Time for a Change!

( Source )

I won’t bore you with the details, but just a quick note to let you know that after receiving some atrocious service from WordPress.com recently, I’ve decided to host this blog myself from now on.

Yes, I’m surprised it took me so long too.

Apologies in advance for any problems that may arise as I go to town playing with new themes and plugins make the transition over the next week or so then, and for those of you that subscribe to the RSS feed, please note that the old thegrandnarrative.wordpress.com one will no longer work once I’ve finished sorry. Those of you that already use the thegrandnarrative.com one though, shouldn’t have any problems.

Meanwhile, I’ll still be posting as normal, and if anyone can recommend a web hosting service and/or give any advice about making the transition from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, then that would be really appreciated!


Korean Sociological Image #54: Sex & Drugs

(Source: Focus {Busan ed.}, 08.12.2010, p. 17)

As we all know, if you’re a real man, then you couldn’t care less about what painkiller to use.

But to be precise, the ad actually says dansoonhan men (단순한남자). Which usually translates as “simple” in English, but probably best would be “straightforward” in this case.

Forgive me though, for still considering myself just as smart (dokdokhae;똑똑해) as the woman in the ad. After all, I too wear glasses sometimes.

How am I supposed to choose a painkiller then? Or – heaven forbid – straightforward women for that matter?

Alas, the ad gives no clue:

Methods of choosing a painkiller – Men vs. Women

Straightforward men [choose] without thinking.

As for smart women…because it’s a liquid, its effects are fast. This is EZN6.

Liquid Form…[They need to] think about if it will decrease the burden on the stomach or not

[They need to] carefully think about if it contains caffeine or not

And at the very least, it certainly doesn’t discourage the notion that looking after one’s body is really something only women should do. Unlike most products that are marketed very differently to each sex though (see here, here, here, here, and here for more Korean examples), the irony here is that there’s now a wealth of evidence to suggest that painkillers that work on one sex can be ineffective or even increase pain on the other. In the near-future, there may well be completely different painkillers developed for men and women.

And when they are, then yes: I’d wager that they’re going to be pink and blue too.

You’re in for a world of hurt Neo! (Source)

When that day arrives though, do you think Daewoong Pharmaceutical (대웅제약) will simply come up with 2 versions of the ad, each only featuring one sex? Or will ads for men continue to emphasize simplicity, but those for women stressing how they’d have even more things to consider?

My money’s on the latter…!

(For all posts in the Korean Sociological Images series, see here)


Is Divorce in Korea Finally Socially Acceptable?


Sorry for the lack of posts recently, and the very short notice with this one, but in an hour from now (7:45pm Korean time) I’ll briefly be on 101.3 TBS eFM’s evening show, talking about the title topic. For the details, see here, and note that unfortunately you can only listen live on Internet Explorer sorry.

Update – Well, that was a little embarrassing: because of a miscommunication, technical problem, and/or a last minute editorial decision, I didn’t actually get called in the end!

But for anyone still interested in the subject though, then I was going to mention that while on the one hand the stigma surrounding divorce is certainly disappearing over time, with 1 in 4 marriages now involving a divorcee and in particular both the numbers of women remarrying and their rate of increase outstripping those of men, on the other hand the profoundly gendered effects of the recent economic crisis here have left Korean women more financially reliant on their husbands than ever, as explained at #2 here, here, and #15 here.

Meanwhile, see here for more information on both the high rates and the practicalities of getting a divorce in Korea, and here for more on the hoju or family-registry system (호주), which had a huge role in drawing attention to people’s marital status (or parents’ status) and consequently being able to discriminate against them on that basis. Moreover, although that has recently been abolished, one final point I was going to make was that unfortunately that’s just one of many superfluous things corporations take into account in their hiring practices, as demonstrated here, at #8 here, here, here, and here, and so it’s probably going to take a while before Korean business culture catches up with the social reality.


Korean Gender Reader


1) Cuban Boyfriend playing in theaters

According to HanCinema, it’s a documentary about a Cuban man who falls in love with a Korean woman 10 years his senior. Unfortunately there’s little information available about it in English, but it does looks interesting.

2) Economic burdens prompting Koreans to delay marriage

3) Mandatory 3-hour training class for Korean men importing Asian brides


4) Advice to male idols: don’t you dare avoid your military service!

Roboseyo discusses actor and singer Hyun Bin’s (현빈) decision to join the marines for his 24 months of compulsory military service, unlike most entertainers who prefer comfortable military PR-type positions.

But celebrities aside, Korea has 250,000 ordinary men conscripted each year, and this has a profound effect on Korean life. For more on that, see here, here, and here.

5) Picture of Day: ROK Army Female Cadets Head Out for Training

Like it says, its just a picture (source), but one commenter over at ROK Drop raised some interesting points about it:

ROK women in the military? Big deal. FYI, they’ve been serving alongside their male counterparts ever since 1948. The embarrassingly unjustified attention these Sookdae chicks are getting just b/c they’re in the first women’s ROTC outfit is disgraceful. Korean women have been getting commissions through OCS since the Korean War, the ROK service academies since 1998, and are serving in all ranks and branches (excluding Armor, Artillery and ADA) for decades. (Also, the reason they look so cute in their BDU’s is b/c the Gender Equality Ministry many years ago forced the Defense Ministry to provide tailored utilities specifically cut for women — e.g., female BDU pants have a more flattering cut around the hips, and micro-sizes they offer are small enough to qualify for junior misses or girls’ sizes back in the U.S.)

I disagree about some of the details about that last: the uniforms for women were only first tested last September (and won’t be fully introduced until July), and there’s no evidence to suggest that the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs (여성가족부) was originally behind the decision (see #2 here).

But although less then 1% of Korean soldiers are women, I have no reason to doubt that they’ve been serving for over 60 years, so the commenter is right to query the attention. And recall that The Chosun Ilbo is notorious for finding literally any excuse to post pictures of women and girls!

