On the April 5 airing of KBS2's 'Happy Together 4,' Jonathan Thona opened up about growing up black in South Korea.
Jonathan, his mom, and siblings moved to South Korea from Congo to be with their father, who has been working in Korea. The family received great attention after appearing on an episode of the popular documentary series 'Screening Humanity.'
During his appearance on 'Happy Together 4,' Jonathan admitted he faces racism in Korea. In fact, he could talk all day about the times he was hurt. He said, "Whenever I'm in public, I'm like a painting at a museum. Some perceive me kindly but some say I'm too dark."
Jonathan shared that one time when he was an elementary student, he was on the subway and an elderly man kept staring at him. The man ultimately approached Jonathan and started touching his hand, then said, "Oh, it doesn't rub off."
Sometimes, people talk about Jonathan in front of his face, assuming he doesn't understand Korean. They criticized him, saying, "He's so dark," "This is my first time seeing a black person." However, there are times when he hears compliments on his handsome features.
Jonathan continued, "To be honest, I'm sensitive to the words 'black,' and 'dark' because I am black," and said, "I know 'Black Hyung' is used to compliment black people's outstanding physical characteristics but the term has been polluted as derogatory meaning got added to it. Calling a black person a 'Black Hyung' is the same as calling a Korean person a 'chosenjin' (a derogatory term the Japanese use to refer to Koreans)."
Jonathan concluded, "There is no black person who enjoys being called a 'Black Hyung.' Please do not use that term."