“Fucking is Fun!”: Sexual Innuendos in Vintage Korean Advertising

Lee Hyori Vita500 따먹는 재미가 있다(Source: Loading… 100%)

Once upon a time, decent, honest Koreans wouldn’t stand for sex and nudity in their media. Gratuitous bikini models sparked outrage. Women had to appear demure and virginal in soju posters. There were no such things as “chocolate abs” to show off, so young male celebrities could make money without ripping their shirts off. The Korean internet wasn’t inundated with ads for male enhancement pills. Only slutty Caucasians were prepared to be lingerie models. And so on.

Instead, advertisers had to use sexual innuendo to manufacture outrage. Mirroring Korean entertainment management companies today, who regularly claim shock and surprise that pelvic thrusts could be considered anything but wholesome family entertainment, PR representatives would feign ignorance of double entendres that every high school student already knew full well.

Then along came “sexy concepts,” advertisers relying on cheap, “sex sells” gimmicks during the financial crisis, and the relaxation of censorship in the Korean movie industry. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Eun Ji Won Worries That There Are Too Many Sexy Concept Girl Groups(“Eun Ji-won Worries That There Are Too Many Sexy Concept Girl Groups.” Source: Soompi)

Or is it? That’s certainly a convenient narrative, and probably has a grain of truth too. As I begin to examine the impact of K-pop on Korean advertising over the last eight years or so, I fully expect to confirm what everybody already knows: that there’s more sexual themes over time, and that K-pop stars, especially women, wear a lot less clothes than other celebrity endorsers.

But does that necessarily mean that sexual innuendo used to be much more common in Korean ads, when standards were stricter? It isn’t mutually exclusive with wearing revealing clothing, and you could easily argue that more liberal attitudes would actually lead to using it more often. Indeed, now it could make an otherwise boring and routine “sexy” ad stand out, as could the strategic use of Konglish too (source, below: The PR News).

Just something to bear in mind as you enjoy the following examples from 2006 and earlier, which caused quite a stir as people began to notice more and more ads like them. Some are so obvious that anyone can get the message; others, you’d Feel the Climax Ocean Worldneed to be very familiar with Korean slang to notice them at all…which makes me wonder what examples may be right under my nose today. By all means, please let me know of any, and/or of some more older ones to add to this collection.

First then, the opening one by Lee Hyori for the vitamin C drink, Vita500 (as an aside, one of the few Korean vitamin C drinks which didn’t—doesn’t?—contain carcinogenic benzene; this being Korea, only foreign news outlets would name which ones were safe). As I explained when I first wrote about it, perhaps five years ago:

…notice the “따먹는 재미가 있다” line next to her face. Simply put, the first word (not to be confused with “다먹다,” or “eat all”) is a combination of “따다, ” which has many meanings but in this case “open; uncork” would be the most appropriate, and “먹다,” which is to eat; then the next word is “재미” meaning “fun, interest,” and a “가” which must attach to it because of the final word “있다,” or “to have.” So literally:

“The act of opening and eating [this] fun has”

Eating often means eating and drinking in Korean. Naturally, a better English translation would be:

“Opening and drinking [this] is fun.”

Still a little awkward, yes? But the point is, “따먹다” has another, entirely different meaning. For instance, a Lee Hyori Vita500 2006guy might say to his friends:

“그여자 봐? 난 따먹었어요”

Which means:

” You see that woman? I opened and ate her.”

“Eating” someone doesn’t have the same connotations in Korean, but you’re on the right track:  “I fucked her” would be the most accurate translation, and so apparently Lee Hyori is saying “Fucking is fun” in the ad (End. Source, right: Kwang-Dong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd).

Back when I first wrote about the ad, I could see nothing but the humor in it. Now though, I have mixed feelings: I appreciate that that phrase is (was?) usually used in a conquest-like, objectifying way, which is why so many women felt insulted:

“Too Lewd!” Lee Hyori’s Subway Advertisement is Surprisingly Suggestive

Kukinews, 15.03.2006

인기가수 이효리가 모델로 등장한 한 식음료 제품 광고의 문구가 지나치게 선정적이라는 지적이 일고 있다.

A food product advertisement with popular singer Lee Hyori has been getting a great deal of attention for the use of a certain phrase in it.

