SNL 코리아 Satirizes Korea’s Cosmetic Surgery Craze (Translation)

SNL Korea Plastic Face 1(Source)

And, crucially, it doesn’t just poke fun at the obvious negatives, but also at the public discourses surrounding the industry. Namely, the hypocrisy of the men who loudly criticize women who get operations, while shamelessly admiring the results.

In addressing such a gendered contradiction, it strongly reminds of the messages in Miss A‘s (미쓰에이) Bad Girl, Good Girl (배드걸 굿걸). What’s more, it’s just hilarious too, one of several skits by the Brown Eyed Girls (브라운아이드걸스) on the show last week.

In this one, the main character is Narsha (나르샤), joined by co-member JeA (제아) and Miryo (미료) (Ga-in /가인 is absent). None of the other actors are familiar, but I can find out who they are if anyone is interested:

Here’s my translation. Apologies in advance for any mistakes, but frankly there were some very new words that even my wife didn’t know (let alone be in my smartphone dictionary), and of course the swear words especially are open to interpretation!

너쌍꺼풀 수술했지?

너 코도 했지?

아니

난 자연 미인이 좋아

You got double-eyelid surgery, right?

A nose-job too, yes?

No…

I [only] like natural beauties.

SNL Korea Plastic Face 2(Source)

아무리 예뻐도 성형하면 싫어

웃겨 니들 사실 알아보지도 못해 (병X들)

니들이 좋아하는 얘네도 다 한 거야

X같은 것들이 항상 성괴라고 욕해

However pretty we become, you hate it when we get cosmetic surgery

That’s funny…you guys don’t actually recognize us (jerks!)

The girls you like, got everything done

Guys like that always swear at [criticize?] women who become “plastic surgery monsters”

SNL Korea Plastic Face 3(Source)

오오 오오오~

고경표 신동엽 강진도 헀을걸?

(그게)

눈했어 코 했어 그래 싹 다 바꿨어 턱했어

(압구정역 4번 출구)

맞았어 넣었어 그래 싹 다 갈았어 다헀어

(강남역 10번 출구)

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x4)

Probably Go-gyeong Pyo, Shin Dong-yeob, and Gang-jin all got it done

(Really??)

[People] get their eyes done, their noses done…they change everything…they get their jaws done

(Apgujeong Station Exit #4)

That’s right, they put [botox? silicone?] in…Really, they change everything

(Gangnam Station, Exit #10)

Plastic Face (x4)

SNL Korea Plastic Face 4(Source)

네 여자친구 성형 안했을 거 같지

했어도 눈코 정도 했을 겉 같지 (x밥들)

들어 봤니 눈코 입돌려 깎기 양약

너 환장하는 그 가슴은 물방울 코젤

오오 오오오~

너보다 훨 알럽 의느님

You think your girlfriend didn’t get anything done?

And even if you think she did, you think she just got her eyes and nose done? (You fucking dickheads)

Have you heard of maxillofacial surgery, which involves breaking the upper and lower jaw?

The breasts you’re crazy about are just saline implants

Oh oh, oh oh oh ~

She will probably love her Doctor God more than you

SNL Korea Plastic Face 5(Source)

똑같아 똑깥아

니얼굴 내얼굴 다 똑같아

압구정동에서 했니

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x4)

또또또 똑같아 모두다 같아

They’re the same, they’re the same

Their faces are all the same

Did they all get them done in Apgujeong?

Plastic Face (x4)

They’re all the same, they’re all the same

SNL Korea Plastic Face 6(Source)

우릴 욕할 때가 아냐 거울 좀봐

눈코 입은 요좀 헐값

명품가방 살돈으로

눈코 입을 달아

세트로 하면 디씨돼

친구랑 가면

더 디씨

부끄럽게 생각 마

자신감이 중요해

It’s not time to swear at us, look at yourself in the mirror

Nose, eye, and mouth-jobs are so cheap

With the money for a brand name bag

You can get a new face

If you get them all done as a set you can get a discount

If you get them done with your friends at the same time, you can get even more of a discount

Don’t be embarrassed

Confidence is important

SNL Korea Plastic Face 8(Sources: above, below)

당당해 당당해 우린 너무 당당해

만족해

(과거 사진 X까라해)

꺼내봐 꺼내봐

네 얼굴에 가려진 매력들

(넌시X 존X 매력있어)

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x2)

다다다당당해

당당해 우린

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x2)

SNL Korea Plastic Face 7Bold, Confident, We are all so bold and confident

We are satisfied

(Don’t you ever fucking show old photos)

Bring out those changes to your face that you hid

(You’re fucking hot now)

Plastic Face

Bold, Confident

Plastic Face

(Hat tip to dogdyedblack)

Update: Naturally, a translation from earlier today popped up shortly after I finished this post. But which I couldn’t find at all when I decided to write it!

Swallowing my pride (and several hours’ worth of effort), I have to admit that it’s much better than mine (although *sniff* I disagree with a few lines here and there):

Pin-up Grrrl #2: Ga-in, Bloom, and why we’ll still be talking about both 30 years from now

Ga-in Bloom(Source)

Ga-in shared, “Our previous MVs had received R-ratings and we didn’t understand the reason why. So for my recent MV, I decided to give them one.”

(Daily K-Pop News)

And to help, she watched adult videos from many different countries, finding “that the porn from third world countries fit the most with [her] personal tastes.” Accordingly, Bloom (피어나) has many bed scenes, and — yes really — features her masturbating on her kitchen floor.

In contrast, Miss A‘s (미쓰에이) I Don’t Need a Man (남자 없이 잘 살아) speaks for itself, and the video is so family-friendly that my daughters (demand to) dance to it several times a day.* So to many, it might seem like a much more appropriate, softly-softly feminist anthem for “sexually conservative” Korea. Not least, by those who think the pornification of the media has already gone far enough, and/or that imitating porn stars isn’t something that should be celebrated.

To the latter, I would suggest that they actually take a look at the music video. Because while it is certainly erotic, it is by no means mere sexual titillation masquerading as art, nor is it provided exclusively for the male gaze. On the contrary, as Dana D’Amelio explains in a must-read at Seoulbeats (see this follow-up also):

Essentially, what Ga-in does is take female sexual desire, wrest it from the men who have manipulated it to their own device, and put it back in female hands. Ga-in’s sexuality is something that women can get behind, and that’s something you can’t much say for the rest of K-pop; that she herself is portrayed as taking pleasure as much as she is giving it is unique, fresh, and deeply relatable to female viewers.

Ga-in Bloom(Source)

Dana and fellow Seoulbeats writer Mark both compare Bloom to Kim Hyuna’s (김현아) Ice Cream (아이스크림), which is just as sexually-explicit as Bloom, but strangely wasn’t banned by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. Arguably, precisely because it did conform to the male gaze and pervasive double-standards of K-pop.

