Korea is a Conservative Country: Redux

(Source: 1023sheep)

Sorry for the delay, but my article for the Korea Times — my big news — is finally in today’s paper. The subject is loosely how Korea’s reputation as a conservative country is very outdated, that advertisements are a good reflection of its rapidly changing sexual mores, and that…well, there wasn’t too much else to say in the 800 word limit really. Nothing new in there for regular readers then, but the editor has hinted that the better the response it gets, the more likely I will get my own regular column, so *cough* please do go on to read it regardless.

One minor complaint with the KT’s editing is having all my italics replaced by quotation marks in it — they’re not quite the same — and I don’t find the choice of title particularly eye-catching either. But on the other hand, not a word was changed from the original, which is probably quite rare.

Seriously though, I won’t put my foot in my mouth again by giving a specific date for future articles, but naturally I’ll let you all know as soon as they’re up.

The poster, by the way, is for the 2004 Movie S-Diary (에스다이어리), which was considered pretty raunchy when it came it out, but would be very tame by today’s standards. Just like I mention in the article, things change very quickly in Korea, and at the risk of sounding like I’m merely ingratiating myself with new Korean readers, that is one of the fascinating things about the place. It’s good to remind oneself every now and then.

Update 1) Before I forget, I should give full credit to Sonagi for my point in the second last paragraph of the article, about revealing images of women being sexist by virtue of the sheer weight of them, and the same tired women-sexually submissive/men-dominant roles portrayed in most of them. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, but realize now that she had a point.

Update 2) Actually, I’ve just noticed that in the very first line(!) of my article the word “that” was removed from “…that such an impression can easily be forgiven”, ruining that sentence and hardly giving a great first impression of the remainder of the article either. Sigh. I don’t think I’ll read it again, lest I find any more editing mistakes…

11 thoughts on “Korea is a Conservative Country: Redux

  1. Congrats on getting paid to write! As a fellow blogger it’d be nice to receive something other than hits :)

    I suppose I see the ‘conservative’ label being applied far more by the older generation who wouldn’t have dared to do even 10% of the things the younger generation does every day. While currently single, I’ve seen how older Korean men looked at my (then Korean) girlfriend simply we were holding hands on the subway. Whaatever the case, I’m proud to say that culture changes as the people choose it to change. If enough ads are considered too racy by the people (not the government or archaic laws), resulting in fewer sales or a negative brand image, advertisers change their ways faster than you realize. I look forward to more excellent articles :)


    1. Thanks Chris. Yeah, in hindsight in the article I probably do portray advertisers as enlightened social pioneers, wheres in practice they’re usually just pandering to the lowest common denominator in order to get their products noticed (especially during a recession, although this can harm a brand image in the long run), and like you say will pull something the instant it gets too negative a response, no matter how objectively non-sexist and/or innovative. Still, they are continuously testing and redefining the boundaries.


  2. Congrats mate!

    And that’s a pretty fetching picture.

    After it’s done fetching I expect it to roll over and play dead. ;-p

    Really.. nice one.. as soon as I remember my log in info I’ll go over there and start some shite.


  3. I forget the name of the movie, but remember the one about the grandfather setting up the teen girl with the older guy? The poster showed them in bed together –her with a terrified look on her face and him looking ecstatic. That was some disturbing imagery.


  4. That was a nice surprise to see a photo and article of you during a subway ride when I usually read the KT. And true. The change in Korea is fast: I’am often sitting in the back of a bus. And what I see is more than I got to see back in Germany. I mean the … between couples, friends or whatever. Scenes to be seen impossible 5 or 10 years ago.


  5. This may not be the type of response you hope for, but thanks for the tip about a sexy Gong Yoo movie! I’m downloading it already.


  6. Call me a typical guy/Marine but I love the advertisements! They are HOT! No man can deny it. I see how much the west has influenced this place and I think it is kinda sad yes BUT, since there was a shift from conservative to how things are now means that the new generations wanted change…..maybe? Besides, I think it’s inevitable for developing countries to begin the slow decay that turns them into morally corrupt people. Just like us lovable Americans . :)

    Oh! I can relate to your first comment Chris Backe. I have a Korean girlfriend also and it’s the funniest thing when I’m at Yongsan Station and I love around and there are more people staring at us than shopping. Hehe it makes me smile every time.

    P.S. Still diggin yor posts James. You got talent :)


    1. Surin2Sayan: Thanks, and remember we’re both in Busan…imagine what a hive or villainy and vice much more progressive Seoul would be!

      Marilyn: No worries. I have found many a good blog or article myself while originally looking for *cough*…let’s just say less intellectual things.

      Morbas: Thanks also, and yes you’re a typical guy…but so am I, and I can certainly think of more boring topics to write about than Korean advertisements!


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