Open Thread #6

( Source: Fabror Sid )

Fashionably late, but I made it! What’s on your mind this weekend folks?


The Kafkaesque Korean Beauty Trends of 2009

(Source: Unknown)

Confused about all the new buzzwords used to describe Koreans’ bodies these days? Here’s my translation of an article that gives a quick guide.

The author implies that most of them arose organically from the public’s interest in certain actors in Korean dramas. Whereas in reality, it’s companies and the media that are overwhelmingly responsible, as they’re in a constant quest to create new consumer trends (read: new reasons for people to feel dissatisfied with themselves). Yet while most of these have no basis in reality, are essentially useless, and/or are so contrived as to be quickly forgotten or ignored, some do stick.

Of those that do though, if they have some English in them then it often makes them more interesting from a sociological standpoint. For whether by accident, mistranslation or design, they both reflect the way the term is already usually misused in Korean and further influence they way in which related English-language popular culture gets filtered into its Korean counterpart.

A good example from this article would be chongsoon-glaemor (청순글래머), or “innocent glamor,” which at first glance doesn’t seem all that strange: in her television commercials for instance, the ice-skater Kim Yuna (김연아) below manages to project an innocent image while having a seemingly glamorous lifestyle (I wonder if she’ll find the former stifling as she grows older however, like actress Moon Geun-young?). But it emerges that “sexy” would be a much better translation of the English word “glamor(ous),” and although I’m sure readers are well aware of the number of ways  in which women are presented as pure and innocent but somehow also lustful in Western popular culture, and effectively are in Korean, there are still problems with assuming that that is what the term means, as the word “sexy” isn’t construed quite the same way here. Instead, we seem to be left with an obscure term for Korean women that look more virginal than normal(?), but yet still do the mechanical “sexy dances” virtually required of them on Korean talk shows.

Anybody with more familiarity with the term and/or the actress Shin Se-kyung that supposedly spawned it, please feel free to correct me on my interpretation: after all, this is the first time I’ve looked at its origins, and just based on one article at that (Update — with thanks to Seamus Walsh for pointing it out, I did indeed make a mistake: “glamor” actually means “busty” in Korean). But with the proviso that the next means I may be cherry-picking the facts to suit my own views, it does still seem very consistent with the Korean media’s overall trend towards discouraging or outright banning of assertive displays of women’s sexuality, i.e. genuinely sexy behavior.

꿀벅지·미중년·꽃남…2009년 연예계 뷰티 트렌드는? 2009-12-31 by 두정아

올해 연예계 트렌드를 이끈 핫 키워드는 무엇일까. 꽃남과 미중년, 꿀벅지, 베이비페이스, 청순글래머 등 어느 해보다 개성있고 다양한 트렌드가 공존했던 한 해였다.

드라마 ‘꽃보다 남자’로 ‘꽃남’이라는 단어가 사람들 입에 오르내렸고, ‘내조의 여왕’의 윤상현은 ‘미중년’이라는 찬사를 받으며 남성들의 뷰티 열풍을 이끌었으며 그룹 에프터스쿨 멤버 유이의 매끈한 허벅지를 일컫는 ‘꿀벅지’와 배우 신세경의 ‘청순글래머’ 등은 여심을 자극하며 바디 열풍을 일으켰다. 여전한 ‘V라인’ 강세 속에 동안(童顔) 열풍 또한 이어져 ‘베이비페이스’라는 단어가 자주 회자됐다.

What were the hot keywords that led trends in the world of entertainment in 2009?

With kkotnam (flower man) and mijoongnam (beautiful middle-aged man), ggoolbokji (honey thighs), babyface and chongsoon-glaemor (innocent glamor) emerging, there were many very distinct trends compared to most years.

