(Update – to download the video, click here)
Normally, I’d reserve something like this for the next Korean Gender Reader. But then as a friend aptly put it, this video is “totally fucking reprehensible”, and deserves highlighting. And indeed, if it’s not removed from Youtube soon, then we’ll both be contacting ArirangWorld to complain about it.
A quick language note before you begin watching though: a mistake many Korean learners make, including myself, is to complement someone by saying “건강해 보여요”, or literally “healthy [you] look”, not realizing that “healthy” often has connotations of being fat in Korea. And as you’ll soon see, this is carried to simply absurd proportions in the video.
For further context, see Korean Sociological Image #21, on popular calf-reduction surgery.
Update 1: I wrote the following in 2 comments on the ArirangWorld YouTube channel. Or rather, I tried to, as although they registered in the comment count, they never actually appeared. Creating a new account and trying again, for some reason still only the 2nd paragraph squeaked through. Sigh.
As the author of thegrandnarrative.com, the most well-read English language source for information on Korean gender issues, almost every day I learn of the often tragic consequences of the incredibly damaging messages about health, weight, and body image that the Korean media promotes, and have very real concerns about raising my two young daughters here. Will they never exercise, because videos like “Twist in Figures” tell them that toned, healthy legs are unattractive? Will they too, like fully HALF of Korean high school girls, end up so malnourished and anemic from dieting that they are unable to give blood?
I implore ArirangWorld to remove this video immediately, and suggest that an alternative video outlining Korea’s problems in this regard, but also – crucially – demonstrating what positive steps various groups, organizations, and individuals are doing to correct these, would be a far better way of promoting Korea to the outside world.
Update 2: The video has been made private. Which does mean that it can’t be watched at least, but on the other hand choosing to do that rather than simply deleting it could be construed as refusing to admit how problematic it was. Certainly ArirangWorld has yet to make any kind of formal apology for it.
If anyone would still like to see it, then I did save the video before it was made private, but unfortunately at 55MB it’s much too big to send via email. I can send it via Skype though, so please feel free to add me to your list of contacts and request it (my id is “Jtur001”).
Update 3: Although I’d wager I’m a much more pleasant middleman than most(!), you can now avoid me and download the video directly here.
Update 4: See here for the Korea Studies community’s reaction to the video.
(For all posts in the Korean Sociological Image series, see here)