The tale of a supermarket descending into mass hysteria and flight at the arrival of a black woman has lately been the subject of much discussion online.
From a recently published report describing some of the difficulties Korea’s one and only Kenyan entrepreneur faced setting up shop in a nation renowned for its xenophobia:
One fine morning, pandemonium broke out in a South Korean supermarket, and customers and shop stewards alike scampered for safety.
Babies strapped on their mothers’ backs, others in prams screamed as their parents sought the nearest exits.
And it wasn’t a terrorist attack, neither was it a band of robbers who had raided the convenience store. No, it wasn’t a fire alert either. One Kenyan woman had just walked in to make a purchase.
“It was terrible!” recalls the woman, Everlyne Nyambegera. “Children were crying, their mothers dashing for the exits and all this made me also break down and start crying too.”
“I was so upset and I said to myself that I will never go back to Korea again . . . one of my aunties in Kenya told me I’d be mad to return to Korea,” she told Lifestyle in Seoul recently.
She did apparently manage to overcome such difficulties and now runs a small business selling tribal kitsch to Koreans.
As the only developed Asian nation which is more parochial than Japan, this has aroused much raillery on 2ch, pinnacle of diversity as it is:
“As expected of the nation with the world’s most severe racial discrimination.”
“What’s wrong with those Koreans…”
“She was wrong to go to Korea in the first place.”
“If she’d bothered to check, she could have found that out before going there.”
“If it’s Korea, it can’t be helped.”
“Why? Haven’t they ever seen a black person before?”
“Descending into chaos at the sight of a black woman – what’s wrong with these Koreans?”
“At least they didn’t rape her.”
“This is Edo period level stuff.”
“What a horribly racist country. Despicable.”
“Why do those filthy Koreans respond like that to black people?”
“As expected of pseudo-humans, when a real human comes to their store they freak out.”
“It’s the same reaction a human would get if he entered the monkey park at the zoo.”
“This is worse than an island nation like Japan. I guess they are cut off from the mainland by North Korea so they are practically an island.”
“An Indian friend of mine went to Korea on holiday and said he kept getting nasty looks and would never return there.”
“Well, Koreans are crazy to begin with. It’s foolish to expect any better of them.”
“A Joumon period level reaction.”
“But passing by a group of foreigners is scary isn’t it?”
“You don’t get this even in Japan’s most backwards countryside.”
“Did black people do something to them? Why do they hate them so much?”
“For a whole supermarket of people to have never seen a black person… pretty surprising.”
“I can imagine one or two freaking out like that, but en masse?”
“I heard a story about a black person getting into a pool in Korea and all the Koreans getting out, I suppose it must be true.”