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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chi

Kdramas and the Reproduction of White Supremacy

Most Nollywood films display the Cinderella story of the village girl starting out with a natural hairstyle, but then finds a rich man and can now afford a lace-front wig with human hair. There are three basic premises of Nollywood films that Netflix has invested in:

1.     How can I find a man to get married?

2.     I'm married and my husband is cheating on me.

3.     I married and I'm cheating on my husband.

And this is why I love a Korean drama. They are very good at tugging at your emotions to make you feel your humanity through the travails of these fictional characters. So even though they have their own versions of Cinderella stories in which a poor girl catches the eye of a wealthy, young or not so young chaebol (uber rich family member in a conglomerate like Samsung/LG/Hyundai), that they will put a great twist to it. My favorite twist is the murder romance  in which a woman and a man are falling in love, but there is a horrible serial killer who is coming for her next. Koreans are excellent at this. Even though it’s still the story of a woman trying to find a man to get married, she has to do so before the serial killer gets her!

Sometimes, I get to see 35-year-olds wearing high school uniforms pretending to be teenagers and beating up classmates. Those are my favorite moments. It's so hilarious to see these grown men who have a mortgage and two kids at home trying to pretend they are just bullies. I stuck with the multiple season “Penthouse” storyline about multiple couples cheating on one another in large part because there was a lot of checking each other on their ridiculousness. That was a show that gave me an intimation of what a kimchi slap would look like – even without the kimchi. I love makjeongs in which women are so hysterical, they get highly provoked for little reason, but they will cut you if necessary. Plus, they are usually wearing beautiful outfits, gorgeous shoes, and have their hair put together to a tee. I may or may have not purchased earrings in the spirit of the thousand-dollar earrings that I’ve seen in Korean dramas (including (I plead the fifth.)

However, once “Penthouse” had its white supremacist moment, I was out. They had some Korean version of Wiz Khalifa in a room full of black men who might or might not have been AI-generated because they all looked exactly the same and you could not see the features on their face. They might’ve even been Korean men in Blackface! But I didn’t care. The minute I saw that, I checked out. The reproduction of white supremacy in Korean media is not something that I have the patience for since I live in one of the major centers of racial capitalist empire.

Yeah, they keep finding me! For this reason, I have decided to start another blog series in which I discuss how Kdramaland as an institution reproduces white supremacy. I’m not saying that Koreans are racist. I’ve met some anti-Black Koreans and some anti-racist Koreans. I am saying, however, that White supremacy is a global phenomenon.

In Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, Cedric Robinson discusses racialization and colonization as necessary to the creation, proliferation, and maintenance of capitalism around the world.  With the continuing amassing of profit, capitalism requires new markets to dominate and racialize, which themselves reproduce and maintain both systems. The Monday posts on this blog articulates how this happens in Kdramaland.

If you could recommend a good Nollywood film or Nigerian television show with strong female characters handling their business, and not taking anybody’s crap, please let me know. Even better if it's not a Cinderella story! Please let me know where to watch it so that I can get my Nollywood on! Until then, I will continue watching my "stories."

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