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

Talking Points: From Music Downloads to Sweaty Crotches

Feminist Media Criticism Problems(Source)

Sorry for the lack of posts everyone. I’ve been absentmindedly researching many, not realizing that I hadn’t put pen to paper for a while. To remedy that, here’s some interesting links that add new information to previous posts of mine, but which didn’t really justify separate updates by themselves:

1. Will saving Korea’s music business end up killing it?

Korean Digital Music MarketIn an endnote to my recent “Why the Japanese Don’t Illegally Download Music. Much.” post, I wrote:

Like most articles praising the rapid rise of the Korean digital music market and the supposed success of Korean anti-piracy efforts, this article completely fails to mention how absurdly cheap Korean digital tracks are, as noted by Bernie Cho in the opening quote.

The next week, Yim Seung-hee at the Korea Joongang Daily wrote one of the most comprehensive articles on the Korean digital music market yet, noting a lot of resistance to government law changes aimed at raising prices. Here are just a few of the quick factoids to take away from it (source, right):

  • Music in Korea used to cost 73 won per download before the changes. That has now risen to 110 won, which is still less than one-tenth what iTunes costs.
  • Gangnam Style only earned 3.6 million won in online royalties in Korea, coming from 2.86 million downloads and 27.32 million streams, which works out to an average of about 10.7 won per download and 0.2 won per stream.
  • However, in the US, Psy received the equivalent of 2.8 billion won for 2.9 million downloads.
  • Meanwhile, one estimate says that the average indie musician earns just two-to-three-million won a year (about the same as most expat English teachers make per month).
  • Streaming accounts for 74 percent of online music spending in Korea (probably because of Korea’s ubiquitous broadband wifi), and downloads continue to fall. In contrast, in the rest of the world downloads dominate, making up 71 percent of the online market.
Koreans and waegookin(Source: unknown)

2. “Gaijin”

Leah of The Lobster Dance is featured in a (heavily-commented) Tofugu article about the usage of the word “gaijin,” which she has used in the past but now rejects. It begins:

Gaijin (外人, short for 外国人), or “foreigner” in Japanese, is a complicated word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Some people take the word lightly; when the Tofugu team was in Japan and a roller coaster we were riding unexpectedly malfunctioned, we joked that it was because the ride wasn’t designed to hold the weight of our giant gaijin bodies.

But for some people in Japan, “gaijin” can be a hurtful and alienating word. It can mean refusal of service at businesses, a barrier to entry for housing, or even threats of harassment or violence.

I thought that I’d reach out to some bloggers living in Japan to see what their thoughts on the word “gaijin” were. I got a lot of great, varied, and nuanced responses.

See “Korean Sociological Image #46: The Language of Exclusion” for a similar discussion surrounding the Korean term waegookin, or “foreigner,” with links to many other posts on the subject in the Korean blogosphere (as of 2010).

3. Tasteless Ad or Brilliant Marketing?

Johnny Walker is capitalizing on the 40th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death by rendering him in CQI for a Blue Label commercial:

The ad features a startlingly lifelike computer-generated rendering of the revered martial-arts star, who died four decades ago. It has sparked ire among fans, who argue that Mr. Lee was a teetotaler and abstained from drinking alcohol for most of his life.

Critics see Mr. Lee’s personal stance as incongruous with an endorsement for a brand whose blended Scotches sell for more than $200 a bottle.

Johnnie Walker has defended the ad, saying it worked closely on it with Shannon Lee, Mr. Lee’s daughter.

Ms. Lee, meanwhile, told the Journal that while her father wasn’t a drinker, he didn’t think drinking was immoral. She also thought the video would be an “innovative way to get my father’s ideas out.”

See Scene Asia for the rest, or my “Raising the Dead: The Future of Advertising?” for a much better example featuring Audrey Hepburn, and many others in the comments (readers made me realize using dead celebrities in ads was surprisingly common).

As for this example, I share The Ethical Adman’s criticisms that “there’s something really disturbing about dead celebrities being recreated to sell brands,” and that “it seems like the ultimate violation of a person’s integrity, at a time when they cannot even defend themselves.”

Most of all, I think it was incredibly hackneyed to use a teetotaler to sell alcohol, no matter how famous he was. And I just can’t believe how incredibly bad the CGI is, despite the accolades.

Lee Hyori Dazed and Confused August 2013(Source)

4. Lee Hyori for “Dazed and Confused”: Appropriation or Appreciation?

See Audrey Magazine or Omona They Didn’t! for the details. Or, for a similar example by T-Ara last year, see “Thinking through Korean Appropriation of American Indians” at Sociological Images, which I made a big contribution to.

Meanwhile, I’m going to buy a copy to see if there was any rationale to that “vulgarity,” which I find rather charming myself…

5. 9Goddesses are Hot for the Military

While writing my “Korean Sociological Image #72: Girl-group performances for the military” last summer, it proved surprisingly difficult to find actual embeddable videos of those. So, via Omona They Didn’t!, here are 3 with Nine Muses from earlier this year, who are apparently quite popular with the troops.

Pregnant Korean Bride6. Premarital pregnancy gets trendy

My 2008 post, Why Korean Girls Don’t Say No: Contraception Commercials, Condom Use, and Double Standards in South Korea, is still my most popular and most-commented, despite being based on 2003 data, and displaying big, obvious gaps in my knowledge of Korean sexual mores. Hopefully I’ve filled most of those since, not least because one commenter pointed out that Koreans have always been quite tolerant of premarital pregnancies, so long as the couple planned to marry.

What’s more, according to the Korea Times, now they’re more common than ever. Some excerpts (source, right):

Celebrity couples such as actor Jang Dong-gun and his wife Ko So-young, and Kim Seung-woo and Kim Nam-joo, have admitted they walked down the aisle with the brides pregnant.

Actress Kim Bu-sun goes as far as to say she approves of premarital pregnancy.

“My premarital pregnancy was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Kim says. “If my daughter becomes pregnant, I will host a party in her honor.”

She believes people should embrace single mothers, whom she considers a minority in need of attention and care.

Nice to hear, considering the Ministry of Health and Welfare defined unwed mothers as “ignorant whores” as recently as 2010 (technically, it was “low levels of education [and] impulsive sexual drives”). Continuing:

But premarital pregnancy is now humdrum, even among people who are not stars.

In a survey that consultancy Duo Wed conducted between June 1 and June 14, one-third of 374 newlyweds questioned said the bride was pregnant when they married.

Of these couples, 92.1 percent said their babies were unexpected.

Read the link for the rest. Note  that this doesn’t mean Koreans are necessarily becoming more tolerant of cohabiting couples however (and who face a lack of suitable accommodation anyway), nor of pregnancies that don’t lead to marriage.

7. This Dude’s Response To Female Crotch Sweat Shame Is Perfect

See Bust for more. Fortunately, I haven’t seem any similar products advertised here yet, and perhaps that’s because there will never be a market for them, as Korean women generally don’t sweat as much as those of other races. This was discussed in my 2010 “Hot Sweaty Korean Women” post, about a rare Korean commercial that did feature a Korean woman sweating:

Please note I also made some overgeneralizations about Korean (women’s) exercise and gym culture in that post though, and would write it very differently today. But on the plus side, readers soon corrected my mistakes, and it (hopefully) remains useful for the journal study on Korean attitudes to dieting it references.

Also, for a related 2009 post on why Koreans generally don’t wear deodorant, its marketing, and the implications for Korea’s kkotminam (“pretty flower men”), which I recently updated and does still hold up today, please see “The Scent of a Man: What deodorant commercials tell us about Korean metrosexuality.”

Thoughts? On any of stories above?

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!)

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