Q. Since March, when you have moved here to England, how many times did you feel like you were the object of an "Asian Fever"? How did you know? What are the usual signs of it?

A. I felt like the object of the “Asian Fever” quite often. During my time in London I have even experienced that someone tried to approach me, when I was walking on the street. Mostly it happened in West London, not in the centre. West London is one part of the city, where quite a lot of Muslim people lives. Of course they are not the only subjects of the Asian fever, but I have heard a lot of stories about Muslim/Arabic/Pakistani people’s tendency to become influenced of it. I don’t want to have a stereotype on certain nationality people, but it is a fact and reality, which I have literally experienced.

I can recognise and also distinguish their intention, because usually they “Pretend” to be interested in Asian cultures or politics. They always want to talk about Kim-Jong-Un, the dictator of North Korea even though I told them already, that I am from South Korea. These are the most typical stereotypes of Korea or other Asian countries. I am really getting sick of these things because 99% of the conversations start with this after they approach me.

The guys who ask me to go out with them usually don’t care about my English. It shows that for them, communication is not important at all. They see me as one of “those” weak Asian girls and not as a human being who has her own personality. They just need a girl to have a sexual relationship or sometimes just show off to other people that they are going out with an Asian girl.

During a short stay in London, the writer had the chance to get a new sister from a different country. From day one she felt like she became the older sister for Ree. They lived in the same apartment for a couple of months while the author got to know the interviewee and during one of their many talks, Ree mentioned some harassments she just experienced at the streets of London on a bright day.

That is where the whole discussion begun.

Q. To start with, please tell me about yourself, where are you from originally? What was your reason of moving here, to London?

 

A. I am originally from Seoul, South Korea and I spent my whole life in my hometown. I was a senior student at the university last year and only one semester was left before graduating when I decided to move to London temporary. I thought this year would be the best time for something totally new, to challenge myself. There wouldn’t be any other chance to go abroad and live in another country if I get my job in Korea after graduation. 

I came here with a ‘Working - holiday visa’, in order to have various experiences in totally different environments. I was sure that this experience would make me more mature and stronger. Also, I realized that I have to improve my English speaking skills. So, putting all these reasons together led to my journey to the UK.   

Four months have already passed since I came here; so far I have found many unexpected things, both positive and negative.

The uttermost shocking thing for me was when I have experienced London as a real “Melting pot”. It is the most multicultural city I have ever been. It was rather funny to see how difficult to find English people in London even though I have been working in one of the most common café shops of London.

Still it is an amazing experience to meet new people from different countries and even live with them. However, one particularly bad thing I have experienced while living in London is about the so-called “Asian/Yellow Fever”. Back in South Korea I only heard about it briefly, but never imagined that I could become an “indirect victim/target” of it.

Q. Where does the Asian Fever originated? Could you tell me the short background of it?

 

A. I am not the specialist about this area but I can tell about it according to the reliable information that I gained from various media. People, who have Asian “fever” are influenced by “distorted media” like Japanese AV, which is created and filmed totally in a male-centric view. In this kind of video – usually – women are expressed as someone with passive characteristics. As a possession, owned by men, who should be conquered and obeyed.

I have found many writings on how to distinguish between someone with the Asian fever and ordinary people. These articles share tips, how to react if you face these situations in reality. Overall they prove that most of the Asian girl who are living or lived abroad had the same experience as I had.   

 

 Q. How do you feel, when the men influenced by the Asian Fever tries to approach you, for instance asking you out for a date? How do you handle these situations?

A. To be honest, it is so disgusting for me. Most of the times I can see the bad intention of the person who approaches me right away. They consider the following characteristics of Asian girls, that they are; shy, kind and submissive. They also think that Asian girls won’t refuse them easily. I am very aware of these irritating stereotypes and for sure it annoys me a lot.

To refuse someone who is not my type is easy in Korean. But when I am working in a coffee house, I found it difficult because I do not know how can I politely refuse someone, especially in another language.

The most irritating thing is that they don’t listen, even though I refused once or twice. They ignore my answer and keep asking me, why cannot I give my number to them or go out with them. The best way to handle these situations is to respond with a straightforward answer, that you do not want to give your number.

 

Q. What is your message for the Europeans and non-Asians in general about the Asian Fever, and about the stereotype? What would you recommend to the fellow youngster women from Korea, how could they be more aware and how can they protect themselves?

A. I want to warn about these things as much as possible because it can become really dangerous for girls, who only have lived in a sheltered – bubble like – environment. There are so many naive, innocent girls who don’t even know about the existence of Asian fever people.

Some short advice, even if it seems obvious or a bit harsh. The best way in order to protect yourself is to ignore anyone who approaches you ‘on the street’. If they are normal people, there is no reason for them to approach you on the street and talk to you even if their intentions are pure. They might be literally interested in Asian culture and want to talk about it seriously, but do not waste your time on strangers and just keep going. You don’t have to be kind and polite to everyone. And of course, do not drink or eat anything that strangers give to you. Even though free food and drink sometimes could be very attractive.

 

Q. In your opinion how could our society prevent or stop this “fever”?

A. I think it is rather a chronicle disease of our modern society that is spreading like a virus. Even though feminism try to protect women in many areas. It is difficult to think of one universal way, which could stop it. The change needs to start on a personal level.

I have never thought that feminism will be visible in the Korean society, but since last year things started to change. The main start of this movement was the protest in one of the Women Universities in Korea. For sure there is a light.

This fever is still very much present in our everyday society all around the World, but I also believe, that someday it will be stopped completely.

© Krisztina Mike, all rights reserved.

need picture? please contact the author.

© Krisztina Mike, all rights reserved.

need picture? please contact the author.

© Krisztina Mike, all rights reserved.

need picture? please contact the author.

Written and photographed by: Krisztina Mike

krisztina mike, krisztina mike photography, krisztina mike photojournalist, hungarian photojournalist, international photographer

All images 2014- 2020 © Krisztina Mike 

All rights reserved

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