6) CEO of entertainment agency charged for sexually harassing a trainee

For the details, see allkpop, and see here and here for some context. Meanwhile, in other crime-related stories, Korea Beat reports that a serial child-molester was let off lightly by a judge for quitting his teaching job. And on the plus-side, albeit prompted by a tragic event, Global Voices passes on the news that:

A posting by the mother of the victim has mobilized net users to file an online petition and drawn media attention to a questionable murder case. The mother claimed her daughter was beaten to death while resisting being raped. The police has decided to reinvestigate the case.

7) Who are all these White chicks?

I’m no Picasso adds her insights to Mixtapes and Linear Notes’ post on G-Dragon (지드래곤) and T.O.P.’s recent High High music video.


8) Who are all these fat chicks?

And in turn, Hot Yellow Fellows does to my own on the “Piggy Dolls”  (피기돌스). Whom, in addition to everything else, now netizens are also calling too old-looking.

9) Hating the Korean Wave (NSFW)

I’ll let SeoulBeats summarize this one (The Marmot’s Hole also has a little on it):

Netizens have been in an uproar over a Japanese internet manga, created by otakus, which fetishizes a rather unflattering side of the Hallyu Wave that has recently invaded Japan.

The story is told by a fictional former Korean pop idol, working as a hostess, who gives an expose about the “real” inner workings of the K-pop industry to a journalist. The comic presents the Korean entertainment industry as extremely manipulative and seedy in which female idols are forced to give sexual favors to their bosses and their coworkers for fame. In the comic both SNSD and KARA are accused of performing such favors.The manga features highly sexualized images of SNSD and KARA members performing their hit songs “Genie” and “Mister.” Poor KARA has even been drawn performing naked.

10) New Gisaeng Story (신기생뎐) premieres this weekend


And for more on gisaeng (기생), the Korean equivalent of geisha, see here and here.


Studying Korean Social Issues Can Be Fun…

(Sources: left, right)

And using manhwa (만화), or Korean cartoons, is a good place to start. Sadly, my favorite “grown-up” comic-book poptoon (팝툰) sold its last edition back in March, but there’s lot’s more where that came from.

One possibility is Department Head Dal-ma (Dalmagwajang; 달마과장), available in the free Focus newspaper. Although it’s often very basic, requiring no Korean ability to get the gist of, you could do much worse than quickly translating it on your morning commute.

Take these two strips for instance, which kept cropping up in Naver searches while I was preparing a recent post on sexual harassment in Korea. First, number 21:

Dal-ma: Gulp.

Man: Miss Kim, what did you have for lunch?

Miss Kim: I simply had ricecake at the park.

Even from just these first panels, already one thing of interest is that the man uses banmal (반말), or informal speech to speak to Miss Kim, and she replies in nopimmal (높임말), formal speech. No big deal there you might say: he’s probably her superior in the company. And as this recent incident on a subway demonstrated, using the appropriate level of speech to others is considered extremely important in Korea, with even many of my university students using nopimmal to friends just a few months older.

But then the same happens in the second cartoon too, even though the man addresses the woman with the semi-formal shi (씨) at the end of her name. And while a brief survey of other Dalmagwajang cartoons does occasionally show men and women each using nopimmal to each other, I didn’t see any cases of a woman speaking to a man in banmal and he answering in nopimmal. Which is not to say that they don’t exist necessarily, but if there are any then I’d wager there’d be very few.

If so, then is that just a reflection of reality? After all, women do tend to have junior and/or non-advancing positions in Korean workplaces, as even in 2011 it considered perfectly normal for them to resign and/or be fired upon marriage or becoming pregnant (only 50% of Korean women work, the lowest rate in the OECD).

(Source: unknown)

But on the other hand, recall that even subtitles for foreign films and programs have this gender-dichotomy grafted onto them too, despite being absent in the original English:

A women’s group has issued a report on the “sexist” dubbing of foreign films and dramas, reports women’s newspaper Ilda The group took a look at some 27 English-language dramas shown on terrestrial broadcasting in September and October.  It found that most of them employed sexist sexist practices when dubbed into Korean.  Namely, male characters spoke in banmal, or “low language,” while female characters used jondaenmal, or “high/respectful” language, even though the original English dialogue made no such distinctions.

This tendency was most often seen in dialogue between husbands and wives or lovers.  Besides dramas, foreign films showed the same tendency, with 12 of 15 films monitored by the group employing this dubbing practice.

Clearly then, for TV at least there is a compulsion to conform to it. Whether that’s just the industry convention, fear of negative public reaction, and/or the personal choices of the translators themselves, then that remains to be seen, but I’d be surprised if that didn’t apply to some extent to other forms of media. And either way, you’re left with a pretty pervasive socialization agent, and one easy to overlook for English speakers, and/or even easier to get used to for native Korean speakers.

Man: Ah, why didn’t you invite me? I pound ricecakes really well…No, well, I eat them well…

Miss Kim: (Laughing) What do you mean?

Dal-ma: Even acting like that, he won’t get accused of sexual harassment?

Next, despite its curious reputation for conservatism overseas, in fact the Korean media is simply full of sexual innuendo, and this cartoon read by millions every weekday is surely a classic case in point: “떡을 치다” is literally “pounding rice cake”, but is really slang for having sex. Which is why a year ago, a cartoonist was sued for sexual harassment by Girls’ Generation’s (소녀시대) management company SM Entertainment for this otherwise innocuous-looking cartoon:


This might sound strange, but personally I find that slang quite endearing. For not only does it seem quintessentially Korean (here’s another example), but with most Koreans living in the countryside until as recently as 1979, then it reminds me of the country’s strong agricultural roots too (no pun intended).

Ahem. Continuing:

Dal-ma: Still, if something is judged sexual harassment or not all depends on your face (how attractive you look)

Woman left: He really said that?

Woman middle: (Laughing) Really?

