Koreans, Westerners…and Sex: A Follow-up

Jessica Gomes Lee Min-ho Kiss

Remember this video? While flawed, it made a decent effort at highlighting the hypocrisy of the Korean media, which by dint of a lack of criticism can be said to generally condone relationships between Korean men and foreign women (like that of Lee Min-ho and Jessica Gomes above, from this commercial for “2X” beer), but which on the other hand often explicitly portrays Western men as sexual predators and the Korean women that enter into relationships with them as either naive and in need of protection, or alternatively as cold and calculating, providing sexual services in return for English lessons and/or, eventually, foreign citizenship.

Well, the creator “Steroidmaximus” has created a new video, and with it he has clearly taken into account some of the (justifiable) criticisms of the first, while still retaining its positives:

Most importantly, he has also created a Korean version:

What do you think? As I type this I’ve yet to have my first cup of coffee, and in all seriousness have my daughter on my lap drawing trains and asking me to help, so my own analysis will have to wait until later this afternoon I’m afraid. But I would like to look at it much more closely than I did the first video, so I’ll come back and update this post later accordingly.

(Image sources: above – 이기적인 여자의 이기적인 세상 {A Selfish Woman’s Selfish World}; below – Baby Black)

Kang Ji-hwan Esquire

Update: Charles, K-man and Seamus have already done most of my work for me! If I might add things to the discussion that people haven’t already then:

- Like Charles said, I would remove most the American back-story, particularly the part about Neo-Nazis from 0:20-0:45. While I naturally don’t consider myself a racist, I and 99% of other foreigners in Korea have probably never even seen a Neo-Nazi, let alone confronted one,  so this comes across as very contrived, and strains the video’s credibility, particularly given that it’s in the introduction. There were other, shorter and more believable ways to get the message across that the vast majority of foreigners in Korea do not support racism.

- Somewhere at about the 1:00 to 1:10 mark, I would have written something along the lines of “Just like Koreans would [work and have an adventure abroad rather than work in a cubicle] if they could.” Its absence is not critical of course, and in fact you could well argue that that specifically would be superfluous, but still, it’s the first of numerous cases of careless wording and sloppy editing (eg: putting “but” before “After their marriage…” at 3:00), the cumulative effect of  which is to seriously detract from the overall message.

- Still laughing at the scene from Daespo Naughty Girls (다세포소녀) at 2:00…soooo true!

- It would have been better to have placed the 5:50 Gangnam club picture with an almost-naked Korean hostess entertaining a Korean man before beginning the shots with Westerners and their similar debauchery at 3:13 instead, which would better highlighted their similarities and the implied fact that, unlike the latter, all Korean men are not portrayed as sexual predators etc. because of the actions of a few. This message is lost a little by jumping straight from an ad and a photoshoot for a men’s magazine featuring Korean men and Caucasian women instead.

- And finally, from 3:27 I found the narrative really gets lost and the message somewhat repetitive personally. In particular, the “certain incongruities:” that Jerry and Ji-eun noticed from 5:09 are, well, a bit incongruous, because I don’t think the fact that the Korean media demonizes Western male English teachers as sexual deviants and molesters has been adequately demonstrated previously. So even if the titles of the (overused) untranslated Korean articles – which untranslated are of little use in the English version anyway – then things like “sexual abuse of disabled woman” at 5:37 seem a bit out of place.

But still, a much better second attempt, and I too look forward to further videos from Steroidmaximus, and not just on this issue either.

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18 thoughts on “Koreans, Westerners…and Sex: A Follow-up

  1. James and Steroid (I think I may have always wanted to call someone that!).

    Much better concept here (clearer and a nice narrative structure), but as someone who used to edit TV commercials and short videos

    1) The music, while probably intended to represent the jangling and harsh realities of the cultural divide is, well, jangling and harsh. This is NOT the kind of music that I would use in a video aimed at Koreans – with that said, really nice job getting it into Korean.

    2) This is still way too long

    3) Don’t use wipes and fades in online videos, except with great discretion. They eat up time and decrease a reader’s ability to comprehend.

    4) The same is true of the text slides and fades

    5) The screen-shots are too dense – nearly impossible to read with all that text on them, and also too many of them. Cut them by a third (in number), eliminate transitions (or many of them) and make sure their meaning is apparent on first glance.

    Lots of progress on this video, I hope to see a few more. ;-)

  2. honestly I’m going to give you the hard criticism because you seem to ask for it.

    Filmically speaking, I find I have several visceral reactions:

    -(ditto above critic) lose the soundtrack, this heavy HC soundtrack is sure to lose more than a few viewers- I’m not suggesting that you go with MuZak, but really, can the angst of the music help get your point across, or does it muddy it.