이 광고는 K제약이 지하철 주요노선과 지면에 사용하고 있는 광고다. 네티즌들은 이효리가 등장한 광고 속에 ‘따먹는 재미가 있다’는 문구가 불쾌Lee Hyori Vita500 shop window하다는 지적을 하고 있다. 해당 광고는 K제약이 지난 15일부터 병뚜껑을 따서 속을 확인하는 경품 행사를 홍보하기 위해 제작됐다 (source, left: dongA).

This advertisement by a medicine manufacturer* has been used on a major subway line in Seoul since the the 15th of March. Netizens have been indicating their displeasure with the phrase used by Lee Hyori in it to promote a competition that gives prizes to those who find marked bottletops.

(*Because of Korea’s draconian libel laws, the real name isn’t given, even though it’s blatantly obvious. This is standard practice for the Korean media.)

네 티즌 ‘구구콘’은 “난감한 지하철 광고”라는 제목으로 문제의 광고 사진을 한 인터넷 커뮤니티에 올렸다. 이에 네티즌 ‘sevenstarcider’는 “여자로서 정말 화가 나는 광고”라며 “광고 목적을 모르는 것은 아니지만 도가 지나쳤다”고 지적했다. 네티즌 ‘피부미인’도 “건강음료라는 생각보다 음란한 음료라는 생각이 먼저 든다”고 꼬집었다.

A netizen by the name of ‘Cuckoo-corn’ uploaded the above photo under the title “Strange, puzzling subway ad” to a community site about problem advertisements, and there ‘Sevenstarcider’ under the post title “An Ad That Really Makes Women Angry” wrote “it’s not that I don’t know the purpose of this ad, but that is just too much.” Also, netizen ‘Skinbeauty’ cynically wrote “my first thought is not that this is a health drink, but some kind of aphrodisiac instead.”

K 제약측은 이에 대해 “섹스 어필할 의도는 전혀 없었다”고 해명했다. 홍보팀의 한 관계자는 “광고대행사가 경품행사의 성격을 반영해 제안한 문구였다”며 “(성적으로) 이상하게 유추하는 사람들이 있지만 이효리씨의 건강미에 초점을 맞춘 것 뿐”이라고 설명했다.

About this advertisement, a representative of the PR company behind it explained that “there was absolutely no intention to use sex appeal in it,” that “the text is a simple reflection of advice about the promotion being advertised,” and finally that “while there are people who infer something sexual to it, Lee Hyori’s focus is only on the health and beauty benefits of the product.”

그동안 성적 연상효과를 노린 광고 문구들이 적지 않았던 탓에 ‘야한’ 광고가 다시 도마에 올랐다.

As there have been lot of advertisements with sexual innuendos in their text so far, this subject is again becoming controversial.

지 난해 배두나와 신하균이 모델로 나선 한 무선인터넷 광고는 “어,끈이 없네”, “밖에서 하니까 흥분되지” 등과 같은 대사로 시청자들의 비난을 샀다. 1990년대 모 아이스크림 광고에서는 여성 교관이 남성 훈련병에게 “줘도 못먹나”라고 말해 세간의 입방아에 오르내렸다. 90년대 후반에는 영화 ‘원초적 본능’의 여배우 샤론 스톤이 등장한 국내 정유회사 광고가 논란에 휩싸였다. 빨간 스포츠카에 올라탄 샤론 스톤이 “강한 걸로 넣어주세요”라고 말했기 때문.

For example, last year [2005], Bae Doo-na and Shin Ha-kyun appeared in an advertisement for a wireless Sharon Stone Korean Ad 1995internet company which included the line “Because [we] do [it] outside, [it's] much more exciting!,” which generated a lot of complaints. Also, in the early 1990s, an advertisement for an ice cream company featured a female drill instructor saying to a new male recruit “I gave [it] to you to eat, but you can’t eat it [well]!,” and finally in the late-1990s a gasoline advertisement featuring Sharon Stone climbing into a red sports car had her saying  “only put strong [things] inside.” (James: See below for the latter two).

광고주들은 섹스어필 의도성을 강하게 부인해왔다. 그러나 한 광고업계 종사자는 “광고 문구를 지을 때 섹스어필한 표현을 찾기 마련”이라고 귀띔했다 (source, right: *cough* Ilbe).

While in public advertising companies strongly deny that they use sexual innuendos in advertisements, an industry insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that of course they do in reality.

