Korean Gender Reader

Lee Byung-hun Sienna Miller

( Source. See here for the details )

1) A much needed American woman’s guide to dating Korean men.

2) Transgender model Choi Han-bit (최한빛) reached the final round of competition in the 2009 Asia-Pacific Supermodel Contest in Seoul, which will be held on September 25. See AllKpop for more pictures and videos, and FeetManSeoul translates an article that questions if contest organizers are simply making a poor attempt at imitating the sensation caused by Isis King from America’s Next Top Model.

Meanwhile, Lee Na-young (이나영) will take on a transgender character in her next film role, called Dad Likes Women (아빠는 여자를 좋아해).

3) Sexual harassment on the Seoul subway (such as groping and taking upskirt photos) has risen 26% since last year.

4) According to the latest statistics, 3 out of 4 naturalized Korean are female (hat tip to KimcheeGI). And in other migrant-related news, one Filipino bride was assaulted by her husband and thrown out of their home for becoming pregnant (by him), and also a large number of mixed-race children are withdrawing from school once they reach middle or high-school age.

On a positive note, SBS is investigating both issues (via Diffism).

Finally, looking at the supply-side, Robert Neff discusses Koreans’ role in human-trafficking in Mongolia.

5) Recently, a civil organization called Citizen’s Movement for No Prostitution published an “escort businesses map” of Gangnam, a wealthy part of Seoul; see here for an account of a visit to one.

Chris in South Korea has an inventive solution for what to do with the business cards that such businesses litter the streets with every morning.

6) Mnet, a Korean music channel, is to launch a program for 20-something women called Men Who Come From the Sky Like Rain (하늘에서 남자들이 비처럼 내려와) in which the hosts will find out from the requester the criteria that they are seeking for their ideal man, and then head to the streets themselves to find him. Somehow I doubt that it will “try to solve problems or issues that women in their twenties face” as claimed though.

Lee Hyori Kiss Wilber Pan7) Lee Hyori gave her first on-screen kiss, to American-born Taiwanese pop star Wilber Pan, with whom she is also rumored to be dating. Good for her, on both counts, but given that she is easily Korea’s number one sex symbol, and in a country where – to put it mildly – the media frowns on relationships between Korean women and foreign men, then the relative lack of media attention is quite bizarre really.

But not new: as Korea Beat noted of a 2004 article that waxed lyrical over the Hong Kong media’s fascination with her breasts for example:

…frankly I find it bizarre to see Korea — a nation noted for its dedication to the maintenance of pure bloodlines — going ga-ga over a pretty crude overseas reaction to one of its biggest stars.

Any thoughts on what accounts for the contradiction?

8) Naked News Korea suspends operations after just one month of operation.

9) As Robert Koehler aptly puts it, “Adamu unleashes some fact-checking fury on Lisa Katayama for her piece in NYT Magazine on Japan’s “thriving subculture” of men who prefer 2D women to the real thing.”

10) Unusually for a primetime show, MBC’s new horror drama series Hon (혼, or Soul) is to be given a 19+ rating.

11) A great guide to “Korean attitudes towards being fat, skinny, and everything between” from KoreanClass101.

12) Presumably because of the slave-like contracts which Korean celebrities often have with their management companies, actor and model Yoon Eun-hye (윤은혜) is forming her own managment company.

13) In a warning to never underestimate the power of teenage girls, fans of boy band TVXQ block the street outside the group’s management company, with whom they are having a legal dispute.

14) Both paralleling and the result of women’s reactions to similar groundbreaking movies in the 1990s, the movie My Wife Got Married (아내가 결혼했다; below), about a woman who has two husbands much like a married man might have a mistress, proved to be surprisingly popular among women…especially among those whose husbands have had affairs!


( Source: Unknown )

15) Andrei Lankov writes a potted history of sexuality in North Korea.

16) Two dermatologists in Seoul have been accused of causing facial injuries to 10 women by applying a skin-peeling treatment which they had developed themselves. Not only did were patients not informed of its origins, but it was also non-tested. No mention of the KDFA is mentioned in the article, which implies that mere, biased, in-house testing would have been acceptable?

17) A commentary on the teenage runaways and the recent news that 2 in 3 Korean men feel the urge to flee home as a result of the stress of keeping their jobs during the recession.

18) Baek Young-ok, “a renowned chick lit author, delves into the dark side of diets and women’s fanatical obsession with the slim bodies” with her new novel Queen of Diet.

19) With apologies for the poor quality of the scan, this illustration on the packaging for a food container I bought this evening must be the singularly most unappealing use of Photoshop I’ve ever seen:

Tak 탁 Photoshop

See here for a famous recent example involving a Korean celebrity.


4 thoughts on “Korean Gender Reader

  1. 1) is really more of a “why I think Korean men and Western women don’t date” post . . . I read through the entirety of the site (It’s AMAZING what one can accomplish when trying to avoid, say, preparation for a conference, or, perhaps, one’s day job) and there are bits of sociological stuff to be teased out from some of the posts, between endless talk of bands I don’t recognize because I am OLD.

