On Grandly Narrating…Korean Dramas?

Misaeng(Source: The Huffington Post Korea)

Sorry for the slow blogging everyone. Not just for the last few weeks, but for the last few months. Many of you have noticed and have been wondering, so I thought I should offer a quick explanation.

Long story short, I’ve got much less time than I had in 2014.

I’m doing a Master’s again. I’m teaching more classes this semester. I’m working on my first academic journal article. My daughters have started a (lovely) alternative school for multiracial children, which is a long commute away; it’s nice spending the extra time with them, but that’s another 10 hours a week that I used to spend on other things. And so on.

Still, I could and did work on the blog a little. But then I caught an on-off, debilitating flu for over a month. As you can imagine, now I’m behind on just about everything.

All that said, after 8 years of blogging, I am in a bit of a rut with regards to topics and style, and am looking for new ideas to motivate myself—and hopefully to interest and entertain you too. One possibility might be an episode by episode discussion of the recent(ish) drama Misaeng, which I’ve heard was a very realistic portrayal of Korean corporate life, and especially of the position of women therein. I’ve already watched the first episode, and, although it wasn’t earth-shattering, it was refreshingly free of K-Drama cliches, especially the childish female roles. If, like me, you’ve been disappointed with “progressive” Korean dramas before, this might finally be one worth getting stuck into.

If you’re interested in following along with me, at the pace of one episode per week say, please let me know in the comments. And/or, about anything else you’d like to see more of on the blog. Thanks!

Update (July): Thanks for the comments everyone, and sorry for the false starts in June. I’ll start sometime this month.

p.s. Three Cheers for Halcion, the only way I managed to finally get a good night’s sleep last night!

From The Archives: October

Kirin Neo-Confucian Hierarchy(Source; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Apropos of this quick look back at over 7 years of blogging, here’s a picture of an old ad close to my home that I must have passed hundreds of times in the last few years, which often gets me thinking. I hope some of these posts can still do the same for you too.

Meanwhile, please feel free to use the picture for your own post or presentation on gender, hierarchy, and (Neo-)Confucianism(!). From my perspective, it’s a pity it’s Japanese and not Korean, but that does raise the interesting question of how similar Japanese society is (or not) in those regards. Continuing today’s theme, please see here for some investigating of that I did back in 2008.


Taking a Short Break…

how could you(Source)

Sorry everyone, but with some offline deadlines looming, final tests beginning for my students, and this new hobby of getting over 6 hours of sleep a night I’ve started (very decadent of me, I know), I’m going to have to take a short break from blogging. But I’ll still be very much around, tweeting and posting interesting links to the blog’s FB page as per usual, and I’ll be blogging again sometime after December the 16th. See you then!

R.I.P. Korean Gender Reader

Girls' Generation Shocked(Source)

Sorry everyone, but this will be the last Korean Gender Reader.

It’s not the workload—this new format, decided upon a few months ago, is really quite light. I even enjoy collecting all the links now. And I do realize that many people look forward to these posts and rely on them.

Really, if I could keep doing them, I would.

The problem is that by their nature, they require a regular posting each week. Whereas partially because of my very limited free time, and partially because planned short posts often turn out to need weeks of extra research and writing, my natural posting style is anything but regular.

Try to combine the two? You’ve already been seeing the results—little but Korean Gender Reader posts filling in the gaps between the long ones. It doesn’t look good at all, and has an obvious solution.

And, frankly, it feels great to be able to post on what and whenever I like again, rather than constantly feeling pressured.

I could go on, including mentioning — no joke — developing repetitive strain injury in my right arm last month, but I’m sure you get the idea. Let me just say that it’s reminded me to only work on what I enjoy, while still doing my best to keep you entertained and informed in the process.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to post links on Twitter (@JamesTurnbull) and on the blog’s FB page, so all the stories that would have been going up will still be quite accessible really. And I’ll still be very happy and grateful to receive ideas and leads from readers, and/or to post announcements of your upcoming events and so on.