In light of those, the sooner songs like Bloom rock the K-pop boat, the better. And for that reason, I’m going to wager that Bloom will have much more longevity than not just (frankly) vacuous songs like Ice Cream, but also, as explained below, those ostensibly empowering ones like I Don’t Need a Man that actually seem to be about nothing but men. Yet which, unfortunately, now seem to be the dominant from in pop music worldwide:

Lucy O’Brien, author of She-Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul, thinks the continuing importance of image and presentation is to blame. The key thing that ossified gender roles, she suggests, was MTV, which changed popular culture, leaving feminist punk bands such as the Slits and the Raincoats behind. “Image became the big thing, and angry women who didn’t care about it didn’t really fit that picture,” O’Brien says. There was a brief window of opportunity for women who didn’t fit the MTV template in the early 1990s, she suggests, a time when bestselling artists such as Sinead O’Connor ripped up pictures of the Pope on TV, and Tori Amos sang about her experiences of rape (though, equally, O’Connor’s greatest success came with her most MTV-friendly moment, Nothing Compares 2 U). But then came the Spice Girls, appropriating the vocabulary of riot grrrl, and proclaiming “Girl Power”, but within the conventional model of the pop group manufactured by men for young girls. “Everything became sophisticated and sanitised after that, and the industry has never got over it,” O’Brien says.

(The Guardian, March 25 2010; my emphasis. See Mark’s post “Manufactured Girl Power: Female Empowerment in a Male-Powered Industry” for more on K-pop specifically)
She-Bop 2(Source)

Which brings me to today’s translation, found via Lost in Traffic Lights. Here’s her summary of it (emphasis in original):

…the main difference is…while Bloom talks about how a woman views herself, free from social constructs and how people view her. However, while Miss A’s “I don’t need a man” looks like it’s gunning for female empowerment, at the end it’s still feeding into a discourse that men made for a “good girl” or a “sensible woman” in Korea.

I see this a lot actually. On the internet, there’s always a guy-or a male figure-who argues that “all women do is buy luxury bags and leech off men blah blah blah” and the women are like “but we don’t. A lot of us don’t. I am special because I’m not like those other girls. I don’t buy luxury bags, I pay for my own stuff” and so on. But at the end of the day though, isn’t that gunning for another gold star from the men who criticize us?

For much more on that theme, see Nabeela’s review of the song (and especially the comments), and — for starters! — here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more information about the “beanpaste girl” (된장녀/dwenjang nyeo) and “ladygate” discourses being referred to.

As for the translation, frankly I and my long-suffering wife found it exhausting, and there were many parts we found difficult, so we apologize in advance for any mistakes. Also, there’s much to query in both the author’s generalizations and his details, starting with the confusion in the first part as to whether he’s talking about the music video (far above) or a stage performance (e.g. below, on SBS a few days before the article was published), and indeed although he mentions a part where she supposedly pretends to look into a mirror, I can’t find that in either video. But these don’t detract from the author’s main points, and I hope you’ll all agree that comparing Bloom with I Don’t Need a Man is very valuable and worthwhile.

가인이 피워낸 100%짜리 여자의 욕망 / 100% Women’s Desire Blooms With Ga-in

Naver News, October 17 2012; 강명석 칼럼 / Column by Gang Myeong-seog (two@10asia.co.kr; Twitter).

붉은빛 스웨터를 입는다. 다리에는 가터벨트를 착용한다. 혀 끝으로 입술을 핥는다. 가슴을 내민다. 의자에 앉은 채 허리를 뒤로 젖힌다. 손이 온 몸을 훑는다. 가인의 신곡 ‘피어나’의 무대는 남성들에게 온갖 야한 상상을 불러일으킨다. 그러나, 정작 무대 위의 남성 댄서들은 무표정하다. 그들은 로봇처럼 동작을 소화할 뿐 가인의 춤에 반응하지 않는다. 가인은 그들과 한 번도 정면으로 눈을 맞추지 않는다.

She wears a red sweater. On her legs she has a garter belt. She licks her lips with the tip of her tongue. She sticks her breasts out. She arches her back while sitting in a chair. She touches her whole body with her hands.

Ga-in’s new song “Bloom” provokes all sorts of bawdy male fantasies. But those men actually on the stage with her are expressionless, behaving like robots that don’t even notice her dance. She, in turn, never looks any of them in the eye.

대신 가인의 시선은 무대 정면을 향한다. 정면을 바라본 채, 가인은 다양한 포즈들을 취한다. ‘피어나’의 안무는 동작과 동작을 하나의 흐름으로 연결하지 않는다. 대신 섹시한 느낌을 주는 각각의 포즈들을 취할 수 있도록 구성됐다. 댄서들이 사라지고, 가인 혼자 정면을 바라보며 여러 포즈를 취하는 무대 후반의 구성은 가인의 시선이 누굴 향한 것인지 짐작케 한다. 남자들이 사라져도, 가인은 자신의 섹시함을 표현하는 것을 멈추지 않는다. 마치 거울 앞에 선 자신을 보는 것처럼.

Rather, Ga-in looks directly at us, while adopting various poses. In “Bloom,” the choreography isn’t seamless. Instead, each scene is defined by and constructed around a different pose, each providing a very sexy, sensual feeling.

Later in the performance, in which Ga-on looks ahead while continuing to do various poses, making people wonder who she is actually looking at. Then, the dancers disappear again, but Ga-in doesn’t stop expressing her sexiness. She continues as if she’s looking at herself in the mirror.

Bloom vs. I Don't Need a Man Caption 1(Source: Unknown)

Caption: 가인은 남자들의 판타지를 자극하는 방식의 ‘피어나’를 통해 오히려 가장 주체적인 여성상을 그려낸다 / Rather than stimulate male fantasies, Ga-in provides a very independent symbol for women in “Bloom.”

가인, 타인이 아닌 나를 위한 섹시 / Ga-in: The Sexiness is For Me, Not For Others

거의 모든 여성 가수에게 섹시한 댄스는 타인의 시선을 끌기 위한 장치다. 걸그룹이 곡에서 악센트를 줘야할 부분마다 다리를 벌리는 춤을 추곤 하는 것이 그 예다. 섹시함이 콘셉트 그 자체라 해도 좋을 ‘피어나’도 당연히 시선을 끈다. 그러나, ‘피어나’는 특정 동작을 강조하며 시선을 끄는 포인트 춤이 없다. 대신 모델이 계속 포즈를 취하는 듯한 동작들이 이어진다.

