Korean Sociological Image #48: The Male Gaze

( Source: L-C-R. Reproduced with permission )

Like photographer L-C-R says, this 2008 Gundam advertisement is a prime example of a woman being portrayed as a child and/or sex object, of which she saw entirely too much of while she was in Korea.

You may be very surprised then, when you learn whom it was actually aimed at.

But first, please consider what is it exactly that so demeans drama actress Min Seo-hyeon (민서현) in it? I identify 4 or 5 things myself, which I outline in descending order of importance below:

  1. her childlike expression, combined with putting her fingers in her mouth
  2. the canting of her head
  3. her surprisingly awkward stance
  4. her passivity as she awaits the masculine-looking robot to make the next move

And after discussing those, albeit briefly because I’ve already done so in great depth in this similar post about soju advertisements, I’ll finally look at the ad in the context of the campaign as a whole. But feel free to disagree with any of those and/or suggest others, and in that vein I highly recommend asking your Korean partners, colleagues or friends their own opinions also. As if the experience of asking my wife and her friends earlier is anything to go by, then they are very likely to disagree with the first. Or indeed, that she’s being portrayed childishly at all, and – jumping ahead – not even in the following commercials either:

I’d argue that the main reason for that is the Korean cultural practice of aegyo (애교), difficult to define in English but probably somewhere between “affected sweetness” and “affected childishness“, and at least partially rooted in the prolonged transition to adulthood of experienced 20-something Koreans that are the biggest practitioners of it. For not only does the Korean education system essentially defer the joys of adolescence (but not the negatives!) until graduating from high school, but economic circumstances force them to live at home until marriage and/or deliberately put off their university graduation, and men also have their 24-28 months of compulsory military service to boot.

But I realize that since I was a student myself in the mid-1990s, more and more 20-somethings in Western countries are also postponing leaving home, and indeed to note all the above is not to argue that all Korean 20-somethings in such circumstances are childish; actually, I have intelligent, mature, and thoroughly Westernized Korean friends that have resigned themselves to them, or alternatively feel so trapped that they are literally fleeing the country to escape. Yet one thing they certainly do not do however, is aegyo, and I put it to you that in fact that is neither required for women to successfully navigate a patriarchal society, nor particularly savvy and ultimately empowering of them to do so.

( Source )
( Source: L-C-R )

Yes, “women”. As while Korean men do also do aegyo, and so as you’d expect content analysis demonstrates that men are much more likely to be portrayed childishly in advertisements in Korean magazines than US ones, and Korean men more than Western ones in the former, it is still overwhelmingly Korean women that are done so, and to a much greater extent than women of any ethnicity are in US magazines.

( Source )

As for anyone still not seeing the childishness in Seo-hyeon’s expression however, or why it is problematic in any sense, consider what the images above tell us about just how “natural” such expressions really are on adults, and why women are more commonly portrayed with them nevertheless. And which are often accentuated of course, by putting their fingers in their mouths, and which could possibly be considered “self-touching” as defined by sociologist Erving Goffman in Gender Advertisements (1979) below:

As discussed in that earlier post on soju advertisements, both are often combined with the canting of the head, which is problematic for the reasons outlined there. I also discuss awkward stances there too, and to anyone believing that I’m about to read too much into Seo-hyeon’s, I suggest stopping here and trying it for yourself,  making sure to bend and spread your legs outward at the knees like she does in particular. For not only will you realize just how unnatural it really is, and that people only ever stand like that in advertisements (and overwhelmingly women at that), but you’ll also probably end up falling forward a little on your first attempt like I did, and will suddenly gain a very palpable sense of why exactly the advertisement does indeed present her as a sex object:

( Source: L-C-R )

In Goffman’s framework in Gender Advertisements, that “bashful knee bend” is something that women frequently, men very infrequently, are posed in a display of. And whatever else, it can be read as

…a foregoing of full effort to be prepared and on he ready in the current social situation, for the position adds a moment to any effort to fight or flee. Once again one finds a posture that seems to presuppose the goodwill of anyone in the surround who could offer harm. (p.45)

Hence passivity, as blind to whatever occurs behind her, nevertheless Seo-hyeon seems to be eagerly awaiting whatever the robot plans to do with her. And which judging by the fact that it also is standing slightly thrust forward, and has a big long gun resting behind Seo-hyeon’s buttocks, couldn’t really be any clearer. Hell, even the protrusion on its crotch is already bright red for good measure too.

