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Viral TikTok sparks debate about racism at nightclubs

Patrick Ramos's TikTok (left) and a sign outside Itaewon club OWL Lounge (Patrick Ramos)
Patrick Ramos's TikTok (left) and a sign outside Itaewon club OWL Lounge (Patrick Ramos)
A viral TikTok showing a physical altercation outside a Seoul club has sparked a debate over racism and xenophobia that some foreign nationals experience at nightlife venues in Korea.

In the clip filmed and uploaded Sunday, Patrick Ramos -- an influencer also known as The Expat Pat -- is seen arguing with a bouncer outside the OWL Lounge club in Itaewon before the situation turned physical.

“I was walking around looking for a snack and showing my TikTok audience. Then I passed an infamous club that doesn’t allow in foreigners with blue ARC cards (alien registration cards),” Ramos told The Korea Herald.

“A man came up to me and physically restrained me and pinned me against the wall. A manager came to de-escalate the situation and I walked way,” he said.

The video racked up over 300,000 views in one day.

A photograph of the venue’s sign provided by Ramos says only foreigners and Koreans from abroad who have a yellow F-4 registration card are allowed to enter.

The F-4 visa is issued to overseas Koreans.

Most other visa holders are given blue registration cards, therefore most foreigners cannot enter the establishment, including English teachers who hold E-2 visas. The policy has been criticized as xenophobic on social media by many foreign residents.

Though he has not had many experiences being denied entry by nightlife establishments himself, Ramos said the experience is “extremely common” for black and brown expatriates in the country.

Speaking to The Korea Herald, the club said its entry policy is in place because foreigners can flee the country after getting embroiled in criminal cases, such as sexual harassment, at the club.

It also said that Ramos was doing a livestream outside the venue, “illegally filming the faces of staff and customers,” which prompted the staff to call the police.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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