Monday 18 August 2014

Itaewon Ebola Scare: "No Africans" Sign Not Enough to Protect Us

As Facebook walls twitter hashtags and The Korea Times go wild, it falls once again on long-dormant Dokdo Is Ours to cover the true story of the shocking "No Africans" sign posted in front of a well-known Itaewon bar.

Chaos in the streets of Africa as Ebola spreads. (Source)
A snapshot shared on Facebook, like a racist snowball rolling down a slope of fresh-fallen outrage, has taken Expat social media by storm!

Blogger "Liberal White Guilt... and Kimchi!" and "Whitesplain your Seoul" published the first stories on the issue, while the bar owners' shift to damage control mode was met with cynicism by local bloggers and internet journalists, if that's what they're calling themselves these days. (Read more here and here)

The Ebola flare-up in West Africa has indeed caused consternation in South Korea, as two of Korean mothers' greatest fears: germs, and black people, combine into a single image of terror.
Do you know how much kimchi your children ate today, Mrs. Kim? source
Duksung Women's University cancelled conference invitations to three Nigerian students (note: this actually happened) and trips to Africa have been cancelled by numerous groups. From Somalians (over 6000 km or 3800 miles from the main outbreak) to South Africans (5700 km/3500mi), whether they have visited their homelands this decade or not, anyone who is visibly African (you know what I mean, and if you don't, ask a Ferguson cop) are now objects of suspicion and ignorant questions at customs, on the street, and anywhere they go around, brazenly looking different from Koreans and white expats.
Early stage Ebola patients. source

Also, in a pre-emptive move, Korean Air has cancelled flights to Kenya, which is really far from where Ebola is happening. Perhaps they are being extra cautious to account for all that primitive energy.

Early stage Ebola patient. source
Late stage Ebola patient. Note red eyes and dark skin. source
Though geographical knowledge of Africa is sparse, and only three of the 300 000 Korean mothers polled could point out the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak on a map, more accurately than the continent of Africa overall, Korean mothers were nearly unanimous in their fear of ebola, and the need for Kimchi manufacturers -- particularly domestic Korean kimchi producers, and none of that maggoty Chinese kimchi-- to speed up production to help protect Korean children.

"Kimchi did the job against swine flu, but I heard African viruses are more athletic, and have better rhythm than South Asian ones," lamented Mrs. Lee, who has kept her children home from school for three weeks now.

As officials consider importing an ebola treatment from Japan, such an extreme measure increases concern for many. "We'd even let a Japanese firm profit in Korea, just to deal with this thing? Christ almighty, we might be fucked!" exclaimed Choi, who declined to give his full name.

Late stage Ebola patient. At this point, he is highly contagious. Source
Others have used the Ebola scare as an opportunity to criticize Korea's migrant worker programs. "If they have enough money to frequently travel back and forth from Africa -- which must be the case if mothers are worried about them bringing Ebola to Korea, then it's clear that we're paying migrant workers far too much!" explains internet commenter "SayNoToNegro," a frequent commenter at and Daum cafe "Not A Drop Of Ink."

Another, "PureBloodHan" used the public fears to boast about Korea's advanced internet technology. "Korean telecommunications are the best in the world: even viruses can transmit through our data networks!" he crowed. Asked for proof that any person in Korea had contracted Ebola at all, much less because of phoning home, PureBloodHan also pointed to mothers' concern. "Five million mothers can't be wrong, can they?"
Ebola patients attempt to break through quarantine barriers
at Inchon Airport source
Warning: it appears even white people can catch Ebola!
But not handsome ones. source
Hold your arm up to the computer screen to check. source
Korean Immigration has been doing its best to assuage concerns, promising to re-test foreign English teachers for HIV, and if the mothers do not settle down, rounding up and deporting anyone with a sniffle and skin darker than tanning-bed Snooki, despite complaints from the ambassadors of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, The Philippines, and every other country in South Asia.

However, when Dokdo Is Ours went to the pub in question last weekend, concerns about blatant racism seemed overblown, as patrons from Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Kenya, Angola, The Congo, Botswana, Madagascar, Egypt, and even Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three countries hardest hit by Ebola, were all admitted without problems. The pub employee checking IDs at the door seemed confused. "I see a lot of dark people, but their passports are all the names of countries I don't know. So far everybody's gotten in: nobody seems to be from Africa."

When asked how much he actually knew about Africa, the pub employee shook his head. "Never studied that country, actually. Don't know much except Ebola. And hunger. Wait! I know their national anthem, too!"