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There’s a Karen in Distress Over a Korean News Anchor Being “Very Asian” Because She Ate Dumpling Soup for New Years

The year changes yet the Karens stay the same

X2 edit Very Asian

Journalist Michelle Li recently shared an audio message where a woman, let’s call her Karen, decided to voice her, air quote, “concerns,” about Li’s food of choice to celebrate the new year.

We are, what, three days into 2022? And we already have a Karen story?

Then again, Li tweeted about this on January 1st, quickly diminishing my wish of entitled white women waiting, at the very least, 24 hours into 2022 before they told a Korean woman that she was being, quote, “very Asian.”

Happy New Year indeed.

The news segment that unleashed the Karen

Li, a reporter for St. Louis, Missouri’s KSDK News, recently did a segment on the food we eat to ring in the new year and what certain dishes symbolize.


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A post shared by Michelle Li (@michellelitv)

“I ate dumpling soup, that’s what a lot of Korean people do,” Li said.

As she goes on to write in an article for KSDK News:

The reason I said that is because I am an Asian American, and I am of Korean descent. I grew up in Missouri, and I was raised by white parents. I reconnected with my Korean family in 1998, and I’ve been incorporating Korean culture in my life since.

So, like many American families, we do a mix of traditions, if any at all. As I was looking at my own social media feeds, I saw a lot of my friends eating a mix of foods and playing games — Korean dumpling soup, Chinese noodles, collards, and so forth. And since I have a son who is mixed race, I feel it’s important to expose him to Korean culture in our every day lives.

When I read that story, I thought I’d just add a little line because who gets to define American culture these days? I’m American. My friends are American. And even growing up in Missouri, I didn’t grow up eating collards, cornbread, or pork for New Year’s. My sister in law actually said she grew up eating pickled herring. We all have different and shared experiences.

My point is, I thought it was important for me to mention a little line as banter, but I didn’t think it was a big deal.

To most of us (I hope), that dumpling soup bit was an innocent comment, one that ties into her point of when we talk about what “Americans” eat that should include, well, her, and folks who eat the foods she highlights.

I, as a Black woman, promise to eat as much greens and cornbread as possible in 2022. While I have had traditional Black dishes for the holidays, my family and friends have also mixed it up, on occasion, because we simply felt like it.

I also, spoiler alert, will be eating dumplings in 2022, too, and all kinds of foods from different cultures.

I can’t confirm this part, of course, but I’m fairly certain that white people will also be eating these things – except, maybe, this particular Karen. And that’s a big maybe because let’s be honest, this extremely bothered white woman probably goes to town on Asian cuisine, she’s just uncomfortable with seeing an Asian woman vocalizing the fact that she eats dumplings because that could, potentially, promote the idea of eating something “very Asian” to celebrate a global occasion.

I have time today so let’s unpack this Karen’s complaint

While Li writes in her tweet that she’d love to say something back, I think having the message play so we can all hear it and express various levels of Double U Tee Eff gets the point across.

I feel like this is one of those situations that the “she meant well” crowd would dismiss if you just told them that someone complained about what you ate for New Year’s because the soup was too Asian for their taste. So you play the message, word for word, and let that speak for itself. Because some people are under the impression that marginalized folks just make up these stories about white women who cry on-demand or complain about an Asian person being Asian, but it’s very much the reality of our society.

I know there will be a handful of “marginalized people should just ignore the hate” and “don’t feed the trolls your dumplings” takes, but honestly, it’s up to the victim of racism to decide whether or not they wanna move the hostility to spam or blast the person to illustrate that on the first day of the new year they were accused of not only being Asian, but “very Asian.”

I really want more people to realize how appalling it is that a white woman was SO pressed about some dumplings that she CALLED to complain. This woman’s message to Li should be the focus instead of once again not holding racists accountable and, instead, telling their victims “white women just be like that.”


This woman SAID the words “she can keep her Korean to herself” as if Michelle Li could just deactivate it on a whim. She didn’t tweet it. She didn’t post on some “I don’t mind Asian people BUT-” Facebook page. She took the time to make sure Michelle Li HEARD her say those words.

Not just Li, though, but KSDK as a whole.

Do you realize the level of audacity that takes? And I can assure you that somewhere in that little rant is the assumption that the rest of the crew will take Karen’s side, that KSDK will somehow punish Li for being a bit too Korean at work that day.

On top of those abysmal comments, the Karen pulls ye olde “If a white person said this, they’d get in trouble” card, truly a classic whenever a marginalized person dares to, um, talk about food, in this case.

Let’s get this out of the way: a white person wouldn’t get in trouble for talking about the food they plan on eating during the holidays. To claim that a white person would be fired if they talked about tater tot hot dish on-air when white people covered the true story of Thanksgiving in green bean casserole to the point that it’s a federal holiday is something that only a Karen could, and would, do.

The desire Karens have to put a white person in a marginalized person’s place as a “gotcha” moment will always be absurd, but it’s especially absurd when the whole point of the segment was to talk about a variety of food that gets eaten.

This woman isn’t even using the “if a white person did it” trap card correctly, as that’s usually reserved for something negative, not “everybody eats their favorite foods for the holidays.”

But even if this wasn’t a segment about multiple kinds of food, why can’t Michelle Li get personal on-air and tell us what she plans to eat? News anchors tend to do that, don’t they? If it’s a holiday segment they’ll tell us what their plans are, so why is this the one we’re supposed to be upset about?

I wonder, I say as I share this brilliant response:

Not everything centered on Karen

On the plus side, the mention of dumpling soup led to others sharing their own traditions along with the hashtag #VeryAsian. It was a very nice (and very mouth water) bonding moment between different Asian cultures while dunking on this particular Karen.

KSDK News also issued the following statement:

KSDK fully supports our excellent award-winning anchor/reporter Michelle Li. A viewer advised Michelle to “keep her Korean to herself” when Michelle ad libbed during a newscast about the Korean tradition of eating dumpling soup for good luck on New Year’s Day. At KSDK, we embrace diversity in the people we hire, the stories we tell, and our local community. We will continue supporting Michelle and celebrating diversity and inclusion.

To Michelle Li, thank you for NOT keeping your Korean to yourself, more importantly, thank you for making me jealous about your New Year’s food (granted, my homemade nachos were great, but damn dumpling soup sounds fantastic).

(Image: 20th Century Fox)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)