Almost all female use a sex dance as a means to attract people’s attention. For example, girl-groups will often emphasize spreading their legs apart in their dance routines. Naturally, “Bloom” could also be seen in this vein. However, “Bloom” doesn’t have ‘point dances’ which are only used for the specific purpose of getting people’s attention; instead, the poses adopted are more similar to the ones real models use.

가인의 소속사 로엔엔터테인먼트 관계자에 따르면 ‘피어나’의 안무에도 원래 포인트 춤이 포함돼 있었지만, 그 포인트를 빼고 지금처럼 다양한 포즈 중심의 안무를 요구한 사람이 바로 가인이었다. 그 결과 ‘피어나’의 안무는 타인에게 어필하는 것이기도 하지만, 그 이전에 여성이 섹시한 표정과 포즈를 마음껏 해보는 구성이 됐다. 또한 ‘피어나’의 뮤직비디오는 황수아 감독이, 가사는 작사가 김이나가 맡았다. 두 여성은 그들의 시선에서 섹시함을 표현한다. 뮤직비디오에 가인의 베드신이 등장하지만, 가인과 관계를 갖는 남자의 얼굴도 제대로 안 나온다. 대신 카메라는 희열을 느끼는 가인의 표정을 잡는다. <김이나의 가사로 표현한다면, 남자는 ‘내가 선택한’ 존재고, 그가 사랑스러운 것은 나를 ‘high’하고 ‘fly’하도록 만들었기 때문이다. 남자가 어떤 매력을 가졌는지는 묘사하지 않는다. 중요한 것은 남성이든 섹시함이든 여성 자신의 욕망이 선택한 결과라는 점이다.

According to a representative of Loen Entertainment, originally the choreography did have point dances, but these were removed and replaced at Ga-in’s insistence. As a result, the choreography appeals not just to other people [men?], but has as many sexual poses and expressions as it could have too [James - That sentence sounds strange in Korean also]. Also, the director of the music video, Hwang Su-ah, and lyricist, Kim Ee-na [both women], express sexiness from their own perspectives. In the music there is Ga-in’s bed scene, but we can’t really see the face of the guy she’s with [James - The screenshot below would be the closest you get]. Instead the camera focuses on her expression of joy and ecstasy. According to Kim Ee-na’s lyrics, “This is the guy I chose,” and the reason is because he makes Ga-in “fly high.” Crucially, why she finds the man attractive is not described; rather, the important thing is that it’s her sexual desire that is paramount here.

Ga-in Bloom Man(Source)

전체적인 윤곽은 남성의 판타지를 충족시키지만, 그 디테일은 섹시함이 ‘(타인의)시선 따윈 알게 뭐니’라고 노래하는 여성의 욕망을 드러낸다. 이 절묘한 공존은 이 곡의 구성원들의 독특한 조합 때문일 것이다. 안무, 가사, 뮤직비디오는 여성이 주축이지만, 프로듀싱과 작곡은 각각 남성인 프로듀서 조영철과 작곡가 이민수가 맡았다. 이들 중 가인을 제외한 네 명의 남녀는 아이유와 브라운 아이드 걸스를 제작한 바 있다. 아이유는 귀여운 여성에 대한 남성 판타지의 극단이었고, 브라운 아이드 걸스는 섹시함에 터프함을 가미한 강한 여자들이었다.

While the whole character of this song fulfills men’s fantasies, contained in the details is a depiction of sexiness and women’s desire that poses the question, “Who cares about the gaze of others?”. This exquisite coexistence is the result of the unique combination of the people involved in its production: the choreographer and lyricist are women, but the producer, Jo Yeong-cheol, and the composer, Lee Min-su, are men [James - What happened to the director Hwang Sun-ah?]. Moreover, in addition to Ga-in’s songs, these men and women have produced songs for the IU and the Brown Eyed Girls. IU projects a cute image that is an extreme men’s fantasy [James - Actually, this cute image is exaggerated and/or very outdated], while the Brown Eyed Girls’ image is a mixture of tough and strong women.

Brown Eyed Girls Sixth Sense(Source)

가인은 이 네 남녀의 정확한 한가운데다. 남성들에게 확실히 어필할 수 있는 섹시한 콘셉트는 남성 스태프가 짠 틀일 것이다. 그러나 여성 스태프는 그들의 시선으로 섹시함을 표현했다. 여성도 성관계에서 오는 육체적, 정신적 쾌감에 대한 욕망이 있고, 그 욕망을 드러내자 가인은 가련한 소녀도, 남성의 시각적 만족만을 위한 쇼걸도 아닌 무대를 지배하는 주인공이 된다. ‘피어나’는 주체적인 여성에 대한 시각을 무엇을 보여주느냐가 아니라 어떻게 보여주느냐로, 바깥의 시선에서 내면의 욕망의 문제로 옮긴다.

Ga-in is positioned firmly in the center of these 4 men and women. Her sex appeal, which definitely appeals to men, would have come from the male staff; the women’s perspective on sexiness, from the female staff. Women too, find sexual relationships physically and mentally pleasurable, and here Ga-in owns the stage with that desire, rather than being turned into a miserable girl or a showgirl for the male gaze for it.

“Bloom” moves the question of what are independent women from not what they show, but how they show it. Or in other words, from outside appearances to inner perspectives.

미스에이, 타인이 만들어놓은 좋은 여자의 기준 / Miss A Conform to the Standards of Good Women Defined by Others

그래서, 미스에이의 ‘남자 없이 잘 살아’가 ‘피어나’와 완벽한 대비를 이루는 것은 흥미롭다. 박진영이 작사한 ‘남자 없이 잘 살아’의 여성은 ‘내 돈으로 방세 다 내’고, ‘내 차 내 옷 내가 벌어서 산’다. ‘남자 믿고 놀다 남자 떠나면 어떡할’거냐는 걱정을 하기 때문이다. 가사만 보면 ‘남자 없이 잘 살아’는 주체적이고 독립적인 여성을 칭송하는 것처럼 보인다. 그러나 남에게 폐 끼치지 않는 인생은 남자 역시 필요하다.

So, “Bloom” and “I Don’t Need a Man” provide a perfect, very interesting contrast. The lyrics to “I Don’t Need a Man”, written by JYP, say “I pay the rent with my own money,” “I bought this car and these clothes with my my own money,” and that “If you trust and fool around with a man and then he leaves, what will you do?”, which is a constant worry of women.

If you only look at the lyrics to the song, they do praise self-reliant and independent women. [Although] men, too, need a way of life that isn’t dependent on others.