( Source )

An advertising campaign clearly aimed at young men and adolescent boys then, whom I’ll safely assume are the vast majority of Gundam fans? If so, then the effort actually appears to have backfired, as the few commentators on it I’ve been able to find here, here, here, here, and here generally express both surprise and disdain at seeing Min Seo-hyun at all, the last of whom wrote the following about the advertisement above:

이 광고는 광고로서의 설득력이 전혀 없다. 그것이 염가 제작되었기 때문이 아니다. 반대로 제작비는 많이 들었을 것이다. 이름있는 사람들의 얼굴을 비추기 때문이다.(그림의 건프라 광고에 출연하는 사람이 유명한지는 잘 모르겠다.) 그러나 문제 역시 그러한 사고방식에 있다. 즉, 유명한 사람의 얼굴을 비추면 광고가 될 것이라는 사고방식에.

This advertisement has no persuasive power at all. But not because it was cheaply and poorly produced; actually, because of the famous faces in it, it looks like a lot of money was spent on it (well, actually I don’t know if they are famous or not). Rather, the problem is with using that advertising logic in the first place.

이것은 어느 정도 맞는 말이다. 유명한 사람이 어떤 상품을 소비하고 있으면 그것만으로도 상품의 질을 소비자들에게 안심시켜 줄 수 있다. 그러나 그것도 광고의 효용성 안에서 이루어져야 한다.

However you look at it, this is correct. While of course simply having famous faces in an advertisement is sufficient for most consumers, they should still be used in the ad as effectively as possible however.

이 광고의 전략은, 유명하거나 예쁜 사람과 건프라의 이미지를 교차시켜 건프라가 갖는 오타쿠 이미지의 쇄신일 것이다. 좋은 생각이다. 그러나 이러한 두 이미지가 교차점을 찾지 못하고 있다. 저 사람은 건프라를 만지작거리고 있지만 전혀 즐거워 보이지 않는다. 아마 저 사람은 자신이 들고 있는 건프라의 이름도 모를 것이다.

The advertisement’s strategy is to reform the image of a Gunpla Otaku [an obsessive fan of something - James] by combining with a famous or attractive person. This is a good idea. However, ultimately they don’t really mix. This person doesn’t look like she’s enjoying holding the model [really?] and probably doesn’t even know the name of it.

( Source )

방 또한 지나치게 깨끗하지 않은가? 건프라에 열중하면 당연히 방은 데칼 찌꺼기나 플라스틱 조각으로 너저분해져 있어야 하고, 책장에는 잡다한 건프라가 어지럽게 진열되어 있어야 한다. 채색하는 손은 알록달록 에나멜이 묻어 있어야 하고, 옷은 더러워져도 상관없는 펑퍼짐한 츄리닝이어야 하며, 얼굴은 지극히 진중한 표정을 짓고 있을 것이다. 오히려 이러한 당연한 이미지를 예쁘고, 성공적이고, 멋있는 사람들과 교차시켰으면 이 광고는 성공을 거두었을 것이다. 장동건이 한없이 고결한 태도로 NDS를 플레이했다면 NDS는 그만큼 팔리지 않았을 것이다. 오히려 소파에 퍼져 앉아 우리들이 하듯이 게임을 했기 때문에, 우리가 하는 것을 장동건도 한다는 안심을 소비자에게 줄 수 있었다.