K제약 측은 올해 이효리가 출연하는 3편의 광고를 더 제작할 계획이다. 이효리는 지난 1월 K제약과 1년동안 계약금 8억원에 광고모델 출연계약을 맺었다.

In January, the medicine manufacturer signed a contract with Lee Hyori to appear in three more advertisements for the company over the next year, for the fee of 800 million won (End).

Now for some more examples, found via a list compiled by this blogger. Predating Youtube though, and with very little information given, sorry that I was only able to find half of them. Also, sorry that I’m struggling to see anything even remotely sexual in some of them, let alone funny; again, they defy shoehorning into some narrative about Korean media liberalization, which is why I haven’t placed this post into my “Korean Sociological Image” series. Hopefully though, the tuna fish commercial alone will more than compensate…

“벗겨도 벗겨도 변함없고, 먹어도 먹어도 깊은 그 맛…”

“Even if you take it off, it’s the same. Even you eat and eat, that deep taste…”

“줘도 못 먹나?”

“I’m offering it. How come you can’t eat it?”

Via The Paris Match, a related eclair ad that had my wife ROTFL at the repeated references to how long and sweet it was, with all its creamy goodness.

“따 먹고 합시다!!!”

Just in case you miss the symbolism of the shellfish for the women’s tuna, and the peppers for the men’s, at the end they all say “Let’s open [it] and eat [it] and do it!”.

“난, 샤론 스톤, 본능적으로 강한 게 좋아요. 강한 걸로 넣어주세요”

“I’m Sharon Stone, I instinctively like something strong. Please put something strong in.”

“오늘도 촉촉하게 젖었습니다.”

“Today too I am wet”

“사람들이 저보고 너구리래요.  너구리가 뭐가 어때? 통통하고 맛만 좋은데…”

“People call me ‘Raccoon.’ What’s wrong with being a raccoon? It’s chubby and tasty…”

No innuendo here: the blogger just notes that Song Yun-ah has her legs open as the car approaches. Even I thought that this was reading a bit much into it though (she’s hardly spread-eagled, and the car is approaching from the wrong direction!), even if it does have an exploding fire-hydrant straight after the shot of her.

(남자 엉덩이를 때리면서) “줄 때 받자….”

(While hitting men’s bottoms): “Receive it when I give it to you…”.

Not to detract from the very real sexual harassment which women face every day, or that its victims are overwhelmingly women. But still: it’s difficult to see anyone accepting this commercial if the sexes were reversed.

Finally, see here and here for some more examples from 2009, and probably many readers will find this list inadequate without the following, supposedly banned ads. I’m not sure that either actually went to air though:

Thoughts?

The Sexiest Lee Hyori Dance Cover Ever…

Jeong Jae-hyeong Lee Hyori Surprised(Source: Unknown)

Introducing the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale for the first time, Kinsey once wrote:

“Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.

While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history [...] An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. [...] A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist.”

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) pp. 639, 656.

And, although the scale itself is now considered insufficient to cover all sexual expressions, obviously that sentiment was/is just as true for females. Sure enough, the scale also featured prominently in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953; Wikipedia).

Why do I mention all this? Because, even if just for a few minutes, and even if you’re only prepared to admit it to yourself, this superb 2006 performance by then 20 year-old Jeong Hyeon-Min (정현민) is seriously going to make many, many readers reconsider where they lie on that scale exactly…

Jump ahead to 2:30 for his rendition of Lee Hyori’s 10 Minutes, which you can compare below:

As you can see in the video, Hyeon-Min deservedly won that “sexy dance” competition, and gained a lot of media attention for it at the time (he was reportedly the only male in it). Unfortunately however, those appear to have been his fifteen minutes of fame, as I’ve been unable to find anything more about him since.

Instead, see here, here, and here for much more on androgyny and/or cross-dressing in K-pop, with many more recent, higher video quality examples. Also, please feel free to add more in the comments here too, although I suspect none will compare to the quality and skill of Hyeon-Min’s! :D

Quick Hit: Squee!

Lee Hyori The Baddest Girl(Source)

From part of an email interview of me (and many other bloggers) at The Korea Blog last month:

….I actually kind of called him out as a Korea hater, which he rebutted thoroughly.

Jon: Reading your site, I get the strong impression that you’re not a fan of a lot of the content you analyse and criticise, especially K-pop. I’m not into it myself, but I don’t spend much time thinking about it. What is your relationship to your subject matter?

