Semi-Nude Photos of 14-Year Old Draw Controversy

No, despite my reputation I’m not going to weigh in with heavy commentary on these pictures of 14-year old female student Park Seo-jin (박서진) for the Mnet reality show I Am A Model, my plan to translate one of the numerous news articles about them rendered unnecessary by the wealth of context and extra information provided over at Coolsmurf Domain instead. One thing I will add that blog author Alvin Lim didn’t though, is the fact that for all the recent and historical mania about protecting underage Korean females against foreign pedophiles, the Korean public seems strangely reluctant to respect their own laws banning the nude photos of minors that would (presumably) encourage them, this and this one with Kwak Ji-min (곽지민) advertising the 2004 movie Samaria/Samaritan Girl (사마리아) for instance instantly coming to mind when I read about this latest case. While it’s true that she was three years or so older than Park Seo-jin was when they were taken, she was still definitely a minor, and with this being Korea…then naturally there’s even full screen wallpapers of the former still available here and here too.

I’ve heard that that movie is actually a much needed and hard-hitting social critique of the teenage prostitution industry here, and if so then I highly recommend watching it, but that marketing in the above links is both hypocritical and somewhat telling of the industry’s causes. Regardless of the moral rights or wrongs of what is really quite an arbitrary age for banning nudity though, the fact remains that no-one is likely to ever be prosecuted for breaking the law for Park Seo-jin’s photos, but on the positive side they do seem to be creating a controversy that the posters for Samaria never did, albeit most likely simply because she is just sooo young.

In case of any confusion, note that while she’s 16 according to the (strange) Korean age system, her birth date is actually 11 March 1994.

Update: I later reviewed the movie Samaria/Samaritan Girl (사마리아) here.

32 thoughts on “Semi-Nude Photos of 14-Year Old Draw Controversy

  1. Pingback: Korea Beat › Semi-Nude Photoshoot of Middle Schooler Stirs Controversy

  2. Am I the only one to notice that the picture suggests more that the guy’s groin is uncovered than that the “woman” is uncovered? I might just be lecherous and none too bashful about nudity, but the woman seems to suggest she is hiding his public erection, not unduly advertising herself. The picture seems more to say, “Hey, all I have to do is take of my shirt, and guys will lose it!” This says more about men than her.

  3. This is the surprising aspect of culture in Korea, one minute you’ll have conservative imagery – the next, you’ll have something like this which would rarely (if ever in modern times) be seen in the Western media. She looks very old for 14 indeed. For those living in Japan, would this cause such a stir there? As many know, Japan has underage models just about in every aspect of the media – But I can’t say I’ve seen anything as ‘sexually oriented’ as the above image.

  4. Is it me or is this way blown over?

    U can see the guys belt, come on. Hiding his woody??? maybe u are a lech!

    You can see or not see whatever you want to.
    And never see this in the west? Does the words Calvin Klein mean anything?

    Bottom line, you cannot see anything indecent. It is left to your imagination and how wild you want that to get the best of you!

    Some people have no control over themselves hence want to control others.

    Just my 2 cents worth!

  5. Lorne/Rick:

    There’s less of her skin showing than his, and with her standing frontaly, there’s nothing left to imagination. But sartorially and physiologically, there’s more open to imagination about him than her.

    PJB:

    There’s comment about her body showing – and it’s the breasts, too. Attacking the maternal guardian of the State? But, a naked man in a subway or a naked infant are OK.

    Sorry, Rick/Lone, there’s a double standard here

  6. This is hypocrisy. When the legal sexual of age in Korea is 13. Maybe they should try changing their own laws first before they start getting up in arms over a photo like this.

  7. When the legal sexual of age in Korea is 13.

    I have my doubts about that, despite reading a 2001 article in the Korea Times about a judge ruling that men who had sex with a runaway 15 year-old girl in return for giving her bus fare and a place to stay were not taking part in prostitution because so little money was exchanged (this ruling really pissed off feminists here). Why weren’t they charged with having sex with a minor? “However, having sex with minors aged 13 or older, which does not involve financial deals, is not punishable if the minor consents.” That contradicts the 19 year old age of consent the police say they adhere to, but if I have to choose between the police and a 7 year-old KT article, I’ll go with the police.

    As many know, Japan has underage models just about in every aspect of the media – But I can’t say I’ve seen anything as ’sexually oriented’ as the above image.

