Korean Sociological Image #2: Son Dambi, The Perfect Woman

(Source: Paranzui)

Updated, October 2013

My previous commentary on this “Today’s Tea” commercial was woefully out of date, so it’s since been mercifully deleted(!). But many of the themes expressed remain just as potent in the Korean media today, including the encouraging of teenage girls and children to be dissatisfied with their bodies; the constant invention of new, often impossible, body shapes and “lines” for females of all ages to strive for; the over-reliance on celebrity endorsements, to the extent that the one chosen here, Son Dam-bi, is portrayed as somehow having a superior body and face to an equally-attractive, almost identical woman; and finally, albeit admittedly minor here, the reinforcement of gendered dieting roles by portraying the (single) male humorously—confirming that dieting is something only women need should be serious about.

Think I’m exaggerating? Just see for yourself:

Those problems aside, note that the “34-쏙/ssok-34” is a clever wordplay on women’s “vital statistics” (bust/waist/hip measurements), with one use of the word “ssok” being to stress how concave something is. In fairness, it’s quite apt for a slimming product.

(For more posts in the “Korean Sociological Image” series, see here)

15 thoughts on “Korean Sociological Image #2: Son Dambi, The Perfect Woman

  1. So if I drink this, my belly line will look better? Or not? This post doesn’t really help me decide whether or not to buy 오늘의 차, no offense.

    I agree with you on one thing for sure: there is something refreshing about the direct blatant clarity of this commercial’s message.


  2. None taken, as that wasn’t the intention!

    As for if the drink will make that…let’s say general region of your body look better then, presumably that’s the idea, although I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere for explanations as to how exactly!


  3. I am a little disappointed as well… I look to this blog for guidance with many of my life’s crucial decisions. I am now in complete disarray. Should I drink the tea or buy a corset? Help a brother out.


  4. This kind of advertising must really lead to some serious obsessive compulsive disorders when it comes to watching your figure, weight and so on. Even myself, a guy, feel mentally drained from it. :-o


  5. I had seen the ad and had wondered what 쏙 meant… I was guessing waist was the context; perhaps, instead the pleasing view of the waist / waist area?

    I wonder how long it would take for girls to *stop* drinking the tea of the day if enough guys said, “Oh, you’re drinking XYZ? Thanks, but I’ll find someone more comfortable with their body. Anyeong!”…


    1. Chris–sorry, my explanation of 쏙w asn’t very good, but in my defense I never heard of it before seeing this ad, and my wife, whose English is fluent, can’t explain it other than then by making hand movements like over a waist as she says it. She did also, say though, that it’s almost always used for waists.

      Meanwhile, I doubt many guys will be making that particular complaint unfortunately…


  6. You’re probably too young to have sung “…36-24-36, what a winning hand… She’s a brick – house…” in the school hallway.


  7. What I don’t get is how the one type of tea advertises that it will make your face V-shaped.

    Boy, when they find an “it girl” they really give her a workout, huh? I had never heard of her until a couple months ago when she joined that new Pussycat Doll clone. Now she’s everywhere. A little shop across the bus terminal has, like, three different posters and cardboard cutouts of her. Needless to say I don’t think she’s that special.


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