    – ditto on the length, but an elegant solution is to wack the whole first part – I know, it’s cute and sweet that your ‘angel’ came to the rescue, but again, it’s not really on topic – the lovely visuals of this section are best rescued by reincorporating them into a love/romance video , homage to your sweety, what have you

    – ditto on points 5 and to a certain extent on 3 and 4 – maybe you could have the web urls on a larger, subtitle on screen, and crop the webshots to show the most important parts (headlines and key points underlined or highlighted, just as you see on TV reportage of internet)

    good luck and keep up the good work

  3. I have to say I disagree with the above to commentators on one thing: I think the angel bit needs to stay. The reason I say this is because I think this is primarily aimed at a Korean audience to try and show what it’s like being a foreign English teacher in Korea from the point of view that Koreans aren’t usually presented with. This shows quite nicely why foreign English teachers might be willing (one reason from a whole list, I’m sure) to enter into relationships with Korean women, instead of them being sexual predators who set out to bed as many as they can before they’ve even landed.

    Apart from that, all I can really say is that it’s an overall improvement on the first video, and it’s really good to see it in Korean as well. I think a lot of these issues that get so much attention from the bloggers, from the shoddy ones to the really rather good ones, would really have their cause aided if they could be presented in Korean as effectively as they’re presented in English.

  4. I’m in between the previous two commenters (call me lucky Pierre!),

    After I logged off it immediately struck me that the “prologue” in the US needed to either go completely or be dramatically reduced. But I’m with Seamus that the angel needs to be in there (not quite sure how he got that I wanted her out), because that really is, when all else is said and done, the crux of the local complaint.

    Charles
    (NOT Jeffrey Hodges!)

  5. Yeah, I agree about the music. Just awful.

    And the wipes – just awful. It made reading the text a bit like trying to read a book on a rollercoaster.

    I’m afraid I can’t comment on the overall narrative or content as by the 1:30 mark I’d gotten so frustrated that I told the video to f–k off.

  6. Okay, I just gave it a second try and got as far as 2:54, but that’s as much as I’m willing to take on a Saturday.

  7. CM,

    Clearly, it was a deliberate assault to the senses. The guy who produced the video is certainly smart enough to produce something a bit more polished, but that’s not what he was going for.

  8. I feel the same way as you guys toughing it out in Korea. As an Asian male in North America, I never see any of my kind kissing a white woman on tv AND I can’t score with the white chicks. Damn eh? Or be damned?

  9. While I see your point, the Western world tends to have exactly the opposite double standard when it comes to depicting Asian and white interracial relationships. Asian male/white female relationships don’t even get to be depicted at all, poorly or otherwise, while a totally different standard exists for white male/asian female relationships. Asian men are treated so asexually by most of the world’s media that I guess I can understand why they’d work overtime in their home countries to counteract that asexual image.

    I’m not white or Asian here, I have no dog in the race. Just my observations.

  10. You’re quite right about the opposite double-standard existing in Western countries, but that really has nothing to do with the subject being discussed here. It’s no exaggeration to say that 99% of Koreans don’t have more than just the vaguest idea of what goes on in the media outside of Korea, so there’s absolutely no “compensation” going on with these negative images of foreign men discussed here.

  11. Having just read through numerous postings, I just want to say thank you for the interesting perspectives and topics you address.

    I lived and worked in SK for three years. I continue to teach South Korean nationals to this day. On many levels, I found it to be a confusing and yet fascinating society. One of the more destabilizing undercurrents was the dating world/ sexual politics (not sure if that is quite the right term) of South Korea. While my male colleagues ( non-Korean teachers) were often put down and/or ostracized for showing interest in Korean women, I was often pushed to date Korean men. Granted, I am a white woman. I never could understand why it was alright for me but not for Kevin down the hall. However, it would seem that there is a greater call for female teachers in South Korea. I assume this has to do with foreign women being viewed as either not entering the dating/marriage game or a bit of fluffy fun for the local men.
    While there I was treated to vastly differing attitudes about both my race and sex. On one hand, there was the odd “so beautiful, so pale, so tall” stuff along with some very strange comments about the length of my hair or the size of my chest. These usually came from my female coworkers. At work my male colleagues kept a certain distance from me. Out on the street, there was a totally different attitude. Out there, the single white female is apparently fair game for all sorts of insinuations and lewd comments.
    When dining with a male co worker, we were often the recipients of approving looks from men and disgusted looks from the women. I found the double standard obnoxious and unsettling. Bak-Sik gets the proverbial high five for eating dinner with me. Kevin gets spit on for dining with Min-Soo. It left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
    For the most part, I loved my time in Korea. It was eye opening, interesting and allowed me to have a deeper look at cross cultural communication. However, the sexual attitudes left me cold. I had to appear as pure as the driven snow to garner any respect at all. Outside my workplace, I had to deal with groping, rude comments and straight up offers of purchase.
    The Western world needs to stop being such asses about Asian Male/ Other female relationships. I have had a few and they were good ones even if we did garner a few odd looks. In Korea, I can’t even imagine it. It was simply too uncomfortable. For my part, it is probably a character weakness that I can’t bear up under the scrutiny. To the brave souls that undertake it, more power to you. Hopefully you change the attitudes in both the Western World and Korea.

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