Miss A Jia and Suzy I Don't Need a Man(Sources: top, bottom)

Caption: 반면 ‘남자 없이 못 살아’를 발표한 미스에이는 타인의 시선에 의해 결정되는 여성의 단면을 보여준다 / On the other hand, with “I Don’t Need a Man,” released by Miss A, they show a side of women defined by others

그리고, 이런 경제생활이 당당한 여성의 기준은 타인의 시선이다. ‘남자없이 잘 살아’의 뮤직비디오에서 멤버들이 콧수염을 붙여보거나, 이두박근을 강조하는 것은 우연이 아니다. 미스에이가 노래하는 독립적인 여성은 사실상 남성들이 요즘 ‘개념녀’라고 말하는 이상적인 여성이다. ‘피어나’가 남성들에게 어필하는 코드로 여성의 욕망을 말한다면, ‘남자 없이 잘 살아’는 당당한 여성을 어필하면서 ‘된장녀’와는 정반대인 ‘개념녀’라는 남성의 욕망을 말한다.

Also, these financially confident women are conforming to the standards of others. In “I Don’t Need a Man,” it is no accident that the members of Miss A stick on a fake mustache or emphasize their biceps. The independent women that they are singing about are actually the gaenyeomnyeo, or “good girls,” that men say are their perfect women these days.

While “Bloom” appeals to men while also articulating female desire, “I Don’t Need a Man” provides an image of confident women and also the good girl image that males desire, an opposite of the dwenjang-nyeo, or “bean-paste girl” one.

miss_a_i_don__t_need_a_man_chibi_by_jinsuke04-d5il0nc(“miss A I Don’t Need A Man Chibiby,” by jinsuke04)

‘피어나’는 타인의 시선 대신 내면의 욕망을 더 적극적으로 드러내는 여성의 목소리를 반영하고, ‘남자 없이 못 살아’는 남자, 또는 사회가 원하는 좋은 여성의 기준을 더욱 더 강화한다. 출산과 결혼을 선택하지 않는 여성에 대한 논의가 사회적 화두로 떠오르고, 인터넷에서는 남녀가 수많은 문제들로 논쟁을 하는 이 시점에서 두 곡의 등장은 어떤 징후처럼 보인다. 많은 남자들은 명품 백을 사느냐 마느냐에 따라, 결혼할 생각이 있느냐 없느냐에 따라 ‘개념녀’와 그렇지 않은 여성을 가른다.

Rather than emphasizing the male gaze, “Bloom” reflects more the inner desires and voices of women, whereas “I Don’t Need a Man” does more men and/or society’s standards for women. These two songs are a reflection of how many women choosing not to get married and/or have children has become a hot topic of debate in Korean society, and of the discussion, arguments, and problems as many men and women discuss that on the internet. In which many men are dividing women into good girls or beanpaste girls, or who want to get married or not, [simply] according to whether they buy brand-name bags or not.

반면 많은 여성들은 타인에게 폐 끼치지 않는 한 돈을 쓰고 싶은 곳에 욕먹지 않고 쓸 권리와 결혼과 출산을 하지 않을 자유에 대해 말한다. 주체적인 욕망과 타인의 시선이 정한 기준 안에 들어오는 것 사이의 대립. 남녀 모두 주체적인 여자에 대해 말하는 것 같지만, 그 층위는 전혀 다르다. ‘피어나’가 예상치 못했던 카운터펀치인 이유다. 인터넷에서 끝없이 반복되던 남녀의 가장 중요한 논쟁점이 흥미로운 방식으로 수면 위로 떠올랐다. 그것도 모두가 답 없는 논쟁을 할 때, 여성의 욕망을 놀라울 만큼 잘 드러내면서 남성도 즐길 수 있는 판타지의 접점을 만들면서 말이다.

Ga-in Bloom Doll(Source)

But as long as women do not trouble others with their spending choices, then they have a right not to be sworn at and criticized by others, and the freedom not to choose marriage or children. [However], there is a contradiction between the desire for self-reliance and the standards set by the male gaze. Men are women are talking about the same self-reliant women, but the amount of what they say about them are totally different.

This is the reason why “Bloom” has a surprising counter-punch. The most important thing men and women are unceasingly arguing about on the internet [James - What is that?? Sex?] arose in an interesting and amusing way. That is, in an argument which has no answers, this song provides a rare point of contact in which women can enjoy their desires just as much as men have their fantasies fulfilled.

강하거나, 세거나, 독특한 여성 걸그룹들의 노래들이 하나의 흐름을 형성한 지금, ‘피어나’가 대중음악 시장에서 얻는 반응은 지금 이런 목소리에 대한 수요를 알 수 있는 척도가 될 수도 있을 것이다. 그것은 반대로 ‘남자없이 잘 살아’에 대한 반응도 마찬가지일 것이다. 지금 우리는 주류 대중음악, 또는 걸그룹으로 대표되는 아이돌 시장에서 여성을 표현하는 방식이 아주 조금은 달라진 순간을 보고 있다. 그게 결과적으로 누구의 목소리가 더 크게 멤돌지는 알 수 없지만 말이다.

Now, bold, strong, and unique girl-groups are forming a new trend, and how well “Bloom” does commercially will demonstrate how much of a demand there is for this new voice. The same goes for “I Don’t Need a Man.” Now, in popular music, we are seeing the beginning of a new phase in the way women express themselves. Ultimately, whose voice will be loudest? (end)

Ga-in Bloom Female Empowerment(Source)

*Truth be told, I let my daughters watch Bloom as well, which isn’t that explicit at all really; they love the song and pastel colors, and at 4 and 6, they’re much too young to understand what’s really going on anyway. And I hope that their happy childhood memories of it spur a renewed interest in it much later, just like mine of She-Bop (1984) did for me!

Update: While I’m at it, see here for 10 more songs about female masturbation.

Update 2, November 2013: With the benefit of a year’s hindsight, Gang Myeong-seog’s and my dismissing of I Don’t Need a Man was a little unfair. See here to learn why.

Update 3, March 2014: Here’s another article about more recent songs about female masturbation (or that mention it in passing).

Related Post(s):

Korean Gender Reader

( Source )

1) As mentioned in #9 last week, Christian Dior has been heavily criticized on the web for the heavily Orientalist imagery of its latest advertising campaign Shanghai Dreams. But it turns out not to be Christian Dior’s own creation, but rather that of Chinese photographer Quentin Shih, who commented in an interview at China Rises that he:

…wanted to express a dialogue between Chinese fashion (60s to 90s) and Western fashion (Dior Haute Couture represents it the most). During that time, China was a country with socialism — people wearing all the same outfits and divided into different groups/identities like workers, students, intellectuals etc.

And that far from being racist, the Caucasian model:

…stands there only to represent the clothes, not herself and not a western people. I was not lucky enough to shoot a Chinese model wearing Dior — if I did I would have put her in my work.