From the drama Boys Over Flowers the term “flower man” was on everyone’s lips; from Queen of Housewives the actor Yoon Sang-hyu received a lot of praise for his looks, spawning the word “beautiful middle-aged man” and a strong following among men wanting to emulate him; and women were similarly interested in the After School member UEE’s smooth and velvety thighs known as “honey thighs” and actress Shin Se-kyung’s “innocent glamor.” Finally, in addition to the eternal “V-line,” a strong interest in youthful faces has been shown by the new word “babyface” that is often talked about.

(Source: Unknown)

‘꽃남’·’미중년’, 남성 뷰티(美) 열풍

KBS 드라마 ‘꽃보다 남자’ 신드롬에 힘입어, MBC 드라마 ‘내조의 여왕’ 태봉이 (윤상현 분)가 일으킨 ‘미중년’ 열풍까지 남성들의 뷰티 열풍이 어느 해보다 뜨거웠다. 이를 계기로 남자도 외모 관리를 해야 한다는 인식이 공유되기도 했다.

거친 남성다움보다는 부드럽고 세련된 귀족적인 이미지를 선호하는 분위기로 바뀌며 성형외과나 피부과를 적극적으로 찾는 남성들도 크게 증가했다.

경제 성장을 이루던 90년대에 사회생활을 시작한 현재 30대 후반부터 40대 초반의 중년들은 전통적인 부모 세대와 달리 중년이 돼서도 문화와 여가를 즐기고 자신을 가꾸는 노력에 적극적이기 때문이라는 해석이다.

Combined, the flower man syndrome caused by the KBS Drama Boys Over Flowers and the beautiful middle-aged man craze caused by the character Tae Bong-ee in Queen of Housewives have led to men taking a great interest in their bodies. This is how the notion that men, like women, also have to take care of their bodies and appearance has become accepted wisdom.

In turn, as the preferred image of Korean masculinity has become softer and more polished, refined and noble, cosmetic surgery and skincare clinics are reporting a great upsurge in interest from men.

One additional reason for this is that even though men that grew up and entered the workforce in the 1990s are now in their late-30s and early-40s, they are very different to their parents’ generation, and choose to enjoy culture and their free time more, which includes taking a greater interest in themselves.

‘꿀벅지’ ‘소시지룩’ ‘청순글래머’ 바디 열풍 선도

올 한해 주목할 트렌드는 바디 열풍이다. 소녀시대의 지(GEE) 열풍과 함께 유행한 일명 ‘소·시·지(Gee)룩’. 몸매가 고스란히 드러나는 초절정 스키니진에 타이트한 티셔츠를 입은 여성들이 패션을 주도하면서 여성들의 S라인 욕구는 상승했다.

뒤이어 그룹 애프터스쿨 유이의 건강미 넘치는 탄탄한 허벅지가 주목을 받으면서 꿀이 발린 듯한 매력적인 허벅지라는 뜻의 ‘꿀벅지’라는 신조어까지 탄생했다.

또한 요즘 주가를 올리고 있는 단어는 ‘청순글래머’. MBC 시트콤 ‘지붕 뚫고 하이킥’ 출연하고 있는 신세경은 청순한 매력과 섹시한 관능미를 동시에 지니고 있어 ‘청순 글래머’의 대명사로 불린다. ‘포스트 김혜수’로 주목받으며 휴대전화, 화장품 광고 모델 자리를 꿰차는 등 그 인기를 입증하고 있다.

이에 대해 그랜드성형외과 유상욱 원장은 “과거 여자 톱스타들의 상징이 ‘화장품 모델’이었다면 2009년은 이효리, 신민아, 송혜교, 손담비 등 청바지 모델로 그 중심이 바뀌었다”며 “이 같은 변화는 요즘 대중들의 관심이 바디로 옮겨지고 있다는 증거”라고 설명했다.

2009 was a real year of body trends. First, there was the very popular so called “sausage look” of Girls’ Generation. Hiding nothing, the ensuing fashion of wearing extremely skinny jeans and tight t-shirts among women has sparked an intense interest by women in their S-lines.

