KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Korean actor Park Eun-seok has apologised for offending viewers with his role as Alex Lee in the drama The Penthouse: War in Life.
Park came under fire recently after social media users criticised him for sporting a hairstyle and accessories closely tied to African American culture.
He also spoke in an accent that resembled African American Vernacular English during his appearance on the show.
Seoul-based journalist Raphael Rashid tweeted a clip of Park in the drama, suggesting that “the era of racism and racial stereotypes on Korean TV is still [alive] and kicking.”
Last night’s episode of Penthouse 3 introduces “Alex”… I guess the era of racism and racial stereotypes on Korean TV is still live and kicking.
Everything about this is… I just can’t. Who thought this was a good idea?pic.twitter.com/VSMFo3iClq
— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) June 12, 2021
Another Twitter user said it was disappointing that the scene was even cleared for filming in the first place.
After watching #Penthouse3Ep2, we have to talk about the introduction of Alex Lee.
The blatant cultural appropriation is unforgiveable and it is even more disappointing that the Penthouse staff as well as Park Eunseok himself allowed this scene be filmed.
— Bada, Eugene & Shoo (@sesimyourgirl) June 12, 2021
Park, 37, posted a brief apology last weekend on TikTok, saying that he had no intention to “harm, mock, disrespect or discourage the African American community” with his depiction of Alex.
He also addressed accusations of cultural appropriation and admitted that he had made a mistake with the way he presented the character.
“I’d like to apologise to the people who took offence by the character’s appearance.
“It was more admiration of the culture than mockery but now I’m aware that the approach was more (cultural appropriation).
“It was a wrong attempt for character development,” wrote Park.
Park asked viewers to give him the “benefit of the doubt” and thanked his critics for helping him to become more aware of his actions.
“Again, I’d like to apologise to those who took offence, I as a minority myself should’ve known better.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow in awareness.
“I hope you have the sincerity in your hearts to give the benefit of the doubt, that Alex’s appearance was rather a character approach who admired the culture and wanted to ‘be’ like, not intentionally portraying mockery.”