Popular K-Pop Idol-Turned-Actor’s Blackface In Film Goes Viral, Sparking Outrage

Popular K-Pop Idol-Turned-Actor’s Blackface In Film Goes Viral, Sparking Outrage

Recently, idol-turned-actor Wang Yibo attracted negative attention for his appearance in a role in a film.

Wang Yibo | <i>Weibo</i>

Wang Yibo originally made his debut as a member of the K-Pop group UNIQ in 2014 and has since been active in China as an overall entertainer. He gained international attention for his role in the 2019 drama The Untamed.


Since then, he has gained popularity, earning more leading positions, including in the upcoming film Formed Police Unit. Formed Police Unit follows a Chinese police unit going to foreign countries and war-torn areas to carry out peacekeeping missions.

However, the movie has received criticism since it began filming due to the techniques used during filming.

The movie is reportedly based on a United Nations missions that took place in Africa, and according to the movie’s plot several characters had to disguise themselves to fit in with the local population.

Several photos of Wang Yibo with his skin painted dark brown and his hair styled into dreads were shared online recently, showing what this looked like.

Actor Johnny Huang and other cast members also appeared in similar attire and interacted with actual Black people.

Someone managed to film the scene in question from Formed Police Unit for me. Here you can see MANY members of the cast wearing blackface. This wasn’t just a Yibo thing. It was an entire production decision that multiple cast agreed to.

It’s honestly revolting. pic.twitter.com/T3oIIIgVeQ

— Jie (they/them) (@JieJie_AiNi) May 2, 2024

When non-Black individuals paint themselves in order to appear Black, this is an act called blackface. Blackface has a historically negative context as those playing the Black characters usually were based on caricatures rather than any real person and perpetuated negative stereotypes.

Netizens reacted with shock to these photos, causing them to go viral with over 2.6 million views as of writing. Many reflected on Wang Yibo’s work in black-influenced content like Street Dance Of China, expressing shock over this racist portrayal.

YEAH NO we need to sit down and have a serious conversation about east asian media participating in forms of racial hostility that doesnt even originate from there bc WHY is a famous chinese celeb performing actual BLACK FACE in 2024???!! https://t.co/j0ZbNBeH1P pic.twitter.com/sAW4yKorbl

— COMMS OPEN! LILLY(ง’̀-‘́)ง (@gimme_ur_d0llar) May 1, 2024

yibo truly never learns like make it make sense…you’re with black dancers every year on sdoc and still pull this shit?? forget the hair, blackface is INSANE https://t.co/T22KVB0SRH

— reya (@hyunjinuppp) May 2, 2024

the way his fans are trying to push this as “hes in a role” “he didnt have a choice” or even “its fine because its not done as a joke” like.. he chose the role he accepted the role he constantly does racist shit. stop letting fan culture rot your brains. hold him accountable. https://t.co/BWMQ9Kl2kD

— jay (@loveliliuzan) May 2, 2024

Some have defended the film, saying it was an honest depiction of the alleged events that took place, and that it was not from a place of racism or hate.

Although this movie should’ve done better after receiving feedback when these pics reached tw in 2021, such a disguise is still used by peacekeepers operating in the West Africa (movie is retelling a real story of CN UN peacekeeing mission in Sierra Leone) and that’s a fact. https://t.co/zpnXJbZ51x

— twinkle (@twinkie_x2) May 2, 2024

When things are done with love and respect, there is no malice
No disrespect.
Military personnel need to do what they need to do.#WangYibo#FormedPoliceUnit https://t.co/pan5HLiu1x

— Snow – YIBO SUCCESSOR TO CHINESE FILM (@SnowPart2) May 2, 2024

While taking into account the longstanding debates around the true intentions of outside aid to countries in Africa, it is easy to see why this scene’s inclusion has sparked international outrage.

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