KT&G, South Korea’s largest tobacco company, is pulling a line of “This Africa” cigarettes after complaints about the racial overtones of their advertising campaign.
The KT&G ads featuring a monkey dressed as a human were launched this fall, according to the Agence France-Presse. The ads to promote cigarettes dried and roasted in “traditional” African style showed monkeys dressed as humans, with the slogan: “Africa is coming!”
The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) issued a recent statement calling for the posters to be removed.
“We are deeply offended by KT&G’s shameless and insulting use of this mocking imagery,” the ATCA said in a statement.
“Mocking Africa to sell a product that causes death and disease is unacceptable,” it said.
Zambian Mirriam Simasiku, an African woman living in Seoul, told the Korea Times she found the ads extremely offensive.
“According to those images, Africans are just a bunch of uneducated monkeys,” she said. “We as Africans are still a minority against a multitude of pure Koreans with no law to protect us. By the way, it is named This Africa, which is inappropriate since no one thought of making any connection.”
According to the New York Times, “Only a decade ago, school textbooks still urged South Koreans to take pride in being of ‘one blood’ and ethnically homogeneous.”