British influencer Oli London is taking heat after publicly identifying as Korean.
The announcement comes after the influencer is said to have paid more than $150,000 for cosmetic surgery to look like Park Ji-Min of wildly popular South Korean K-Pop band BTS.
What are the details?
London is facing heavy backlash for identifying as Korean, according to Insider.
"On June 18, London tweeted an image of a rainbow reimagining of the South Korean flag, saying that it was their 'new official flag for being a non-binary person who identifies as Korean,'" Insider's Palmer Haasch wrote. "They also said that they use 'they and them' pronouns as well as 'kor/ean' neopronouns."
London tweeted, "This is my new official flag for being a non-binary person who identifies as Korean. Thank you for the overwhelming support it was so hard for me to come out as Them/they/kor/ean."
London later added, "So sad how many comments are being homophobic and non-binary phobic. This is actually the official LGBTQI+ flag of South Korea ... GOOGLE IT. Anyone that puts a negative comment is anti-LGBT and anti-equality. So sad in 2021 people will judge others on how they identify!"
On Friday, London continued to address the backlash, tweeting, "If you can be transsexual you can also be TRANSRACIAL. Why are there such double standards & hypocrisy with people criticizing me for being Korean. It's the same as someone who was born in the wrong body and wants to become a man or a woman. I was actually born in the wrong body!"
London also shared the news in a widely viewed YouTube video, in which the influencer and performer blasted "woke people" for their criticisms.
"The only people that need to be canceled is the woke people," London said. "Because they are so dangerous to freedom of speech in society."
At the time of this reporting, the video — titled "I'm Non Binary Korean..." — has been viewed more than 34,000 times.
I'm Non Binary Korean… www.youtube.com
The British-born influencer and singer — who has nearly a half-million followers on TikTok — has long had a fascination with Korean culture and appearance.
In 2019, London appeared on plastic surgery reality show "Hooked on the Looked," saying, "I'm not actually changing my race. I have a deep respect for Korean culture. It's cultural appreciation, not cultural appropriation."
In a 2020 interview with American TV host Phil McGraw, London said, "If you look at the pictures of me and Ji-Min, we're identical. When I was in Korea, everyone called me Ji-Min [as] I'm walking down the street. Everyone, they think I'm Ji-Min."
So what has been the response?
Paper Magazine's Sandra Song noted that London's announcement was highly offensive.
Song wrote, "As someone who actually has Korean DNA though, I can say that some white fetishist — as proven by those 15 surgeries to look like Ji-Min — suddenly deeming themself 'Korean' is incredibly offensive, especially since it effectively trivializes our identities because they're suddenly 'trendy.'"
"[W]hat they're doing is an appropriation of only the good (K-pop and food) without acknowledging the way our lives are still affected by all the racist, discriminatory, and historical baggage caused by the West (being used as pawns in an anti-communist agenda which led to the separation of our families, the negative effects of being constantly pressured to assimilate, legislative 'Othering,' etc. etc)," Song added.
"So yeah, obviously it's pretty sus that a white person is saying they're Korean."
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for London told Song that "Oli has ... felt strongly attached to Korea and the Korean culture and feels much more connected to this than his own culture."
"[Oli] hopes that people will accept and love [them] for who [they] is without judgment," the spokesperson added.
The Daily Dot reported Monday that comments flooded social media after London's proclamation.
One user wrote, "As a Korean Queer, shut the f*** up."
Another added, "As a Korean this is really p***ing me off right now. Nationality is not that simple."
"You may fetishize Koreans but you'll never be a Korean," another irate social media user snapped.
On Thursday, London further addressed the controversy in an Instagram post, writing:
"I just want to set the record STRAIGHT… It's Pride Month and I have always struggled with identity issues and been confused about who I am as a person. I took the difficult and brave decision to come out as Non-Binary and Korean to help millions of other LGBTQI+ young people around the world, Kpop fans and the Korean people feel confident enough to be able to feel no fear to be able to express themselves and how they identify."
The influencer continued, "In South Korea, there are millions of unrepresented LGBTQI+ people who are voiceless and who often face being ostracised from society and sometimes even being rejected by their own families, for being LGBTQI+. Being a member of the LGBT community in Korea, like in much of the world, is often met with hardships and rejection due to traditional and conservative viewpoints."
"I wanted to be a beacon of light for these brave people and tell them it's okay to express themselves and it's okay to come out to the world with however you identify," London's post continued. "Yes I identify as Korean. Yes I'm non-binary. Yes I look like Jimin. But none of this should be a reason to outcast me from society, to dehumanise me and shame me for being who I am, a non-binary Korean person."
London concluded the post, "I will never stop being the person I was born to be! Next time you decide to troll a person online and publicly shame them for their sexuality or identify- think about the consequences of your words. It costs nothing to be kind, to show respect and to spread love. Spread kindness this Pride month and let's come together to fight homophobia and allow all human beings the same equal rights regardless of how each one of us identify."
Oli London- Koreaboo (Street Dance Version) www.youtube.com