Wanted: Your Stories Of Love Lost, Unrequited Love and More (Speaking of China)


Girls & Guitars: K-Girls Rocking the Hallyu Wave (Elegiacomo; YAM Magazine)

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

Sasaeng fan guests on CulTwo’s Veranda Show (Netizen Buzz)

Could This Be China’s Long-Awaited Youth Movement? (The Diplomat)

Why Aren’t Asian Actors Getting Leading Roles in Hollywood? (Jezebel)


Children of executed Chinese criminals don’t count as orphans, doomed to be homeless (Shanghaiist)

South Korea lives in the future (of brutal copyright enforcement) (Boing Boing)

— “It was not so long ago that writing an article on queer cinema in Korea was a real struggle, for want of source material.” (London Korea Links)

Former celebrity trainee reveals how much sexual favors cost (Netizen Buzz)

Chinese matchmaking agencies to regulate online dating due to lying scumbags (Shanghaiist)


From incorrectly calculated foreign crime rates to tabloid TV (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Abs in Review: Super Junior (Seoulbeats)

Do It Palli-Palli, Keep Doing It Palli-Palli (Outlook India)

Number of students with HIV increasing, Chinese sex-ed still sucks (Shanghaiist)

And Hollywood’s latest bad guys are… the North Koreans (The Independent)


It’s Not (and Never Was) a Korean Wave — It’s a Globalization Wave (Mark Russel’s Website)

JTBC’s “We are Detectives” looks at foreign crime using the KIC report (Gusts of Popular Feeling; Part 2)

Beyond the Bad and the Ugly (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Couleur de peau: Miel, aka Approved for Adoption, screens at Leeds Young Film Fest (London Korea Links)

Government says flash mobs must be registered in advance (The Hankyoreh)


Failed minister nominee makes bitter attack on Korea’s ‘old prejudices’ (The Korea Herald; The Washington Post)

Why do they do that? Korean culture and the K-pop industry (Beyond Hallyu)

Sun Yat-sen University wants to see you masturbate (Shanghaiist)

Scenes from a Tokyo Skid Row Clinic (Japan Subculture Research Center)

What is quasi-rape? Is Park Si-hoo charged with rape? (Korean Gender Cafe; Asian Junkie)


The problem with debuting a girl group labeled as “tomboys” is that you gotta deliver the goods (YAM Magazine)

Korea: A Case Study in Normalcy Bias (The Patriot Post)

Journalist spotlights interview of school bullying victim in light of recent suicides (Netizen Buzz)

For JTBC, consensual sex between white men and Korean women is a “sex crime” (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

My Best Gay Friends Big YouTube Hit for Vietnam (The Diplomat)


Quite frankly, Taeyeon is not necessarily the “prettiest” member of SNSD. But… (Phenomenology/Intervention)

Experts call for a long-term vision of Korea as a multiethnic society, social agreement on overall immigration policy (The Korea Herald)

‘Extreme’ Hagwon Adverts Start Korean Education Debate (koreaBANG)

Hypergamy, Immigration and the Sexual Market in Hong Kong (Via Korea)

Confessions of a Fangirl: Girl Crushes? Oh, I Definitely Got Those (Seoulbeats)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

Adieu, Korean Gender Reader Version 1.0

Speech Balloons Background(Source)

Some minor changes to announce, blogging-wise.

The main change is that I’ll be completely redoing the format of the Korean Gender Reader posts. Because really, they’ve long been superseded by the blog’s Facebook page and Twitter feed where I first post the stories, and where they seem to generate much more discussion too. Also, although the posts may not look like much work, they actually involve 4-5 hours each week of tedious searching through RSS feeds, then copying and pasting them here. Frankly, I’ve long been tempted to simply stop writing them, but have kept at it for readers’ sakes.

I could also mention that I’d probably lose half of my readers if I stopped writing them too, but let’s not go there.

So, I’ve been looking at ways to automate the process somehow. Unfortunately, my options are very limited because this blog isn’t self-hosted, but one possibility is using paper.li instead, which produces “papers,” or digests of stories on a single webpage (which I could link to). Previously, I’d rejected it because those few examples I read always seemed to be very randomly-generated and unfocused, but I’ve since learned that it’s possible to be very selective with the stories you add, especially if — obvious, in hindsight — you choose your own Twitter feed as the only source.

After doing some experimenting, I’m quite happy with the results. It does have some minor issues, particularly with not being able to choose category names, or which stories go in which, but they’re still all easy to access. And, with excerpts and images thrown in to the mix too, it may well be an improvement.

I’ll roll it out next Friday Saturday, and will use the time saved to be a little more consistent in my production of longer, analytical pieces like this recent one, with translations thrown in here and there. And I have a lot more offline things I’m working on this year too, but I’ll let you know about those when they come up.

In short, my blogging plans for 2013 sound *ahem* suspiciously similar to those for 2012. But I’ll try really hard this time round!


