“Itaewon Class” Fact Check: Is There Racial Discrimination At Club Entrance In Korea?



Many of us are watching the drama “Itaewon Class“. It is the hot drama of the moment with a solid plot and perfect acting.

This article focuses on the scene that happened in episode 8. Be aware of light spoilers.

If you have watched the episode, you will for sure remember the scene where Toni (acted by Chris Lyon) is refused the entrance of the club because of his ethnicity/nationality.

The club guard at the entrance is checking the IDs card and refused his entrance when he saw him. The guard said, “People from Africa and the Middle East can’t enter”. Toni is a victim of obvious racial discrimination.

“Itaewon Class” Fact Check: Is There Racial Discrimination At Club Entrance In Korea?


If you are not living in Korea, you must be curious to know if this scene can really happen in Korea or not.

So, can you be refused entrance because of your nationality? Yes, it can happen -even if it is not the general trend. All non-Asian ethnicity are targeted by this “No Foreigners Allowed”.

In the news, there were several instances that mentioned it and expatriates living in Korea have brought up this issue several times on social media.

But isn’t it illegal? Maybe in your country, it is illegal but it is not in Korea because there is no anti-discrimination law -even if the UN rights experts urged for the adoption of the law.


If you want to learn more about this issue, check the links below for more insights and data.

The Korea Times reported that according to a survey by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, “57.3 percent of respondents said Koreans discriminate against foreign nationals based on their nationality” (2019).

Yonhap News reported that “one of out of every five foreigners in South Korea suffer discrimination, due mainly to their nationalities, government data showed Wednesday.” (2018). 

You can check real-life stories of the “No Foreigners Allowed” in a club covered by The Korea Herald: “Racism still haunts club scene in S. Korea” (2019).

Here, you can read an interesting cover about “How Bad Is Racism in South Korea?” By KoreaExpose in 2017.