Dal-ma: Wow! Look at her chest!

Dal-ma: Jeez, how can’t they feel ashamed to wear clothes that emphasize their breasts like that…

Eek, I forgot! Staring is also sexual harassment.

Dal-ma: (Worried) For no reason, because of a misunderstanding I’d be called a bald pervert.

Woman: Eek! It’s sexual harassment!

Having a shaved head myself, then I couldn’t help but chuckle at the unnecessary mention of his baldness here, as if that somehow makes his perversion all the worse. But with shaved heads being best known as a symbol of “prison, protest, or penance” in Korea, then unfortunately those negative connotations aren’t likely to go away any time soon.

Woman: Sexual harassment!

Dal-ma: No, it’s not that…

Women in background: Bald pervert!

Dal-ma’s daughter: What’s wrong with Dad?

Dal-ma’s wife: He’s like that because working at the office is tiring.

Next, number 57 (as I type this, the latest is number 327 by the way). Sorry for the poor image quality:

Woman (Eun-hee): Good morning!

Man: Good morning! Eun-hee, you bought new clothes?

Eun-hee: Yes, because it’s the end of the year I spent a lot on myself

Man: Wow, your back is a killer!

Eun-hee: Really?

Man: Yes, you’ve a perfect Honey-bottom!

Despite what the man says in a moment, that’s the first time I’ve heard the term ggooldongi, a combination of ggol (꿀; honey) and ongdongee (엉덩이; bottom). But I have heard (and written about) ggoolbokji (꿀벅지) that it comes from though, which, as Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling explained:

…apparently means, according to this article and allkpop, ‘sweet-as-honey thighs’ or “alluring as-if they-were-coated-with-honey thighs”, though a more creative, if incorrect, translation would be ‘alluring thighs that spread like honey.’ Ahem.

And in particular:

…a ‘high school girl living in Cheonan’ posted a petition on the Ministry of Gender Equality’s website claiming that the word ‘honey thighs’ actually means ‘thighs that you want to smear honey all over and lick off’, and represented the sexual commodification of a female body part, was sexual harassment, “induced a feeling of sexual shame” and said its use should be banned. She was also irritated that such a ‘sexually derogatory word’ was used by the media and asked that it stop. According to allkpop, “Even Korean portal site Daum has requested people to refrain from using this controversial term…”

Hence Eun-hee’s justified reaction:

Eun-hee: Honey bottom?

Man: These days it’s popular. It means honey applied to a bottom…

Eun-hee: I’m going to the Human Resources Department to complain about your sexual harassment!

Man: Honestly, it was just a compliment, why…

Man: Well, I was just complimenting her on how well her clothes fit. Why’s she acting like that?

Dal-ma: It doesn’t matter what your intention is, it depends on how the other person receives it. If they feel uncomfortable, then it’s sexual harassment.

Man: In that case, if someone has a good body, how can we give them a compliment?

Dal-ma: If you intend to compliment a certain part of a person’s body, then do it precisely. Then, the other person will take it well.

Man: I don’t really understand.

Dal-ma: Watch me do it.

Dal-ma: Sung-mi, your pectoral muscles are amazing. And your Sternocostal joints and Sternocleidomastoid muscle are beautiful!

Sung-mi: Er…thank you.

Dal-ma: You see?

No, I didn’t find them funny either. What’s more, they give the impression that all it takes to deal with sexual harassment in Korean workplaces is a quick visit to the Human Resources Department, and consequently that male employees are very nervous about being accused of it. Unfortunately though, as this case at Samsung and these recent testimonies by victims demonstrate, the reality is anything but.

Why the discrepancy? That’s a good question, and it’s made me curious to see if its also found in other newspapers, and so on. Which is not bad for a couple of quick cartoons over a morning coffee, yes?^^

Like the First Time (처음처럼) by T-ara (티아라): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

With lyrics designed to stoke any guy’s ego, and a music video full of eye-candy to boot, Like the First Time (처음처럼) by T-ara (티아라) is a very embarrassing song for a pro-feminist blogger to admit to liking.

Let alone have as his ringtone.

One of the handful of songs that got me addicted to K-pop though, then I’m guess I’m stuck with this peccadillo of mine. But in fairness, I wouldn’t have had it on my old, audio-only iPod for the past year if that’s all it could be be reduced to.

And in hindsight, is it really all that different to, say, You Look So Fine (1999) by Garbage, who to the best of my recollection have never been described as projecting an image of weakness and passivity?

Either way, here’s the remix by DJ Areia that originally got me hooked (downloadable here):

And here’s the original, which for a change I like almost as much:

And here goes with the translation:

왜 자꾸 두근두근대죠 이 내 가슴이

왜 자꾸만 터 터질것 같죠 왜 자꾸만

왜 자꾸 숨이 가빠오죠 미칠것같이

왜 자꾸만 수 숨이 막히죠 왜 자꾸만

첫 사랑도 아닌데 순진한 건 아닌데

그댄 자꾸만 또 자꾸만 또 느끼게 해줘요

Why does my heart throb so often? Why does my chest

often feel like it’s going to burst? Why do I often keep

running out of breath? It’s like I will go crazy

Why do I often feel like I’m suffocating? Why so often?

This is not the first time I’ve fallen in love, I’m not innocent

You often again and again make me feel this way

Nothing too difficult here. First, as we’ve seen in just about every other song translation, again “만” doesn’t mean “only” but is just added for emphasis. Next, “죠”, short for “지요” is an ending meaning “right” that turns the sentence into a tag question, but I haven’t put it like that in the text because just like in English, tag questions often aren’t real questions, and clearly aren’t here (again, they just seem to be for emphasis). Finally, there’s the construction “~ㄹ 것 같다” which is used twice, and literally means ” [future tense]-thing-same [as]”, or effectively “it seems like/looks like/appears that … will do/be”; hence “Why does my chest often feel like it’s going to burst?” and “It’s like I will go crazy”, although admittedly the latter doesn’t sound that great in English.