    That said, many posts about “Why Korean Women Date Foreign Men” and their kin strike me as deeply problematic. I know this has been a very hot topic in the Kblogs recently, and the longer the conversation went on the more it has annoyed me. First, as you’ve noted and tried to correct here by the inclusion of this young lady’s post, the majority of voices out there are western men involved (either currently or in the past) with Korean women. Korean women have very little representation about why they choose to date foreign men (or more accurately, don’t – women who have dated a foreigner of any stripe is still statistically a very small set!) and what the benefits and drawbacks may be. In the meantime, the voices of western women involved with Korean men may be well be under-represented for more than reasons of sheer numbers: The responses by men to the topic of inter-cultural dating on the Kblogs are often self-congratulatory, sexist, and especially nasty towards western women. There’s actually a pretty substantive number of women, including bloggers, who have been in or are in relationships with Korean men, but they’re not chosing to engage on many of the major blog comment boards – and who can blame when we’re portrayed as fat, unattractive, and bitter over our “abandonment” by western men for the greener pastures of beautiful, pre-feminist Korean women? It’s not fair to women, no matter what background, nor to Korean men. In the meantime, what’s said is so reductive and silly that it is effectively removed from the actual reasons behind individual relationships.

    Echem . . . am I ranting? I am, apologies!

    And now to reapproach a similar topic in a completely different way . . . 7) of course people don’t mind Ms. Lee getting together with Mr. Pan ~ he’s hot! He’s famous! He’s . . . Asian? I mean, do we really think there would be an unhappy “they’re stealing our women” fuss over the Great White Menace of Daniel Radcliff if he started dating, say, Jang Nara? Would the Han people rise up in anger if one of their pure maidens were whisked away by . . . George Clooney? I’m guessing that fame, power, and money are powerful mitigating factors.

    Sorry if I’m unnecessarily soapbox-y today!


    1. True. I should have been more precise and said that that was the general theme of the blog. I suspect that I read far less of it than you did though, as I’m not only old but I was also never into boy bands in the first place. Jeez, the crap I have to wade through on the Kpop blogs everyday…

      I hear you about the nature of “Why Korean Women Date Foreign Men” type posts (hey, rant away), and pretty much said the same thing as you did at #1 here actually. Sans the parts about the sexism and vitriol directed at Western women that is, which I was aware of but didn’t mention because a) it slipped my mind, and b) more wanted to convey that the self-congratulatory phase and then wake-up call is something every expat male naturally does and should go through respectively. Having done so myself – with my bald shaved head, I’ve no longer got no illusions that I’m God’s gift to Korean women – then I get very bored with the whole subject now.

      As for Ms. Lee and Mr. Pan, agreed also, although naturally I would place the 2004 mania over Lee Hyori’s breasts more in the context of the Korean Wave.


  2. [ According to the latest statistics, 3 out of 4 naturalized Korean are female (hat tip to KimcheeGI). And in other migrant-related news, one Filipino bride was assaulted by her husband and thrown out of their home for becoming pregnant (by him), and also a large number of mixed-race children are withdrawing from school once they reach middle or high-school age.]

    While I hate instigating hatred between Koreans and Filipinos, the behavior of the said Male Korean above almost actually proves how stereotypically idiots Koreans can be.

    As I dwell around K-Wave and everything about Korea, I’ve been discovering its dark, gloomy side that would really end up disgusting and unbearable.

    My mom is right. Koreans think they are the best but they’re just plain dimwitted in most aspects. I’ve seeing their twisted logic in every aspect of society. Kpop english is one of the very representations how twisted Korean logic can be. Second is their standard for beauty…. since when anorexically skinny biotches became goddess quality? If they regard SNSD’s Yoona as “Goddess”, people outside Korea regard her as worse than an exploited teen. Am I offending SONEs? So What? Third, the way how their represent women and Fourth, their means of handling business…and not only illogical but INHUMAN AS WELL.

    I am a Filipina. Patriarchal stuff also runs throughout the Philippines, and despite the harshness suffered by Filipinas, our men treats women with respect—-though this doesn’t apply to most Filipino men since some could be chauvinist pig. I felt sorry for Rose’s fate after being thrown out by her husband. That “gook” don’t like Filipinos? Then why marry her? I guess he should check himself to mental assylum or psychiatric facility. He’s suffering of psychological/mental lapses worse than a kid suffering from autism.

    Pun intended… “Gook” guys don’t like “Flip” women? Why should we care? We don’t like shawtydickeya*holes in da first place. Racism much? You guys deserve it. Your racism has gone far that you don’t even spare babies like in the case of Tiger JK.


  3. I really really hate throwing racial slurs, but Koreans are freakin’ sadistic and not standing the chance of thowing anything they want, it’s about time for them to taste how bitter it is to be hated because of race.

    I hate the idea of the so-called racial purity imposed by Koreans. They are like the present-day/real-life “purebloods” in Harry Potter who loathe and belittle other races ala-“Mudbloods”.


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