Korean Sociological Image #9: The Secret to Bigger Breasts?

Korean Breast Massager Advertisement Caucasian

( The title reads: “A message of hope to all women!” )

If someone had told me years ago that I’d be writing about a Korean infomercial at some point, then I would have wagered good money that it would have been about one for bidets actually, for nothing quite gives you that “We’re not in Kansas anymore” feeling as switching the television on and seeing attractive women holding perspex buttocks over jets of water, waxing lyrical about how well they cleared a strategically placed brown-yellow paste. I could mention the looks of ecstasy and relief on various actors’ faces as they supposedly use the bidets later too…but you get the idea.

Lest I give the wrong impression though, there are certainly many advantages to Koreans’ no-nonsense attitudes to bodily functions, and actually I much prefer them to many Americans’ delicate sensibilities. But what to make of these – for want of a better term – electric breast enlargers?

If you can forgive the pun, then two things really stick out about this infomercial and its accompanying website for me (beware a loud video if you click on the latter):

First, needless to say, since writing this post on the subject a year ago I’ve still seen absolutely no evidence to suggest that doing fuck all is an effective way to lose weight and gain muscle tone and so on, let alone enlarge any specific body part. But while Korea by no means has a monopoly on misleading advertising, it is also true that various loopholes in advertising legislation here mean that there is little to stop producers of “diet-related” products from, well, basically completely lying about the efficacy of their products. For more on this, see the second half of this post where I discuss Minjeong Kim’s and Sharron Lennon’s “Content Analysis of Diet Advertisements: A Cross-National Comparison of Korean and U.S. Women’s Magazines” (Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, October 2006)¹ from which I first learned of it, and if it sounds like I’m exaggerating, then consider the fact that despite supposedly far stricter standards for “normal” food that over 88% of food labeled as organic isn’t, for instance, or that the KFDA is not empowered to tell you, say, which Vitamin C drinks contain carcinogens, but only (and uselessly) how many (see #14 here).

And second, in the strange event that you didn’t look closely enough to notice, then let me point out that it is only the Caucasian model above that you can see in lingerie, whereas her Korean counterparts are all fully clothed. True, that may sound like a strange way to describe a woman in a crop-top, but the difference is more than mere semantics, as many Korean porn stars worked as lingerie models before bans on foreign models working in Korea were lifted in the mid-1990s. This means that even today lingerie modeling still has a certain stigma that even bikini-modeling lacks, and despite the bikinis themselves obviously being just as (if not more) revealing. For more information, see #1 here for the most recent of many posts on that.

Korean Breast Massager Advertisement Korean

Still, Koreans are notoriously savvy consumers, so while I confess that I haven’t bothered to look at this late hour, I imagine that there will be many scathing reviews of this product available online. And, with obvious parallels in many other (more important) aspects of life in a democracy as young as Korea’s, to a certain extent this vibrancy of online Korean life is the result of and compensates for deficient legislation, although on the other hand in this particular case it is also stymieing the development of a healthy Korean consumer culture.

Tempting as it is to continue this post in that vein, let me wisely close here by pointing out that in the product’s defense, it can simply be returned with your money back before 2 weeks. And I seem to recall from my 2 viewings of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story that actor Jason Scott Lee playing Bruce Lee had two similar things strapped to his pecs in a scene where he was working on a script at home (i.e. not exercising, just like the women in this infomercial). Can anybody enlighten me? Am I dismissing…er…electric shock treatment(?) unfairly? As far as I know though, and to many teenage girls’ chagrin, the size of a woman’s pectoral muscles still has little effect on the ultimate size and look of her breasts, which are mostly connective tissue, “lobules,” and fat.

(For all posts in my “Korean Sociological Image” series, see here)

1. On a technical note, since I wrote that post the PDF of the article is no longer free to download I’m afraid, so I would be grateful if anyone that knows of a free link an/or a copy themselves could pass it on for me to provide to others here. Alternatively, serendipitously my printer broke last week and I’m buying a printer/scanner to replace it, so I’ll be able to scan the copy I printed if anybody asks!

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15 thoughts on “Korean Sociological Image #9: The Secret to Bigger Breasts?

  1. That woman on the top of a page , is she actress here in US ?
    Because i think i saw her before here on TV . She’s actress from sex and city .

  2. And honestly i don’t think that thing works . Its a gimmick / hoax .
    Breasts don’t respond to this electric therapy . Push up bra or photoshop does a better job anyway .

    Thats my opinion on the subject !!!

  3. I agree that it’s very very unlikely to work. I doubt that the actress has been on Sex and the City though, as I can’t imagine anyone that did stooping to appearing in Korean infomercials a few years later. Surely the recession isn’t that bad?

  4. Regarding energy drinks:
    Is there any hope of a Better Business Bureau being established in Korea?

    Regarding underwear stigma:
    Considering recent news about a new media group being proposed by the DP, and another group blackmailing advertisers and newspapers into balancing ad placements in rival news companies, is it not too much to ask for an even amount of foreign and Korean models to market bras and panties?

    I’m interested to know if there is a considerable disparity between the ratios of foreign women : Korean women under wear models and foreign men : Korean men underwear models. Running a search through your site, I couldn’t find anything.

  5. The American model looks a bit like Kristin Davis, but with much bigger boobs–or, maybe the bra did really work……

  6. Yeah, I don’t think Kristin Davis has her bellybutton pierced, but who knows.

    I’d also be pretty interested in finding out whether the white/Korean lingerie model disparity exists for men as well. I’d be pretty surprised if the situation were the same.