One thing of great interest to me personally though, because it sort of came up in another translation, is the “오다” added to “가쁘다” in 3, with a tag question at the end added on top of that giving “가빠오죠”. Now “가쁘다” means “gasping [panting] for breath; difficulty in breathing”, but what does the “오다” (“come”) added to that do to it? Well, this is what I originally learned, from page 16 of the grammar and vocabulary guidebook that comes with 5A of the Sogang Korean series:

If you’d rather have an English explanation though, then this is what my trusty Korean Grammar for International Learners (KGIL) says on page 340:

When [“오다” & “가다” are] expressed as auxiliary verbs, they signify that an action is carried out continuously and repeatedly over a period of time. In keeping with the original meaning of these verbs, the patterns [above] mean “continuous performance of an action over time in the past as one comes toward the ‘present and continuous’ performance of an action over time into the future (away from the present)” respectively.

Quite a mouthful unfortunately, which I think it could be better edited (I’m sure an “and” is missing in it), and I think the above diagram is a must to make any sense of it! But hopefully, now you can see why I chose “Why do I often keep running out of breath?” for “왜 자꾸 숨이 가빠오죠” at least, rather than “Why do I often run of breath?”. Granted, they effectively mean the same thing, and “Why do I keep running out of breath” would sound better in English (like in the translation in the video). But with the “자꾸” is  still in the Korean unfortunately, then I’ll allow it to awkwardly remain in the English too (and same logic goes for line 6).

그댄 나를 기쁘게 해요 그댄 나를 느끼게 해요

처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼

그댄 나를 미치게 해요 자꾸자꾸 원하게 해요

처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼

처 처음처럼처럼처럼 처럼처럼처럼처럼

처 처음처럼처럼처럼 처럼처럼처럼처럼

처 처음처럼처럼 처처처처럼처럼

처럼처럼처럼처럼 처처처처처음처럼

You make me feel happy You make me feel you

Like the first time Like the first time Like the first time

You make me feel crazy I want you again and again

Like the first time, like the first time…(etc)

Easy as, but it’s just impossible for me to do a literal translation and keep a straight face sorry: for instance the first line would be “As for you – me – joyfully – do” then “As for you – me – feelingly – do”…gotta love the way Korean uses adverbs. More seriously though, I don’t think “기쁘다” should ever be translated as “joyfully” in English (the first entry in Korean dictionaries, but used by precisely zero native speakers), and it’s a red flag for me for any translator that does.

After that, I think “again and again” is more appropriate than the literal Korean “often often”.

왜 자꾸 열이 나는 거죠 온몸이 자꾸

왜 자꾸만 다 달아오르죠 왜 자꾸만

왜 자꾸 아찔아찔 하죠 정신이 없어

왜 자꾸만 주 죽을것 같죠 왜 자꾸만

사랑 사랑 지금껏 말로만 했던건지

그댈 만나고 난 느껴요 난 진짜 사랑이 뭔지

Why do I often get this fever, Why does my whole body

often burn, Why do I often

get so dizzy and lightheaded, It’s crazy

Why is it often like I’m going to die, Why did I often

love through only words before now

After meeting you I feel it, I [know] what real love is

Again easy, but it’s difficult to know where one clause and/or sentence begins and the other ends, although of course the resulting numerous translations would all pretty much amount to the same thing.

Just 3 things of note. First, that although “정신이 없어” on line 3 is literally “without a mind”, “mindless”, or “absent-minded”, and that it’s especially tempting to translate it in that vein given the context of the “왜 자꾸 아찔아찔 하죠” before it (“Why do I often get so dizzy and lightheaded”), in reality it’s most often said to express one’s annoyance at some crazy and/or untenable situation. Like me trying to write this post with two toddlers literally climbing all over me and the desk demanding to listen to KARA for instance, or both of them bawling their eyes out when I tell them 5 times every other night is quite enough.

Next, the “주” in “왜 자꾸만 주 죽을것 같죠” on line 3 (“Why is it often like I’m going to die”) is just to emphasize to the “death” part (“죽다”).

Finally, in line 6 the “건지” in “했던건지” had me stumped for a little while. The “던”, of course, refers to “recollection of a state in the past, or of a repeated, habitual, or uncompleted action in the past”, and the “~았/었/였” form before that “gives clearer expression to the notion of ‘completeness’ and also expresses experience” (KGIL, pp. 318-19), but “건지”? Then I realized it was short for “것인지”, or literally “thing-is-yes?”, another way of saying “I guess”.

그댄 나를 기쁘게 해요 그댄 나를 느끼게 해요

처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼

그댄 나를 미치게 해요 자꾸자꾸 원하게 해요

처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼

처 처음처럼처럼처럼 처럼처럼처럼처럼

처 처음처럼처럼처럼 처럼처럼처럼처럼

처 처음처럼처럼 처처처처럼처럼

You make me feel happy You make me feel you

Like the first time Like the first time Like the first time

You make me feel crazy I want you again and again

Like the first time, like the first time…(etc)

No explanation: that’s the chorus again!


리무진에 champagne bling bling jewelry chain

나를 원해 목이 메인 그런 남자 oh no

항상 발길에 채이는 그런 남잔 just pain

Don’t wanna play this game 꺼져버려 이젠

Now I wanna pump up my gain this is about a man

You know you’re the only man 넌 나를 너무 잘 알기에

나를 기쁘게 기쁘게 기쁘게 해줘

나를 느끼게 느끼게 느끼게 해줘

Limousine champagne bling bling jewelry chain

I don’t want a man who wants me so badly he chokes oh no

I don’t want a man who always gets pushed around by a woman just pain

Don’t wanna play this game Get lost now

Now I wanna pump up my gain this is about a man

Now I wanna pump up my gain this is about a man Since you know me so well

You make me happy happy happy

You make me happy happy happy


Finishing the translation of this song late last night, and composing an introduction to (hopefully) pique your interest as I fell asleep, then that was the first thing I wrote this morning. In hindsight though, it’s a little frivolous for how provocative this verse is.

