Meet Sam Okyere, The Most Famous Black Man In South Korea
Sam Okyere, also known as Sam Ochiri, is Korea’s most famous black man.
The T.V. personality has become so popular in South Korea that he often gets mobbed everywhere he goes in public.
According to NextShark:
About eight years ago in 2009, Okyere had just set foot into South Korea after getting into the Korean Government Scholarship Program. Participants of the program must learn Korean within a year, followed by a five-year university program.
Okyere was one of two applicants who were accepted into the program from his native country of Ghana. Although similar programs exist in the U.S. or the U.K., they’re extremely competitive due to high demand, which is why Okyere applied from Ghana knowing he’d have better chances of getting accepted.
One year later, Okyere was accepted into the program with another fellow Ghanaian. To this day, he vividly remembers the first day he landed in South Korea for the first time on March 29, 2009.
Okyere told NextShark: “It was so cold. I’ve lived in a hot tropical region all my life, and in Korea, it was supposedly spring but it was really cold. I remember going, ‘Wow, this place is very cold.’”
“I was very blown away by the technology. Compared to our airport, which is very small, it’s huge, monitors everywhere. I was like, ‘This is a whole new world.’ I remember absolutely nobody looked like me except the guy that I came with who was from Ghana.”
And speaking of the racism he faced, he said:
“The Korean word that I loved the most since I started learning Korean after coming to South Korea in 2009 was ‘Woori’ (meaning ‘We’). But I wonder if ‘woori’ applies to someone like me of color.”
“When I tell people that I’m from Africa, I get a lot of startling questions like, ‘Do you grow a lion at your house?’ I get it so often that now I just respond by saying that my father has two lions. That’s how much Koreans are unknowledgeable about Black people and Africa.”
He explained further, “I tried to sit in an empty seat and an ahjumma (middle-aged woman) took the seat, outrightly discriminating against me by saying, ‘What is a black thing doing here in Korea? Go back to your country’. What hurt more was that the other Korean people just sat there and watched. It made me wonder if Koreans just watch foreigners without helping them in difficult situations.”
Sam Okyere also expressed discomfort at the common nickname he is called by. He said, “Often, people in Korea call me ‘Black Hyung’. I want people to call me Okyere hyung comfortably, or Okyere dongsaeng, or just Okyere without referring to my skin color.”
Read more HERE.