(Update — “Sausage look” may be a mistake, as the “소시”, or “soshi”, in “소시지(Gee)룩” is also the Korean shorthand for Girls’ Generation, and the “지”, or “gee”, the name of one of their most iconic songs. So the term may mean “sausage look”, or it may mean, literally, “how Girls’ Generation looked in the Gee music video”, in which they happened to wear skinny jeans. Either way, it’s a good pun!)

Next, as a lot of interest in After School member UEE’s firm, smooth and very healthy-looking thighs emerged, the new word “honey thighs” was coined to describe thighs like them.

Another word that’s stock is rising is “Innocent Glamor.” This comes from the actress Shin Se-kyung that appeared in the MBC sitcom High Kick Through The Roof, described as the icon for women who combine a pure and innocent image with sex appeal. Considered a second Kim Hye-su also, because of her popularity she regularly appears in cellphone and cosmetics commercials.

According to “Grand Cosmetic Surgery Clinic” owner Yu Sang-ok, “in the past the symbol of top female stars was the cosmetic model, but in 2009 women like Lee Hyori, Shin Min-ah, Song Hye-gyo and Son Dam-bi have been mostly modeling jeans instead,” and “this is proof that the focus of people’s attention has moved to star’s bodies now.”

(Source: Naver)

‘V라인’ 강세, ‘베이비페이스’가 위협

올해도 ‘V라인’ 강세는 여전했다. 뭐니뭐니해도 ‘동안’, ‘V라인’, ‘작은 얼굴’은 사람들이 가장 선호하는 이미지이기 때문이다. 갸름하고 부드러운 V라인은 첫인상부터 편안하고 친근한 장점도 있다.

MBC 드라마 ‘선덕여왕’ 미실 역의 고현정은 소름끼치는 연기와 더불어 나이를 가늠할 수 없는 ‘베이비페이스’로 주목을 받았다. 투명한 피부는 물론, 볼륨감이 그대로 살아있는 생기있는 얼굴은 아기 피부 같다는 찬사를 받았다.

‘베이비페이스’는 ‘어려보이면서 입체적인 얼굴’을 말한다. 그 특징은 얼굴 옆이 아닌 앞쪽으로 볼륨감이 살아있는 얼굴로 콧등의 높이와 균형을 이루는 부드러운 곡선 모양의 탐스러운 이마 그리고 갸름하고 조금은 짧은 듯한 턱 선이 생명이다. 이러한 ‘베이비 페이스’의 열풍은 2010년에도 지속될 것으로 전망된다.

Last year, the emphasis on the V-line remained unchanged. After all, the preferred image is to have a dongan “youthful face [for one’s age],” V-line, or jakkun-olgool “small face.” And if you have a long, slender face with a V-line, people’s first impression of you will be softer and friendlier.

Hence the interest in the “Babyface” of actress Ko Hyeon-jeong, who played the character Lady Mishil in the MBC drama Queen Seon Duk, and whose acting was so good that she gave viewers goose pimples. With clear skin and glowing, firm cheeks, she has received a lot of praise for having a face as good as a baby’s.

But a babyface has been described as a “solid, 3D face.” In particular, it’s not just the volume of the cheeks on the side but also the balance with the bridge of the nose, the softness of the curves and the desirability of the forehead that make it look youthful. They look set to remain popular in 2010. (end)

(Source: Naver)

Like I said in an earlier post, I was embarrassed at not realizing how sexist the term honey thighs was when I first heard the term, but I doubt I would have if they’d been described like that instead. And continuing with the theme of  sexual discrimination, I was surprised not to see “chocolate abs” for men also; unlike the commercial that spawned it, perhaps the term itself is more 2010 vintage?

Regardless, please let me know if you can think of any others, and especially if you have alternative explanations for where any of the above ones came from!

Oh? Oh…!

( Source )

Call me old-fashioned, but although music videos can have a huge effect on my enjoyment of songs, I still try to judge them on their own merits.

By that criteria, all of Girls’ Generation’s hits have fallen flat for me, no matter how photogenic the girls are. But then I found a remix of their latest hit Oh! by the Greek trance DJ “Areia”, and I immediately fell in love with it.