In particular, lines 2 & 3. But as they were also the hardest parts of the song to translate, then I’ll keep the introduction as it is for now just in case I’ve misinterpreted them.

The difficulty was because at first, little things meant that they were quite different to what you’d expect given the rest of the song. For instance, there’s a phrase “사랑에 목을 메다”  which means you’re very in love with someone, so much so that you’re sort of hanging around their neck all the time. But then in line 2 it’s not actually  “목이” but “목을”, and “목을 메다” means “choke”.

With that in mind, then “나를 원해 목이 메인 그런 남자” literally gives “me-want-choke-kind of-man”, which was very very easy to interpret as “a man that wants to choke me”. But to put it mildly, that raised alarm bells. Instead, there’s really 2 clauses here “나를 원해” and “목이 메인 그런 남자”, giving “me-want”  and “choke-kind of-man”, and cobbling those together I came up with “I don’t want a man who wants me so badly he chokes”.

That seemed out of place, but it made sense in the context of line 3, “항상 발길에 채이는 그런 남잔” literally being “always-a kick-get kicked-kind-of-man”, but which I interpreted as “always-gets kicked [pushed around]-kind of-man”, and presumably by his female partner. The English “just pain” cobbled on the end of that though, is probably just virtually random English, and too much shouldn’t be read into it.

Taken all together then, then there’s a huge double standard: the female protagonist is free to feel powerless in wake of her desire for her man, but a man that feels the same way about her, and is prepared to spend a lot of money on and get pushed around by her to win her heart? That’s unacceptable.

Which is fine I suppose. But why I say the verse is provocative though, is that given the context of the woman’s weakness and passivity in the song as a whole, then I’m left with the uneasy feeling that she at least wouldn’t mind if things were reversed. That she wants to be dominated by him.

What do you think? Is there something to that, or should I reconsider after having my second coffee?

Either way, that’s it, but for the chorus again:


그댄 나를 기쁘게 해요 그댄 나를 느끼게 해요

처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼

그댄 나를 미치게 해요 자꾸자꾸 원하게 해요

처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼 처 처음처럼

처 처음처럼처럼처럼 처럼처럼처럼처럼

처 처음처럼처럼처럼 처럼처럼처럼처럼

처 처음처럼처럼 처처처처럼처럼


You make me feel happy You make me feel you

Like the first time Like the first time Like the first time

You make me feel crazy I want you again and again

Like the first time, like the first time…(etc)

For more on T-ara and (indirectly) this song and the surreal ads above, see here and here. Meanwhile, for those of you that like your K-pop gossip, netizens are very concerned about Hyo-min’s (효민) recent excessive weightloss, the main character in the music video.

Next song to be translated: Oh! (오!) by Girls’ Generation (소녀시대), with a very similar narrative to this one.


Sexual Harassment in the Workplace & the 2001 Equal Employment Opportunity Law: What Still Needs to be Done


With thanks very much to Marilyn for the translation of the following article from Ildaro (일다), I’ll quickly let it speak for itself:

고용불안 속, 직장내 성희롱 위협 커져

In the midst of employment instability, the threat of workplace sexual harassment increases

고용평등상담실 10년, 여성노동의 현실과 미래를 말한다(2)

10th year of the Equal Employment Counseling Office, discussing female employees’ present and future

[편집자 주] 2001년 남녀고용평등법 4차 개정으로 고용평등상담실 지원제도가 도입된 지 10년이 되었습니다. 민간단체들의 고용평등상담실은 그동안 여성노동자들의 실질적 보호장치로 기능해왔으며, 여성노동자들이 처한 현실을 사회에 고발하는 창구역할을 해왔습니다. 일다는 여성노동자회와 함께 고용평등상담실에 접수된 상담사례를 통해 IMF 경제 위기 이후 후퇴 일로를 걷고 있는 여성노동의 현실과 과제를 살펴보고자 합니다. 필자 황현숙님은 현재 서울여성노동자회 회장을 맡고 있습니다.

우 리 사회의 성폭력 문제는 온 국민이 알게 된 끔찍한 아동 성폭행, 유명 정치인의 성희롱 등으로 자주 언론에 오르내리는 이슈가 되었다. 직장내 성희롱으로 고용평등상담실의 문을 두드리는 여성들의 호소 또한 가벼운 성적 농담이나 접촉을 넘어서 심지어는 강간에 이르는 경우조차 발생되고 있다. 직장내 성희롱은 그 자체가 미치는 정신적․신체적 악영향, 노동환경의 악화뿐만 아니라 일자리 자체까지 위협받게 된다는 데에 그 심각성이 있다.

[Editor’s note] It’s been 10 years since the Equal Employment Counseling Office support system was introduced through the 4th Amendment to the 2001 Equal Employment Opportunity Law.  During that time, the Equal Employment Counseling Offices of private organizations have been functioning as female workers’ practical safeguards and have acted as liaisons that report to society the realities that female workers encounter. Through the case consultations received in the Equal Employment Counseling Office, Ilda and the Women Workers Association intend to look at the realities and problems of women workers, who are losing ground after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.   Author Hwang Hyun-sook  is the current head of the Seoul Women Workers Association.

Through incidents of horrible child molestation, a famous politician’s sexual harassment, and others of which the entire nation is aware, our society’s problem with sexual violence has become an issue that often comes up in the press.  According to the complaints of women workers who’ve knocked on the Equal Employment Counseling Office’s door because of sexual harassment, there are also cases occurring that surpass light sexual jokes or touching to go as far as rape.  Workplace sexual harassment itself not only has bad mental and physical effects and worsens work environments, but is even of such a magnitude that jobs themselves [of victims] may be threatened.


