South Korean ‘Overwatch’ gamer describes the racism he faces in the US

  • Lee Eui-seok, who plays for the Dallas Fuel, said on Twitch that ‘being Asian here is terrifying’ and that people try to pick fights and cough on him
  • Anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise since the start of the coronavirus pandemic
Agence France-Presse |

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Lee Eui-seok, who plays the game Overwatch for the team Dallas Fuel under the name Fearless, discussed the racism he faces in the US during a Q&A on streaming platform Twitch.

A professional video game player from South Korea has described the racism he has suffered while living in the US state of Texas, describing it as “unspeakable” in a viral clip.

The United States has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus”.

Lee Eui-seok, who plays the game Overwatch for the team Dallas Fuel under the name Fearless, said in a Q&A on streaming platform Twitch that this was the first time he was experiencing such racism.

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“Being Asian here is terrifying,” the 22-year-old said. “People keep trying to pick fights with us … There’s even people who cough on us. They’ll deliberately cough on us. They’ll [curse at us] … while laughing. The racism here is no joke.”

A clip from the broadcast was posted with English subtitles on Twitter on Tuesday by Jade “swingchip” Kim, a Korean gamer and manager of the team Florida Mayhem.

Kim said she too had experienced racism in the United States, and said that Lee’s comments “gave me whiplash”.

Many people have rallied against the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of Covid-19. Photo: TNS

“With everything going on in the States lately, I couldn’t let myself fold this one away as well, so I ended up translating the clip and posting it.”

The subtitled clip had received more than 340,000 views by Thursday.

Anti-Asian hate crimes almost tripled from 49 to 122 last year across 16 major US cities, even as overall hate crime fell seven per cent, according to a recent report by the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Lee said the racist abuse he suffered in Dallas had “been happening almost every single day” and was “terrifying” and “severe”.

Hollywood calls on the public to #StopAsianHate

People on the street would walk up and shout racist slurs, he said, adding that three years ago, when he was based in Los Angeles, he was able to “just peacefully [live] in the US.”

The Fuel and Kim’s team the Mayhem both compete in the Overwatch eSports league, which is owned by global gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

In a statement to US media, the firm said it condemned racism in “the strongest possible terms”, adding that it was working across the organisation “to do our part to combat hate and ignorance”.

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In his broadcast, Lee said one way he avoids the abuse is by going outside in his team’s jersey.

“Sometimes … I wear my team uniform around on purpose,” he said.

“If I have my jersey on, I think they realise we’re part of some kind of team so they don’t bother us as much.”

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