Like he says on his blog, he put a lot of work into it. And it shows.

True, it’s actually the only one of his K-pop remixes that I like, that of Abracadabra (아브라카다브라) by the Brown Eyed Girls being particularly disappointing. But I’ve only listened to a handful so far, and his abilities are definitely improving over time. To any other Korea-based trance fans out there, frequently lamenting at how something so popular in Japan could be so completely absent from the cultural radar here, I’m sure you’ll be just as happy as I was to have found him!

For the lyrics (and a translation) to the song, see Yeeun2Grace here, and if you’re interested and haven’t seen it already, then this video (via Extra! Korea) makes a pretty compelling case that the song has been plagiarized from U.S./Barbadian singer Rihanna’s Shut Up and Drive. If you’re disappointed in my not providing my usual critical analysis on this occasion though, then I apologize(!), and by all means read precisely that at Appears.

But if you’d still like to watch the original video, albeit now with the trance remix, then I do understand:

Click on the video itself to be taken to Ariea’s YouTube page, which has a playlist of his other K-pop remixes.

Update: There’s been a lot of speculation in the comments as to why the video’s concept is of cheerleaders hoping to get the attention of American footballers, simply bizarre considering that the sport has virtually no following here. So I posed the question to my two classes earlier today, and the combination of their explanations proves to be quite compelling.

First, my morning class mentioned the success of the movie Bring it On in 2000, particularly the song Hey Mickey from the soundtrack, and this struck a chord with me because men who would have been in their late-teens and early-twenties back then were precisely the demographic that SM Entertainment created Girls’ Generation for (indeed, Girls’ Generation has performed the song many times). While that may just be coincidence though, they also said that high school footballers dating cheerleaders have been a staple of American movies and dramas they’ve watched ever since, and they were at a loss for an equivalent in Korean pop culture.

My afternoon class disagreed that Bring It On was popular however, and this is borne out by the box office figures for that year. Instead, they pointed out that all Korean cheerleaders are adults, and so although the youngest members of the group are in fact turning 20 this year, to have presented them as Korean cheerleaders pining after Korean baseball or basketball players would have clashed with their image of being precocious teenagers. Recall that the song itself is about unrequited love for an older male too, which the exaggerated youth of the women singing it would help to emphasize.

In short, cheerleaders for high school American footballers were the only possibility because there are no teenage cheerleaders in Korea.

But my two classes’ explanations are not mutually exclusive of course, nor with some of the alternative explanations posted in the comments section here either. While I would like to corroborate them though, unfortunately analysis like that is severely lacking on the Korean internet, so that might have to wait until I investigate next month’s music magazines.

Meanwhile, I’m quite convinced personally, but what do you think? Please let me know, and perhaps I can get a dialogue going with my students!

Update 2: Despite 1 billion won (US$860,000) being spent on Girls’ Generations stage costumes last year, apparently there was little money available for making some props for this music video, so some store-bought ones with the Iowa Hawkeyes logo were used instead. You can just imagine the reaction of Hawkeyes fans


The Dire Need for Sex Education in South Korea


As you probably suspected, only a very small percentage of Korean teenagers are having sex. The average age that they started though, was as young as 14, and that doesn’t just affect them academically.

Or at least, that’s the take-away message of the news article below, which I was pleasantly surprised to see on the front page of Yahoo! Korea last week. Unfortunately it is rather sloppily written, raises more questions than answers, seems to ignore teenage prostitution and – in a typical irony – required age verification to search for it again the next day, but I’m cautiously optimistic that the information will lead to more calls for improved sex education at Korean schools. After all, it can hardly get any worse.

이른 성관계가 아이들에게 미치는 영향 – The Effects of Having Sex at an Early Age

“어린나이에 갖는 성관계는 아이들에게 어떤 영향을 끼칠까?”