But as commenters there point out, given the obvious potential for misinterpretation then it was still a bad choice on Christian Dior’s part, and in particular Gary Soup says:

I half agree with Shih. The “cloning” of a representation of a Mao-era worker is just a device frequently encountered in contemporary Chinese art. It’s generally used to good effect, and the artist seldom seen as racist. But China certainly has plenty of tall, elegant models who could pull off the generational contrast, and the use of a Caucasian model certainly seems to send the wrong message.

While we’re on the subject of art, see works by Zhang Wei for examples of a common Occidentalist theme in East Asia, particularly Qi BaiShi vs. Marilyn Monroe and Madonna vs. Qi BaiShi (both NSFW).

( Source )

2) Just out of curiosity, I noticed these Bunny Girl-like headbands above all over Haeundae Beach last weekend, and wonder if they are just a Busan thing, or if they are the fashion in the rest of Korea too?

For a photo to compare the above headbands with the originals, see this interesting article about how the “Chick-Lit” label is very frustrating for women authors!

3) A doctor in Gwangju has been arrested for molesting sleep-induced patients, and was ultimately caught when one became suspicious and brought a hidden camera in her bag.

This reminds me of a UK scheme I once read about to prevent such abuses, under which all patient visits were to be recorded by a security camera and automatically deleted perhaps 3 months later, but before which they could be reviewed by authorities if any allegations of abuse are made. Can anyone confirm if that scheme was actually implemented?

4) From this week, sex-offenders and murderers are to be paroled wearing electronic ankle bracelets. See #2 here for more on why now exactly, but regardless it’s about time, as despite its low crime rate in general Korea is in fact becoming one of the worst places in the world for sex crimes against teenagers, outnumbering those in Japan by more than three times and Germany by nearly nine times. Moreover, those high figures are despite a great number of such cases ending up being unsettled because victims are reluctant to undergo police investigations, and also the age of consent in Korea being 13 serving to lower the number of ultimate prosecutions.

Meanwhile, the Korean military has set August up as a special month to reduce sex crimes within the ranks; see my post Sex as Power in the South Korean Military for more background, and also this follow-up.

( Source )

5) Not unsurprisingly, a recent straw poll has shown that most teen mothers quit school. Also, the numbers of miscarriages and infertile couples are rising, as are the numbers of women drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and it probably doesn’t help that some old people are almost literally assaulting pregnant women for sitting in subway seats reserved for both of them either.

Perhaps the government response will again be to devise slogans to encourage childbirth, just like in Taiwan?

On the positive side though, the drama Nanun Jonsol Eeda (I am Legend; 나는전설이다) is currently providing a very positive portrayal of a young single mother. And for positive news in real life, see the New York Times for more on a group that is resisting the Korean stigma for unwed mothers.

6) I haven’t been following the inane “virtual marriages” of various celebrities on Korean variety shows in recent years, but hijinx at SeoulBeats notes that in one, Ga-in of the Brown Eyed Girls has yet to show her bare face to “husband” to Jo-kwon of 2AM, and says that apparently a lot of Korean women do go out of their way to always have make-up on when their boyfriends or even husbands see their faces. Which says a great deal about their relationships if true, but is it?

7) Unfortunately the video that spawned it has since been removed from YouTube, but still see Curiosity Killed The Eccentric Yoruba for a great post on relationships between African women and Korean men. And for more practical advice, also see The Three Wise Monkeys and Hot Yellow Fellows for why you can seem to be having a great relationship with a Korean guy…but then all of a sudden he may completely and inexplicably cut off all contact with you.

8) Not that he doesn’t still have a great body, but perhaps I was mistaken in thinking that singer Chang-min’s pecs had been badly photoshopped?

( Source )

9) I’ll let Lee’s review of Remembering Koryo, a fascinating book written by S.K. Chae, a Korean French adoptee, speak for itself:

The story of Korean adoption is highly complex and prone to being misunderstood. While I don’t claim to know the whole truth behind the scenes, I do know some things from my own experiences and have heard a lot more from interacting with others in the Korean adoptee community. Making claims for or against adoption is futile unless one first understands that each case is unique and that there are a multitude of societal forces at play.

Remembering Koryo follows the lives of a few Korean adoptees returning to Korea for various reasons. The stories are unique and colourful, easily understood by an adoptee like myself, but perhaps more unfamiliar to the average reader. To appreciate Remembering Koryo in a realistic context, one first needs to know a little more about Korean adoption in general.

Read the rest at Lee’s Korea Blog.

10)As pedotastic as some of us feared” says Extra! Korea of GP Basic’s new video, whom with an average age of just 15 years, are easily Korea’s youngest girlgroup. But is it as bad as that? Take a look for yourself below, and see my posts Reading “The Lolita Effect” in Korea and Ajosshis & Girls’ Generation: The Panic Interface of Korean Sexuality for some context, then two separate posts by hijinx at SeoulBeats here and here for a big debate among its readers:

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Korean Advertising: Just Beautiful Women Holding Bottles?

( Source )

Some words of wisdom from Londoner Bruce Haines, currently head of Korea’s largest ad agency Cheil Worldwide (제일기획):

Q) What’s one big difference between advertising in Korea and the UK?

A) Celebrity endorsement – a huge proportion of Korean ads depend on famous people. Of course, it’s not uncommon in the West for stars to endorse a product, but generally the ad has a core idea and makes use of the celebrity endorsement to enhance the original concept. Not so in Korea. In its crudest form, Korean advertising degenerates to beautiful people holding a bottle. This is one of the things holding back the reputation of Korean advertising worldwide.  (10 Magazine)

At first, I thought “Korean advertising degenerates to celebrities holding a bottle” would have been more accurate myself. And regardless of the rather unflattering picture of Wondergirls singer Sohee (안소희) I chose above!^^

But Haines’s wording does have a nice ring to it. And however obvious his point may be to readers, I confess that it would never have occurred to me personally. Spending most of my adult life in Korea, he made me realize that I fail to notice Korean advertising’s peculiarities sometimes.

Which got me thinking about others. An obvious one, at least to a blogger forcing himself to include more images of men in his posts(!), was that although male celebrities are increasingly used to advertise alcohol in Korea, I really struggled to find any men endorsing a soft drink to illustrate this post with.

Yes: even after half an hour spent flicking through my old Korean advertising magazines, this was still the only one I could think of (although as I write this, this recent one for Powerade is coming to mind; but the actors are not celebrities and thanks to Seri for pointing out that it features the group Epik High). If anyone can think of any more, then please let me know.* But if not, then overwhelmingly having women in Korean soft drink commercials aimed at women seems to provides additional evidence for their preference for passive approaches to losing weight, in the sense that “drink this and get a body like mine” – rather than, say, “drink this as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle” – is the only narrative offered.