    • A very busy couple of days with my kids sorry, so only some very quick replies:

      Alex–What’s a “Better Business Bureau”?

      Sarah also, unfortunately, including the one I refer to in the post, I’m only aware of 2 English-language journal articles that have statistically analyzed the numbers of “Western” and non-Korean female models in advertisements, both predating revelations about the impact of the porn industry on lingerie modeling and so not differentiating models by lingerie and non-lingerie categories, and both are no longer available online either. Still, they’re very useful and interesting, and I present the gist of them and some specific stats in the second half of this post though (scroll down to just under the picture of the Wondergirls, although take note that the ones before that are NSFW). In a nutshell, the numbers of foreign models in advertisements are very dependent on the individual publication involved, with those targeted to more youthful audiences having more non-Koreans in them.

      I’m pretty certain that one of them also gave stats for Korean and Western male models also, I just didn’t take note of that in the post (I think). I’ll try to dig out the original article and get more info when I have more energy tomorrow, although again the studies done in it didn’t make a distinction between non-underwear and underwear models. On personal experience though, while there are still more Caucasian males modeling underwear than you’d expect, there is definitely not the same stigma doing so for Korean men as there is for women.

      Man I’m tired…sorry for the incoherence. Before I forget though, you might find this related post on the Korean women’s magazine industry and how Western imports affect the advertising standards within them interesting.

  7. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a North American organization that gathers information on companies regarding business reliability. It fosters trust between buyers and business.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_business_bureau

    If you have a specific claim against a company, you can report it to the BBB and they try to resolve the disputes, or put the company on I guess what you might consider a “black list”. However, in the case of Korea it would have to be a government organization, because an NGO could potentially face litigation for “libel” or “slander”.

  8. @Alex: I used to work at a BBB once upon a time moons ago.. Even in the states the BBB has little to no bite to match it’s bluster and bark. It’s mission is noble (protect consumers from business who would otherwise rip off and sell snake oil), but it ends up being rather impotent to the mainstream since there’s little it can do. Here in Korea, the ‘libel’ or ‘slander’ lawsuit would indeed be brought up faster than the facts could. It’s sad – but it’s safe to say that a Korean consumer is almost always suspicious of a product or service as a result.

    @James: I wonder how Korean women would respond when asked about who they’d prefer in the male underwear ads (a nameless Caucasian or insert-your-six-pack-abs-of-the-week-Korean)… Any thoughts?

    • Chris, Alex–Thanks for the into about the BBB. Korea does have groups like that of course (only just on first sip of coffee, but can get names of some major ones if you want), but in addition to problems with legislation that I mentioned that libel thing Chris mentioned is indeed a killer. It’s just bizarre (and telling) that only accredited journalists can say bad things about a company without fear of being sued, even if they’re patently true.

      Alex, naturally I think most Korean women would prefer Korean men in underwear ads if you asked them like that, but from an advertiser’s perspective I think it’s safe to argue that Caucasians’ roles as symbols of many things may well make them preferable choices (not that such a choice isn’t playing into and perpetuating advertisers’ and consumers’ prejudices in the process of course). If you couched the question in terms of why there are so many Caucasians in them to women though, then you might be surprised at the answers, things like “Caucasian’s bodies look better nude” often being among the proffered reasons (or so I hear: I haven’t actually asked anyone myself {yet})

  9. A few years ago I read about a contraption that did temporarily make boobs look a little larger. I forget how it worked but it sounded uncomfortable and possiibly painful.

    On a related topic, several months ago there was a MH post on a Chosun Ilbo story about bras and breast sagging. I did a little research and learned that extended bra-wearing is correlated with breast cancer risk; women who wear one 24 hours a day have an exponentially increased risk over those who wear one less then 12. Underwires are strongly correlated with breast cancer risk. It is thought that bras, especially improperly fitting ones, impede drainage of the lymphatic system, thus trapping toxins in breast tissue. I also learned that while wearing a bra is necessary to protect ligaments from permanently stretching while doing high impacts sports, wearing a bra all day long actually atrophies ligaments naturally designed to hold the breasts up. Thus, wearing a bra not only does not decrease sagging; it may actually increase it. A research study on Japanese women demonstrated less sagging on women who went braless for the duration of the study.

    During the school year, I tossed off my bra as soon as I get home. Now that I’m on summer holiday, I’ve been going braless for two weeks. The twins aren’t looking any perkier yet. Maybe those ligaments need more time to tighten up.

    The more I think about that gadget, the more disturbed I am. Breasts are delicate, living tissues. Stuff them with chemical bags or zap them at your own risk.

  10. The big criticism of the bra study you site, Sonagi, is that women who have larger breasts and thus more breast tissue and therefore a higher risk of breast cancer are far more likely than their smaller sisters to wear bras for extended periods, including overnight. Tossing off my bra as soon as I come home and lounging around sans support is pretty excruciating for the better endowed ~ I don’t sleep in a bra, but I’m definitely more comfortable on a physical level with one on.

    That said, I think we’re all in agreement that this device is ridiculous.

  11. (out topic I know!)

    In the “bruce lee” movie scene, the actor is electrostimulating his chest muscles and it seemed to me that, from what I can recall, that changed (in worse) his mystical-aura towards a pop-star’s one. I remember the sentence “with this on, 10 minutes will be like 200 pushups” or something on that line…

    My personal idea and practical experience, it doesnt workl, except maybe for rehabilitating patients after longterm bed convalescence.

    (out topic I know!)

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