I think I really underestimated the amount of discrimination I would face in another country.
It’s strange because as a Black person in America, racism is an integral aspect of my everyday life that I will never get rid of. However, the blatant dislike of people of color that I have experienced here is truly disheartening, but also understandable. South Korea is a homogeneous country.
More than 90% of the population is Korean, so they aren’t use to seeing any non-Koreans. Normally, when I’m walking to class or getting dinner there’s always the stares, sometimes laughs, or secret photos from not so secret phones. I don’t mind because I am a foreigner in a land not my own and those actions never limit me from doing whatever it is that I am trying to do, so I it isn’t necessarily offensive to me. But this weekend was a different story.
My study abroad program planned for the participants to go on a Train to Busan (pun intended) and spent the weekend at the beautiful, beach town that is Busan. Many Koreans go to the countries’ second-largest city on the coast to spend their summer vacay. I got a slice of this life by getting to visit the most gorgeous seaside temple, as well as the culture market with the best view. Everything was amazing until we went out to experience the nightlife in Busan.
After a quick taxi ride across the bridge to a closed club, a group of friends and I took a quick walk up across from our hotel to the beach-side nightclub, Club Hexx. Everyone is feeling good and very excited to dance the night away. I’m in the front so I hand my id to the bouncer who is about to wave me through when another bouncer stops him, speaks very quickly in Korean, then walks off. The original bouncer then tells us we are not allowed in the club because it is “only Koreans.” This is definitely not a rule since we just saw other foreigners enter the club before us. Considering that my two other friends and I were all black, it was obvious that our skin had failed us again.
That moment taught me you can’t escape who you are and you can’t escape hate. Regardless, we found a more friendly (and free) place to party the night away. The night ended up being one of the funnest nights I had since coming to Korea. Thank you Busan!