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Is this YouTuber Ken Tanaka or David Ury?

April 10, 2009 | 11:47 am

Ken tanaka kh6m30nc Ken Tanaka's loopy life story has made him a breakout hit on YouTube. His is the cyber tale of a Caucasian, brought up in Japan by an Asian family, who now yearns to reconnect with his American heritage. Via the cagey use of documentary-style video, Tanaka portrays himself as a hapless hero, a sunny, awkward transplant from Japan, weaned on sushi but looking more like Oklahoma than Yokohama.

It's all very charming, but there's just one catch: Is it true?

Tanaka's story has generated spirited online debate concerning this question: Is Ken Tanaka who he says he is or an engaging act performed by an actor named David Ury? In fact, Tanaka's virtual presence underscores a larger question about the Internet: How wide is the divide between artful put-on artist and deliberate hoaxer?

Read the full story on Ken Tanaka here.

-- Miles Beller

Photo: David Ury or Ken Tanaka? Credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times