얼마 전 청소년들이 성관계를 시작하는 평균 연령이 14.2세며 피임율은 38%에 불과하다는 조사결과가 발표되면서 우리나라 청소년들의 성 노출 연령이 점차 낮아지고 있음이 드러나면서 청소년의 성 문제가 다시 한 번 대두되고 있다.

대한산부인과학회지에 실린 ‘한국 청소년들을 대상으로 한 성행태 조사’에 따르면 2006년 9월 13~18세 중·고등학생 7만1404명 (남 3만7420명, 여 3만4200명) 을 조사한 결과 청소년의 성관계 시작 연령은 중학교 2학년인 14.2세(남 14.0세, 여 14.5세)였다고 밝혔다.

이들의 성관계 경험률은 5.1% (남 6.7%, 여 3.4%) 였으며 성경험자의 피임률은 38%에 불과했다. 또한 성관계 경험 여학생의 14%는 임신 경험이 있었으며 이 중 85%가 임신중절수술 경험을 했다.

청소년의 생식기는 생물학적으로 완전히 성숙된 단계가 아니기 때문에 바이러스가 침투하면 대항할 힘이 부족해 이른 성경험은 자칫 자궁과 생식기의 건강을 위협할 수 있고 여자의 경우 자궁경부암의 발병확률이 급증 할 수 있음을 전문가들은 충고했다.

“What are the effects of having sex at an early age?”

The results of a survey on adolescent sexuality released some time ago shows that the average age that adolescents are exposed to sex is gradually lowering over time. Of adolescents that have already had sex, the average age that they lost their virginity was 14.2, and only 38% of them used contraception. This is making teenage sexuality become a pressing social issue again.

According to the “Survey of Korean Adolescents’ Sexual Activity” published in The Korean Gynecological Journal, of the 71,404 13~18 year-old middle and high school students surveyed in September 2006 (37, 420 boys and 34,200 girls), the average age that they lost their virginity was 14.2, which is the second year of middle school (boys at 14.0, and girls at 14.5).

Of those students surveyed, 5.1% had sexual experience (boys: 6.7%, girls 3.4%), but only 38% of them had used contraception. Also, 14.1% of those girls had gotten pregnant, 85% of whom had an abortion.

Having sex before the genitals are fully developed means that the body’s ability to fight off viruses and repair damage to them is insufficient, and in particular girls have a much greater chance of developing cervical cancer.

이른 나이에 성관계 갖은 아이들, 대학 못간다 – Adolescents That Have Sex Don’t Want to go to University

완벽하게 몸이 성장하지 못한 상태에서 갖는 성관계는 신체적인 악영향을 끼치기도 하지만 더 심각한 것은 심리적인 부작용이다.

영국 글래스고대학이 지난 6년 동안 5000명의 학생들을 대상으로 성관계와 학업성취도의 상관관계를 조사한 결과 남녀 청소년 모두 이른 성경험이 자신을 어른처럼 느끼게 만들어 학업 등에 소홀해지는 경향을 보였다는 연구결과를 사춘기저널(Journal of Adolescence)에 발표했다.

연구는 14~18세 사이의 청소년들에게 성관계를 가진 그룹과 그렇지 않은 그룹을 나누어 계속 학교를 다닐 의향과 장래희망의 변화여부 등에 대해 묻는 방식으로 진행됐다.

연구결과 16세 이전에 이미 섹스를 경험한 청소년 중 39%가 대학 진학 등 학업을 더 연장하고 싶은 생각이 없다고 대답했으며 성경험이 없는 학생들은 24%만이 학업연장에 대한 뜻이 없는 것으로 나타났다.

앨리슨 파크스는 “청소년기에 성경험을 가지게 되면 더욱 이성과 함께 있는 시간을 원하는 것으로 나타났다”며 “일찍 성을 경험한 남녀 모두 마치 자신이 선구자인 것처럼 행동하는 경향을 보였다”고 말했다.


While having sex before one’s body is fully developed is bad physically, the mental side effects are far greater.