Gay Shorts on Smartphones Screening 1/9 through 1/26 (The Kimchi Queen)

Body Image, Health

My lucky thunder thighs (Salon)

Erin Li’s L.A. Coffin School Puts the Spotlight on Mental Illness Among Asian Americans (Mochi Magazine)

— The top 10 most handsome actors as chosen by a plastic surgeon (Netizen Buzz)

New Online Game Attracts Women Gamers with Free Beauty Treatment Offers (Korea IT Times)

My Body, My Self-Image, My Self-Destruction (Geek in Heels)

A new line of confidence-wear for girls (The Ethical Adman)

Ministry of Employment and Labor denied proposals of NHRCK on Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Koreans Are Heaviest Drinkers Among Asian Americans, Study Shows (KoreAm)

400 Years of Women Removing Their Body Hair (Jezebel)

Israel’s New Ban on Super Skinny Models Won’t Fix the Problem (XX Factor; Thick Dumpling Skin)

Claims ginseng is ‘new Viagra’ just don’t stand up (NHS)

Woman’s Work: The Ugly Truth Behind the Beauty Premium (Bitch)

Vogue Italia Breaks Another Barrier With First Asian Cover Model (TIME)

Top celebrities suing Gangnam cosmetic clinic for using their images and names without permission (Omona They Didn’t)

Dr. Michi, I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether a heavy consumption of K-Pop can influence a young person toward disordered eating (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Perpetuating Stereotypes: How Korean high school girls (supposedly) see themselves (I’m No Picasso)

Censorship, Media

Power of the Korean Film Producer: Park Chung Hee’s Forgotten Film Cartel of the 1960s Golden Decade and its Legacy (The Asia-Pacific Journal)

BBC World Service considering opening station aimed at North Koreans (The Independent)

“I no longer use Naver as my primary search engine…because I am fed up with their tactics in manipulating media.” (Arari)


Authorities Entering Private Property on Domestic Violence Calls: A Problem? (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Go Young Wook in custody on four counts of sexual misconduct and assault against minors (Asian Junkie; The Chosun Ilbo; Omona They Didn’t)

Revenge Crimes on the Rise (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Retroactive application of tracking sex offenders ruled constitutional (The Hankyoreh)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

[Q&A] Korean wedding customs: do brides give a lot of money for grooms? (Loving Korean)

Photos: Couples rush to wed on lucky day (Shanghaiist)

Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score. (The New York Times; see here for the Korean angle, especially the comments {update: also see “Korean Women Marry for Money”})

Celebrity dating rumors are serious business (Seoulbeats)

Ask the Yangxifu: On Wealth/Income for Chinese Men + Western Women Couples (Speaking of China)

Newly registered marriages in Korea fell to an all-time low last year, study finds (Asia Sentinel)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Korean police have plan to reduce bullying (Asian Correspondent)

Family planning official in Fujian busted for infant trafficking (Shanghaiist)

Michelle Rhee Featured On PBS’s Frontline Program (ROK Drop)

Without Babies, Can Japan Survive? (The New York Times)

Preference for male babies has created a gender imbalance among young people aged 9-24 (The Hankyoreh)

Reliable Student Exchange Programs in Korea (Angry K-Pop Fan)

— Unwed mothers call for Park’s attention (Tales of Wonderlost)

Blind Stubbornness of Ministry of Health and Welfare is Destroying the lives of Children (The Korean Law Blog)

Growing pains for foreign academics in South Korea (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

— Harvard students marvel at lonely, hard-studying Korean students (The Hankyoreh)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces, Ladygate

“There are lots of reasons why Korea is a nice place to live, but endless Tea Party-style nationalism is not one of them” (Asian Security Blog)

Gender equality key to Japan’s future prosperity (The Japan Times)

Finnish Critique of Korean Hierarchy (Via Korea)

Korean military digs itself into a deeper hole with celebrity soldiers (Netizen Buzz; Asian Junkie; Omona They Didn’t)

Japan needs women power to galvanize economy: party (Reuters)

Korea: The Tyranny of Titles (Via Korea)

Defense ministry urges caution about cutting military service period (Yonhap)

Ministry of Gender Equality Receives More than Initial Budget: Netizens Angry (KoreaBANG)

Lee Hyori’s lack of plans for marriage garners backlash (Netizen Buzz)

LGBT, Sexuality

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

Teacher Guidebook for Queer Korean Students (The Kimchi Queen)

Lana Wachowski Opens Up About Her Transition in Korea’s Talk Show (Kstar10)

