Margaret Cho Defends North Korea Golden Globes Bit from Charges of Racism


Throughout last night’s Golden Globe Awards, Margaret Cho appeared as the newest member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, North Korean General “Cho Young Ja.” The bit was just one way that hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made last night’s award show all about the Sony Pictures hack.

This morning, the comedian, who famously portrayed Kim Jong-il on Fey’s 30 Rock, started responding to the inevitable criticism from those who apparently found her performance “racist.”

Cho tweeted:

Later, in an interview with BuzzFeed, Cho elaborated:

“I’m of North and South Korean descent, and I do impressions of my family and my work all the time, and this is just another example of that,” she said. “I am from this culture. I am from this tribe. And so I’m able to comment on it.

I can do whatever I want when it comes to Koreans — North Koreans, South Korean. I’m not playing the race card, I’m playing the rice card. I’m the only person in the world, probably, that can make these jokes and not be placed in a labor camp.”

Cho also commented on what she sees as a double-standard when it comes to Asian-American comedy:

“I feel if there’s negativity, it’s other people’s judgments about what they feel that Asian-Americans are allowed to do, really. You’re putting expectations on us that we have to remain Asian-American, that we can’t actually play people from Asia. When we have British people playing American icons, there’s no backlash. But for Asian-Americans, it’s a very particular set of expectations that we are set to maintain, and that in itself is racist.

If it’s Asian-Americans making fun of Asians, we’re claiming our own voice, we’re claiming our heritage. We’re claiming all of the aspects of our own culture, and we’re allowed to. Even though it may get us put in a labor camp. If that happens, you have to send Bill Clinton to come and get me.”

Watch a clip of the recurring bit below, via NBC:

[Photo via screengrab]

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