K-Pop Singer to Dub ‘The Little Mermaid’ Criticized Because She’s Not African-American

While the K-Pop community celebrates the choice of Danielle Marsch to dub "The Little Mermaid" there are those who say it is "colorism."

Isabel Cara

On May 25, the long-awaited live-action version of The Little Mermaid will finally hit theaters. This remake has been both, applauded by the audience when they learned that its main character is African-American, and criticized for not being as similar to the original version.

More and more details are being revealed about the movie starred by Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel. For example, this week it was revealed who will be the voice actors of the film, and in particular, the choice for South Korea has caught the attention. According to The Playlist, the singer of the K-Pop group NewJeans Danielle Marsh will be in charge of giving her voice to the protagonist of The Little Mermaid.

Reactions on social networks were not long in coming as K-Pop fans are jumping with excitement for recognizing Danielle’s talent. But, as it happens with the Internet, some users criticized the choice of Danielle as the dubbing actress because they believe this is a case of “colorism,” that is, discrimination based on skin tone since they say that it should be an actress of Afro origin who is in charge of the dubbing in Korean.


This decision is striking because South Korea is known for being a country where priority (in all areas) is given to people with light skin in comparison to countries like the United States where colored characters, even in cartoons, are dubbed by actors of color. But despite these criticisms of colorism, it is important to mention that we should not divert attention from the fact that The Little Mermaid and its protagonist are a revolution for pop culture and, above all, a sign of inclusion for children.

The choice of Danielle as a voice actress was most likely linked to her talent, rather than her skin color, and to divert attention from the change we are experiencing with the inclusion of Halle Bailey as the lead would be to envelop the film in another endless cycle of xenophobia and racism as the two women we are talking about belong to communities that had not been represented by Disney.

#Fact: Colorism, or stratification by skin tone, is discrimination that privileges people of a particular skin tone, usually lighter, over others. It is a byproduct of racism.

South Korea’s Racism and Xenophobia Controversies

This is not the first time that racism or xenophobia has been an issue on the table in South Korea. Hundreds of Tiktok and Twitter users have told their stories in that country where there are even bars that reserve the right of entry for Koreans only. The overemphasis on white skin is very obvious thanks to their K-Pop bands, and influencers have shared in many of their contents that for Koreans keeping their skin white is one of the most important aspects of their looks.

Colorism is real in basically all the world, and it should be addressed constantly, but also, forcing the matter into every single subject can take the focus away from the real cases and situations where it happens.


#그린스크린 #expatinkorea #southkorea #xenophobia

♬ original sound – Patrick

Story written in Spanish by Daniela Bosch in Cultura Colectiva

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