ENTERTAINMENT
10/15/2015 09:58 pm ET

Trump Looks At Asian-American Student And Asks If He's From South Korea

That's not a harmless question.

Things got awkward on Monday when Donald Trump asked an Asian-American college student if he was from South Korea.

A 20-year-old Harvard economics major identified by NPR as Joseph Choe had launched into a query about South Korea during a question-and-answer session at the No Labels-hosted Problem Solver Convention in New Hampshire.

"I just had a really quick question about something you said earlier this summer," Choe said in video captured by C-SPAN. "Basically, you said that South Korea takes advantage of the United States in terms of the defense spending on the Korean peninsula. You said that they don't have to pay anything. However, I just want to get the facts straight and say that --"

Trump interrupted to ask, "Are you from South Korea?"

"I'm not. I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado," Choe responded. 

The GOP presidential candidate shrugged as awkward laughter from the audience escalated into full-blown cheering for Choe.

"No matter where I'm from, I like to get my facts straight, and I wanted to tell you that that's not true. South Korea paid $861 million," Choe said before Trump cut him off again. 

Trump's question represents an all too common experience for Asian-Americans, who researchers say are stereotyped as the "perpetual foreigners."

"[E]thnic minorities, especially Asian Americans and Latino/as, are often asked ... questions like, 'No, where are you really from?' or 'I meant, where are you originally from?'" a San Diego State University study explained. The implicit message, the study said, is that "they do not share the American identity or have in-group status."

Or perhaps in this case, the right to question Donald Trump.

Just for the record, Trump is also wrong about South Korea not paying anything toward the costs of U.S. military support.

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