Also, isn’t the room excessively clean? When you are absorbed in assembling a Gunpla model, of course the room should be messy with the remains of decals and leftover plastic, and various other models displayed on the bookcase. And while your hands would be stained with enamel paint and your casual clothes dirty and speckled, your face shows that you don’t care about that as you focus all your attention on assembling the model. Rather, prettier and more successful people were needed. And recall that very famous actor Jang Dong-gun didn’t similarly loftily play Nintendo DS Lite while he was advertising it in 2007; instead, he just played it normally on the sofa like the rest of us, and so it sold well.

게다가, 타겟을 통일했으면 더 설득력이 있었을 것이다. 지금 이 광고가 노리는 소비층은 누구인가? 아이? 청소년? 남자? 여자?

Hence I think the ad would have been more persuasive if it had been aimed at a wider variety of people. But to whom was it actually aimed at anyway? Children? Teenagers? Men? Women?

( Source: L-C-R. Reproduced with permission )

Sounds like a rather picky otaku to me, but he does at least finish with some good questions, which I’ll now attempt to answer by passing on what I’ve been able to find of the remainder of the campaign.

First up, the one above that was alongside the one with Min Seo-hyun. Featuring popular singer (now actor) Kim Kibum (김기범) of the boy band Super Junior (슈퍼주니어), at first glance it’s very similar. And yet:

  • the robot isn’t even facing towards him, let alone thrusting a phallic object towards his buttocks
  • Kibum’s stance is much more natural
  • rather than passively waiting for robot to initiate something, here he seems to be silently asking the observer what fun things he can do with the robot himself
  • accordingly, his expression is more mischievous than childish
( Source: L-C-R )

Crucially however, this dichotomy is not repeated in the rest of the campaign. See the following commercial which features both actors for instance (as an aside, it starts with the lines “Shall we do it? Okay”, a common innuendo in Korean advertising):

And in particular, the long version of the bedroom one, which reveals that the reason she become interested in Gundam in the first place was because boyfriend Kim Kibum bequeathed his collection to her while doing his military service, to which she now enthusiastically adds to with her own robot:

And the theme of both sexes enjoying assembling and enjoying Gundam models is corroborated by the following posters and website images:

( Source )
( Sources: left, right )

Taken as a whole, I’d argue that the only consistent theme of the campaign is that of Min Seo-hyeon becoming more and more involved in the hobby for various reasons, including by: being (sexually) tempted by the models themselves; encouraged to take it up by Kim Kibum giving her his own models; assembling models together at his suggestion; and finally becoming equally passionate and knowledgeable about it as he is. Nay, it’s not so much a theme as the exact narrative Gundam hoped would play out repeatedly in real life, and besides which the cute portrait poster of Kibum above to download from the Gundam website is sufficient evidence in itself that the campaign was aimed at teenage girls and women.

Why then, did the bedroom commercial and the opening advertisement simply suck so badly? Why on Earth did the advertising agency responsible think that having a 22 year-old woman acting like a 12 year-old would make either age group more interested in the product, let alone by suggesting that – not to put too fine a point on it – she also wanted to get fucked by it?

Of course, there could be any number of reasons. For instance, there is the cultural practice of aegyo as mentioned, which I may have underestimated, and perhaps I’m wrong in thinking that the majority of Korean women would be at least unimpressed, if not offended, by depictions of women as children. It could also be yet another demonstration of an advertising agency so used to selling products to men that it comes to regard their perceived desires and tastes as the norm, and so unwittingly applies them to women too:

( Tempted to drink soju with 16.8% alcohol now girls? )

But recall that photographer L-C-R mentioned that she saw advertisements like these everywhere in Korea, as probably you do too, which raises a third possibility: either the Korean advertising industry as a whole is dominated by men (which may in fact be true), or else it has so internalized those male norms that even women in the industry (let alone consumers) regard them as normal and appropriate for selling products to either sex.

