HyunA Tries to Fetishize Her Dark Skin in “Ice Cream” and it Doesn’t Sit Quite Right

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard.

HyunA and her cartoon tattoos (a handful of them are actually real, though) have already broken some records, most notably matching SNSD‘s record for “Fastest Video To Reach 10 Million Views” (a title previously held in splendid isolation by “The Boys), as reported by Soompi. In other words, all it took was a mere four days — a paltry 96 hours! — for the thirsty among us to flock to HyunA’s latest audio-visual extravaganza, like so many moths to a flame.

YouTube views aside, as pointed out by my good friend @cynthes1zer, something else about HyunA’s “Ice Cream” deserves notice. In particular, she declares in the chorus (so you can bet that it’s repeated a number of times throughout the song):

I’m like sweet ice cream, I’ll melt you
Fresh ice cream cream cream cream cream
Chocolate ice cream like my dark skin
Sweet ice cream cream cream cream cream

As @cynthes1zer noted, “no HyunA dont [sic] even try to fetishize your skin tone when you’re pale as hell“.

But this isn’t just an isolated event. Rather, her lyrics speak to a larger trend in K-pop, one that reflects a cultural bias that links darker skin with sexuality.

Take SISTAR for example, with all the articles written up on them by Korean tabloids and the attention they get for being “dark” – Hyorin and Bora in particular, the more endowed members of the group, sport tans almost all year long.

I’m interested to see what people have to say in the comments, but I will remark that these kinds of biases and the idol concepts built around them, while acceptable with Korean audiences, might be tougher for international audiences (and in particular, black and Southeast Asian fans) to accept.


Marissa Pak is a syndicated blogger who writes for McRoth’s Residence & Asian Junkie. She also posts K-pop commentary on her own website (MarissaPak.com), and you can tweet her at @MarissaPak or stalk her on Facebook. Her primary interest is making music as TESTAMENTVM on YouTube.

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9 thoughts on “HyunA Tries to Fetishize Her Dark Skin in “Ice Cream” and it Doesn’t Sit Quite Right

  1. I’m black and I’m definitely not a fan of her and her “dark skin” lyrics in this song. I was expecting more of an out cry over this, actually.

  2. Sorry if I’m ignorant but can someone inform me as to why it’s offensive? Is it not celebrating dark skin? Is it the sexualisation that’s offensive?

    • well, its reminiscient of american minstrel shows for one thing.
      but if its fetisizing a skin color, thats like fetisizing a race?

    • It’s offensive I guess because she is NOT dark at all. She’s the opposite of dark, and so are almost all K-Pop stars. And here she is saying that she’s dark like chocolate, as if that somehow makes her more attractive than everyone else.

  3. Pingback: Korean Gender Reader, November 3-9 2012 | The Grand Narrative

  4. I was reading the lyrics on public transportation and it really bothered me that she had that in the lyrics. Dark skin has been stereotyped with exotic, overtly-sexual beings for a long time. Black women, in particular, have the stereotype of the Jezebel; a woman always looking and open to sex at any time. When these K.pop idols mention these tans (Hyorin, Hyuna, Kai even) as their sex appeal, I think it’s really playing to that dark skin = over-sexed being. I don’t know if I explained my feelings well. I would love to see if you get what I’m trying to say with this.

    • Ah I see. I guess I’d be more worried if for example she had a male rapper featuring in the video that said she has [sexy] chocolatey skin, why can’t she say it about her own skin if she thinks it’s sexy? Although admittedly, the lyrics may have been written for her.. basically what I’m saying is I understand that the sexualisation of skin colour is problematic, but I wouldn’t like to say a woman can’t sexualise herself by commenting on her own skin colour, that’s her right to do surely? But I guess she is implicating a huge group of women who don’t want their skin colour to be sexualised.. then again skin tone is not necessarily linked to ethnicity, there is a range of skin tone in every ethnic group, therefore what she’s says is really only the equivalent of commenting on her full lips or some other body part she likes that isn’t necessarily linked to ethnicty. And that wouldn’t be controversial. Anyway it’s a complex issue, I do see your point though, thanks for giving me that background.

  5. What an odd pairing of Psy and Hyuna…
    Suggests pedophilliac?
    I just wish she would stop perfecting her come-hither look and practice singing more…
    I didn’t know booty bouncing skill can define stardom in Asia…

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