“Fuse Seoul” Clothing Brand Subverts Gender Stereotypes, Offers Women Comfortable Clothing. What’s Not to Love?

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes. Source: Fuse Seoul.

There’s just something about the Fuse Seoul underwear featured in this ad. Why do so many women want to get their hands on it?

One big reason is despite appearances, the underwear is actually for women, produced by a company not shy about picking and choosing from features standard for menswear to offer women more comfortable options. As CEO Kim Su-jeong explained shortly after the company’s founding in October 2018:

“앞으로도 다양한 체형의 모델을 기용하고, 그동안 남성들만 누리던 ‘의복혜택’을 여성복에도 적극 도입할 것”이라고 설명했다.

“We will continue to use models of various body types and actively introduce the ‘clothing benefits’ that only men have enjoyed so far.”

…퓨즈서울은 단순히 스타일을 넘어서 그동안 남성복에게만 적용되어왔던 자켓 안주머니, 히든 스트레치밴딩, 넉넉한 바지주머니와 밑위길이를 여성사이즈에 맞게 제작하여 품절대란을 일으키기도 한 바 있다고 업체 측은 전했다.

…the company goes beyond just a style, reporting that they’ve been unable to meet the demand for their clothes with jacket inner pockets, hidden stretch banding, generous trouser pockets, and rise lengths appropriate for the wearer’s size, all features which are usually only found in menswear. 

Further elaborating on her motivations in an interview in July 2020 (source, right):

“점점 여성복 사이즈가 줄어들고 있어요. 지난 5년간 눈에 띄게 보이는 현상입니다. 예전에는 27인치가 M사이즈였는데, 지금은 27인치가 L사이즈가 됐습니다. 브랜드마다 사이즈도 다릅니다. 왜 여성복은 규격이 일정하지 않은지, 여성복 디자이너로서 그 이유를 알고 싶었어요.

“The size of womenswear has definitely been decreasing over the past five years. Previously, 27 inches was considered a medium size, but now 27 inches is considered a large. Different brands have different sizes too. As a womenswear designer, I wanted to know how and why the standards were constantly changing.

어느날 남동생 옷을 입었는데 정말 편했습니다. 남자 형제가 있는 사람들은 대부분 남성복이 얼마나 편한지 알 겁니다. 그 때부터 남성복을 연구하기 시작했습니다. 남성복은 여성복에 비해 사이즈 혼란도 변동도 거의 없습니다. 브랜드가 달라도 규격은 거의 같아 편하게 구매할 수 있습니다.”

One day, I was wearing my brother’s clothes, and they were really comfortable. Most people with brothers will know how comfortable menswear is. From then on, I began to study menswear. Compared to womenswear, menswear shows little confusion or change in size. Even with different brands, the sizes and specifications are almost the same, so you can easily purchase what you need.”

Another reason is because they’re tired of the tropes surrounding the advertising of women’s underwear, which this ad completely upended:

Source: @Harang_0601, in response to a since deleted tweet that featured the images below:
Source: Fuse Seoul.

Translation: “I can’t even think of the model as a woman, I thought this was an advertisement for men’s underwear…That just goes to show how much usual women’s underwear advertisements are shot for a male gaze, and how women are so used to that… Only tears remain.”

Sources: @Yuzru12 and @NDG_0_0.

Translation: This the difference between gazing and being the subject of the gaze… One the left is a harmless and passive pose for the male-gaze, whereas the right model has a strong stare back at the viewer. What to make of the exposure of women’s bodies also varies greatly depending how the picture was taken and viewers’ points of view.

On their own Twitter account, Fuse Seoul themselves stressed their deliberate attempt at machismo:

Source: @fuseseoul.

Translation: The aim with this Prince Gwanghaethemed pictorial was to go beyond simple mirroring by using a macho image, formerly considered exclusively for men, in a female photoshoot. But please note this wasn’t intended to be a critique of any specific vendor.

And on a woman becoming king:

Source: @fuseseoul.

Translation: I think that when a woman becomes a king, she can not only become a more effective politician, but can also become a more vicious king.

In hindsight, it should have been obvious that another reason for the attention was that the model, dressed as male royalty and posed with all the confidence and machismo of a typical men’s underwear ad, is a woman herself, a crossfit trainer known as Shark Coach, a.k.a. Shark Lee and Lee Yun-ju (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube). Here’s a video of her preparing for the photoshoot:

And CEO Kim Su-jeong, who has a youtube channel of her own, on some of the elements that went into the shoot:

Yet throughout much of the research and writing of this piece, frankly I was completely mistaken about Shark Coach’s sex.