일자리 위협으로 이어지는 직장내 성희롱

“과장이 ‘피곤하지?’라며 손, 팔을 주물러 너무 불쾌하여 늘 가슴을 조이며 지냈어요. 어느 날 허벅지를 만지기도 하여 우울증에 시달리다가 문제제기를 하였더니 그 후 재계약을 하지 않겠다는 통보를 받았어요. 성희롱으로 실직하게 된 것 같아 너무 억울해요.”(2009년 상담사례, 계약직)

“사 장님이 자꾸 만나자고 하면서 ‘옆에 오면 가슴이 떨린다. 만나면 안고 싶고 무릎을 베고 누워 얘기도 하고 싶고 즐기고 싶다. 나를 받아 줄 수 없냐.”고 하더라고요. 남자에 대해 관심이 없다고 거절했더니, 부장을 통해 퇴사하라는 통보를 받았는데……“(2009년 상담사례, 2개월 근무)

성희롱 가해자가 사업주, 상사 인 상담은 매년 75~85% 가량이다. 가해자가 인사권을 직접 가지고 있는 경우가 많아 성희롱을 거부하거나 문제제기했을 경우에는 직. 간접적인 괴롭힘으로 스스로 그만두게 하거나 권고사직, 심지어 다른 사유를 들어 해고하는 사례들도 나타난다. 그래서 성희롱이 발생해도 공론화하기 어렵고 이를 은폐하도록 가해자가 권력을 행사하기도 한다.

Workplace sexual harassment extending to job threats

“My manager would ask, ‘Are you tired?’ and massage my hands and feet; it was so uncomfortable and I always went around feeling anxious.  One day he even touched my thigh and so while suffering from depression, I made a complaint; because of that I received notice that my contract wouldn’t be renewed.  I became unemployed because of sexual harassment – it’s so unfair.” (2009 counseling case, contract worker)

“The president of the company often asked me out and said ‘When you come near me my heart pounds.  If we go out I want to hold you, put my head in your lap and talk, and have fun.  Can’t you accept me?’  I refused, telling him I wasn’t interested in men, and through the general manager I received notice that I was to resign…” (2009 case consultation, working for 2 months)

Every year, about 75-85% of the consultations are ones in which the perpetrator of sexual harassment is the business’ owner or victim’s boss.  There are many cases in which the perpetrator is directly in charge of the company’s human resources.  Because of this, when the victim has rejected the perpetrator’s advances or made an official complaint, there have been cases in which the perpetrator may cause her to quit though direct or indirect harassment, urge her to resign, or even find grounds to fire her.  Therefore, even though sexual harassment occurs, making it public is difficult and the perpetrator often exerts his authority to conceal it.

(Source: unknown)

성희롱의 온상, 회식자리 남성중심 문화

“입 사한지 1주일 만에 본사 간부급 직원들과 회식자리가 있었어요. 간부들이 버릇인양 손잡기, 어깨동무하기, 허리 감싸기, 끌어안기, 볼 부비기……. 마치 간부들을 위해 여직원들이 대접하는 자리 같았는데 어렵게 입사하여 그만둘 수도 없고 어찌해야 할지……” (2007년 상담사례, 정규직)

“회 식 2차로 노래방에 끌려가다시피 갔어요. 술 마신 남직원들이 안으려고 해서 피했는데, 갑자기 뒤에서 끌어안더니 들었다놓았다하는데 과장, 계장 모두 묵인하고, 계장은 블루스를 추자고 하더라고요. 그래서 울면서 집에 왔는데 동기들도 다른 구청이나 동사무소 근무하면서 회식자리 성희롱 때문에 너무 힘들어 해요. 블루스를 춘 여직원한테는 잘해주고, 안 추면 욕하고 못살게 군다고 하더라고요.” (2007년 상담사례, 공무원)

회 식문화가 변하는 곳도 생겨나고 있지만, 회식자리에서의 성희롱은 지금도 일상적으로 일어나고 있다. 회식자리는 직장내 위계적 관계의 연속으로 상사의 기호에 맞추어야 하고 그의 요구에 따라야 하는 업무의 연속처럼 진행된다. 우리 사회의 남성 중심적인 문화, 위계질서가 이어지는 회식 문화는 여성들의 고용환경을 악화시키는데 일조하고 있다.

The hotbed of sexual harassment, office dinner male-centric culture

“I was at an office dinner with head office management-level employees only a week after joining the company.  The executives had habits of holding my hand, putting their arms around my shoulders and waist, hugging me, pressing their cheeks against mine…   It was like a place for the female employees to serve executives; it was hard to get a job here so I can’t quit and [don’t know] what to do…”  (2007 case consultation, regular employee)

“I went to the second [drinking-heavy] part of our office dinner like I was being dragged.  Male employees who were drinking were trying to hug me so I avoided them; suddenly I was embraced from behind and picked up and put down.  The manager and section chief overlooked everything, and the section chief asked me to slow-dance with him.  So I came home crying; also my peers who work at other district offices or dong offices have a really hard time because of sexual harassment at office dinners.  They say the female employees who slow-danced are treated well, and if you don’t dance they curse and treat you badly.” (2007 case consultation, government employee)

There are places where office dinner culture is changing, but sexual harassment at office dinners happens regularly even now. Office dinners progress similar to the  business itself, in which one must adjust to the preferences of a superior ahead of one in the workplace’s hierarchical relationships, and follow his demands.  Our society’s male-centric culture and hierarchy-connected office dinner culture lead to the worsening of women’s working conditions.