A study of the sexual experiences and academic accomplishments of 5000 adolescent boys and girls conducted for the last 6 years by the University of Glasgow, published in the Journal of Adolescence, shows a negative relationship between the two. In short, adolescents with sexual experience tended to feel that they were already adults, and so paid less attention to their studies.

The study’s method involved dividing 14~18 year-olds into two groups: those with sexual experiences and those without, and asking each about their plans for the future. Of the 16 year-olds that had already had sex, 39% said that they had had enough of schooling and did not plan to go on to university, but only 24% of virgins felt the same way. According to Alison Parkson, this was partially because “those adolescents that first had sex at an early age wanted to spend more and more time with members of the opposite sex,” and that they “felt that they were pioneers.”

성관계 그 후, 밀려오는 불안감 – Anxiety and Depression After Having Sex

충동 에 이끌려 성관계를 맺은 후 정신적으로 미성숙한 아이들에게는 그제 서야 불안감이 물밀 듯이 밀려온다.

우리나라에서 청소년 시절에 성관계는 물론 이성교제 역시 불건전하고 몰래해야한다는 인식이 사회전반에 깔려 있다.

즉 아이들에게 이성과의 관계는 일종의 ‘죄’라는 이미지가 강하기 때문에 이성교제나 성관계가 이뤄지는 것은 단연 어른들의 눈을 피한 탈선의 상황에서가 주를 이루게 된다.

게다가 신체적으로는 임신이 충분히 가능한 나이고 또 그것을 본인들도 인지하고 있기 때문에 심한 불안감을 겪게 되는 것이다.

상담21성건강연구소 유외숙 박사는 “아이들은 무방비하게 인터넷에 노출되다보니 실제적인 것이 어떤 느낌을 줄까 하는 호기심과 욕구에 사로잡히게 된다”며 “그러나 섹스를 하고 돌아서자 마자 ‘임신했을까, 만족을 못시켰을까, 부모님에게 알려질까’ 등의 불안감이 찾아오기 때문에 자기평가가 상당히 낮아지게 된다”고 설명했다.

유 박사는 이어 “게다가 이런 고민들을 해결 할 곳이 필요한데 실제 청소년들이 문제를 들고 찾아갈 만한 곳이 없어 혼자 앓게 되는 경우가 많다”며 “이런 불안감이 심해지면 대인기피증이 생기거나 정말 성관계가 필요한 시기가 됐을 때 제대로 된 성생활을 못하게 되는 경우도 있다”고 덧붙였다.


Adolescents that act on their urges to have sex before they are mentally ready for it tend to have feelings of anxiety, uneasiness and depression afterward.

In Korean society, there is almost a universal taboo against adolescents dating, meaning that they have to do it secretly. Indeed, having sexual relationships or even dating the opposite sex is virtually considered a crime by adolescents here, and hence that that which does occur is in places far from the eyes of adults.

In addition, as the girls are aware that there is a chance that they might get pregnant, then they in particular suffer a great deal of anxiety and depression.

According to Dr. Yu Wae-sook at Consult 21 Sexual Health Research Institute, “adolescents are defenseless against what they see on the internet, and naturally get caught up in and want to physically experience those things for themselves,” but also that once they do, “they worry about such things as if they are pregnant, if they were good enough and if their parents will somehow find out. This causes them a great deal of anxiety, and lowers their self-worth and confidence.”

Moreover, “adolescents don’t really have anywhere or anyone to go to for answers, and so have to continue worrying about them alone” and “that these worries can become so serious that they become reclusive. This can have grave consequences for their future sex lives once they reach an age when they would normally be physically and emotionally mature enough to start one.” (end)

(Source: Unknown)

As always, please feel free to correct any mistakes above, which is by no means a literal translation.

For more information about the issues raised, see here for a related survey conducted in 2003 and my analysis, and Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling here for his on similar surveys conducted in late 2008; you may also find this recent post of mine on the Korean age of consent interesting. Meanwhile, I will try to find out more information about the survey itself in the next few days, particularly the methodology used!