One reason is because Korean male celebrities were featured in ads for bras as long ago as the early-2010s. Albeit not so much wearing them, as promoting the idea that if women purchase a brand and style he endorses, “it might even be him who one day helps them take it off.” Another is that Korean men’s clothing company Uncoated, for one, uses a female model to model its underwear. So it wouldn’t be too much of a leap for a progressive women’s clothing company like Fuse Seoul to likewise reverse the sexes in its own ads.

Source: donor2222.
Source: Uncoated.

That being said, more relevant are two biases behind my mistake. First, a benign one: due to underwear reviews by YouTuber Daisy, a late-20s Korean woman I’ve long subscribed to who covers everything from cosmetics to sex toys on her channel (In Korean, but she writes her own English and Japanese CC translations), I’ve become very persuaded that the distinctions between men’s and women’s underwear aren’t quite as distinct as those I grew up with. So, again I wasn’t at all fazed to see a man model “women’s” underwear:

(But because it would be strange to include those reviews but nothing about the Fuse Seoul underwear, here is one I’ve been able to find.)

(And here’s Kim Su-jeong on why this underwear is such a big deal.)

I can’t in good conscience not also mention and highly-recommend “natural-size” model and YouTuber Cheedo a.k.a. Park Lee-sul too, who I’ve also long been a subscriber to (but who provides no English subtitles unfortunately). Despite rarely discussing underwear specifically, she has a lot to say about the escape the corset corset and no-bra movement, further convincing me of the changes to women’s fashions underway. Actually, you may recognize her from a BBC video about that:

But the main reason for my mistake, of course, is because I thought Shark Coach looked like a man.

I don’t doubt for a minute that many of you did too, and I don’t feel embarrassed about it. But on the other hand, just a few days ago Shark Coach herself complained on Youtube about being constantly misgendered. And it’s precisely such gender stereotyping and rushes to judgement that Fuse Seoul is encouraging people to avoid.

Source: @crossfit_shark

I will try. I’m glad to say too, that Fuze Seoul’s approach seems to be making some progress: for a time, this underwear was the most sought-after item of its kind on ZigZag, a Korean app for women’s clothing.

But what do you think of the ad? Will you buy the underwear, or any of their other gender-neutral clothes? How to address the many remaining doublestandards (NSFW) in just the advertising of underwear alone?

Source: @rad_bunsbian.

Please let me know in the comments!

Related Posts:

How Slut-Shaming and Victim-Blaming Begin in Korean Schools

Free The Nipple in Korea? Why Not? Uncovering the history of a taboo

Revealing the Korean Body Politic, Part 7: Keeping abreast of Korean bodylines

Why We Need to Stop Talking about “Asian” and “Western” Women’s Bodies

The Surprising Reason Koreans Don’t Buy Red Underwear for Valentine’s Day

“Lingerie Advertisements Deflect the Danger of Homoeroticism by Using Models with Averted Eyes.” Huh?

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

Researchers Announce Beauty Ideals Based on 3D Photos of Miss Korea and Miss Paraguay Contestants—Get Repeated Uncritically by Korean Media

3D facial photography is a promising new approach for researching beauty ideals, but studies based on beauty pageant contestants alone should not be presumed to speak for entire populations.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes. Photo (cropped) by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Last week saw a textbook case of how not to report about beauty ideals.

The catalyst was a press release by the Catholic University of Korea (CUK). Widely copied and pasted across the Korean media, the title of the sole English translation was “S. Koreans Prefer Women with ‘Oval Face, Wide Forehead, and Small Lips’.”

The problem is, they don’t, necessarily.

Rather, what should have been reported was that a joint Saudi, US, Paraguayan, and Korean Dentistry and Orthodontics research team, including one professor from CUK, had announced they’d discovered commonalities in the facial differences between Miss Korea 2012 and Miss Paraguay 2013 contestants.

Then, when the announcement went straight to the researchers’ conclusions, as in this article from Yonhap

연구팀은 미스코리아 54명과 미스파라과이 34명을 대상으로 3D 카메라로 얼굴 정면과 측면을 특수 촬영해 길이 및 각도를 측정했다. 측정값을 기준으로 인종에 따른 심미성 차이를 평가하고, 두 결과를 서양인의 대표적인 황금비(golden ratio)와 비교했다.

