Okyere’s Journey to South Korea

Samuel Okyere is a Ghanaian television personality known in both South Korea and Ghana. After being accepted into the Government Scholarship Program in 2009, Okyere moved to Korea to study computer science at Sogang University in Seoul.

Okyere the Television Star

Okyere found fame in South Korea after appearing on the 2014 JBTC talk show Non-Summit about what life is like for foreigners in South Korea. Since the show’s debut, Okyere has gone on to appear in several other productions.

Speaking out on Anti-Blackness

Okyere has been outspoken about the industry’s anti-blackness and its use of Blackface to depict people of color. After seeing a yearbook photo of local high school seniors in Blackface last year, Okyere took to social media to express his frustration in both Korean and English.

“I feel regret and sadness to see something like this in 2020. This is not funny! From the stance of black people, this is very insulting. Please don’t do this! I can understand you’re trying to imitate a different culture, but is there a need to paint your face black? I wish things like this didn’t happen in Korea! It’s good to respect each other’s cultures. So I’d like to speak with you if I ever get the chance.” — Sam Okyere on Instagram

The Backlash

Okyere’s comments received backlash, with some criticizing him for sharing the students’ image and school name – even accusing him of displaying anti-Asian behavior on television. Even after Okyere apologized, a petition to deport him began to gather steam.

The Controversy Continues…

The petition was rejected by the Korean government, but the controversy remains an example of how difficult conversations about racism and anti-Blackness can be in South Korea and beyond.


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