Court questions anti-prostitution law (The Marmot’s Hole; Korea Law Today; The Korean Law Blog)

Foreign Media Perpetuating Stereotypes: “South Korea’s youth are among the most sexually conservative in the world” (VICE)


Think before you say “Korean” before a noun of any kind (I’m No Picasso)

Pop Culture

Is what’s happening to Block B now similar to what happened to TVXQ? (Angry K-Pop Fan)

Block B is Going to Court (Seoulbeats)

Roundtable: Block Bust? (Seoulbeats)

E.via splits with agency, forced to use new name, chooses Tymee (Frank Kogan)

New Korean Films: Raising Social Issues With A Musical (Modern Korean Cinema)

Aegyo Hip Hop: Cultural Appropriation at Its Messiest (Seoulbeats)

New music video teaches Korea’s young about Gwangju Massacre (The Hankyoreh)

Any feminist bloggers watching Chinese martial arts period dramas? (The F-Word)

“Gangnam Style”: Crossing Over in the New World (World Literature Today)

Teaching Sociology with Music Videos (The Sociological Cinema)

Video: Who Will Be China’s Psy? (The Asia Society)

“I am a Failed ABC”: Finding Identity as a Chinese-American K-pop Star (Seoulbeats)

Interview with Poet Kim Hyesoon (Korean Modern Literature in Korean)

Best of Korean Music 2012 (Mark Russell’s Website)

Cross-Cultural Cussing (Seoulbeats)

Social Problems

At the Front Line of Suicide Prevention in South Korea (Korea Real Time)

Korea Needs to Stem the Tide of Suicides (The Chosun Ilbo)

Suicide of Another Celebrity Grabs Koreans’ Attention (Korea Real Time)

Horses Cure Internet Porn Addiction In South Korea (Business Insider)

How can Korea improve road safety? (The Korea Herald; Via Korea)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

From the Archives: Bagel Girls, Banking, and Babies!


…[the character of] Chi-Yong’s mother sees marriage as a way to achieve social advancement and material prosperity, as it was in the Victorian era. These ambitions have come to the forefront in Korea since the 1970s, due to rapid economic development and consequent aspirations to class mobility and consolidation during the last thirty years. This novel [Marriage/결혼 by Kim Su-hyeon, 1993] is a good illustration of how, given the pace of change of change in Korea, everybody has a different point of view on marriage, depending on their gender, class, and generation. The issue of communication across generations has become a serious matter. Generation is an important attribute of identity in Korea, like race in the United States. (My emphases.)

(So-hee Lee, “The Concept of Female Sexuality in Popular Culture” in Under Construction: The gendering of modernity, class, and consumption in the Republic of Korea, ed. by Laurel Kendell, 2002; page 146 of 141-164)

With apologies to So-hee Lee for variously attributing that quote to either her editor, to Hyun-Mee Kim, or to Nancy Abelmann over the years, it still very much applies 10 years later. It’s also why studying and living in Korean society can be so exciting sometimes.

For someone who’s been writing about the place for over 5 years though, it means that many of my posts need updating. Let alone mercifully deleted as reader feedback, further research, and greater use of Korean sources have exposed gaping holes in my knowledge and confident preconceptions. And from a practical standpoint too, links will die, embedded videos will get deleted, and my theme will always highlight recent posts at the expense of older ones, no matter how good they may be after going through my culling process.

With all that in mind, once a month I’ll be highlighting posts from the corresponding month in previous years. Not all of them of course (hey, I’ll still like some material to work with in September 2013 and 2014), and to some there’s no new news to add; I include them just to draw attention to for new and old readers, especially as they’ve since been slightly edited for this post with the benefit of several year’s of hindsight. Others though, I’m adding a great deal of new news and commentary below, as you’ll see.

Please let me know what you think!


Alas, not really my own article, but about Grace Duggan’s for Bust Magazine. While I’d often criticized the body-labeling craze in South Korea previously, I didn’t realize just how offensive this particular term was until she pointed it out (source, right):

Sexualizing young women for having childlike features sets off all kinds of alarms, regardless of whether or not they are over 18. The “bagel girl” label does more than infantilize women. It compartmentalizes them by applying two irreconcilable ideals: looking like a baby and a full-grown woman at the same time.

Granted, that may make it sound no more harmful than any other “line.” But, as I explain in a later comment, in the context of how it’s actually used it ends up sounding almost pedophilic:

…there’s nothing wrong with looking young per se.