The research team measured various lengths and angles of the faces of 54 Miss Korea and 34 Miss Paraguay contestants by using special photographs of the fronts and sides of their faces using a 3D camera. The differences in racial beauty standards were determined based on the differences in the measured values between the two groups, and each groups’ results were also compared with the golden ratio, [a representative ideal of facial beauty for Westerners].

Source: Biz Khan.

그 결과 한국인은 전반적으로 갸름한 얼굴형과 넓은 이마, 작은 입술을 선호했지만 파라과이인은 약간 각진 얼굴에 큰 입술을 선호하는 것으로 나타났다. 두 국가가 선호하는 얼굴은 서양에서 이상적인 비율로 판단되는 황금비와도 차이가 있었다.

As a result, it was found that Koreans generally preferred a slim face shape, wide forehead, and small lips [left], but Paraguayans preferred large lips with slightly angular faces [right]. The faces preferred by the two countries were also different from the golden ratio.

…Reporters should have inquired on what grounds researchers made wide, sweeping pronouncements about the entire Korean and Paraguayan populations’ beauty ideals, considering their study was just on a handful of beauty pageant contestants. Either by simply asking, or reading the study for themselves.

I realize to have expected either was incredibly naive. Quick content and clickbait titles are key these days, both of which are all the more effective if they confirm readers’ stereotypes. Plus, in fairness, the academic English of the study would have been beyond most Korean reporters.

They could at least have linked to it though. Some reporters provided no identifying details about it whatsoever.

So, I sought it out and read it myself.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

That study was “Comparison of facial esthetic standards between Latin American and Asian populations using 3D stereophotogrammetric analysis” in the Journal of the World Federation of Orthodontists, Volume 9, Issue 3, 2020, Pages 129-136, by Mohamed Bayome, Jae Hyun Park, Ahmed M. Shoaib, Nam-ki Lee, Victor Boettner, and Yoon-Ah Kook (please contact me if you can’t get access to any of the studies I mention here). Further adding to the likelihood that no reporters actually read it, last week’s articles included either a picture of CUK Department of Orthodontics Professor Yoon-Ah Kook and/or the earlier graphic supplied by the university (note the watermark), neither of which were in the study.

In short, the researchers make—justify—their mental leap on their argument that beauty pageant judges are objective and representative (p. 130):

“These beauty contestants reached the final stages of the contests based on selections made by the competition panels consisting of media figures, artists and producers, famous plastic surgeons and orthodontists, as well as other community influencers. This means that their opinion plays a principal role in forming the general public opinion.”

Indeed, writing in the Korea Time about the 2019 Korea pageant, Lee Han-na mentions that the “judging panel consisted of experts in the areas of fashion, music and entertainment, joined by actresses and former Miss Koreas.” Which I don’t deny sounds diverse, nor that, say, cosmetic surgeons in particular play a huge role in shaping general public opinion in Korea.

That such groups may be bringing their own subjective preconceptions, worldviews, and agendas to any discussion of beauty however—let alone the six Dentistry and Orthodontics professors involved in this study—seems not to have occurred to them.

Moreover, in the Korean case in particular, beauty pageant judges’ role as gatekeepers is further undermined by the public’s utter disinterest in the event, as well as by ironically choosing a 2018 winner who was far too “fat” for many Korean netizens’ standards. Also, to counter charges of objectification and lookism, contestants’ academic backgrounds, personalities, and performing abilities have been given much more prominence in judging since the early-2000s.

I’ve only been able to find one reporter, Go Jae-won at Donga Science, who suggests that the researchers’ conclusions shouldn’t be taken for granted. To say that journalists were not doing their job here is an understatement:

이번 연구는 미스코리아는 2012년 참가자들의 얼굴을 대상으로 미스파라과이는 2013년도 참가자들을 대상으로 분석이 진행됐다는 점에서 최근 참가자들의 트렌드를 반영하고 있지는 않다는 한계가 있다. 또 미스코리아 참가자들이 한국인들의 평균적인 미적 기준을 반영하고 있다는 근거도 부족하다는 지적도 있다.

By analyzing 2012 Miss Korea and 2013 Miss Paraguay participants, the study has limitations in reflecting recent trends. In addition, some point out that there is a lack of evidence that Miss Korea participants reflect the average aesthetic standards of Koreans.

Another issue was the researchers’ liberal use of overgeneralizing terms such as “Westerners,” which are particularly useless and misleading when talking about beauty preferences and racial differences. So too, was perpetuating the myth that the “golden ratio” is a signifier of beauty, for which there is actually inconclusive evidence at best that it plays any role in attractiveness whatsoever. To be sure, technically they acknowledged that lack, which their study further confirmed, but—jumping ahead—they and/or CUK should have anticipated the ensuing “Westerners just loooove the golden ratio in their women” style of reporting.

