Recently, there has been a controversy in Korea over racism. The Uijeongbu High School is well known for its students' graduation photos as students parody individuals who were the issue for each year. This year, a group of students parodied Ghana's pallbearers and brought about controversy.
The parody was not the issue, the problem in question was that the students had painted their faces to look darker. So many netizens brought about the issue of the 'Black Face' and criticized the students and the faculty of the school. The school decided to find out the truth behind the parody as controversy increased.
The controversy all started when the Uijeongbu High School posted three graduation photos on their Facebook page with the caption "We applaud the students of senior class 3 who were able to show a high-quality parody in short preparation time."
Among the photos, there was a photo that parodied Ghana pallbearers, which is gaining much popularity on YouTube. The parody was of Ghana's dancing pallbearers, who are paid to dance as pallbearers at Ghana funerals. These dancing pallbearers are gaining worldwide popularity as well as Korea.
The five students of Uijeongbu High School closely reenacted the dancing pallbearers in the photo. However, they had painted their faces darker to parody the dancers closer. Yet, this action is seen as racism by many.
Many netizens criticized the students and the Uijeongbu High School stating "Painting their faces darker in itself is racism", "They crossed the line with this parody", and "This isn't something we can laugh at and let it pass."
One netizen criticized, "This is no different from white people slitting their eyes to make fun of Asian people. There are things you can portray and there are things you shouldn't portray."
The netizen continued, "It's one problem that the students decided to make a parody in this manner and take a photo but another problem is that there was no faculty who pointed this out as racism and corrected the students. 'Blackface' makeup is racism in itself."
Other netizens commented "I don't know what the teachers were doing. The teachers don't deserve their jobs if they can't teach their students that racism is prohibited in all and any circumstances. The faculty are with the biggest fault."
Many continued to state "This kind of makeup cannot be acknowledged as a humorous parody and the students must be educated on this matter."
However, there are still some netizens who state that this is no issue because the students parodied the dancing pallbearers that are of the hot issue. These netizens stated, "They didn't put on that makeup to ridicule the pallbearers, the students only wanted to closely impersonate them", "They only put on makeup to look like the pallbearers, they had no intention of making fun of them", and "It's only a simple parody, what is the problem?"
Previously, there were issues in the entertainment business when celebrities tried to use the 'Blackface' makeup as humor.
Comedian Hong Hee Hyun had been the center of a controversy back in 2017 when she had dressed up and put on makeup to look like a black person. In response to this, Sam Hammington commented on his social media "That is just pitiful. is it that fun to make fun out of a certain race?" as he openly criticized her.
TV personality Sam Okyere also criticized the comedian's act stating, "The 2017's black person's make up. I cannot tolerate it. We do not exist to become content for comedy. This sort of action must stop. I am deeply disappointed. Black people makeup need to stop now! Racism needs to stop right away."
Currently, the Uijeongbu High School stated that they are going to get to the truth behind this parody as the controversy grows. The high school stated "The students are now aware of the controversy of the photo. Our faculty will assess the issue and take proper cautionary actions. We will make a decision on what the school will do after hearing from the students and teachers."
You can find out more about Ghana's dancing pallbearers below: