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Black Are Actors Breaking Ground in Korean Films (Though Very Few & Just Recently)

Black Are Actors Breaking Ground in Korean Films (Though Very Few & Just Recently)

You learn
something new everyday, as they say, and it was only when I came across
this article by chance (HERE), that I discovered that black actors in Korean films
and television shows, are only a very recent thing. How recent? Since 2010. 

To be honest, the notion didn’t even cross my mind; but with Korea being such a homogeneous territory (divided into two sovereign states, North and South Korea) unlike the U.S. or most of Europe or South America, I suppose it should not
be the least surprising.

The guy in the image at the top has been making history,
in a way.

He’s Sam
Okyere, and he is, by all accounts, only the second black actor to appear in a Korean film – a South Korean comedy thriller called “Intimate Enemies,” which was released this
year. 

Born in
Ghana, he came to South Korea in 2009 as a government scholar in order to
pursue a degree in computer engineering. During that time, he decided to pursue acting
as a way to expand his experiences and understanding of the culture and
decided to try to get into acting and modeling.

Unfortunately
for him, his timing was perfect. South Korean TV at the time had decided to diversify
its casting with non-Koreans, as a means “to get them involved in Korean culture
and to learn what they can from the outside world”.

As a result,
Okyere started appearing regularly on television there, and has been since 2013, and eventually
became a regular cast member on the South Korean talk show, “Non-Summit,” which
features a panel of non-Korean men, living in the country, who debate various topics related to Korean culture.

From there, he
moved into movies with “Intimate Enemies,” in which he also breaks ground, since
his character in the film is married to a Korean woman, with whom he also has a
child, a daughter played by Egypt Yuna Collier, who herself is actually multi-racial – Korean and
African American. That makes it the first time that a mixed couple has
ever been seen in a Korean feature film.

But the honor
for the first black actor to appear in a Korean feature goes to Abu-Bonsrah
Kwaku Dad, who plays the lead character’s best friend in the 2010 film “Haunters.”  

Like Okyere,
Dad was also a Ghanaian student at a South Korean university when he got the role, though, as yet, there’s no information as to whether he has appeared in any other Korean
films since then. No doubt he hasn’t matched the popularity or success of Okyere
in South Korean TV and films.

True, two
black actors, after all this time, is no indication of a revolution; but you have
to start somewhere I suppose.

Below is the
trailer for “Intimate Enemies.” But perhaps not surprisingly, you’ll have to really
watch it closely to see Okyere in it. He does appear very briefly around the 28
second mark.

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