Photo by Evelyn Chong from Pexels

But given that the other, explicit aim of the study was “to compare the facial esthetic standards between Paraguayan and Korean beauty pageant contestants,” that was clearly too much to ask. For they were no less careful to restrict their conclusions to only beauty pageant contestants than any tabloid news reporter. For instance, consider the loose generalizations from the introduction (p. 129-130, my emphases):

Attractive Asians are characterized by longer faces than the general population and with less height of lower lip and chin and smaller volumes of chin and cheek. On the other hand, attractive Latin Americans are distinguished by less nasal prominence, large nasolabial angle, less protrusive lips, and less prominence of the chin.

And from the conclusion (p. 136, my emphases):

“From our results, it may be claimed that most Latin American individuals, in general, prefer rectangular faces with wide mouths and large lips, especially the lower lips, whereas in general, most Asian individuals prefer long tapered faces with small mouths and lips [see below]. Even though it might be well-known that the Misses are not selected solely based on their faces, as these contests include various measures, it is quite unlikely to have a qualified finalist who did not have a beautiful face.”

In between those six pages, many various nationalities and racial groups are mentioned, but none are defined. Are Paraguayans included among the Westerners they mention? The Caucasians? It’s all very confusing, and particularly irresponsible for an academic journal article.

Photo by Ike louie Natividad from Pexels

This is a shame, for I believe 3D facial photography is a promising new approach into researching beauty ideals, and have no reason nor inclination to dispute the results of this study. Indeed, I’m now overwhelmed by all the intriguing “related articles” to pursue. But the researchers’ conclusions in this one? Peruse the sources used, and conspicuous for their absence are any from sociology, gender, or media studies. Had there been some input from those fields, perhaps the researchers would have been more rigorous with their definitions. In turn, they may have been more restrained in their beliefs that beauty pageant judges were objective and representative, upon which their conclusions rest. And more circumspect in going to the media with them.

These flaws are also evident in a similar study by different researchers published just a few months earlier in The Journal of Cranofacial Surgery (Volume 31, Number 3, May/June 2020. (Which, because of reporters’ unprofessionalism/laziness/crushing deadlines, for a long time I thought was the one actuallybeing referred to.) In that study of 44 Miss Korea and 22 Miss Paraguay contestants (competition years not given), the researchers were ironically much more forthright about the difficulties of determining racial beauty ideals. Yet ultimately, they ended up even more convinced that the beauty pageant contestants possessed objectively-determined, universal-shared racial beauty ideals, a conclusion perhaps facilitated by the cheat of simply referring to Koreans and Paraguayans as “Asian” and “Western” throughout.

Yet it was three of the same researchers behind the first study who already demonstrated the potential of 3D facial photography in an article published in the March 2017 Korean Journal of Orthodontics (47(2):87-99). Specifically, the faces of 52 Miss Korea 2012 contestants and 41 young adult female students of a nursing school at Wonkwang Health Science University were compared, and no overarching conclusions extending to entire Korean population were made.

What they did say? Again, please let me know if you can’t get access, and we could discuss the differences between the groups in the comments, or make them the subjects of another post. Either way, let me be forthright with my own biases from the beginning. Isn’t it uncanny how page 95’s “proportional diagram of the average face from the Miss Korea group (A) and another from the general population group (B)” instantly reminds you a young and middle-aged Jang Yoon-ju? Or is it just me?

With apologies in advance for the unflattering picture, please let me know in the comments!

Sources (cropped): dlscks98, YouTube.

Related Posts:

Busting the Myth of Jeju Island’s Topless Divers

Free The Nipple in Korea? Why Not? Uncovering the history of a taboo

If You Don’t Have Kim Yuna’s Vital Statistics, Your Body Sucks and You Will Totally Die Alone

Revealing the Korean Body Politic, Part 7: Keeping abreast of Korean bodylines

Those Damned Double Eyelids…

Korean Sociological Image #49: Lee Hyori has an Asian Bottom?

Why We Need to Stop Talking about “Asian” and “Western” Women’s Bodies—The Series:

Part 1

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

Books I Read in 2020

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes. Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash.

All the books I read in 2020, with my ratings.

