Korean bar apologizes for banning Africans, draws outrage

August 19, 2014

By Kim Se-jeong

A sign is posted on the entrance of JR Pub in Itaewon, Seoul, to apologize for banning Africans. (Korea Times)

A sign is posted on the entrance of JR Pub in Itaewon, Seoul, to apologize for banning Africans. (Korea Times)

A bar in Itaewon has apologized for posting signs banning African customers last weekend.

“I had no intention of being racist and I sincerely apologize. The sign that was put up in JR Pub was very inappropriate and disrespectful and no excuses,” said a new sign posted Monday on the entrance.

“The signs left a deep wound between the bond of our customers and the restaurant and I apologize again to everyone who was offended and hurt. We will do our best to build back our relationship.”

On Saturday, the pub posted handwritten signs that read “We apologize but due to Ebola Virus, we are not accepting Africans at the moment.”

The signs went viral on Twitter and Facebook, drawing angry comments and threats of a boycott.

“I felt that the message was genuine,” Kenyan Ambassador to Korea Ngovi Kitau told The Korea Times.

He said he visited the bar Monday in an attempt to explain to the owner about the nature of the Ebola virus. “I wanted to explain the Ebola virus can only be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or people.”

Instead of meeting the owner, Kitau said he was greeted by employees who “looked concerned” about the signs. He said the bar was empty when he visited.

Authorities in Korea are struggling to disseminate correct information about the virus to the public who have become increasingly racist with regards to the issue.

“Ebola is just an excuse. The issue of racism is very deep,” Ngovi said.

“In Korea, racial comments are considered no more than a bad joke. But that notion has to change,” said Lee Wan, director of the Seoul-based rights group Solidarity for Asian Human Rights and Culture.

In a report published in August 2012, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended the Korean government work to reduce racial discrimination and to establish a legal basis in which those who insult others based on race can be penalized.

A new report is expected next year. Mutuma Reteere, a U.N. official working to prevent racial discrimination, will visit Korea next month to inspect related issues here.

One Comment

  1. Rodlarocque

    August 22, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Looks like the politically-correct police will be coming to South Korea soon.