“Want to Sleep With a Foreign Girlfriend?”

A provocative article title from Yahoo! Korea yesterday, yes?

Alas, actually it’s only about one lawmaker’s concern over the growing number of “lewd” internet advertisements these days, among which presumably that’s a common slogan. But that does underlie some of the street harassment and groping that many foreign women experience here, so it’s interesting in its own right.

As is the irony and hypocrisy of Yahoo! Korea posting such an article in the first place too. For Korean portal sites are virtually like The Sun newspaper in their content, tone, and adherence to journalistic ethics, like I said of them last year:

Unlike their English-language counterparts, you have roughly a 50% chance of opening Naver, Daum, Nate, Yahoo!Korea, and kr.msn.com to be greeted with headlines and thumbnail pictures about sex scandals, accidental exposures (no-chool;노출) of female celebrities, and/or crazed nude Westerners.

And indeed, scroll to the bottom of Yahoo! Korea as I type this, and just today’s “image galleries” below include lingerie photoshoots and “beautiful Russian news anchors”, let alone the links on the rest of the site.

Not that I mind those in themselves of course. But if they’re the standard for Korean portal sites, then you can just imagine what it’s like for the rest of the Korean internet.

Take those of “serious” newspaper websites for instance, the main focus of the orginal article, and which are already notorious for posting pictures of women in bikinis or even middle-school girls in short skirts:

‘외국인 여친과 잠자리?’ “인터넷 음란광고 강제 퇴출해야”

‘Want to Sleep With a Foreign Woman?’ “Lewd Internet Advertisements Should be Forced to be Withdrawn”

[아시아경제 김성곤 기자]인터넷 광고시장이 급성장하고 있지만 법적 장치의 미비로 선정적인 내용의 음란광고로 홍수를 이루는 등 부작용이 심각한 것으로 나타났다.

While the internet advertising market is experiencing rapid growth, its legal oversight is imperfect, and there has been a flood of lewd advertisements with suggestive contents, with serious side effects.

김성동 한나라당 의원은 27일 방송통신심의위원회로부터 제출받은 자료를 분석한 결과, 인터넷 광고시장은 2004년 4800억원 규모에서, 2005년에는 6600억원, 2009년에는 1조2978억원 등으로 매년 크게 늘고 있지만 성적 호기심을 자극하는 광고가 난무하고 있다고 지적했다.

On the 27th, after analyzing data submitted by the Korean Communication Standards Commission, Kim Seong-dong, an assemblyman from the [ruling] Grand National Party, concluded that the Korean internet advertising market was worth [at today’s exchange rate] US$419 million in 2004, US$576 million in 2005, and US$1.132 billion in 2009, rapidly expanding every year. However, he pointed out that this is also true of advertisements stimulating sexual curiosity.

이 자료에 따르면 국내 종합 일간지의 인터넷판 광고에는 ▲ 외국인 여친과의 술자리에서 헉 ▲ 그녀가 원하는 건 크기·힘! ▲ 보통여자 명기 만들기 등 선정적 광고가 전체 광고의 11.8% 수준에 이르렀다. 특히 스포츠 연예지는 선정적 광고의 비율이 20.6%에 달해 전체광고 5개 중 1개는 음란 광고였다.

According to the data, if you look at all the internet advertisements of national newspapers, sexual advertisements with lines like “At a bar with a foreign girlfriend…Wow!”, “She wants size and power!”, “Make a normal woman a famous kisaeng (Korean geisha)”, and so on make up 11.8% of the total. In particular, the rate is 20.6% in sports newspapers, or 1 in 5.

문제는 이러한 인터넷 광고는 다른 광고에 비해 소비자 피해가 즉각적으로 발생하고, 피해 범위도 광범위하다는 것. 특히 피해가 발생해도 광고주의 이동과 은닉 등으로 피해구제가 어려운 것이 특징이다. 아울러 판별능력이 부족한 어린이, 청소년에 대한 무분별한 광고의 노출은 부작용이 심대하기 때문에 규제의 필요성이 절실한 형편이다.

The problem is that compared with other advertisements, consumers instantly suffer a wide range of damages from them. In particular, the producers of the ads can move and conceal themselves easily, making relief and help for the damages difficult (James – I think what these “damages” are exactly should have been made more specific). Accordingly, because the side effects of children and teenagers seeing sexual advertisements is serious, as their ability to understand them properly is lacking, then there is an urgent need for their regulation.

김 의원은 “이러한 현실이 인터넷 광고에 대한 내용 규제가 제도적 미비로 인해 제대로 작동하지 않은 것에서 기인하고 있다”며 “정부, 인터넷 사업자, 민간단체 등 모든 주체가 참여하는 공동자율규제 도입을 고려해야 할 때”라고 주장했다.

Assemblyman Kim claims that “This problem is caused by a lack of and/or poorly-functioning regulation of internet advertising at present,” and that “this issue of regulation needs to be considered by all participating and/or concerned parties, including the government, internet businesses, NGOs, and so on.”

한편, 현재 인터넷광고는 2007년 발족한 한국인터넷광고심의기구가 자율규제를 하고 있지만, 법적 구속력도 없고 비회원사의 참여를 강제할 수도 없는 구조적 모순 아래 놓여있는 형편이다.

There has actually been an organization to regulate Korean internet advertising since 2007, the Korean Internet Advertising Deliberation Organization, but its authority is insufficient as its decisions have no legal binding, nor can it force non-members to participate. This undermines its role as an advertising relief(?) organization. (end)

(Another wholesome ad from October last year)

Meanwhile, observant readers will have noticed two other links in the original screenshot: the first, a Korean blogger’s opinion piece saying that if you’re a Korean woman and want a foreign [male] friend, then you’ll have to get over everyone’s suspicions that you’re with them just for the sake of English and/or sex.