Only the titles and links, alas, as my university’s jam-packed December had me receiving frantic phone calls from students as late as Christmas and Boxing Day. But now that I’m free, I’d love an excuse to talk about any of the books you’ve read or are interested in. Please do give me a buzz if so, either in the comments here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Also, I’m itching to atone for my many unfulfilled writing promises this year. To cut to the chase, by posting every Monday from now on, starting with this warm-up.

How? Why? What’s different?

The old me would be answering those questions now, instead of working on coming posts. Whereas the new me doesn’t have anyone’s time to waste, and has already deleted their social media apps ;)

Until Monday then. And Happy New Year!

1. States and Social Revolutions (1979) by Theda Skocpol, 4.5/5

2. Medieval Technology and Social Change (1966) by Lynn White, 2.5/5

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) by Mark Manson, 2/5

4. The Female Brain (2007) by Louann Brizendine, 2.5/5

5. The Scandal of Pleasure: Art in an Age of Fundamentalism (1997) by Wendy Steiner, 3/5

6. Beyond the Frame: Women of Color and Visual Representation (2005) ed. by N. Tadlar, 1.5/5

7. Dostoevsky: Reminiscences (1977) by Anna Dostoevsky, 3/5

8. We’re Going on a Bar Hunt: A Parody (2013) by Emlyn Rees, 3/5

9. Gender Voices (1991) by David Graddol, 5/5

10. She Found it at the Movies: Women on Sex, Desire, and Cinema (2020) ed. by Christina Newland, 3/5

11. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction (2000) by Peter Just, 4/5

12. The Spheres of Heaven (2002) by Charles Sheffield, 3.5/5

13. Glory Season (1994) by David Brin, 4/5

14. Gender and Genius: Towards a Feminist Aesthetics (1990) by Christine Battersby, 3/5

15. Media, Gender and Identity, An introduction (2nd ed., 2008) by David Gauntlett, 5/5

16. The Years of Rice and Salt: A Novel (2003) by Kim Stanley Robinson, 3.5/5

17. The Dark Knight System: A Repertoire With 1…Nc6 (2013) by James Schuyler, 5/5

18. Modern Romance (2016) by Aziz Ansari, 3/5

19. South East Asia in the World-Economy (1991) by Chris Dixon, 5/5

20. Colonial Modernity in Korea (2001) ed. by Daqing Yang, 4.5/5

21. The Problem of Women in Early Modern Japan (2016) by Marcia Yonemoto, 5/5

22. Disco 2000 (1999) ed. by Sarah Champion, 0.5/5

23. Jiggle: (Re)Shaping American Women (2007) by Wendy Burns-Ardolino, 3.5/5

24. Everyday Sexism (2015) by Laura Bates, 4/5

25. Design as Art (1966) by Bruno Munari, 0.5/5

26. The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think (2011) by Louann Brizendine, 1.5/5

27. The Complete Poems of Sappho (2009) by Willis Barnstone, 3.5/5

28. Secrets of Grandmaster Chess: An expanded edition of a modern classic (2014) by John Nunn, 5/5

And finally #29 and #30, plus—for the sake of maintaining the aesthetics—my next two weeks’ reading also.

29. Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory (2003) by David Howes, 3/5

30. The Erotic Margin: Sexuality and Spatiality in Alterist Discourse (1999) by Irvin C. Schick 3/5

Breasts and Eggs (2020) by Mieko Kawakami

The Politics of Gender in Colonial Korea: Education, Labor, and Health, 1910-1945 (2008) by Theodore Jun Yoo

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

“With Throbbing Heart and Trembling Hands, the Groom Undresses the Waiting Bride, to Unveil the Mystery”

Rare, 1970s English-language alcohol commercial for overseas audiences is a cringeworthy example of gendered self-Orientalism*

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes.

Featuring actors Yu Ji-in and Shin Yeong-il, it’s her timidity that strikes me most about this 1975 commercial for Jinro ginseng wine. For in that era of draconian but well-publicized birthrate-reduction policies, monthly pill commercials were widely seen in cinemas alongside those for alcohol. And they weren’t exactly known for their blushing brides:

Probably, the explanation is that the wine commercial was never actually seen by domestic audiences. It’s also unlikely there’s anything deeper to its sexual exotification of Korea, and its presenting of ginseng wine as the means to help relax nervous virginal women on their wedding nights, other than an unimaginative creative team stuck with trying to advertise an obscure drink to foreign audiences.

But which foreign audience exactly? Why, despite the contents of the voiceover, show the bride as being the most in need of relaxing? Why have Korean advertisers been so reluctant for the last 50 years to run their English copy and concepts by native speakers first, especially for ads exclusively aimed at them?