A phenomenon by no means confined to Korea or the just the advertising industry, this is the essence of the “male gaze“, and which hopefully having provided some evidence for and/or at least piqued your interest in, I’ll wisely finish by pointing you in the direction of excellent introductions to the topic rather than going on further here. One is the examination of the ways women are portrayed in graphic novels provided by fantasy magazine, and another is the related Bechdel Test for movies:

And here’s a brief application of that to specifically Fantasy movies at Feminist SF also. But I most highly recommend the illuminating, even strangely moving 1972 documentary Ways of Seeing by then art historian John Berger, which I’ve just discovered via Sociological Images here and here. Obviously the second episode on the female nude is most pertinent here, but episode 1 is more likely to captivate you to the extent that you forget to leave your seat for the next half hour:

Here’s episode 2:

And I would include episodes 3 and 4, the latter of which is on advertising, but I haven’t watched them myself yet!^^

(For all posts in the Korean Sociological Images series, see here)


35 thoughts on “Korean Sociological Image #48: The Male Gaze

  1. Ha! John Berger also has a companion book to this series titled the same. The book an series is like required freshman art school theory. Funny is see a non artist reference it.

      • Might be interesting might not be. But also consider the paintings by Frans Hals (the 2 last paintings being discussed.. the regents of the alms houses) are quite big. 1,7m high and 2,5m wide. It’s always interesting to think about paintings as being much bigger than how you perceive them in books or on screens.

        Except maybe the ‘girl with the pearl earring’ which many would expect to be quite large, but is in fact only 44.5 cm × 39 cm. Slightly larger than 2 sheets of printer paper.

        You can see them here for a slightly more accurate view on them. I think paintings like these need to be seen in real life though. :P

        http://www.franshalsmuseum.nl/collectie/bekijk (they’re on the bottom right of the page.) At the top of the page you can switch to english.

        ps; or everybody should study art more. ^.^

        • Well, I meant interesting to me personally: I’d like to linger and take my time over many of the points made in the documentary, rather than having to constantly pause and start and transcribe it and so on.

          I was a little confused about your reference to Girl with a Pearl Earring for a moment, as I didn’t recall that in the documentary (I may be mistaken though), but either way I do see your point. And I thought Berger possibly exaggerated the necessity of seeing paintings at their original size and especially in the context of their location (many, if not most, were surely not intended to be the latter, even before mechanical reproduction), and he didn’t certainly didn’t mention the benefits of mechanical reproduction either, but it was still a very eye-opening documentary.

          Will watch episodes 3 & 4 tonight!

          • He showed Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” and then my brain remembered the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting being small when I was typing the response. Mix up.

            Very true about the location. Some of the larger paintings that have survived to this day certainly haven’t survived in one piece. One famous example is “The Nightwatch” which was moved to a different location and had to fit on wall in between 2 doors. The painting was too big and so the owner decided to cut off a piece of the painting. Also interesting to think about how special the painting was to the owner at that time.

            But when I was watching it I didn’t feel this necessity for looking at the original. It felt more like he was talking about awareness of what you’re looking at and in what setting.

            • Agree about him not really talking about the necessity of looking at the original. Still, I can be forgiven from getting that first impression from the following found at 4:42 of part 1 of episode 1:

              Originally, paintings were an integral part of the building for which they were designed. Sometimes, when you go into a Renaissance church of chapel, you have the feeling that the images on the wall are records of the building’s interior history; together, they make up the building’s memory, so much are they part of the life and individuality of the building. Everything around the image, is part of its meaning. Its uniqueness is part of the single place in which it is in; everything around it confirms and consolidates its meaning.

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  3. Thank you for the documentary. I particularly appreciated the discussion about the mirror and its relation to women image of themselves, as Korean women make extensive use of it (compared to say European women at least). Always always checking themselves, whether it would be with their personal mirror or the metallic side of an advertisement frame in the street. They check themselves so often that I wonder if they have sometimes the chance to find themselves “as they are” (part 4, 3’55).

    • You’re welcome, and well put. It’s just ridiculous at how entirely too many women here feel the need to look every few mins, even in situations where they have no objective reason whatsoever to make sure their appearance is at it’s best.