친밀한 관계가 질곡인 영세소규모사업장 성희롱

“5 명도 안 되는 회사에서 근무한지 2개월인데 사장이 아침부터 술을 먹자고 하고, 남자친구랑 몇 번 하냐고 묻고 ‘나랑 애인 같은 거 하자’는 소리를 자꾸 해요. ‘이런 소리 들으려고 일하는 거 아니다’라고 말하면 무릎 꿇고 안한다고 하면서도 술만 마시면 또 그러니 일자리가 아니라 고문받는 자리 같아요.”(2008년 상담사례)

“연 말에 사장이 송년회를 가자고 해서 부담스러웠지만 가게 되었어요. 결국 2차까지 가게 되었는데 노래방에서 강제로 키스를 하고 옷 속으로 손을 넣어 몸을 만졌어요. 거부하면서 강하게 밀쳤더니 “난 사장이고, 넌 경리야”, “너 내일부터 나오지 마.”라는데, 다시 직장을 알아보면서 화도 나고 얼굴 보는 것도 두렵고 생각할수록 화가 나고 억울해요.“(2008년 상담사례, 사업주와 2명 근무)

영세소규모사업장의 성희롱은 가해자가 사업주인 경우가 많아 실질적인 법적 조치가 어려운 점, 성희롱 예방교육 특례조항 적용 사업장이라 예방교육이 실시되지 않는다는 문제점이 있다.

업 무적으로 둘만이 접촉하는 경우가 많아 사업주의 부당한 성적 요구나 사적인 친밀감을 성적 언행으로 표시하는 경우도 잦다. 성희롱을 거부하면 바로 그만두라는 통보를 받는 노동권 위협의 문제도 크지만, 매일 가까운 곳에서 얼굴을 마주쳐야 하니 버티고 싶어도 버티기 어렵다는 어려움이 있다.

Sexual harassment in a small business bound by close relationships

“I’ve been working for 2 months at an office that doesn’t even have 5 people in it; from the morning on the president suggests drinking together, asks me how many times I do it with my boyfriend, and keeps saying ‘Let’s date or something’. When I say, ‘I don’t work in order to listen to this kind of noise’, even though he gets on his knees and says he won’t do it [anymore], when he drinks, he gets like that again, so it’s like a torture chamber, not a workplace.” (2008 case consultation)

“At the end of the year, the president wanted to have an end-of-the-year party, so I went though it was annoying.  I ended up going to the second part and at a karaoke room he forcibly kissed me and put his hands under my clothes and touched me.  I refused him and pushed him hard so he said ‘I’m the president and you’re the bookkeeper’ and ‘From tomorrow, don’t come in [to work] anymore.’  I’m looking for another job and I feel angry and afraid of seeing his face, and the more I think about it, the angrier I get and the more unfair it feels.”  (2008 case consultation, office with company president and two people)

There are many cases in which the perpetrator of sexual harassment in a small business workplace is the business owner, so real legal measures are a challenge, and they are workplaces to which the Sexual Harassment Prevention Education Exception Clause applies, so there is the problem of prevention education not being implemented.

There are many cases in business in which two people only have contact with each other, so cases in which the business’ owner expresses his unjustified sexual demands or personal feelings of intimacy through sexual speech and behavior also frequently occur.  If victims rebuff the sexual harassment, the labor rights-threatening problem of immediately receiving notice to quit is serious, but there is also the drawback that because they have to see the other person’s face nearby every day, even though they want to endure it [keep working], enduring it is difficult.


늘어나는 서비스직, 늘어나는 고객에 의한 성희롱

“고객센터에서 근무하고 있는데 외주업체 소속 강사가 메신저로 ‘만나자, 남자친구와 몇 번 했냐는 등의 말과 스킨십을 하는데 법적으로 어떻게 처리할 수 있을까요?” (2009년 상담사례, 텔레마케터)

“노 인돌보미 일을 하고 있는데, 고객이 70세인데 전직 교장이래요. 첫날부터 자꾸 몸을 밀착해오고 ‘젊은 사람이 곁에 있으니 내가 다시 남성이 되는 느낌이다’, 어제는 노골적으로 ‘아랫도리가 되살아난다’며 치근대 괴로워요. 어떻게 해야 할지…….“(2009년 상담사례, 45세)

고 용형태와 업무 방식이 다양해지면서 업무상 맺는 관계의 폭도 다양하고 복잡해졌다. 협력업체나 거래처 직원, 대인서비스직의 성희롱도 다양하게 나타난다. 그리고 간병이나 노인돌봄 같은 사회서비스 일자리가 늘어남에 따라 재가 돌봄서비스에 종사하는 여성들의 성희롱 피해상담도 늘어나고 있다.

Increasing service-industry workers, increasing sexual harassment by customers

“I work in a customer service center.  A supervisor [actually she uses the word for “lecturer” but I think that’s a mistake] affiliated with our subcontractor says things on Messenger like ‘Let’s go out’, ‘How many times have you done it with a boyfriend?’ and so on, and does skinship [touching like they’re in a relationship].  How can I deal with this using the law?” (2009 case consultation, telemarketer)

“I work in elder care.  My patient is 70 years old and says he used to be a school principal. From the first day he has often pressed up against me and said ‘Because there’s a young person at my side I feel like I’m becoming a man again’ and yesterday, saying bluntly, ‘My lower body is coming back to life”, he made pass at me; I’m really upset.  [I don’t know] what to do…” (2009 case consultation, 45-year-old)

As types of employment and ways of conducting business are diversifying, the range of relationships formed through business is also diversifying and becoming complicated. Sexual harassment of employees of subcontractors or clients, and personal service workers also presents itself in various ways.  Also, in line with the increase in social service positions like nursing or elder care, sexual harassment victim counseling for women working in in-home care is also increasing.


성희롱은 사적인 일?