Alas, the answers will have to remain a mystery. Nonetheless, the commercial remains an interesting, albeit slightly distasteful footnote in Korea’s history of portraying itself to outsiders, particularly considering the government was actively promoting sex tourism to Japanese trade officials and businessmen at the same time. So, for readers’ interest, and to ensure the information is not lost, I’ve included my translation of a 1974 article I have been able to find about Jinro’s attempts to sell the drink overseas then, and would be grateful if any readers could add any further links or background (meanwhile, the Jinro website itself notes that the company’s first export was a shipment of soju to Korean soldiers in Vietnam in 1968):

진로 인삼주 본격개발 Jinro Begins Full-scale Development of Ginseng Wine

올수출목표 1백만불낙관 Optimistic Export Target Set at 1 Million Dollars

February 11, 1974, Maeil Business News Korea

소주메이커인 진로주조(대표 장학엽)는 일본산토린과 기술제휴를 맺은데이어「런던드라이진」과도 가계약을맺는등 본격적인 인삼주개발에 박차를가하고 주류수출에 밝은전망을 보여주고 있다.

Soju maker Jinro Brewery (CEO: Jang Hak-yeob) has signed a contract for an alcohol-technology sharing alliance with Santorin, Japan, and a provisional contact with a UK maker of ‘London Dry Gin.’ This is expected to spur the development of ginseng wine and brighten prospects for the exporting of alcoholic beverages.

11일 동사에의하면 지난해 인삼주30만달러를 수출한데이어 올해엔 1백만달러를 목표로 세워놓고 이를위해 재래식 인삼주외에도 새로운 신제품을개발,생산키로 했다.

On the 11th, the company reported that it had exported 300,000 dollars of ginseng wine last year, and had set a goal of exporting 1 million dollars this year. To this end, it decided to develop and produce new products in addition to conventional ginseng wines.

이에따라 진로주조는 작년12월 일본의 산토린과 기술제휴를 맺었고 오는2월안으로 위스키베이스 인삼주12만달러를 수출할 예정이고 연내 40만달러를계획하고 있다.

Accordingly, Jinro Brewery made an alcohol-technology sharing agreement with Santorin of Japan in December of last year, and plans to have exported $120,000 of whiskey-based ginseng wine by February and $400,000 by the end of this year.

또「런던드라이진」과는 가계약을 체결,4월에 진베이스인삼주를 생산,10만달러어치를「유럽」및 동남아시장에 수출하기로했다.

In addition, a provisional contract was signed with “London Dry Gin” to produce Gin-based ginseng wine from April, and to export 100,000 dollars worth to European and Southeast Asian markets.

이밖에 부녀층을위한 저도수인삼주(15도)는 시험이 끝나는대로 곧 시판키로했고 지난해 30만달러를기록했던 재래식 인삼주는50만달러를 잡고있다.

In addition, it was decided that a low-strength ginseng wine (15%) aimed at women would go on sale as soon as its testing phase was over. Meanwhile, exports of conventional ginseng liquor, which hit $300,000 last year, are on course for $500,000 this year.

그런데 진로는 현재 남아연방,「브라질」,「네덜런드」등 18개국과 거래하고있어 올수출목표1백만달러달성은 어렵지않을것으로내다보고 있다.

Jinro is currently trading with 18 countries, including South Africa, Brazil, and the Netherlands, and expects that it will not be difficult to achieve this export target of $1 million. (End.)

“Jinro ad, published in The Korea Times, Nov. 1, 1974.” Source: Korea Times Archives (used with permission).

*UPDATE: In a thread in the Critical Korean Studies Facebook group, I was asked what I meant by “self-Orientalism.” Here’s my (slightly edited) reply:

…[I just used the term] to indicate that men and women tend to get orientalized in very different ways, whether by themselves or others, and that this is an example of that.

First, “self-Orientalism” refers to how in this case it’s Koreans orientalizing themselves—”…the exotic East”, “…profound love and mystery unique to Korea” etc.—rather than Westerners doing it to them. The term only occurred to me while writing, but I quickly confirmed that it’s a concept that’s already been well-covered by scholars, and that that’s the term they use for it. (Here’s one article about a recent Japanese example you may find interesting).

