So apparently, about a week ago on KBS‘s “Moonlight Prince“, one of the panel members, Tak Jae Hoon, flippantly made a Kunta Kinte reference while talking about being strung up as punishment on the show (as seen above).
For those who have no idea why this could be misconstrued, this is the reference:
Note: The music is either trolling or to avoid copyright. :o
So anyway, obviously the reference invokes slavery and related serious subject matter, hence international netizens taking it to heart.
As far as the intent (which is always the important part, IMO), to be fair, Kunta Kinte is a well-known character and it wouldn’t be the first time that specific scene was used for comedic reasons.
So it can be used for comedy, directly mocked even, though the difference is that those two examples are done by black people, and that makes it far easier to read intent. The objection to the Korean show using it for comedy is that it was seen by some as exploiting black tragedy and could be interpreted as mocking black people.
As we know by now, mocking black people on television has happened before in Korea in recent memory, and on KBS no less, which is why I think this is being looked at as a racist act, whereas if KBS or Korea had not previously shown little care about overt racism, I doubt people would have taken it the way they have.
Now obviously I’m not qualified to tell people whether they should be offended or not, but I do think it was more of a reference to an iconic scene that happened to relate to the situation on the show and was far less malicious than most seem to think. Everybody has a line between what’s comedy and what’s offensive, but for me, my snap reaction to it wasn’t to scream racism.
If you were offended, take solace in the fact that the show was cancelled, Kang Ho Dong‘s career seems fucked, and nobody has ever cared about Tak Jae Hoon.