James: Well, given the huge time and commitment involved, it’s never a good idea to write about something you don’t even like. So as it turns out, I’m actually a big fan.

That said, there’s always a great deal to criticize K-pop and the Korean media on how they objectify women, encourage unhealthy body ideals, and present such passive gender and sexual roles for them. And with such limited time to write, plus — until very recently — so few writers out there willing to bring any kind of academic research to their own critiques (not that I claim to be an academic myself!), then it was easy for my writing to fall into a certain pattern.

On the other hand, I do try to avoid sounding so cynical and repetitive. So, by coincidence, in (update: *cough*) two weeks I’ll be posting an article about indie girl-groups that reject being objectified for instance, chosen to counter one going up this week about mainstream girl-groups that don’t (update: although it turned out to be much more complicated than that!). And, when K-pop does produce something that defies the stereotypes, then I’m just as gushing as any fanboy — just see my review of Ga-in’s Bloom!

Lee Hyori Nylon Korea May 2013(Source)

See the link for the rest, and for more on many other bloggers you should be reading. As for Lee Hyori…well, this post is just an excuse to post that picture and indulge in some more of that socially-conscious fanboying really, of which she is just as deserving as Ga-in. But I am looking forward to her comeback (see here for some video teasers), and hope that it’s well received, which would bring much more attention and support to the causes she’s embraced.

Until then, apologies to those who don’t share my love of her, but you are dead to me and I promise more of that cynicism and repetition soon. To everyone else, note that the above edition of Nylon is now available in stores, unlike — grrr — last Wednesday evening (and Thursday morning, and Friday, and…) when I first heard of her inclusion, and — oh, yes — squee!

Off The Record: Lee Hyolee — Catch it while you can!

Lee Hyori Off The Record(Sources: left, right)

Reading recent discussions about 2NE1tv and the BBC’s Idol, I was reminded of Lee Hyori’s endearing Off The Record series from 2008, which I’ve tried and failed to find online for years. So I checked again, and to my amazement and consternation discovered that blogger 쓰리에스의 한류 Story has actually had all 12 episodes up since last May…

Needless to say, all of them were rapidly in my possession, via this Firefox extension. Normally, it doesn’t work for Naver videos, but I lucked out in this case.

For those who’ve never heard of the series though, please note that it’s hardly a critique of the Korean entertainment industry akin to Idol. But, it does provide some insights into the day-to-day practicalities of it, and makes it obvious why Lee Hyori — Korea’s first ethical sex-symbol — was so popular in the 2000s. Also, even in the rare event that you don’t become a fan yourself, it’s still a valuable Korean study tool, providing a rare combination of everyday Korean language and Korean subtitles that isn’t in the form of an inane gameshow or clichéd drama.

What are you waiting for??

Korean Gender Reader, November 24-30

Fei Miss A I Don't Need a Man(Source)

Apologies to Psy’s die-hard fans, but I’ll be retiring the Gangnam Style section this week. After all, even my daughters are tired of it now, preferring to dance 10 times a weekend to Miss A’s I Don’t Need a Man instead…

Don’t blame me — they picked it up from their friends at kindergarten!

Announcements

Holiday Gift Drive for KUMFA kids! (Tales of Wonderlost)

Body Image, Health

“One of the truly rare examples of a female nude which is not performing for the male gaze, despite being literally directly under it.” (I’m No Picasso; also see here)

“For some reason, some cultures allow family members to comment on one another’s weight as a personal greeting.” (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Who thought skinny would be a problem? (Alleyways)

North Korean Girls: South Korean Netizens Debate Their Beauty (KoreaBANG)

Doctors stand off over English names (The Korea Times)

Some foreigners regret their plastic surgery in Korea (Korea Joongang Daily)

Viewpoint: Do models need more rights? (BBC)

Censorship, Media

Netizens Report: Suzy at risk of losing “Nation’s First Love” title (Omona They Didn’t)

The Global Times’ faux concern about the ‘sex tape mistress’ is heartbreaking (Shanghaiist)

Crime

Sex Offender Detector (The Marmot’s Hole)

Watching the detectives: Korean prosecutors under scrutiny for bribery, including coerced sex (Korea Law Today)

“At a deeper level, what caused the 30-year-old guy to be attracted to a woman who was 13 years older than him?” (The Korea Times)

