March 22, 2023

Washington, D.C. (Dec.16, 2019) — The Council of Korean Americans (CKA) denounces former Tonight Show host Jay Leno for his derogatory jokes about Koreans eating dog meat during an August 2019 appearance on the NBC show, America’s Got Talent (AGT).

Although Mr. Leno’s comments were ultimately edited out of the program before airing on national television, the unfortunate event was widely reported in the media coverage following the departure of fellow AGT judge Gabrielle Union from the show after only one year. Mr. Leno’s comments are particularly troubling in the context of his past “jokes” denigrating and stereotyping Korean and Asian Americans, as John Yang, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, recently highlighted.
These narratives put forth by Mr. Leno are offensive and propagate false perceptions of Asian Americans as suspicious, uncivilized foreigners engaging in repugnant practices. Despite repeated requests by Asian American advocacy groups to stop these pernicious statements, Mr. Leno has remained undeterred.

Unless Mr. Leno apologizes and acknowledges the harm caused by the perpetuation of such toxic stereotypes, CKA supports the Media Action Network for Asian Americans’ call for NBC to sever business ties with Jay Leno. We implore NBC executives to uphold the highest standards of behavior to promote diversity and disavow harmful ethnic stereotyping.

The Council of Korean Americans is a national nonprofit organization that advances the voice, interest, and influence of the Korean American community. We achieve these aims through education, coalition-building, and leadership development. For our members, we connect, inspire, and equip them for greater impact and more active public engagement.

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