      Anyone who says that is the case all over the world, and so what’s the big deal…obviously hasn’t been to Korea yet!^^

  4. ” As if the experience of asking my wife and her friends earlier is anything to go by, then they are very likely to disagree with the first. Or rather, that she’s being portrayed childishly at all,”

    Does this mean that your wife and her friends DON’T perceive the image of the woman in the Gunpra ad as childish? Wow. It would be interesting to show that photo to people from other cultures and get their perceptions. The robot’s phallic prortrusion pointing at the girlish woman is crass. If it’s intentional, I cringe to imagine the conversation among the ad creators, who were probably all male.

    Regarding the Western ads, I honestly don’t see anything childish about the two women embracing. It looks like a natural expression of friendship. Men are rarely seen in this pose not because it’s childish but because of homophobia. it seems sometimes that when people notice differences between the ways men and women are portrayed that it is often assumed that women are being put down, belittled, degraded, or objectified. As in the case of the two friends embracing, the difference may actually communicate a cultural norm that is neutral or even favors women. Unconstrained by homophobia, heterosexual women are freer to show affection to each other.

    • Sorry: I’ve edited that part of the text to make it slightly clearer that yes, they didn’t perceive her image in the ad as childish, nor her behavior in the commercials. My wife is used to used to this sort of thing from me though, and so soon saw what I meant when she watched the commercial set in the bedroom especially, but her friends didn’t.

      I think the combination of features of the ad I mentioned means the symbolism etc. was completely intentional myself, so although it would be both interesting and cringeworthy to be a fly on the wall in the ad creators’ office, I have no doubt in my mind that advertisers do indeed have explicit conversations about where and why to have the muzzle of a robot’s gun behind a woman’s buttocks for instance. What I would be most interested in though, would be hearing their responses when – or indeed if – they’re ever challenged on such things. I used to think advertising magazines would do that, but I stopped buying them once I realized how vacuous they were (update: Korean ones at least, and after the recession there’s now only one remaining (and which only looks at internet advertising))

      I agree with all your points about the two women embracing, although in hindsight its a bad example: not that I think you’re not already well aware of this sort of thing, but just the site A Web Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose that they’re from for instance, I think more than demonstrates that women are portrayed with absurd poses, expressions and/or behaviors that men rarely are, but which we’ve gotten used and come to accept as natural on women because of their ubiquity in advertising. And many of these would be downright bizarre in any culture, regardless of how normal it is to be affectionate, tactile, and playful with friends of the same sex in them (or not).

    • I think you’re right about the robot’s position being intentional. It amazes me that most Korean women don’t see the obvious, insulting infantalization of women conbined with crass sexual objectification. Advertising that demeans women and is aimed at a male audience is bad enough, but when the advertising demeans the very audience whose money it seeks? WOW.

      RE why boys aren’t interested in stories about girls, hard to answer since I’m female, but my gut feeling based on watching children at play is that a) boys prefer action over dialog; and b) action and adventure are still male-dominated themes. I had playground duty while teaching overseas at an international school. I observed how sports united the boys regardless of nationality or language. They’d all gather on the soccer field and play every day. “Pass,” “kick, “goal,” and “you” were the only English words the boys needed to interact. The girls, on the other hand, sequestered themselves on the swings or under a tree, chattering and negotiating relationships. Two girls might huddle for a conference before rejoining the others. Because girls’ interactions were mostly conversation, the girls were divided largely by nationality and language. Sadly, bilingual girls were forced to choose one language group or the other. Koreans who socialized with English-speaking friends were ostracized by Korean speakers not fluent in English.

      I see similiar gender differences here although some white or black girls will join the boys in sports or set up their own game. The Hispanic girls almost never play sports, probably owing to cultural influences from their immigrant parents. I think the difference in physical play really is more gender than sex, meaning learned not innate. I observe that girls enjoy sports and PE activities very much if they’re encouraged and given choices. Sorry if I’ve wandered off topic too much, but given your area of study, I thought you might be interested in cross-cultural observations of gender differences from an elementary school teacher.