Soon, you will no longer be able to rape your wife (The Korea Times)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

Here Comes the (Idol) Bride: Sunye, Marriage, and Fan Reactions (Seoulbeats)

Can We Get Married? (우리가 결혼할수 있을까?): New drama shows a realistic view of Korean marriage (10 Magazine)

Dating in K-pop? No, I (Am Brainwashed To) Believe Oppa Is Mine (Seoulbeats)

Lee Tae-sung reveals he has wife, son (Korea Joongang Daily)

The Romantic and Idol, We Can’t Get Enough Dating (Seoulbeats)

— Lee Seong-gyun Finds Out All about His Wife (Seoulbeats)

Are More Unconventional Chinese Men More Likely to Date/Marry Western Women? (Speaking of China)

To Pursue or Not Be Pursued, Love My Boyfriend But Don’t Want Sex, Pursuing Pleasure, and More (Radical Ramblings)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Demographic Shifts Redefine What It Means to Be Korean (The New York Times)

NYT on ‘multiculturalism’ in Korea, and CERD update (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Vietnamese woman in South Korea commits suicide with two children (Vietnam.net)

Korean Elementary School Teacher Slaps Misbehaving Student (KoreaBANG)

Linguistic imperialism and native speakers in Korea (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

The ’30 million won stereo’ (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

In China, A Macabre Trade In Ghost Brides (Forbes)

China’s lack of concern for the safety of children (Seeing Red in China)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces, Ladygate

As South Korea Tackles Drinking Culture, Samsung Sets Guidelines (Korea Realtime)

S. Korea’s income gap by gender widest among OECD nations (Yonhap)

HIV-positive Koreans worry about being shut out of employment (The Hankyoreh)

Working women in Seoul increase 38.4% in 11 years (The Korea Herald)

Adult adoption in Japan: Family firms adopt an unusual approach to remain competitive (The Economist)

Gangnam Style

Exclusive: PSY`s Once-Passionate Protesting Past (Busan Haps)

Why PSY and Gangnam Style Demolish Cultural and Socioeconomic Barriers (TriplePundit)

How Korean culture stormed the world (South China Morning Post)

Washington, DC is Dreaming of a PSY Christmas (MTVK)

PSY to Perform in Front of U.S. President Barack Obama (Soompi)

Watch: What Comes Next for Korea After ‘Gangnam Style’? (Scene Asia)

Psy’s ‘Mission Impossible': Getting Tom Cruise to dance ‘Gangnam Style’ (The Telegraph)

Should Psy Be TIME’s Person of the Year 2012? (TIME)

Psy and the Faceless Asian (Seoulbeats)

LGBT, Sexuality

—  Korean sex toys a hit, but can’t top Japan’s Tenga (The Tokyo Reporter)

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

Reading List: Narrative Case Study: Unheard Life Story of a Senior Gay Korean Man (The Kimchi Queen)

Miscellaneous

Futurology in Korean Studies: hell in a handcart or hallyu heaven? LKL reports from the 2012 BAKS conference (London Korean Links)

Prospects for Korean as an International Language (Korea: Circles and Squares; see also New Term: “White Endorsement Monkey” and “White Defamation Monkey”)

AKF in Korea #5: Drinking with professors 101 (Angry K-pop Fan)

Pop Culture

Exploring Gender Perspectives Through Response Songs (Seoulbeats)

Japanese Actors Hope to Boost Career in Korean Soaps (The Chosun Ilbo)

Is the bubble beginning to burst? (London Korean Times)

Why it was so easy for Korea to overtake Japan in the pop culture wars (Quartz)

Brothers and Sisters: Sibling Pairs as a Marker of Success (Seoulbeats)

Book review: So Far from the Bamboo Grove (London Korean Links)

‘Red Dawn’ Spurs Anti-Asian Tweets (Scene Asia)

Confessions of a Fangirl: Let’s Talk About Smut (Seoulbeats)

Unusual Finds: Masan’s Half Wing Book Cafe (Chincha)

Dispute that Shocked K-Pop is Over (Korea Realtime)

JYJ – SM News Round Up (Omona They Didn’t)

JYJ’s agency says they “do not expect much difference” and that they made “a concession” (Asian Junkie)

— Korea’s Idol Prep Schools and the Parents Who Fund Them (Seoulbeats)

Social Problems

South Korea to stem digital addiction from age 3 (Stuff.co.nz)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

Lee Hyori: Korean Pin-up Grrrl #1?