Which may well be true, but unfortunately my wife says it reads like it was written by a 16 year-old.

The second however, another blogger’s advice about getting a foreign girlfriend, actually looks rather interesting, but unfortunately is several thousand words long. I’d still consider translating it though, probably as a 9-part series, but only if readers are interested. If so, please let me know!

7 thoughts on ““Want to Sleep With a Foreign Girlfriend?”

  1. Just to point something out.

    ‘외국인 여친과 잠자리?’ translates “A night with a(your) foreign girlfriend?”

    Seriously, I’d rather go for ‘A foreign girlfriend and a dragonfly?’ than “Want to Sleep With a Foreign Woman?”


    1. True: my bad for checking everything but that this afternoon, after finishing the translation late last night. I’ve changed the title accordingly.

      Still, according to my dictionary “잠자리” does mean either “a bed” or “sexual intercourse; sleeping together”. And recall that we are talking about a phrase and/or slogan used in seedy advertisements too, so I doubt the intention would be “A night with YOUR foreign girlfriend [just like any other in your wholesome, monogamous relationship]”, but rather “[enjoy] a night with A [new] foreign girlfriend”, whom would presumably be provided by the advertiser.

      So, although I was indeed mistaken to see a “want” in there, “want to sleep with a foreign woman” does still pretty much amount to the same thing. Which is probably why at least one native Korean speaker didn’t have any problems with it.

      But hey, thanks for pointing out the mistake, although I don’t think it was quite as bad as “A foreign girlfriend and a dragonfly”!


      1. Thinking it over, I take back the change, but for keeping “girlfriend” rather than “woman”. After all, we are talking about ads for room salons and prostitution and so on, not romantic dates between Korean men and foreign women, which both “A night with a foreign girlfriend?” and especially “A night with YOUR foreign girlfriend” could imply.

        That’s assuming that the phrase is from an ad of course, as that’s what the article is about, although of course the other two links do offer advice about dating foreign women and so on. But anyway: anybody still reading by this stage, I’m sure you can definitely make up your own minds by now!^^


        1. “so I doubt the intention would be “A night with your foreign girlfriend [just like any other in your wholesome, monogamous relationship]“.”

          Totally agree with this.

          “but rather “[enjoy just] a night with a [new] foreign girlfriend”, whom would presumably be provided by the advertiser. And so although I was indeed mistaken to see a “want” in there, “want to sleep with a foreign woman” still pretty much amounts to the same thing,”

          As a local and someone who believes there’s a difference between “what it amounts to” and ‘what it literally means’, I can not say I got the ‘how about a night with a foreign girl(friend)’ impression (certainly not “Want to sleep with a foreign girlfriend?”) when I first read the title (in Korean).
          Maybe I’m putting too much weight in that word ‘여친’. But that’s just me and I respect your way of approaching this. This is your own blog after all. Still, I personally don’t agree the title should be translated based in the context of the article (or the ads for room salons), for the title means what it means.

          I can’t even imagine what you have to go through each time you translate a piece of article in Korean into English. Especially in a case like this when a title quotes an ad. I have such a great respect for that and furthermore, my hats off to you sir, for your quick response and feedbacks. I know not many bloggers are humble enough to do so. Like you said, let the readers make up their own minds.


        2. Ummm, I hate to comment on this again and I don’t think I’ll be proving anything more than I’ve already have, but since I’m the one who started this so here it is, after reading the article on yahoo thorougly, I’ve found no connection with the title of the article to the ads for room salons and prostitution or anything of that kind.
          (I admit I hadn’t read the whole article when I first commented)

          I’m genuinely curious how a native Korean speaker could think that it’s appropriate to translate that sentence in the way he/she did.

          I’ll too have to take back what I’ve written in the privious messege after reading the original article.
          I simply can not agree with the way the title is translated and I’m pretty sure most of the native speakers will agree with me on this.

          If you (or anyone) find me whimsical or defensive, so be it. At least now you know this is the way a native Korean feels about it, that much I can guarrenty.

          Just my $0.02 worth.


          1. I’m surprised to hear that, as I think the connection is perfectly clear myself: after all, the article does give examples of several phrases or slogans used in advertisements for what we can safely assume are various sexual services. If the article title is not meant in the same vein however, then, well, it’s either completely superfluous or could mean virtually anything to do with dating and/or sleeping with foreign women.

            Moreover, I know you said to ignore your last comment, but I do think you still place a lot of weight in the word “여친”, as it’s not like they’re going to say be direct and say “외국인 창녀과 잠자리” instead (A night with a foreign prostitute). I do admit though, that two of the links in the little box link to advice about having foreign female friends and or dating foreign women (like I said in the post), in which case the literal interpretation of “여친” would be best. But hey: I clicked on the link, I got sent to the article I translated with lines like “At a bar with a foreign girlfriend…Wow!”, “She wants size and power!”, and “Make a normal woman a famous kisaeng”, so I think my (and Korean wife and friends’) translation of “Want to sleep with a foreign girlfriend” is perfectly logical and reasonable.

            I agree that it’s always a dilemma whether to translate literally or in context and so on, but like I said in an earlier comment the literal “A night with a foreign girlfriend” could give the wrong impression, hence my “Want to sleep with…” instead.

            Feel free to reply, but sorry: personally, that’s my last word on the translation of that line!


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