Korean action star, Lee Byung Hun, attracted positive attention for his appearance as a presenter at the 88th Academy Awards (Oscars).
“I am happy to be the first Asian actor to be a presenter at the Academy Awards,” said Lee, during an ABC News interview segment, prior to the ceremony.
Lee was accompanied by Colombian-American actress Sofia Vergara to present the award in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
However, the thrill of Lee’s accomplishment as the first Korean-native to present an award at the Oscars was marred by an off-color joke delivered by ceremony emcee, Chris Rock.
“The results of tonight’s Academy Awards have been tabulated by Price, Waterhouse, and Cooper,” said Rock, in a statement referencing the accounting firm who is responsible for tabulating the results of Academy votes for the Oscars. “They sent us their most dedicated, accurate, and hardworking representatives.”
Rock then introduced three Asian children who were provided with stereotypical names to represent Asian and Jewish heritage.
“If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids,” said Rock, in dismissive reference to the sketch.
Viewers flocked to Twitter, posting reactions that ranged from dismay to harsh criticism of the Academy for airing the sketch.
“Think my brain shut down for a few minutes,” said Variety film critic, Justin Chang. “Did that appalling joke about Asian kids actually happen?”
On a positive note, Lee Byung Hun was not the only Korean celebrity who attended the Oscars. Esteemed opera vocalist, Sumi Jo, was also present for the festivities.
According to a report published by Yonhap News , the 54-year-old soloist was invited to the Oscars as the artist credited for “Simple Song #3,” a nominee in the Best Original Song category.