“남자 동료가 수시로 농담을 하면서 뽀뽀하자, 너도 밤일 할 줄 아냐는 등 수치심을 갖도록 하여 회사에 제기하였는데, 개인의 일이라고 개인적으로 대응하라고만 하는데……”(2009년 상담사례)

직 장내 성희롱은 안전한 환경에서 일할 노동권과 직접 관련이 있다. 그래서 남녀고용평등법에서도 직장내 성희롱을 금지하고 있을 뿐만 아니라, 사업주의 의무로 △직장 내 성희롱의 예방을 위한 교육 실시△성희롱 행위자에 대하여 징계나 이에 준하는 조치를 취할 것△피해자에게 해고나 다른 불이익 조치를 하지 말 것을 규정하고 있다. 그런데도 성희롱이 발생하여 이를 사측에 문제제기하면 위의 상담사례처럼 개인적인 일로 치부해 버리는 문제들이 여전히 일어나고 있다.

Sexual harassment is personal business?

“A male coworker often makes jokes and says, ‘Let’s kiss’, ‘Do you too know how to do night work [sex]?’ and other things to humiliate me so I made a complaint to the company.  They said it was personal business and just told me to deal with it privately…” (2009 case consultation)

Workplace sexual harassment is directly related to the employee’s right to work in a safe environment.  Therefore, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law not only prohibits workplace sexual harassment, it also stipulates, as the business owner’s duty, 1) implementation of education for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, 2) disciplinary action, or taking steps in accordance with disciplinary action, against the perpetrators of sexual harassment, 3) not firing or taking other disadvantageous action against victims.  However, when sexual harassment occurs and is reported to the management, problems with it just being regarded as personal business, as in the case consultation above, are still coming up.


고용평등상담실 통해 가해자의 공식사과와 징계 등 확보하기도

“부 원장님이 간호사들에게 안마를 해달라고 하거나 성적인 얘기도 잦아 힘들었어요. 며칠 전에는 맨발로 제 다리를 쓰다듬었는데 징그럽고 수치스러운 느낌 때문에 정신과 상담까지 받았어요. 그런데 고용평등상담실에서 도와주셔서 부원장은 공개사과와 감봉처분에, 병원 전체에 성희롱예방교육까지 실시하게 되었답니다!”

“과장님 성희롱 때문에 괴로웠는데 상담실에서 도와주셔서 공개사과도 받고 가해자는 다른 근무지로 전출되어 얼굴보지 않고 근무할 수 있게 되었어요!”

직 장내 성희롱 자체가 노동환경을 악화시키고, 이를 문제제기하면 해고나 불이익이 따르기도 한다. 그러나 다른 여직원들을 위해서라도 그냥 있을 수 없다며 이에 맞서 문제를 제기하는 여성들 또한 늘어나고 있다. 이렇듯 권리를 확보하게 되는 사례도 많았지만, 일자리 자체의 불안정이 갈수록 커지면서 적극적인 대응을 주저하는 경우도 많은 안타까움이 있다.

Securing perpetrators’ public apology, disciplinary action, etc., through the Equal Employment Counseling Office

“The vice director frequently asked the nurses to give him massages or talked about sex, so it was difficult.  A few days ago he stroked my leg with his left foot; because of the nasty and shameful feeling, I even got psychiatric counseling.   But the Equal Employment Counseling Office helped me so the vice director’s public apology and pay docking measure, and even sexual harassment prevention education for the whole hospital were implemented!”

“I suffered because of my manager’s sexual harassment, but the Equal Employment Counseling Office helped me so I received a public apology and the perpetrator was transferred to a different workplace so I don’t see his face and I’ve become able to work!”

Workplace sexual harassment itself has a negative effect on a work environment, and if one reports it, dismissal or disadvantages often follow.  However, the number of women saying that, for the sake of other women workers, they can’t just [let it] be and accordingly, making complaints, is rising.  In this way there have been many cases that secured rights, but regrettably, as the instability of jobs themselves increases, there are many cases in which [victims] hesitate to take assertive action.


직장내 성희롱 문화? 이젠 바뀌어야

직장내 성희롱을 겪으면 그만두라고 할까봐 참고 견디거나, 문제제기하면 결국 피해자가 그만두게 되는 상황이 더 이상 반복되지 않도록 해야 한다. 지난 해 여성노동자회 고용평등상담실에 접수된 성희롱 발생 사업장의 78%가 성희롱예방교육을 실시하지 않은 것으로 파악되었다. 그러므로 사업장에서는 형식적이지 않은 예방교육 실시해야 하고 사내에서 발생하는 성희롱에 대하여 조사와 조치, 재발방지 대책 등을 마련하여 실시해야 한다.

그 리고 정부는 이런 사항들이 실질적으로 이루어지도록 적극적인 행정지도·감독을 해야 한다. 또한 남성 중심적이 아닌 성인지적 관점의 성희롱 인정, 영세사업장장의 성희롱 예방교육 지원 확대, 돌봄서비스노동의 성희롱 실태조사와 예방교육 및 대책 등을 마련해야 한다. 이를 통해 우리 사회와 직장 전반의 남성 중심적인 문화가 변화될 때 직장내 성희롱에 대한 인식과 대책의 변화 또한 이끌어낼 수 있을 것이다.

Workplace sexual harassment culture?  Needs to change now

We need to make it so that situations in which, if one experiences workplace sexual harassment, they hold back and endure it because they’re afraid of being told to quit, or in which if they report it, they end up quitting, are no longer repeated. Last year, 78% of the workplaces reported to the Women Worker’s Association’s Equal Employment Counseling Center for sexual harassment were places where sexual harassment prevention education had not been implemented.  Therefore, in the workplace, prevention education that is not cursory needs to be implemented, and for sexual harassment that occurs in-house, research, action, recurrence prevention measures, etc., need to be arranged and implemented.

The government needs to use assertive administrative guidance and supervision to make these remedies become reality.  Also, recognition of sexual harassment from a gender-sensitive perspective that is not male-centric, securing support for sexual harassment prevention education for the owners of small businesses, research, prevention education, and measures regarding the sexual harassment of care-industry workers, etc., have to be arranged. When, through these, both our society’s and all workplaces’ male-centric culture changes, they will also be able to lead to changes in the understanding of and countermeasures for workplace sexual harassment.