    You mean since banning underage nude photo books 10 years ago? No, some U15 videos and photos in Japan go waaaaay beyond this ‘controversy’ in Korea (at least I am a model isn’t taking sexualized photos of models who are obviously children). When I was working on my long Wondergirls post a year ago I was looking for examples of Japanese U15 models (to make the same point about the differences between Korea and Japan) and came across a WTF? video of a 12 year-old girl, who can be seen here (the outfit she’s wearing in the photo at the top of that page is similar to what she was dressed in on the video I saw a year ago – the videos on that page are far tamer, if still NSFW). It suffices to say that the sexualization of minors in the media in Korea (in this case and with the Wondergirls) utterly pales in comparison to that found in Japan.

  8. I’ll just copy and paste the comment I made at Korea Beat:

    In a country where underage Wondergirls have their butts on closeups on national TV, family rapers get pardon, and an incestuous molester get rid of charges by his OWN WIFE, why koreans would bother about this case???

    Yep…we foreigners really don’t understand Korean culture…

  9. feminists? you mean women in comfortable shoes?

    And max…what is Korean culture anyway?

    They dress Americana, talk like ghetto serfs and if they get rich enough(or credit rich enough to make payments) they drive European cars or ones built by their nemesis Japan. They are only ‘Korean’ two days a year; new years and thanskgivings.

    So what is so Korean about Koreans? There isn’t anything.

    • Alan, regardless of our last conversation in my comments section, which I gave up on considering how many times I had to repeat myself to you, I don’t need to think twice about banning anyone who comes up with racist one-liners like that a second time. Criticise Korea on my blog by all means, but back up what you say otherwise my other readers and I have simply got better things to do with our time.

  10. They don’t dress in western clothing? They don’t swear like truckers? 9year olds to 90 years olds. I haven’t audio taped classes and showed the finished product to gasping mothers? not my little angel!! or the bath house or the restuarant?

    They don’t buy foreign cars or anything foreign(watches,purses,shoes,et cetera) if they have reached a so called upper level? or if they could they wouldn’t buy? please…….

    Come on James…..be real. What I have aid has no racist intones. This isn’t even criticism this is the way it is. What have I said that ISN’T true?

    Back-up what I say? Look outside James…jeans and yankees hats, 2 friends who just called each other ‘gaeshekia’ and a Beamer with it’s grill in the cross-walk. That’s my back-up it’s called reality and it’s as evident as us being called ‘mi-guk-in’.

    But you can just ban me, I know it’s easier than the truth. Take care.

  11. Alan, done.

    As for other comments, actually I don’t have too much to add sorry, other than:

    1) I’d echo bulgasari’s thoughts about the de facto law of consent being 19, and I’m wager a lot of money on it being de jure too: all claims on the internet that it’s the ridiculous age of 13 – to the extent that they’re backed up at all – ultimately stemming from this Wikipedia page, the single source for that being a simple table of countries and ages on this website, but with no information there about how any of the figures were obtained whatsoever.

    2) Anyone interested in the current state of laws and practice regarding child pornography in Japan, please see here.

    3) Maximus, I’d have to agree with what Billy wrote over at KoreaBeat in response to your comment there.

  12. As for someone who’ve lived in Korea for more than 5 years in Dajeon (1.5 million), (although I am not Korean) I felt urge to respond to some of the comments it’s being made here which I feel is misleading/inappropriate. I’ll appropriately respond to Alan’s comments to start:

    About Korean’s dressing like “westerners” : Sure, but I bet you wouldn’t be able to name another single First World or even a single Industrialized Country where majority of population doesn’t dress like “westerners” (and in case you didn’t know, yes, Korea is a first world country where PPP per capita income is comparable with Italy, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal…etc and also very high human development index of .928 comparable with Singapore and Germany)

    About Upper Class Korean’s buying and driving foreign products: First of all, only half of them, and about quarter of middle class too. And the reason that half of them do that is no different than our Upper class American folks driving foreign brands like Lexus or BMW. Because every foreign products are imported by ship plus the high protective tariff placed by the governments in order to keep most of Koreans loyal to Korean products (which I really don’t like about Korea) foreign products are not often seen and also quite expensive to afford regardless of quality compared to their domestic products. So if you are a guy in Korea making half a million dollars a year, why wouldn’t about half of them choose to buy foreign luxury products to show that you can afford something that other average Joes can’t?

