I Am Such A Gook

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade September 2001

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The use of racial slurs has always been a part of my life, with my using them, or with them being used against me. The origins of "gook" was surprising, because I always thought that it was just another way of calling others an idiot without any relation to race. To my surprise, "gook" was one of many racial slurs used against Asians, especially when used in contempt. Gook has a couple of origins, but it's used today towards Koreans, Vietnamese and Filipinos. The word gook is targeted towards those of Asian decent, especially those who are Filipino.

The Oxford English Dictionary dates the term "gook" first being used in 1935 in American Speech X 79/1 by an unknown author. The term was being used in "reference to those who spoke Spanish, especially Filipinos" ("The Oxford English Dictionary"). The origin of the term "gook" was in Korea during the Korean-American War.

Koreans would go up to American GI's and ask "Mi guk?" asking if they were Americans. But Americans thought they were saying "Me Gook!" so from then on, they started calling the Koreans "gooks". The tension between the Koreans and Americans during the war caused the term "gook" to be a hateful label towards the Koreans. Because of the Korean-American War, gook became a widespread label for Asians, specifically South-East Asians.

The Racial Slur Database also says that the origins of the term gook originated to the time of the Korean-American War. "Gook" is another term to express hatred to differences in skin color, features and culture. However, the Origins of Racist Terms website says that "gook" originated from the Philippines during the time of the Spanish-American War. Wherever the term came from, it was used as an offensive racial slang. Other terms such as...