Free Yunjin Kim

I'm shocked that nothing has been done yet. This tragic violation of basic human dignity and justice demands that we devote our full attention to this, the most pressing of issues facing us today. This is more important than the Iraq War, more important than the November elections, more important than the impending premieres of the Fall 2006 TV season.

We are the petitions? The T-shirts? Angry Asian Man decrying it all as racist? We need to send our message straight to the top decision-makers in Hollywood. We need to shout at the top of our lungs. Say it with me now:

Free Yunjin Kim!

Before there was a motley band of possibly-dead, possibly-guinea-pigs-in-a-top-secret-scientific-study misfits stranded on a mysterious island full of polar bears and coconuts following a devastating plane crash somewhere between Australia and L.A., Yunjin Kim was one of Korea's superstar actresses. She was a leading lady in the mould of Gong Li, Audrey Hepburn or a young Susan Sarandon. She was respectable, decent, and a talented actress.

And then she decided to try to do the transition to America.

All of a sudden, Yunjin Kim is being put on display like some sort of pet, wearing practically nothing, and all with that same vapid “fuck me” expression on her face. What happened?

First, there was Arena magazine which boasts an image of Yunjin with a thumb in her crotch. Then came Stuff magazine (where they didn't even bother to clean poor Yunjin off, just leaving her all half-nekkid and muddy), which advertised itself as revealing images from the women of 'Lost', but was really just an excuse to showcase a six page spread of Yunjin pictures followed by some blurry photos captured by paparazzi of a few of the other female castmates at Awards shows. Stuff even included one image with Yunjin looking unconscious — suggesting that Yunjin be sexualized in a “come rape me while I'm sleeping” kind of way.

Hell, Yunjin's captors even trotted poor Yunjin out to take the cover photo for Golf for Women magazine. Golf for Women?!? That's not Michelle Wie! We don't all look alike!!

It just goes to show you: it doesn't matter how great an actress you are, or how famous you are in another country. In America, if you want to be a famous actress of colour, the only way to do it is to be hypersexualized and dehumanized, to fulfill the racialized fantasies of the typical White male viewer. Take a look at Bai Ling, who was forced to give up her Chinese citizenship to make a pseudo-smart political drama about Chinese repression, and is now stuck playing the same Asian dominatrix in six or seven different Mel Gibson movies.

Asian American women don't need to see the same hypersexualization of our female role models, over and over. Yunjin Kim is just as palatable being a smart, strong capable Asian American woman who doesn't need to strip silently for money.

Please, Hollywood — free Yunjin, before it's too late.

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