‘Single’s Inferno’: Contestant Oh Jin-taek Is Facing Criticism Over Emojis on Social Media

Fans have become invested in the contestants in Netflix‘s Single’s Inferno. While the show kept the contestant’s professions and backstory a secret, fans could easily look up their social media accounts. Oh Jin-taek displayed CEO vibes as the owner of a tailor shop on Single’s Inferno. But fans soon realized his questionable use of emojis in many of his Instagram posts, with netizens criticizing the contestant.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains mild spoilers for Single’s Inferno.]

Oh Jin-taek for 'Single's Inferno' dating show wearing sleeveless muscle shirt.
Oh Jin-taek for ‘Single’s Inferno’ dating show | via Netflix

Oh Jin-taek impressed the ‘Single’s Inferno’ contestants with his dashing looks

During the opening meet-and-greet on Single’s Inferno, the contestants were intrigued by Jin-taek. He arrived on the deserted island in a cream-colored suit, tan skin, and facial hair. He had a drastically different vibe compared to the other males. In his bio interview, he expressed he wanted a hot relationship and preferred women who look healthy.

Jin-taek soon set his eyes on Kang So-yeon. Fans were enamored with his ability to stay devoted to her. But problems arose when he picked another female contestant to go to Paradise with. Having hurt So-yeon over his decision, he came clean and explained his reasoning. He hoped So-yeon to more openly express her interest in him after their trip to Paradise.

So-yeon and Jin-taek were endgame until the Single’s Inferno finale. He chose So-yeon as his final leading lady, and she agreed to leave Inferno with him.

Fans express criticism toward Oh Jin-taek over inappropriate use of emojis on Instagram

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A look as Jin-taek’s Instagram, @timelessbruno, shows off his CEO charisma. He often posts photos dressed in three-piece suits from his British-style tailor shop. Jin-taek has even posted body profile photos showing his rock-hard abs and chest hair.

But as fans scrolled through his Instagram posts, they noticed a problematic detail. According to Koreaboo, Jin-taek has numerous posts on Instagram using dark-skinned emojis in the captions.

Fans were willing to overlook the issue as a one-time mistake but realized that was not the case. Emojis default to have a yellow skin tone unless the user purposely selects a different color. In posts dating back to 2019, he has used the darkest option available.

The Single’s Inferno contestant has raised concern by netizens over its meaning. He has used face emojis and other options like hand signals in the same dark skin tone.

Is there an underlying issue regarding skin tone in relation to ‘Single’s Inferno’?

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To non-Koreans, the issue involving Single’s Inferno Jin-taek and his use of dark-skinned emoji would raise a red flag. But there could be something deeper at play. Single’s Inferno was also criticized for glamorizing the attractiveness of pale skin. When Jin-taek arrived on the island, Shin Ji-yeon was shocked at his tan skin. She commented he did not look Korean.

In the male contestant’s tent, Choi Si-hun expressed his interest in Ji-yeon because of her light skin. He said, “she seemed so white and pure.” Fans criticized the show for assuming that only light-skinned people are deemed attractive.

But according to Korea JoongAng Daily, South Korea’s beauty standards toward pale skin dates back to history. People in power in the Joseon era or agrarian societies had pale skin from not working in the sun. The high-class were seen as beauty standards because of it.

Jung Ho-jai, an author and researcher in Comparative Asia Studies at the National University of Singapore, explains South Korea “has had virtually no other ethnicity apart from Koreans for millennia.”

“Korea has had practically only one ethnicity, skin color does not indicate social class besides a slight distinction between white-collar workers and manual laborers. So expressing a preference for light skin is largely not deemed problematic,” said Jung. The comments made in Single’s Inferno lead to a broader discussion about beauty in South Korea. Could Ji-taek’s emojis correlate to how tanned skin is seen in Korean society?