Lee Hyori Pin-up Grrrl(Source)

Out of all this week’s stories, up tomorrow in the Korean Gender Reader, probably one of the most important — but also the most under-appreciated — is the news that Lee Hyori (이효리) will no longer be doing any commercials for products that conflict with her animal rights, environmental, and/or vegetarian beliefs.

This excludes her from working with so many companies, that her agency had to clarify that she hadn’t given up modelling or endorsements altogether.

Certainly, she’s already well known — and liked — for being so outspoken and sassy, which is very rare for female celebrities here. But this is still a significant step, because it’s difficult to think of any other Korean celebrity explicitly rejecting the endorsement culture upon which their agencies so heavily depend. Let alone someone who was once the country’s biggest sex-symbol.

Lee Hyori and Dog(Source)

Moreover, while she’s open to charges of hypocrisy, as it’s undoubtedly much easier to take an ethical stance on endorsements after years of making millions from them, she did at least acknowledge this contradiction in a recent interview, and at only 33 could have continued to do them for decades. Also, with “We can’t help but be subjected to the power of the companies when we sign a contract. Hara, please don’t forget my words,” her tweet of advice to Goo Ha-ra (구하라), one of her replacements as a soju model, she indirectly criticized companies’ excessive power over their endorsers — recall Ivy (아이비) being sued for an completely non-existent sex-tape for instance, or Choi Jin-sil (최진실) being sued for going public about being a victim of domestic abuse, and then being sued again after she committed suicide — and/or entertainment agencies’ willingness to enter into such arrangements regardless. And, albeit perhaps unfairly, has put the onus on much younger celebrities to be more discerning with their own choices (or, rather, to challenge their agencies’ choices).

Can anybody think of any other Korean celebrities that have made similar ethical stands and/or critiques of the media and entertainment industries? I admit I don’t have much time to follow Korean celebrity news, and would be happy to learn that Lee Hyori isn’t as exceptional as I thought!

(Update: Also, if anybody come across a Korean source that places Lee Hyori’s decision in that above context, that would also be appreciated. Unfortunately, apparently they’re just as rare!)

Related Posts:

Korean Sociological Image #65: First Commercial to Positively Feature a Korean Woman with a Non-Korean Man? (2006)

(Source)

Turn on a Korean TV, and you won’t be waiting long before you see a commercial with a Korean man in a relationship with a non-Korean woman. But for a long time, I was only aware of one ever produced with the opposite pairing, which I discussed when it came out back in July last year.

Since then, there has also been at least one music video produced that positively features a Korean woman with non-Korean men (not just the one man in this case!), which you read more about at Mixtapes and Liner Notes and Fanboy vs Fangirl here, here, and here. But again, there’s many many more with the opposite pairing (see here, here, and here for examples). And as far as I know, no more commercials with Korean women hitting on non-Korean men.

It turns out though, that Lee Hyori (이효리) did so back in 2006 in a commercial for Anycall (애니콜), a mobile phone brand. I must have seen it a hundred times on TV that year, but only ever the fifteen second version, in which the ethnicity of the lucky gentleman at the end was unclear. I would automatically have assumed he was Korean then, but he’s actually Caucasian (with a hint of Latino?), as you can see at 0:27 in the thirty second version above.

As always, I’d be happy to be proven wrong – again(!) – with any further examples of similar pairings. But still, I doubt I’ll ever receive enough to challenge this clear discrepancy in the Korean media’s representations of different genders and races, which is why I raise it here.

For any readers further interested in why that discrepancy exists, please read last year’s post for more background and many more links.

Update 1 - As soon as I’d packed away my netbook and was walking home, I remembered that there was indeed one more example from last year, a promotional video for the 2010 G-20 Seoul Summit. It features a Korean woman and Caucasian man having a traditional Korean wedding, just like I had (the kiss is for show though – traditional Korean weddings are really quite sombre affairs!):

Update 2 – With thanks to Dan for passing it on, here’s a recent commercial for a smartphone, apparently with screen quality so good you’ll be able to see your foreign boyfriend’s bit on the side reflected in his sunglasses:

Until I saw that, I was wondering if the “positively” in the title was a little redundant, but now it seems more apt than ever!

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