      • Oh indeed, very interested. Unfortunately I don’t have the benefits of watching children of that age play from the perspective of an adult, but everything you say matches my own experience at that age, and to a lesser but still large extent of last 2 years of high school too. Come to think of it now, that high school had a policy of only letting the students get up and do their own thing after all sitting down together eating (and of course talking) in their school “family” buildings (there were 5 or 6 then) for 20 minutes or so, with 13-17 year olds from that school family all crammed together and no one even able to walk over and spend it with their friends in another building.

        Being chronically shy at the time (6 high schools in 3 countries in 3 years: go figure), I of course hated it, and would sneak away and hide somewhere behind a building to be by myself, but I can see the benefits now.

      • Honestly, I didn’t see what you are calling “the obvious” until it was pointed out. Some people, like myself, don’t read too deeply into these things and just glance over it while for others, these things stand out. It’s really not that obvious unless you’ve always been extra observant and that’s where your mind is.

        Though the aegyo thing does bug me a bit…especially when overdone. I know I do a lot of whining and sometimes I do act childish, not to be cute though, just being a bit immature at times.

    • And thanks for the Harry Potter link. The analyses of the characters was interesting, but I didn’t see where anyone addressed the question of whether Harry Potter would have been as popular if Hermoine were the main character with the books named after her. My gut feeling is no unless Hermoine was endowed with a huge rack like Lara Croft.

  5. Reflecting on the Bechdel test for movies, I’ve always wondered why Hollywood cinema is so male-oriented. Women will go see movies with friends and often pick the movies they see with a partner and there are a lot of women producers now, so why are films dominated by male characters? I suspect it’s because women will see movies about men, but men won’t see movies about women unless they’re sexy. Male-dominated casts of characters are also found in cartoons and popular juvenile fiction, best illustrated by the Harry Potter series. I’ve never read a book or seen a movie, but my impression of the characters from descriptions and photos is that it is male-dominated with the most important female character very pretty. The author of the Harry Potter series is a woman. Is it that she ‘naturally’ envisioned mostly males engaged in action and adventure or did she consciously or unconsciously factor in the reality that girls can be entertained by stories about boys, but boys aren’t so interested in stories about girls unless they’re attractive.

    • Just two thoughts: first, why do you think women will see movies about men, but men won’t see movies about women unless they’re sexy? Not disagreeing necessarily, just curious.

      Next, I’ve watched a couple of movies on TV and read the first Harry Potter book, all of which I was very non-plussed by, but I’ve garnered a great respect for J.K. Rowling personally from just the few interviews and speeches of her that I’ve read. Without having thought about it before then, I would be very surprised to find that the Harry Potter was as bad in the sense that you mention as, say, the original Lord of the Rings books were, so I did googled it quickly and found short examinations here and here of the portrayal of female characters in them which you might find interesting.

  6. The canting of the head doesn’t read childish to me, at least not in an especially Korean way. In a speech class in college (in the US), several (non-Asian) female students had problems with tilting their head while they spoke- something they had been taught was “feminine”- so I can’t agree that that aspect is “childish.”

    @whatsonthemenu- there was a discussion I read once about that point- Hollywood seems to aim its movies at boys aged 12-17 not because they’re the largest segment of the moviegoing audience, but because other demographics will see those kinds of movies, whereas the 12-17 year old boys will not see others.

    • I think you’re quite missing the point about the head cant, which I never said was childish or particularly Korean in itself. Rather, in the earlier post in which I discuss it in more detail, I noted that Goffman said that the effect of the head cant is to lower the level of the head:

      “…relative to that of others, including, indirectly, the viewer of the picture. The resulting configuration can be read as an acceptance of subordination, and expression of ingratiation, submissiveness, and appeasement.” (p. 46)

      So it arguably makes one subordinate then, either to others in the picture, or the observers themselves. You might expect, then, to find it on a male of low status in an ad alongside a male of higer status, or alternatively if the presumed observers of the ad are of higher status than the low status male depicted…but you never do. Instead, it’s much more common on women, and what’s more is usually featured in combination of many other things that definitively are childish as discussed, like sticking fingers in mouths and/or explicitly childish expressions.