But consider who the label is applied to: not, say, women in their 30s and 40s and older, for whom – let’s be real – wanting to look younger than they are is understandable (hell, for a 35 year-old guy like me too), but rather it’s women barely on the threshold of adulthood that are being praised for looking like children. And, not to put too fine a point on it, what the FUCK is great about a 21 year-old looking younger than she is? And when her body is simultaneously praised for being developed? That is a seriously flawed ideal to aspire to, and, moreover – as I hint at in the post – it’s no coincidence that it occurs in an environment with strong expectations of childish behavior from women too. Indeed, the end result strongly reminds me of child and teenage female manga characters, with personalities appropriate for their age, but somehow the sex drives and physiological development to act on them of women 10-15 years older.


Meanwhile, by coincidence just yesterday I finished the excellent An Intimate Affair: Women, Lingerie, and Sexuality by Jill Fields (2007), which explains how the word “glamour” — where the “gul/글” in Bagel Girl comes from — came to be closely associated with large breasts by Hollywood in the 1930s to 1950s. Something I’d previously chalked up to a Japanese and then Korean mistranslation of the word, see the above pages for more on that, or all of Chapter 3 on brassieres at Google Books here.

If I do say so myself, I’m very proud of the way I describe my feelings when child singers do aegyo:

…cutesy aegyo is bad enough coming from a 21 year-old singer, but simply surreal when you see it done by a 14 year-old.

Yes, surreal, not merely awkward and inexperienced: essentially, you’re watching a child pretending to be an adult pretending to be a child.

Thank you very much.

Thanks again to the (necessarily anonymous) reader who wrote about her experiences, and I’ve had dozens of inquires about the Seoul clinic she used since. Please just email me if you ever need to know the details yourself.



Once someone points out the “head cant” to you, it just can’t be unseen. Usually inoffensive in itself though, and frequently done simply for photographic and stylistic reasons (which I’ve under-acknowledged in the past), it’s the fact that it’s overwhelmingly women it that makes it problematic. Just one of a number of typical poses for women in ads, ultimately it serves to reinforce gender stereotypes.

Probably, that’s why these recent Giordano ads stood out to me: in the example above for instance, Shin Min-a (신민아) is the one in control, staring at the viewer, while So Ji-sub (소지섭) is distracted (it’s usually the guys that are presented as more focused). And, desperately seeking examples of pro-feminist advertisements for a TED presentation I may be giving next month, in which I have to — grrr — conclude with a positive message rather than just criticize, this made me realize that feminists and advertisers don’t necessarily have to be at odds with each other. Just a sense of balance by the latter would be a huge step forward.

Really about “lewd” advertisements, 2 years later (this June) I translated another article about how their numbers had surged 3 times over the previous 12 months. With no apparent sense of irony, just about every news site that reported on that had so many examples themselves that the text was difficult to read.

One of my most popular posts, anybody (especially men) who thinks street harassment isn’t a problem should just reflect on the opening cartoon, let alone female readers’ comments about their own negative experiences.

(Source: unknown)


A short, harmless commercial for Shinhan Bank at first glance. But, once you take the time to analyze it, it has a clear message that men do the thinking at Shinhan while the women simply look good. Indeed, it’s such a classic example of gender stereotyping that I’m still using it in presentations today.

Here’s the slide I would present after providing that analysis:

But in the next presentation, I’ll be updating it with the recent news that the banking industry still has the largest gender pay gap in Korea, with women making an average of only 57% of what men make.

Not that I’m against skin by any means. But these remain very sweet ads!

Again one of my most popular posts, ironically soon after writing it trends in the Korean entertainment and music industries meant that Koreans would replace Caucasians in many of the modelling roles that sustained those Occidentalist stereotypes. Also, in my own (admittedly limited) experience, there’s far fewer Korean male – Western (invariably Caucasian) female pairings in popular culture now, after a spate of them in the years after Misuda first appeared. (There were never very many of the opposite.)

However, of course many of the stereotypes still do remain.

(Sources: left, right)


When I read on Yahoo! Korea this week about pregnant Hollywood star’s “D-lines”, for a moment I did try to hold my tongue about seeing the label.

After all, this, for example, is just an advertisement for an event for expecting mothers (albeit one where likely body-shaping products are promoted); these D-line fashion shows were surely perfectly harmless; many of those Hollywood stars were indeed glowing, as was pregnant Moon So-ri (문소리) in Cosmopolitan last year; and finally, yes, I can see the humorous side — it is often applied to extremely obese men.

