korea is conducting a long overdue debate on prevalent and institutionalized racism toward non-Koreans and people of mixed race, as this report shows. The government is considering legalizing the status of people born to mixed parents, so that they can have residency in Korea, serve in government jobs, and generally have the same rights as other Koreans. Superbowl MVP Hines Ward, who is of mixed Korean descent, has contributed to this thaw by visiting the country and sponsoring a foundation for mixed race children.


Hello! I am Japanese.
On a certain bulletin board,the South Korean made remarks below.
I do not discriminate except the Japanese and the Nigar.
Japanese = monkey
Nigar = animal
Because they are the animals, they are not men.…

I raged, and objected , saying that “You are exactly raicist”.
However, other South Koreans were looking of agreement with him.


We don’t even play well with others:

According to recent reports, South Korean Lineage players have been ganging up on Chinese players in an attempt to wipe them from Korean servers. The recent killings are a response to rumors that Chinese gamers have not been following the unspoken rule: don’t take money or items dropped by a monster slain by another player.


He said that they would have to leave the bar, because Hollywood bar does not serve Nigerians or black people in general. I told him not to be such a racist. He said, “We do not serve black people in this bar.” I honestly couldn’t believe this was happening, and so I said that if they had to leave, we would all leave.

He said that was fine. So I asked him one last time if he would serve my friends. He said no again, so I told him that I was going to post something on the Internet to let everyone know how racist he was and not to go to his bar again. He said to go ahead, and that he didn’t care.


Very ironic…. Many (if not most) Koreans have a racist obsession with the (alleged) fact that Korea is a nation of pure-blooded people…Many (if not most) Koreans are ultra-nationalistic, intolerant and narrow-minded….

How can we be a Christian people if we cannot change the filthiest parts of our culture for the sake of the Gospel? Do not boast in our churches, our ministries, our missionaries, or our early morning prayer unless we can open our hearts to those who do not look like us, unless we can change the way we think in the church and outside the church. What in the world (literally and figuratively) are we doing? My heart breaks over and over…this is my “found sin”.

When will the Korean / Korean-American church be prophetic and call the culture out? When will the mass of Koreans who claim to be Christian actually live out what the Gospel entails? How many churches do we have that have addressed this to the body?

The poetry is everywhere. Find it, put it in order, and deliver the message. We cannot repent for what we have not acknowledged.


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

8 responses to “We Might Be Racists

  1. elderj

    oye… interesting to read certainly, although not new information for me. As a person of mixed race ancestry (as are most BA’s) living in a nation that spent hundreds of years making us forget who we were, what language we spoke, and what culture we had, there is some envy for those who can access that identity, language & culture, and a bit of annoyance with those who reject it so vehemently.

    It is also not strange that blacks are the ones lowest on the racial totem pole; that is an unfortunate reality all over the world, which is a painful and harsh one to live with.

    As for the church, for Christians, there is no excuse… ever. I think my own choices have in some small way made repentance & reconciliation possible as those who are around me have to confront their own prejudice & stereotypes at some level.

    On the other hand my own people have a fair share of prejudicial tendencies of their own. We are Americans after all and have drunk perhaps deeper than any other well at the well of racism & discrimination even though we’ve been the chief victims of it.

    Is it possible, yes, it is possible, that we can ever learn to be proud of who we are, of our lineage, culture, & people-hood without denigrating or despising others?

  2. This sounds like a line from the completely unrelated movie, Immortal Beloved, but in response to the question, is it possible… “it must be. It must be possible.”

  3. peter ong

    this is a disturbing but hints at a nationalism that has gone awry…there is a disconnect between our understanding of the gospel and the way we see humanity as subjected to tiers of value according to race, gender and economic status…and as Asians we are often blurred by our own ignorance of our perceptions of what we perceive as “racial outsiders”, I agree with elderj that there is this hierarchy…like for many asians, it is okay if your child marries or dates a white person but if they are marrying any other race besides white, it becomes a sticking point…

    But one of the curious things is that for many of my Korean “girl” friends, they tell me that that their mothers or aunts always encourage to date Chinese men because we are the “best.” When I was dating this Korean girl, her great aunt met me and stroked my cheek and told her…”he is a good Chinese boy…Chinese don’t beat their wives…” She said as if she was saying “he has nice hair…” strange stuff dude.

  4. Anna Lee

    I wonder if the lack of knowledge of our history adds to the complexity of the tensions between race and faith? The civil rights movement and concurrent Civil Rights Act of 1974 opens the door for the immigration of our people the following year. The legacy of our families and faith in the US is due more than just props to the African American community who championed before us. We benefit from their legacy. Our people perish for lack of knowledge, me thinks.

  5. Ah yes, Anna, brilliant comment. We owe a great debt to the Civil Rights Movement which we do not know how to pay back. Unfortunately, I think that many of us were so insistent on the “American dream” that we merely assumed that we were entitled to our gain out of hard work and persistence. Perhaps we need to open our hand to that sense of entitlement.

  6. elderj

    Thanks Anna for the props about the Civil Rights era. What I find tragic and not a little scary is the degree of total ignorance many have on just how fundamentally the Civil Rights movement changed the US for all ethnic minorities, not just BA’s. After all AA were subject to the same discriminatory laws during pre-civil rights as Blacks. We were all “colored” then.

    Ironically, if the mass of asian immigration to the US had come to the south rather than the west, and earlier rather than later, it is possible that there would be much more racial solidarity between the groups because of a common struggle against “the man.”

  7. s


    I can’t help but agree that we as Koreans are too nationalistic to the point of racism. And when I say “Koreans”, I am actually referring to the 2nd or 3rd generation Koreans in North America.

    Having grown up in a Korean family with Korean values in North America has great benefits. However, the subconcious values on nationality and other races subconciously percolate our being… and define who we are even before we are aware of our own identity.

    COmments such as, “you must marry a Korean”… shed some light on this. Our reactions on our Korean fellowmen who have decided to marry outside the race. Is it only OK when the spouse is another asian… and are we equally accepting of races with deep dark skin colours?

    Why is it that we as Koreans live in a world where we must worship God in a 2nd generation Korean church, that is predominantly Korean?

  8. elderj

    s – you make some good points, but I think the issue may perhaps be more complex. There is the ethnocentrism that all of us must deal with in ourselves: repent of really. But then the alternate question must be asked of is there a good and wholesome, even God honoring reason to worship in an ethnic church (of any variety). Is it possible to be ethnic AND inclusive at the same time rather than pursuing a multiethnicity that is really mono-cultural (which culture is usually White-American)? Just because people in the worship service are of varying ethnicities doesn’t mean the church is diverse and neither does having one (or a dominant) ethnicity mean the church is not diverse.

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