      In particular though, your sentence – “something they had been taught was ‘feminine’- so I can’t agree that that aspect is ‘childish.’ ” – seems to indicate that you seem to think that those qualities are mutually exclusive, whereas I think that just the reaction of my wife and her friends to the ad alone demonstrates that people can have some downright childish notions of femininity, yet without recognizing (and indeed perhaps vehemently denying) it as such.

  7. Have you seen the advertisement for a drink, it has a woman standing(shown from the backside – can’t see face – from the waiste down. The drink is in between her legs and the word “Sure” is written next to it.

  8. oh well…no seriously, what the fuck?

    This must be one of the worst concepts for an ad that I’ve ever seen! The korean comment that you translated left me truly speechless, I mean what.the.hell?? a dirty room, not caring about anything but the toy, I agree that the room looks as if it has been cleaned by some neat freak on a cleaning spree but c’mon! when have you ever seen a messy room in an ad that wasn’t for a cleaning product? it needs a purpose and sitting in a messy room in order to sell a toy isn’t the way to go! parents watch ads as well, when he or she will see the ad portraying such a careless teenager because the kid is too engrossed in his damn toy to clean his room, sure as hell he/she will never buy or let his child purchased such thing.

    Now back to the ad…the korean use of the female image always manages to anger me to no end. Of course, women being used in advertising as sex objects isn’t new at all, hell, every country on earth use that, it’s the way it has always been and we all know that sex sells almost anything. But this is, this is truly ridiculous! I get that the brand apparently wanted to draw more women into buying the gundams but hell, there are better ways to do it! the ways she is posing, the way the robot is positioned behind her, it’s screaming SEX! what for? in the end of the day, it’s still a freaking plastic robot, nothing close to a vibrator (unless she is very very differently built then normal wome or have some serious S&M issues…ouch). Why go for the aegyo type anyway? You’d have more success with tomboys since they ARE the ones that WILL buy the freaking thing, no matter how hard you will try, a girl that sees herself as feminin and girly won’t touch that stuff, not ever for Kim Kibum who looks absolutly ridiculous in his posing with the Robot (which apparently isn’t gay…what a shame).

  9. It seems the impression intended to leave is that a man can fiddle/diddle etc..with what was between the woman’s legs.

  10. Woah thanks for posting some sexilicious pics. I love it when people who use sex to sell social commentary.

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  12. james i love your blog, i have been reading it for years.

    but sometimes i wonder if foreigners read into this stuff way to much.

    i realize my comment is not very helpful or adding the discussion but i feel that over analyzing this sort of stuff often leads foreigners to believe they have a superior frame of mind and they are smarter than your typical korean who does not see the flaws around them. not you personally though, but one poster above illustrates what i mean.

    “It amazes me that most Korean women don’t see the obvious”. slow clap for the amazingly insightful foreigner. the ‘my western brain sees what your korean brain cannot comprehend schtick’ seems to be overwhelming these days.

    just to reiterate i am not attacking you in any way. your blog is the best one run by a foreigner and any opinion you put forth here is/should be respected. keep up the great work!

    • Thanks for the compliment, and I do understand and appreciate the tendency you describe. Still, it is very true in general that outsiders to any culture often notice things that insiders are quite used to (and I speak with some experience having lived roughly 10 years each in 3 separate countries), and no matter how offensive this may sound in the specific case of advertising I really do think even most well-educated Koreans’ understanding of it is seriously stunted compared to their Western counterparts. Feel free to prove me wrong, but in the meantime it is surely telling that this blog is pretty much the only internet source on sexism in Korean advertisements, in English or Korean.

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