m a r k a n d e y a

Is Hines Ward Korean?

Posted by Brian on January 30, 2006

There’s some good discussion going on at GI Korea’s blog and Asia Pages regarding the “Korean-ness” of Pittsburgh Steelers wide-out Hines Ward (his mother is Korean; his father is African-American). As you might have expected, the Korean media is all over the story (“First Korean in the Super Bowl!”), knowing full well that this kind of nationalism sells papers. And the Korea Times article that GI Korea links to features quotes form Koreans who, while admitting they know nothing about Ward or the game of football, nevertheless find some pride in what he has done (whatever that may be).

Once again, the rule is: foreign Korean does something good, he’s Korean; foreign Korean does something bad, he’s foreign.


6 Responses to “Is Hines Ward Korean?”

  1. Philip said

    While I partly agree with your assessment that when “a foreign Korean does something good, he’s Korean; foreign Korean does something bas, he’s foreign;” I think you are still missing the point. The angle of most of these articles not only talk about Hines Ward, but more so about his Korean mother, the same mother, Ward never gets tired of mentioning when talking about where he learned his strong work ethic, his humble demeanor, the person he unabashedly credits for who he is and why he is here today. Looking at your blog, I am sure you know enough about Koreans to know that there are plenty of negative stigma about being “half-Korean”, being a “GI bride”, or being black. The celebration of Hines Ward and Kim Young-Hee is a cause to overcome all the above stigmas and an opportunity to accept Koreans as just more than a homogenous society. While I accept your view that the celebration of Hines Ward by the Korean press as something of ethnic convenience, I also want to point out how pathetic you sound as a host of a blog when a Korean press finds oppertunities to celebrate and accept what used to be considered “shameful.” Would it have been better if Koreans all together shunned Hines Ward as simple “half-breed” and did not mention his accomplishments for a sport they quite frankly do not care nor understand? What stones will you cast at that point, probably saying, “See, Koreans are just backwards, close minded society, who can not accept someone as their own if they are not pure in ethnicity. They can’t even appreciate a half-Korean or his purely devotional Korean mother.”

  2. j said

    can’t agree more with you, philip.

  3. Young said

    he,s just the hero of the game. he is Hines Ward, he is American, her great mother is korean, That,s it.

  4. k said

    The blog contains a grain of truth in its cynicism. True, Hines Ward is American and his mother is Korean, yet with the respect he has of his mother, wouldn’t someone expect him to resent the sudden adoration of him by Koreans who: 1) don’t know anything about him or football, 2) are the same ones who spit on his mother and treated her with disrespect, and 3) carry on the racist tradition. I’m a “pure” blooded Korean living in America. When I visited Korea, I asked my cousin why they don’t allow Black people into public baths when they admit White people. She just looked and me and shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. “Because it’s just the way things are,” she said. She is college educated and even visited America for an extended stay, and this is the best answer she could provide. How deplorable is that! His celebrity status may prove to be a motivating cause to make Koreans less prejudicial, but would he want to be the posterboy to lead social change when they shunned the most important person in his life? Some would, but I believe most would not. He has seen first hand how the hardships had affected his mother. Knowing this, would anyone want to visit Korea and bask in the glory for his “hero” status?

  5. Julian said

    I am half Korean and half white. Or am I? First of all, my mother is from South Korea and my father is from here, the U.S.A. I was born here so I am just as American as someone who is 5th generation German. So I consider myself American and when people ask what I am that’s what I say. My ANCESTRY and ETHNIC BACKGROUND is half Korean but I myself am American when talking about my country of orgin. My mom is a U.S. citizen so she’s American too but is also Korean considering she was born in South Korea. Do the Germans or the French take pride when someone who is truly an American but has a German or French last name does something of significance? Most certainly not. This just shows how the Asians are oppressed and not viewed as Americans when in reality the ones who are born here are. The racism against Asians is sad and far greater that it is for African Americans. Maybe it’s just a matter of time until future generations have passed and “Asians” who are really Americans are accepted as being just plain American like the anglo europeans and blacks are. And I’m not putting down anything about the Korean people taking pride in what Hines Ward has done and I’m a huge football fan so admire the guy but on the same token I think bringing out and making attention of his race on the magnitude it has been has racial undertones so some extent because of the unnacceptance of Asians as Americans in our society as a whole. We are so sterotyped. Just my opinion.

  6. John said

    If glass ceiling wasn’t an issue…

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