( Source: unknown )

Of course, soft drink commercials would say that. But the point is that this narrative of passivity is echoed in Korean advertising for a surprising array of products aimed at women.

In particular, as reader Seamus Walsh recently commented, it’s strange (and a pity) just how many Korean female singers get great bodies by dancing, only then to appear in advertisements claiming that it was all the result of drinking, say, a watery tea. A good illustration of which is the Brown Eyed Girls (브라운아이드걸스; above), who – to my great dismay – recently choose to endorse the diet company Juvis (쥬비스), a company I’d already criticized back in February.

And for alternatives? Again I’d struggle, as female celebrities advocating something involving mere exercise instead are unfortunately very rare, either personally or via endorsing related products like exercise equipment or sports clothing. BoA (보아) is one, but can anyone think of any others?

Lest you feel that I’m overemphasizing and/or exaggerating Korean differences regardless though, none of that is to deny that marketing to Korean women does indeed still share many similarities with that of Western countries for instance. And apologies for rehashing a topic already familiar to many readers, albeit from a new and – to me – rather unexpected angle.

But the differences are real, and as a final surprising demonstration of this, consider how gendered yogurt is in Western countries for instance, as demonstrated hilariously by American comedian Sarah Haskins below (see here for many more videos like it). As far as I can tell though, so far yogurt has yet to become “the official food of women” in Korea:

Is that difference because the idea of, well, “drinking” for health is so ingrained in the Korean psyche? Or perhaps for some other reason?

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p.s. For examples of what Korean advertising does have to offer the world, see my “Creative Korean Advertising” series here.

*As soon as my head hit the pillow, a few more examples came to mind, and I realized I needed to make a greater distinction between different kinds of soft drinks: advertisements for tea-drinks at least do indeed almost exclusively feature women, but those for sodas are more mixed, and – with the exception of laxatives – the more medicine-like a health-drink is marketed as, and to be found in a pharmacy, the more likely it is to feature and be intended for men. But I think the distinction I identify in the text is still generally true, and as further evidence for that I suggest thinking of what celebrities you know of that have regularly endorsed any form of soft-drink. I’d wager that while several women will come to mind, you’d still be hard-pressed to think of any men!

Korean Gender Reader

Abracadabra Brown Eyed Girls( Source: Ningin)

1) If You’ve Got it, Flaunt it? The Potential Mainstreaming of Assertive Female Sexuality in Korea

As the live performance below demonstrates, even sans the sex scene of the music video, the dance routine for the Brown Eyed Girls’ (브라운아이드걸스) Abracadabra (아브라카다브라) remains compelling viewing. Spoken from the perspective of a heterosexual male of course, but also in the sense that it presents a rare, more assertive side of women’s sexuality to the faux coy, innocent, and inexperienced one that is the standard for the Korean media:

But given that, the original furor it generated, and the fact that many much tamer songs have been censored and/or banned from being broadcast on public television and radio recently, then last month I and VixenVarla at SeoulBeats naturally expected the same for what is easily the most sexually explicit Korean music video I’ve ever seen. Instead, and in some rare positive news, quite the opposite has occurred: the Brown Eyed Girls have become very much the darlings of the Korean media (see here, here, here, here, and here for just a handful of their recent television appearances), with their dance routine very much mainstreamed in the process. For which I present as Exhibit A the fact that it is starting to be parodied:

Do such parodies dilute the much-needed message that Korean entertainers – and, by extension, Korean women – can flaunt rather than hide their sexuality? To the extent that there was a deliberate “message” in the first place of course, as the music company involved has proved all too ready to make tamer versions of the video for the sake of quick sales. The question is pertinent in the context of Western dance moves and gestures frequently being parroted by Korean performers without being aware of their sexual connotations, of which Extra Korea! recently gave some examples, although the first he gives may be erroneous, as G-Dragon {G-드래곤} has quite a reputation for gender-bending. But the pelvic thrusts at 2:45 in the next one do indeed seem rather forced and awkward:

For more on the disassociation between sexuality and sexual iconography in Korea, see #7 here, to which I would add this observation by Misuda (미녀들의 수다 ) member Vera Hohleiter (more on her in a moment) on the irony of Korean women wearing mini-skirts, only to cover themselves up constantly while doing so, and also the fact that in Korea any blatantly sexual dance move, gesture and/or piece of clothing is instantly rendered cute and innocent in the public imagination merely by being on a teenage girl, as to view it otherwise would be to acknowledge the uncomfortable reality of their sexuality.

I think the criticisms are a little harsh though: if you want to look for dancing that is genuinely “the vertical expression of a horizontal desire” in Korea, then you don’t have to look very hard. And context is very important, as even the most provocative of Western singers would be hard pressed to inject some sultriness into their performance under the harsh, almost antiseptic lights of a Korean talk-show studio, and moreover one in which the 3 year-old above may well have strutted her hips and thrust her non-existent breasts out at the audience 10 minutes earlier (not to condone that by any means, just to point out the myopic asexuality of such shows, which discourages questions of how problematic such performances really are). Finally, there’s the constant repetition and routine that would ultimately render ostensibly sexually provocative dance moves and so on somewhat artificial and forced for any performer. As such, it’s not like they can’t be learned: like I noted in an earlier post, there’s a good reason Singer Son Ga-in (손가인) of the Brown Eyed Girls spreads her legs and rides the stage floor like a porn star in the first video (at 2:06), despite claiming to be a virgin (update: apparently that was all only a rumor).

Son Ga-in( Source: Naver )

2) Misuda: Half of it’s Fake

I haven’t actually seen the show myself, but I get the impression from those that have that the first season of Misuda did have its good points, and in particular sparked a lot of interest by Korean women in – and consequent dialogue with – foreign women living in Korea (easy to overlook if you’re a guy). Unfortunately its more fluent, intelligent and interesting members were replaced in favor of mere photogenic ones and more tabloidish discussion topics in Season 2 though, and in was in this vein that was widely regarded as foreign male-bashing on the show occurred in Season 3 last month, which naturally provoked a vehement response in the Korean blogosphere: see #1 here for links, to which I’d add this commentary at Diffism that I overlooked, which makes the crucial point that much of the vitriol, albeit by no means undeserved, stemmed from from an intentionally skewed Korean newspaper report on the episode.