As for “gendered,” I admit that’s much vaguer….Specifically, I chose it because I was reminded of Scott Burgeson’s “Gendered Multiculturalism,” by which I took to mean a gender lens was absolutely necessary to understand Korean multiculturalism, because men and women were treated and considered so differently by it (marriages to “foreign brides” warmly encouraged, but relationships with foreign men discouraged etc.). Similarly, although I admit this isn’t a very strong example of it, the woman(‘s body) is explicitly described as a “mystery” in the commercial, and it’s difficult not to further associate that with the exoticism and mystery of Korea mentioned in the same breath. In that vein, mysterious and exotic women—and the promise of their sexual availability—have indeed been a strong component of the advertising of Korea to non-Koreans since at least the 1920s, by Koreans and non-Koreans alike. In contrast, selling the possibility of sex with Korean men probably didn’t really begin in earnest until the first Korean Wave with the Bae Yong-joon mania, and hence gender (or technically, biological sex) is an important thing to bear in mind when studying it.

I hope that clears things up! :)

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

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Viral 30-Second TikTok Video Explains Why Korea Needs Feminism

A handy riposte to anyone who claims that feminism is unnecessary in Korea, by Ibagua Kihanovief. Make sure to check out her Twitter, her Instagram, and especially her TikTok for many more Korean feminism-related videos like it.

The least I could do is translate it [with added links and a little extra context by myself!]:

“I’m very curious, why are you doing feminist stuff?”

“[For] The decriminalization of abortion.”

“[Because of] The Nth Room on the dark web.”

“[Because] Seungri still hasn’t been arrested for providing sex workers [for investors] in the Burning Sun Scandal.”

“[Because] Hidden cameras were found in the women’s toilets of the KBS building [let alone in just about every other public toilet in Korea].”

“[Actually] I, too, long for a world where feminism isn’t needed. [But…]”

“Teachers with Me-too allegations against them are still teaching.”

“Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don took advantage of their power to commit sexual assault.” [James—I hate to split hairs, but technically both were only accused of sexual harassment.]

“[A culture of] excessive sexual harassment [and abuse] in the military. ‘Oh, you’re very cute Private!'”

“In Yeonggwang County in Jeollanam-do, a male student in the first grade of middle school died of acute pancreatitis after being [repeatedly] sexually assaulted by four other teens in their shared dormitory.”

“In Daejeon in 2017, a female high school student took her own life after being ostracized for coming out as a lesbian.”

“On the Daejeon MBC channel, female news announcers are recruited as irregular workers, while male announcers are hired as regular workers [and so are paid much more and have greater job security and other benefits].”

“Don’t use the words ‘manly’ or ‘womanly.’ Use ‘like me’ instead.” [End]

Meanwhile, sorry for the long break since last posting; last month, my department went back to teaching 100% offline, and it feels like I’ve been doing nothing but working on my classes, editing, translating, and admin ever since. But the end of the semester is now in sight, and I’ve really been itching to write here. I aim to post at least weekly from now on, and hope to complete at least one more long post in either my “‘Asian’ and ‘Western’ Women’s Bodies” or “Finding the Female Queer Gaze” series by the end of the year, or hopefully both.

See you next week!

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

Go Book a Chance to See “Portrait of a Beauty” Right Now. No, Not the Movie.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes. Images, L-R: a “Gangnam beauty”; the original “Mi-in-do/Portrait of a Beauty” by Sin Yun-bok; and a poster of the 2008 movie of the same name. Sources: Awesome Pick, 기냥 보는 재미…원미동통신, and 연예계 뒷담화.

I’m working on a piece about a very rare, arguably feminist example of 18th Century Korean Rückenfigur art at the moment, as one does. The artist Yun Yong, some claim, was the real painter behind “Portrait of a Beauty,” not the much better-known—but still awesome—Sin Yun-bok.

Or so I thought, until I learned that controversy was actually about the “Gosan (고산) Portrait of a Beauty,” which looks very similar and often has the “Gosan” omitted from its title (sigh).

Either way, Google perused my complicated browsing history, put two and two together, and alerted me to this news video about a week-long exhibition of it going on at the National Museum of Korea at the moment:

Apologies that I’m only just finding out about it now, and that this provincial Busanite has no information about how to book tickets to Seoul museums. But for the determined, hopefully there’s still some spaces available for the remaining three days of the exhibition.

Update: Here is the link to book tickets :)

다시 문 연 박물관…’미인도’ 내일부터 연장 전시 Museum Reopens Its Doors, “Portrait of a Beauty” Extended Exhibition Begins Tomorrow

Saturday October 3

[앵커] 한국의 모나리자로 불리는 ‘미인도’가 내일(5일)부터 국립중앙박물관에서 다시 관람객들을 맞이합니다.

