Margaret Cho Defends Golden Globes North Korea Bit: “I’m Playing The Rice Card”

Margaret Cho Golden Globes

Comedian Margaret Cho has responded to critics who deemed her North Korea-skewering Golden Globes appearance racist – ironically enough, in an evening filled with achievements for diverse voices and cries of “Je Suis Charlie” in the name of freedom of expression.

“I’m of mixed North/South Korean descent – you imprison, starve and brainwash my people you get made fun of by me #hatersgonhate #FreeSpeech,” she Tweeted Monday morning.

Cho showed up in a running gag throughout the Globes show as “Cho Young-ja,” a humorless North Korean general-slash-HFPA member who criticized the Globes show (“You no have thousand baby playing guitar at the same time. You no have people holding up many card to make one big picture. You no have Dennis Rodman”) and demanded a photo with Into the Woods nominee Meryl Streep.

Margaret Cho Golden Globes

The bit earned mixed reviews, although it did have its high points; Cho Young-ja’s critique of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black was spot on (“It’s funny, but not ha-ha funny… Also, Piper and Alex’s relationship is very toxic”). The Streep moment, dragged out as Birdman’s Michael Keaton whipped out his phone to snap the pic, was only saved by a leaping Benedict Cumberbatch photobomb that went viral.

“I’m not playing the race card. I’m playing the rice card. #hatersgonwait #winnersgonpun,” Cho Tweeted Monday as the post-Globes chatter fixated on her racism controversy, rather than the fact that she was the only Asian or Asian-American performer to appear in the Golden Globes telecast all night.

It wasn’t the first time Globes co-host Fey and Cho teamed up to slam the DPRK. Cho played the late Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un in on 30 Rock in 2012, describing her performance as “karmic payback.” She even earned an Emmy nod for the brief arc.

Randall Park played Kim Jong-un as a Katy Perry-loving sociopath in Sony’s hacker-bait comedy The Interview. He also stars in ABC’s February debut Fresh Off The Boat, the first Asian-American driven network TV sitcom since Cho’s 1994 show All-American Girl (comedian Steve Byrne’s TBS show Sullivan & Son helped blaze that trail on cable in its 2012-2014 run).

Park Tweeted his thoughts on the Cho controversy Monday:

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