Tourist at the Center of Oscars Race Controversy Responds

Yulree Chun Tio Oscars Jimmy Kimmel
Courtesy of ABC

When Yulree Tio (nee Chun) hopped on a Starline Hollywood tour bus on Sunday, she didn’t expect that she would find herself in the middle of the Oscars ceremony — and a resulting race controversy.

The Orange County resident and her husband, Patrick Tio, who had just returned from their honeymoon, were just two of several tourists who were the subjects of a carefully planned television bit. The tourists were told that they would be viewing a special Oscars fashion exhibit typically closed off to the public. They found themselves in the front of the Dolby Theater in front of nominees including Nicole Kidman, Ryan Gosling, and Denzel Washington.

Yulree and Patrick were just one of two couples who conversed with Kimmel during the live telecast. This is how their exchange unfolded:

Kimmel (shaking hands): “Hi, how are you? What is your name?”

Yulree: “My name’s Yulree. Rhymes with jewelry.”

Kimmel (in disbelief): What? Your name is Yulree?


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Yulree: “It rhymes with jewelry.”

Kimmel (incredulously): “Well, I know it rhymes with jewelry. Wow, that’s some name.”

Kimmel (to Patrick): “What’s your name?”

Patrick: “My name is Patrick.”

Kimmel: “See, that’s some name.”

Cultural blogger Phil Yu, who runs the site Angry Asian Man, accused Kimmel of casual racism. He also singled out Kimmel’s joke about best supporting actor Mahershala Ali’s name as another troubling moment. Other tweeters agreed.

At the time, Yulree didn’t think anything of Kimmel’s comments — she was in a daze. “Everything was such a big blur,” she recalled about meeting the host. “I really wasn’t thinking. I was just reacting and responding.”

She later Instagrammed a selfie of herself, her husband, Ryan Gosling, and Gosling’s sister Mandi.

Yes, we were there. Thanks to @jimmykimmel and @starlinetours for BLOWING OUR MINDS. #sounreal #unbelievable #theoscars

A post shared by Yulree Chun (전율리) (@yulch) on

But after re-watching the footage, seeing the reaction, and giving it more thought, she gained perspective.

“I’m the type of person who likes to look at all different perspectives: whether it be Jimmy Kimmel’s perspective or his team, the audience there, or my friends who are Asian American activists,” she explained. “Whether or not Jimmy Kimmel meant to be offensive, the reaction to what he did say reflects upon how tense our society is right now. How political everything is. I just hope the exposure my name is getting and how ethnic and unique it is, that it’s a positive thing. We should be proud of our unique backgrounds and names.” (Yulree is Korean American.)

“I’m really glad I was able to pronounce my name to millions of viewers because every day people get it wrong,” Yulree added. “I’m glad I was able to start a conversation.”

She also posted a photo of herself in the audience with Dev Patel, writing “Happiness is: Jimmy Kimmel knowing my name, Ryan Gosling’s body close against mine (close your eyes, Patrick), and personally thanking Dev Patel for repping Asians well in Hollywood.”


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  1. Melba says:

    I pay a quick visit every day a few web
    pages and information sites to read posts, except this
    weblog gives quality based content.

  2. moonflower13 says:

    he wasn’t trying to be racist…he was just confused because she kept saying “it rhymes with jewelry” when he asked what her name was…good for her…good for him…it was mildly weird- no harm no foul

  3. kern says:

    Yulree appears to be a happy, intelligent and delightful young woman. Kimmel made the oldest of jokes that clearly were not racist in intent, but, doubtlessly have been declared off limits as offensive by the self appointed, determined to be offended, politically correct activists and bullies That’s the way it is. What has happened is that a permanent cloud has been placed in Yulree’s head, and the PC police have found an opportunity to remind us how uptight we all had better be.

  4. Casual Racist says:

    Life is boring without some casual racism, and I am not sure this even qualifies. If it does, who cares? Why are you making a decision to be offended? Just avoid the real racism. This is the dumbest controversy ever.

  5. Liza says:

    Yulree is an interesting name that is probably mispronounced frequently. I’m not Asian, but I also have a two syllable name last name that is mispronounced frequently. Jokes are made sometimes. Knowing that all over the world folks are in dire circumstances (torture, death, starvation, extreme poverty, etc.) I let the jokes go without becoming offended. This and the Hindenberg comment show just out if touch with true problems many of us are.

  6. Andrea Lankford says:

    at least this one wasnt recently released from prison ….forgot dat one did we

  7. Joe Opitz says:

    What I found inspiring is that Yulree, after finding time to reflect on her experience, turned all the hateful responses (racism and comedian leeway) into a positive. She mentioned the tension in our country and then explained how she was happy to pronounce her name to MILLIONS around the world! We need more of this from everyone! Way to go Yulree. We really can all get along. There are going to be mistakes, comments taken the wrong way, misspoken and wrongly interpreted words and phrases. There has to be forgiveness too. We all have it in us! Find your kindness and show it, It will catch on….

  8. Terance Hall says:

    Yulree Tio marginalized her own name by saying it rhymed with jewelry. So she can clown her own name but Jimmy Kimmel is a racist for making a joke about it? He is a comedian. He tells jokes. To her credit, she did not say he is a racist, but for others to imply that he is is a joke. Yulree and her husband had the time of their lives. A moment they will never forget.

  9. tlyoung88 says:

    He wasn’t being condescending. The controversy is ridiculous.

  10. ranapatel9 says:

    Nah, Kimmel’s racism shows all over to people who have followed his career. I’ve been seeing him from The Man Show and he has done “casual racisim” many times. I’m glad he’s now being called out on it.

  11. meow says:

    Another story about nothing – there is no outrage here. Some names are hard to pronounce , despite race or ethnicity. Would this be an issue if the said woman was Caucasian? This is headline and nothing else. OMG, someone on twitter was offended! Seems the sole purpose of twitter is for the thought and joke police to get offended on a regular basis.

    • DeftestFianna says:

      You mean like Saoirse Ronan on every show ever on the face of the earth. Or Domhnall Gleeson. It’s not racist at all. As an irishman with a difficult to pronounce name it happens all the time, I never take offence. It’s not like Kimmel is a Klansman trying to stir up racial hatred by not knowing a name none of us had ever heard of. They’ve literally had entire segments on talk shows about Saoirse’s name. There is real racism and bigotry out there, that is what we have to fight not something as frivolous as this.

  12. Art7 says:

    Angry Asian Man seems to have missed the diversity in the show otherwise. Has AAM mentioned Trump yet? Should have a field day with him.

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