But although the Western media too promotes pampered celebrity mothers-to-be as ideals to follow, and I can certainly accept that pregnant women overseas may likewise feel under some indirect pressure to watch their weight, that post is about how pregnant Korean women were dieting as early as the late-1990s. One can only shudder at what things are probably like now.

Suddenly, talk of D-lines sounds a lot less funny.

One of my first attempts to grapple with the origins of the kkotminam phenomenon (꽃미남; lit. flower-beauty-man), which culminated in this piece by friend and ANU professor Roald Maliangkay 2 years later.

By coincidence, both of us will be quoted in a related news article to be published next week. Watch this space! (Update: and here it is!)


And indeed there was. Unfortunately however, attitudes didn’t change with it, so fathers feel compelled by management to either ignore it entirely or to come back to work early, despite it only being 3 days (source right: unknown).

Note though, that the “paternity leave” in the original article I translated was a bit of a misnomer, it really meaning time off for a child’s birth. “Real,” paid paternity leave has been available since 2001 (or possibly 1995), but sources vary on specifics. Sung So-young in the Korean Joongang Daily, for instance, wrote in April 2011 that:

According to Korean law, all employees with a child under the age of 3 are eligible to take a year off to care for their children. Up to 1 million won ($919) in salary is provided monthly.”

But that is contradicted by a slightly later report in the Chosun Ilbo, which states that:

…those on leave can get up to 40 percent of their salary, or a minimum of W500,000 and a maximum of W1 million, and parents can take leave until the child is 6 years old.

And both in turn are contradicted by Lee Hyo-sik’s earlier report in the March 4 2011 Korea Times, which says:

Regardless of income levels, both male and female salaried workers are currently given 500,000 won per month during parental leave. This is expected to go up to one million won next year.

As for the maximum age of the children in order to be eligible, the same article states that it was 6 rather than 3. This is confirmed by an earlier February 2010 article by Kwon Mee-yoo, again in the Korea Times, which stated:

The Ministry of Labor passed a revision on Wednesday to the Act on Equal Employment and Support for Work-Family Reconciliation, or the Employment Equity Act for short, which will expand the range of workers eligible for parental leave. Now parents with preschoolers under six years old can benefit.

The leave allows employees to take a certain number of paid days off from work to care for their children. The parents can also take unpaid leave if they use up all of their paid days. This includes maternity, paternity and adoption leave. Currently, at private firms only workers with children 3 years old or less qualify for the leave.

Surprisingly, parents with adopted children weren’t eligible before this revision, and still, “only those who gave birth to or adopted children after Jan. 1, 2008 [were to be allowed] parental leave,” despite those (then) 2 to 6 year-olds obviously being of age. Which all sounds very tight-fisted, although logical during the worst of the financial crisis.

Kwon Mee-yoo also notes that it was in 2008 that the government increased the age restriction for (only) public servants, allowing them “to take time off for parental purposes if their children were under 6 years old.” I’ll assume that it previously only applied if their children were under 3 years old, like Kwon notes was the case for employees at private firms.

Finally, quibbles over details aside, Sung So-young’s and Lee Hyo-sik’s articles in particular remain excellent discussions of why Korean fathers are forced to avoid taking paternity leave, despite wanting to spend much more time with their kids. Against that though, just like in most other countries there’s still a pervasive attitude that childcare is primarily women’s work, with insidious manifestations in our daily lives.

And on that note, have a good weekend, and the Korean Gender Reader post will be up on Sunday!

Quick Break/Open Thread

Between my insomnia because of the heat, all my other writing projects, and running out of time to enjoy my summer break with my family (I haven’t even taken my daughters swimming yet!), I’ve decided I need a short break from blogging sorry. But just for about 2 weeks, and everyone’s more than welcome to raise and discuss anything Korean, feminist, sexuality, pop-culture etc. related here in the meantime — I’ll still be around to chat, and will be tweeting and posting links on the blog’s Facebook page as per normal.

So, have a good summer everyone, and please say hi if any of you are in Busan!^^

Update — Christal Phillips, a visiting professor at Yonsei University, has asked me to pass on the following:

I am writing a paper on biracial people in Korea and have created a brief survey for parents of biracial children in Korea as well as biracial Koreans. If this applies to you, please fill out the survey and pass it along to your friends and co-workers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LZJNRJB Thank you for your assistance.”

I can confirm that it just takes 5-10 minutes, and participants will be entered into a draw for a $25 Starbucks gift card.