By Brittney Le
AsAmNews Staff Writer
Korean American rapper Jonathan Park, known as Dumbfoundead, recently spoke to CBC News about his inspirations for his latest works and his opinions on being Asian American in the entertainment industry.
“There’s more acceptance of hearing raps in different languages,” Park responded when asked about changing perceptions of Asians in media. “But there could definitely be a lot more stories shared by Asian Americans.”
Park’s music video for the song “Safe” features his own face plastered over popular Hollywood movie characters. Park’s goal was to flip the Hollywood whitewashing on its face and “Asian-wash” lead roles. “Representation is important for kids who grow up watching TV and movies,” said Park. “I remember watching those heroes and wondering how come nobody looks like me on TV. As I got older, I had a better understanding of what was going on.”
“The system needs to be more open to using people of color in movies and TV,” he added. “It’s also not just about the actors only being on TV. It’s about the writers and the people telling their stories behind the scenes.”
Park begins The Yikes! Tour on March 26th, touring cities with large Asian American populations such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City, and Honolulu. Raised in Los Angeles Koreatown, he attributes a lot of his musical influences to growing up as an immigrant in nineties LA, reports VICE.
While Dumbfoundead has established himself as a rapper in the U.S., he’s also released music in Korea, which was been a difficult experience for him. “It’s not about just the fact that I’m Korean, and I’m able to make music in Korea,” he said. “I don’t identify myself necessarily as Korean. I identify myself as Korean American, which is a completely different story for any Asian American.”
“Obviously, with this anti-immigrant sentiment in the states, I went [to Korea] only to find out that I was a foreigner in my own country, too,” Park said in a past interview with DJBooth. “A lot of the immigrant stories you hear are these coming-out-of-the-ashes kinds of stories, but I wanted to show the turnt-up immigrant, the ignorant immigrant who is trying to figure s*** out and living with American vices.”
Park’s song “Rocket Man” samples Trump’s quotes about the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “It is surreal,” Park says of the Trump-Kim nuclear negotiations that are currently planned for May. “North Korea is still Korea. When I turn on the TV, I still see someone who’s Korean and someone who comes from my ethnic background.”
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