UK-born influencer Oli London, who identifies as Korean, clashes with Black host in fiery 'transracial' debate

  • 09/05/2022
Oli London.
Oli London. Photo credit: Channel 4

A previously white UK influencer has insisted people can be "transracial" in a fiery interview defending the surgery they've had to identify as Korean.

Oli London, 31, has long been slammed for undergoing cosmetic surgeries to look like Jimin from the South Korean boy band, BTS. 

London has previously identified themself as "transracial" and non-binary.

The YouTuber and social media star was last week interviewed for the Would You Rather documentary series by the UK's Channel 4, where they fiercely defended being "transracial". 

"We all have the right to choose how we identify and choose who we want to be. I'm Korean and people need to accept that," London said.

London also said they'd been through a lot of pain, noting they'd undergone multiple surgical procedures "to have more of a Korean aesthetic".

"I used to live in Korea for one year, I love the history, the culture and the people," London told Channel 4.

But London's point of view drew the ire of the Black woman interviewing them, who labelled their argument as "very harmful" and "disrespectful".

"I can't sit up here and say, 'Oh, I'm suddenly a white person'," said the interviewer, who wasn't named in the Channel 4 clip.

"You are not a Korean man. No matter how much surgery you do or the aesthetic you adopt.

"If you don't recognise that power imbalance in what you're doing and how it's disrespectful to me, you're proving the point that you're doing this for money and attention."

Responding to the interviewer, London said their identification wasn't about "doing anything to hurt people".

"I'm just living my truth and doing what makes me happy," London told Would You Rather.

They also said they've "helped a lot of people" by being open about identifying as Korean and being non-binary.

"Do you think this is better if no one speaks up for these people? I'm trying to speak up to these people."

In 2017, Memphis-based philosophy professor Rebecca Tuvel wrote a column called In Defense of Transracialismwhere she claimed that "similar arguments that support transgenderism support transracialism". 

But Dr Tuvel's article caused a massive uproar and was slammed by fellow academics, who accused her of perpetuating "harm in numerous ways" and "enacting violence" with the column.