Vera HohleiterAmong the hundreds of comments on those sites, I’d imagine that some would have argued to the effect that much of what is said on the show was scripted and for the sake of playing to its vacuous audience, and it turns out that that is indeed the case, as revealed in a book by German panelist Vera Hohleiter on the right. Unfortunately though, Korean netizens, albeit hardly representative of Koreans’ opinions as a whole, are concentrating on the few negative comments about Korea in it. Even though, as commenter Martin at Brian in Jeollanam-do’s post on the subject puts it:

….I am German and have read Vera’s book a few weeks back. When I bought it, I thought it would be the usual crap that we normally get from books about Korea but it was a decent read and the picture she draws of Korea is VERY positive. The few negative aspects she points out do not stand out at all, though I’m not surprised that some random Korean netizen picks up on them and the Korea Time publishes a story based on that person’s opinion/interpretation. Unreal….

….Anyway, the whole story is unsubstantiated as the book really doesn’t say much negative about Korea or Koreans.

On a positive note though, for its flaws Misuda is belatedly producing a male version. And Javabeans notes that foreign men are already becoming more prominent in the Korean media in recent months, increasingly portrayed positively and in romantic relationships with Korean women (see this movie also).

Update: And even the negative comments about Korea in Vera’s book may have been deliberately mistranslated and/or taken out of context. For more information, see doggyji and orosee’s comments on this forum thread.

3) Does Korea Need Cheaper Childcare?

Very much so, according to the The Chosun Ilbo (hat tip to WangKon936):

Last year 465,892 babies were born in Korea, 27,297 less than in 2007. As a result, the national fertility rate, which is the average number of babies that a woman gives birth to during her reproductive years between age 15 and 49, has declined from 1.25 children per woman to 1.19. After shooting up in 2006 and 2007 because of the belief that those were auspicious birth years, the rate has fallen again. Moreover, 10,000 fewer babies were born during the first five months of this year compared to the same period a year ago. This has prompted dire projections that Korea’s birth rate could fall to 1.12 this year….

….In order to boost the birth rate we need to create a social environment favorable to child birth and raising. Child-rearing costs must be lowered, while women should not be the only ones responsible for raising children. Corporate practices must also change so that women with babies are not discriminated against. But it will take quite some time and effort as well as a change in public thinking to create such an environment. The most practical measure at present is to provide reliable low-cost, high-quality childcare facilities for parents. In a 2005 report on Korea’s low birth rate, the OECD said that increasing childcare facilities alone could boost the rate by 0.4….

Kim Hee-sun Marie Claire

( Source: Naver )

And as someone who’s written about Korea’s exceptionally low birth rate and childcare issues for quite some time (see here, here, and here for some lengthy posts), then my instinctive reaction was to agree, but I have to admit that this response to it had some merit:

That’s a load of crap.

If child care was any cheaper in Korea, it would be free. Most daycare centres and kindergartens receive government subsidies, and for that reason, fees normally hover at around 200 000 won per month. Moreover, the government offers additional subsidies to families whose total income is less than about 3.6 million won per month, granting up to a 50% reduction in fees (so, about 100 000 won per month) and even offers additional subsidies to families that have more than one preschooler enrolled.

Sure, there are many daycare centers and kindergartens that charge more (one of the most popular gimmicks used to double and even triple fees being lessons in English), but they are not the norm.

Let’s be more specific. At the moment my wife and I send our 3 year-old daughter to a kindergarten (유치원) from 9:20 am to 4:40 pm Monday to Friday, and that costs us 420,000 won a month (340,000 if we only sent her until 2), which we consider a small price to pay for the sake of our sanity! Her kindergarten is unusual in that it accepts 3 year-olds instead of the standard 4 years, and also as a kindergarten it provides more of a structured educational program than a daycare center (어린이집), but unfortunately that means that we receive no subsidies from the government. If we sent her to the latter though, on my single income of, well…embarrassingly not much more than a 21 year-old new English teacher would make, then we’d only have to pay something like 50-60% of that. As far as my wife knows, there is actually no threshold on the percentage of subsidies that can be received on even lower incomes.

The Cultural Desert of Childcare
( Source: unknown )

I grant then, that costs are not the issue per se, at least to those on a double income and/or with much higher ones than mine. Recall that Korea has the lowest rate of working women in the OECD though, and that Korea has among the longest hours in the world spent at the workplace (note: not working, which is why Korea’s productivity per hour is only average), and I’d be surprised if there is childcare of any sort available at the late hours required. Or indeed if there ever will be, regardless of how many new facilities are created (albeit still urgently required), and so it behooves me to yet again point out that this aspect of Korea’s workplace culture, presenting a stark choice between motherhood and a career, arguably remains Korean society’s biggest stumbling block to raising its birth rate. In the meantime though, as the 2004 Social Policy and Administration article “A Confucian War over Childcare? Practice and Policy in Childcare and Their Implications for Understanding the Korean Gender Regime” makes clear, just actually enforcing the childcare and maternity legislation already in place would be an important first step:

We ask about the development of childcare policies in Korea and what these mean for our understanding of the gender assumptions of Korean governments. Women’s labour market participation has been increasing rapidly, with married women now much more likely to be in the labour market. The provision and regulation around support for women’s employment, and especially for mothers’ employment, is a key issue and problem for Korean women and for governments. A number of policies give the impression that the Korean government is moving rapidly towards a policy for reconciling work and family based on a dual-earner model of the family. But we argue that a close inspection of these policies suggests that the state is still playing a residual role, legislation is not effectively implemented, and government is giving way to the private sector and to the family in responsibility for childcare. Mothers’ accounts of their lives centre on a childcare war played out beneath the apparently harmonious Confucian surface, with resisting husbands supported by powerful mothers-in-law, and daily struggles over the management of services. The Korean government and its policy-makers, far from moving rapidly towards a dual-earner model of the family, are still rooted in Confucian ideals.

Unfortunately that is just the freely available abstract, as I’ve long since lost my electronic copy of the article (update: thanks to reader John Bush for passing this copy on). But I discuss it in detail here, and provide examples of the regular scandals of poor or even rotten food being provided to school students, and the fact that at the time of publication at least civil servants only had the resources to inspect facilities once a year, if at all, with the net result that finding a reliable facility among the insufficient number available plays no small part to play in Koreans’ decision to (not) have children. Things may well have changed in the 5 years since that article was written of course, but given that the Lee Myung-bak administration originally planned to abolish the then Ministry of Gender, Equality and Family (see here and here), only to retain it as the Ministry of Gender Equality (여성부) at the last moment, handing its family-related responsibilities to what became the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (보건복지가족부), then I highly doubt that there has been the political will to make the necessary changes.

Update: See this Korea Times article on for more recent information on Korea’s declining number of newborns.

Heroine

( Source: unknown )

On that note, apologies for the relative lack of subjects this week, less than I intended, but it’s been extremely difficult to write with both the heat and the 2 Energizer Bunnies masquerading as my daughters. And to be frank, the data-collecting for the Korean Gender Reader posts meant that writing them was becoming more of a tedious chore than something to look forward to – never good for the longevity of a blog and/or readers’ enjoyment of it – so from now on I’ll be sticking to the original format, which lets me both look at things in depth and have my own voice. I hope you enjoy the change!