    Alan, I really think you are biased against Korea. And I was definitely impressed with them. It was country of leading high technology developments, deep roots and sense of their own identity and culture, (and they are possibly the most feminist country in Asia in terms of gender equality and their perceived view of women in culture unlike their neighbors) and a very bright looking future, although one thing I wasn’t so impressed with was their lame government. I think you should actually spend couple of months there until you make a good judgment. Unless you are Anti-Korean Chinese or Japanese blogger in which case I would politely ask you to just stop, because idea of bashing their neighbors in order to make your nationality superior is flatly retarded.

    • Kyle, thanks for adding that, although in case it wasn’t clear in my last comment I actually banned Alan, so he’ll be unable to respond. Originally I was going to reply to him much like you did, but given his inability to stay on topic (what has swearing got to do with culture?), virtually no knowledge of what he’s talking about, and repeatedly ignoring what I said in my replies (in that earlier post), then I figured he wasn’t worth the effort.

  13. Pingback: Possible switch in focus for the The Real South Korea… « Living & Working in Korea Guide in English | The Real “South” Korea

  14. mmm u tell me if its bad or good how old is the guy be cus i know some one who is dateing a 18 year old and shes only 14 the makes to big a tell about thags is this pic right not relly if a 14 or 15 year old whats to date a guy 3 or 4 years older let tham thay do it when there older any way and this is just me but hey i date some that was 16 maybe 15 if thay act older that is ps im not going to have sex with a girl that young im just saying i wholud date one that age tho i thank it be bester if i date some one whos 16 tho

  15. WHo is doing the complaining or griping? If it comes from Western sources, then one is weighing apples against orangutans! Western culture and Asian cultures have successfuly meshed since the 1950′s in a commercial context. Albeit, so far as aligning with the East culturally and even sexually, the west, especially America is as about out to lunch regarding that which is visually and esthetically acceptable or appropriate as is their crappy choice in their pathetic president! There is no way to align nor to reconcile AT THIS POINT, those elements that are or are not acceptable or appropriate considering that a photograph requires a fraction of a thousandth of a second to record. WE are not looking at a scene here that is out of an assault, that is not mutually agreed upon, that is not agreed upon might propel the product, artists or models who are depicted into stardom. This is all business and I would suggest that those who find the images depicted here as being unacceptable that these persons follow their own Progressive, liberal and mantra – Where is your TOLERANCE of other culturally diversse points of view – ON anther hand, my being American and having had enough of an argument that holds no water for the reasons I state plus others – like your president get out of dodge!
    As per a famous line from the film Sideways “Shut UP!”

  16. Pingback: Semi-Nude Photoshoot of Middle Schooler Stirs Controversy « Asian Correspondent

  17. This is a lovely artistic photograph. It really doesn’t show anything- there is nothing immoral about it. If it showed a 14 year old having sex with a 35 year old, yeah ok- that would be a problem, but this is nothing like that. Get a life and a clue.

  18. There is absoulutely nothing wrong with these images.Even if she was a few years younger and exposing more of her skin,that would still be perfectly fine.There is nothing wrong with nudity.Stop the sex hysteria.

    • I can’t even begin to type a response to this, let alone wrap my head around this reply. “Even if she was a few years younger and exposing more of her skin,that would still be perfectly fine.” Like Hugh, you obviously didnt read the post.

      • i think there’s something seriously wrong with you if you think its ok to have a 10 year old photographed naked for a movie poster and have those posters splashed across billboards everywhere. you dont even feel a least bit uncomfortable? no? dont think such children are being sexually exploited, albeit subtly? imagine if its YOUR own daughter, how would you feel? -.- Christ, what has the world become these days.

  19. Shes not fourteen yrs old.. And the picture is taken a year ago.. I also had watch this episode of the korean model search.. This is the weekly challege for them,,

    • The picture was taken a year ago you say? God knows how I put it up on the blog back in January 2009 then.

      But you’re quite right that the model isn’t 14. At a wild guess, I’d say she’s much closer to 17 now.

  20. its sick..14 ? 17 ? 25 ? 30 ? fvk off with ages..all must be the same
    damn to you all said it was a ‘fine’ or whtever

    I just want to say We are Asian !! don’t be like the Western !!!!

    Note for the model : youre fvkng damn beautiful without naked

  21. its sick..14 ? 17 ? 25 ? 30 ? what wrong with ages..all must be the same
    damn to you all said it was a ‘fine’ or whtever

    I just want to say We are Asian !! don’t be like the Western !!!!

    Note for the model : you’re damn beautiful without naked
    (revised comment :p )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s