Anchor: Called the Korean Mona Lisa, “Portrait of a Beauty” welcomes visitors again at the National Museum of Korea from Monday the 5th. [James—Not technically “tomorrow”; YTN got its dates wrong!]

코로나19 여파로 닫혔던 박물관이 다시 문을 열면서 특별전시회 기간도 조금 연장했습니다.

As the original exhibition ended prematurely when the museum was closed in the summer due to the Corona-19 pandemic, this special exhibition was slightly extended.

김혜은 기자가 보도합니다.

Reporter Kim Hye-eun reports.

[기자] 구름 같은 가체 머리에 둥글고 앳된 얼굴, 살포시 아래를 향한 얇고 긴 눈매.

Reporter Kim: A cloud-like gachae [traditional Korean wig] with a round and youthful face, and thin, long eyes looking gently downwards.

웃는 듯 아닌 듯 속내를 알 수 없는 표정이 백미입니다.

The viewer not being able to tell is she is smiling or not, her impenetrable expression is one of the highlights of the painting.

목 뒤의 잔머리나 붉은 삼작노리개를 매만지는 섬세한 손 등 세밀한 묘사가 돋보입니다.

The extraordinary detail of the depiction stands out, such as in the fine hair at the back of the neck, and in the delicacy of the hand with which she’s tying the red three-piece norigae [a traditional ornament worn by women].

조선 후기 고관대작들의 초상화에나 사용했던 세밀화 기법이 여인의 초상화에 등장한 겁니다.

In the late Joseon Dynasty, this technique of incorporating small details was used in portraits of high-ranking women.

[강경남 / 국립중앙박물관 학예사: 머리털 한 올 한 올, 한복의 깃까지 굉장히 아름다운 색을 쓰고 세필로 정성스럽게 그려 넣은 것을 알 수 있습니다.]

Gang Gyeong-nam, National Museum of Korea Curator: “You can see that each hair and the collar of the hanbok were carefully drawn, and painted in beautiful colors. Great attention was paid to the fine writing too.”

Image source, cropped: Joo Jaebum @Behance; (CC BY-NC 4.0)

그림 속 여인은 기생이라고 추정할 뿐 아직 밝혀진 건 없습니다.

The woman in the picture is presumed to be a gisaeng, but no information has ever emerged about her.

간송문화재단에서 보관하던 ‘미인도’는 지난 8월 국립중앙박물관에 3주 일정으로 특별 전시됐지만, 코로나19 탓에 나흘 만에 볼 수 없었습니다.

“Portrait of a Beauty,” which was kept by the Kansong Art and Culture Foundation, was to be specially exhibited at the National Museum of Korea last August for three weeks, but the exhibition had to close after just four days due to the Corona-19 pandemic.

지난주부터 박물관이 다시 문을 열면서 ‘미인도’는 11일까지 1주일 동안 다시 전시됩니다.

With the museum reopening last week, “Portrait of a Beauty” will be exhibited again for a week until Sunday the 11th.

박물관 측은 국보와 보물 83건을 볼 수 있는 큰 전시인 만큼 특별전 기간을 오는 11일까지로 연장해놓았습니다.

The museum has extended the exhibition due to its large size, with 83 national treasures on display.

긴장감이 감도는 투전판, 옷섶을 풀어헤친 채 장기 두는 승려를 그린 김득신의 풍속화와, 지금의 청운동인 인왕산 기슭 청풍계를 담은 정선의 작품도 만날 수 있습니다.

These national treasures include Kim Deuk-sin‘s paintings of four tense men gambling and of two men and one monk playing Chinese chess. There are also a number of Jeong Seon‘s landscapes, including “Cheongpunggye” which depicts the present-day Cheongun-dong neighbourhood of Jongno-gu in Seoul at the base of Inwangsan Mountain.

다만 국보인 ‘삼국사기’는 사전협약에 따라 반환돼 연장 전시 기간에는 공개되지 않습니다.

However, the History of the Three Kingdoms, a national treasure, has already been returned to the Kansong Art and Culture Foundation according to a prior agreement and will not be on display.

관람은 1회 30분 간격, 회당 40명으로 인원수가 축소되며 온라인 사전예매 방식으로만 운영됩니다.

The number of visitors is reduced to 40 people per 30-minute interval, and is operated only by online pre-order.

YTN 김혜은[henism@ytn.co.kr]입니다.

This is Kim Hye-eun of YTN [henism@ytn.co.kr].

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)