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[Column] Kim Min-sun and Oprah Winfrey

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Korean Gender Reader

Wedding Campaign 2005

( Poster for Wedding Campaign [나의 결혼 원정기 ], a 2005 movie about finding brides in Uzbekistan; Source )

Back to normalcy after the conference.

Demographics

1) “Seoul Increases Support for Muliticultural Families”

Or to be more precise, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is paying Korean men marrying foreigners 1 million won to attend a 20 hour course on multicultural marriages. But it is not available to Korean women.

Obviously this is discriminatory, but as some commenters at The Marmot’s Hole pointed out, not only are (2) Nine in Ten foreign spouses women, mostly Southeast Asian (see Korea Beat also), but it is even at the behest of the Women and Family Affairs department, and is based on preexisting programs run in other parts of Korea by the Ministry of Gender Equality (여성부) in cooperation with local governments. In addition, a crucial difference with this program is that it is targeted at husbands-to-be, with the aim of preventing problems before they occur.

3) Probably not by coincidence, last week all foreign spouses in Korea would have been visited by an official from the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (보건복지가족부), with an individual survey in their own native languages to be completed, although clearly orientated towards Southeast-Asian wives judging by the questions. Here are scans of the covers of information sheet, a Korean sample version, and my own English survey I made while waiting for them to be collected:

A National Survey on Multicultural Families 2009 Korea

Meanwhile, see here for German blogger Madang’s take on his own survey.

4) Divorcees Face Asset Seizure for Neglect of Rearing Children

According to the Korea Times:

A new civil law went into effect Sunday, empowering a court to seize the assets or salary of a spouse failing to share expenses for the raising of their children after divorce.

Under the law, it will be legally binding for divorcees to shoulder the expenses of bringing up children. In the past, there were no legal grounds to enforce payments if a spouse did not keep his or her promise to help pay for the costs.

Good news of course, but on the other hand it’s telling that I’m no longer shocked that no law existed previously.

Sexy Korean Dance5) Seoul is Aging Fast

6) Young Women Suicides Double in Four Years

Mostly attributed to recent economic difficulties.

Sexuality

7) The image on the right is from a popular recent advertisement for a promotion for Nate.com, a Korean portal site, showing how one can learn how to dance seductively (유혹댄스) simply by searching on the internet. I think that that’s debatable myself,  and it begs a lot of commentary on Korean attitudes to sexuality and dance, but Brian in Jeollanam-do has largely already provided that for us. But it’s still amusing, and you may recognize it as part of the series that prompted this post (source).

Update: Perhaps it does work. Singer Son Ga-in (손가인) of the Brown Eyed Girls (브라운아이드걸스), the main character in the music video for Abracadabra (아브라카다브라; see #9 below), claims to be a virgin and to have learned her provocative dance moves simply from watching adult films!

I think it might have been more effective if it had finished with the women in the pink dress successfully seducing the object of her affections (at some point in the future) though, not him grinding with the better dancer that she resorted to desperate measures to distract him from in the first place!

8) After reading yet another excellent meta-post at Ampontan, this time about why Japan is consistently misrepresented in the foreign media, then I’m inclined to take this article at abc News on “the new trend of Konkatsu, or Marriage Hunting” with a grain of salt, especially over whether it is quite as big a “departure” for Japanese singles as claimed. Is it really only in 2009 that Japanese singles actively sought marriage partners?

9) Yet Another Band Uses Faux-Lesbian Pictures to Market Itself

Like PopSeoul!, I think that this means of getting attention is now probably counter-productive to the groups involved, and has finally run its course. But new readers, please note that I definitely don’t include the Brown Eyed Girls (브라운아이드걸스) in that category for their recent song Abracadabra (아브라카다브라): while it was easily the most erotic Korean music video I’ve ever seen, it was also very creative and refreshing, and more importantly provided a much needed kick against the limits on how women’s sexuality could be presented in the Korean media (see #2 here for a fuller discussion of that).

Ivy 아이비

10) Singer Ivy Finally Ready for her Comeback

I’ve mentioned the false sex-tape scandal that derailed Ivy’s (아이비) career on numerous occasions, so rather then link to all of those here see Dramabeans for a succinct summary of both that and how she’s managed to overcome it recently (source).

11) Students in Conflict Over Stolen Underwear

A slow news day at the Korea Times?

Seriously though, if there has indeed been a spate of thefts as reported, it’s good that a female student finally complained about it publicly, and which got results.

Won-binBody Image

12) Who is the Sexiest Korean Man Over 30?

Voting still open at AllKpop, with extensive galleries and bios available (source).

13) More Taipei Youth Undergoing Cosmetic Surgery This Summer

From the Taipei Times. While I’d be wary of the accuracy of the figures in either report, see #7 here for a July poll of Korean university students, with comparable percentages in both countries.

14) Living with Curly Hair

A Korean woman with naturally curly hair, who spent her childhood in the US, discusses how she was forced to get her hair straightened because of peer pressure when her family came to Korea, and more generally about pressures to conform. To place these into perspective, see here for some historical and religious factors specific to Korea that exacerbate those, especially for women.

15) Young Generation Confused Over What an “Average” Spouse is?

According to a Korea Times poll of 20 and 30-something that is, but I seriously doubt that “91.7 percent of males and 83.7 percent of females want Mr. or Miss Average as their spouse” as the article claims. Is it really much of a surprise then, that both sexes’ ideal partners are much taller and richer than average brides and grooms in reality?

Media

16) Roboseyo rarely writes long posts, but when he does they are invariably worth the wait. See here and here for a much needed sense of perspective on recent racist depictions of foreign males in the Korean media.

17) Saharial at London Korean Links provides a great how-to guide to choosing which Korean drama to watch. And after reading that, make sure to check out the comments to this post for some recommendations made by my readers.

18 Also well worth the wait, Korea Pop Wars has an in-depth post on the slave-like contracts of most Korean stars.

Han Ji-Hye Nude Naked19) Not that she’s the only Korean female celebrity doing so by any means, but literally every time I have seen Han Ji-Hye (한지혜) on television, she has been wearing fewer and fewer clothes (see here and here), and I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the deliberate policy of her management company.

See Paranzui for her latest commercial.

20) As expected (see #1 here), having made her mark by getting banned from TV because of the sexual innuendo and heavy breathing in the first version of her her song “Oppa, Can I do it?” (오빠! 나 해도 돼?), rookie rapper E.via (이비아) is to release an edited, tamer version of her entire album.

나의 결혼 원정기

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