Korean Gender Reader

(“Alice {The Devil’s Bride}” by Stephen Fabian; source)

1) Rape and “Blood Money”

In essential reading for all expats, Ask a Korean! clears up misunderstandings about how and why victims of crimes are often offered the choice of quick financial compensation from perpetrators, rather than the latter automatically being prosecuted by the state. With a lot of pros in practice, unfortunately there are also some big cons in relation to sex crimes specifically:

Probably the biggest flaw is that often, a victim of a crime cannot properly assess the extent of her loss through the crime. If a person is beat up, the person might suffer a lingering damage that does not flare up until the settlement amount was computed. Also, sometimes it is not the victim herself who enters into the settlement. This used to lead to an incredibly outrageous situation in case of child molestation. As noted above, rape is a private crime. Since a child does not have the legal decision-making authority, the parents would handle the private crime process. And often, a molested child would come from a broken home, in which the parent would rather take a lump sum of cash right away rather than ensuring that the child rapist would go to jail. (Fortunately, this situation was redressed in 2008 by a new law that made child molestation a public crime.) Also, the inclusion of rape as a private crime is roundly criticized by many legal scholars, as it puts a burden on the victim to pursue what is a very serious crime that significantly threatens the social order. (To be sure, rape with battery, i.e. a violent case of rape, is a public crime. But, for example, a date rape involving drugs is a private crime.)

2) Non-Asians in Korean Music Videos: A Response


3) A Place of Refuge: The Sae Gil Shelter

A very welcome follow up to its February article on the Busan performance of the Vagina Monologues (videos below), BusanHaps tells us more about the  Sae Gil Shelter for victims of domestic violence, which the show managed to raise 3.4 million won for.

While the funds are desperately needed of course, fortunately great strides have been made in combating domestic violence in recent years, primarily due to a 2007 law change that requires police to forward all cases of domestic violence to a prosecutor (the previous 1998 law just left it up to their own discretion). For more details, see here.

(Via: Koreabridge)

4) South Korea Keeps Its Military Ban On Gay Sex

In a 5-4 decision last month, the Constitutional Court ruled that a 39 year-old military law criminally punishing homosexual soldiers for performing sexual acts in military barracks is constitutional. As the AFP reports:

“The legal code cannot be seen as discrimination against gays because such behavior, if left unchecked, might result in subordinates being harassed by superiors in military barracks,” it said in a statement. The law’s purpose was to ensure discipline within the whole military organization, the court said. The ruling came after an army military court filed a petition with the Constitutional Court. It asked whether the military criminal code, written in 1962, was discriminatory against gay soldiers and thus unconstitutional. Homosexuality is not illegal under the civil legal code.”

A somewhat hollow-sounding defense considering overwhelming evidence of systematic and widespread sexual harassment and abuse already occurring, as outlined here and here. Also, OnTop Magazine adds that “The Military Penal Code further punishes gay troops by lumping together consensual and non-consensual gay sex as sexual harassment”, and the The Korea Times that ‘offenders’ are also given a dishonorable discharge after leaving jail. This effectively punishes them for life in a society where military service is widely regarded as a de facto requirement for “real” citizenship.

Meanwhile, in other LGBT-related news, gay filmmaker Kim Jho Kwang-soo – only the second man in the entertainment industry to come out of the closet – has announced his marriage (alas, not legally recognized). And I’m No Picasso discusses the unfortunate consequences for one her students of Korean society denying and/or marginalizing homosexuality.

(Source: Barry Deutsch)

5) International Comparison of Gender and Unpaid Labor

For a pleasant change, Korea is only slightly worse than the OECD average for the extra unpaid labor women do compared to men.

Also, for a very interesting new book on the subject that I look forward to buying when it’s available at WhatTheBook? (hint hint), see Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality by Rebecca Asher.

6) The Female Writer in Korea

Charles at Korean Modern Literature in Translation on the first two chapters of Ideology, Culture, and Han by Younghee Lee, which are “a brief but quite interesting analysis of women writers in the Joseon and early Modern periods”.

7) Banned Music Video of the Week: Mirror Mirror (거울거울) by 4Minute (포미닛)

Or at least, the consensus is that one particular dance move in it soon will be. If the song itself is not to your liking, then skip ahead to 2:16.

8) Booking Clubs

Perspectives on Korean and Los Angeles Booking Clubs from Blog in a Tea Cup and Hyphen Magazine respectively.

9) The Jang Ja-yeon Tragedy: Making it all go away

Committing suicide 2 years ago because of forced prostitution by her managers, alleged letters by Jang Ja-yeon (장자연) detailing the string of VIPs, including directors, media executives and CEOs she was forced to have sex with have (naturally) been getting a lot of attention recently. See The Three Wise Monkeys for the definitive guide to all the latest developments in that case.

10) Cosmetic Surgery on the cheap

GeekinHeels discusses some sort of tape used for creating “V-lines” she was given as a gift, while Martina and Simon of EatYourKimchi are a little braver and try the ones for double-eyelids for themselves:


8 thoughts on “Korean Gender Reader

  1. That 4Minute article is a case of Korean tabloids trying to make a mountain out of a molehill – or an article out of a few random comments on the web – but the inconsistent standards on Korean public TV continue to confuse: When I saw this performance by rookie group Rania on (cable tv) Mnet’s M!Countdown I was intrigued, but when it appeared on KBS’ Music Bank the day after I was shocked!

    This is the same station that has banned videos and censored performances left and right, yet one of the raunchiest routines in k-pop history gets the green light with no changes in choreography or costumes.


    1. See here for my take on all the inconsistencies. As for RaNia, that video was the first time I’d heard of them, and – dancing aside – I wasn’t very impressed with the quality of the singing. Something sounded very very familiar about the song too:

      Btw, mistakenly spelled them “Raina” in a class game this morning (I like to use girl groups and/or members as team names!). On the one hand I’m disappointed that my students were (again) too scared to point out my mistake, but on the other perhaps they thought I meant the After School member!^^


      1. Yeah, they may not know the group themselves. They just debuted a week or so back (and maybe they will fade into obscurity). Apparently both the music and choreography was made by famed American producer Teddy Riley, who’s going to Korea to support them later this month.

        They can sing, but that level of intense bump n’ grinding certainly invites the use of a backing track to rely on.


        1. I still think that the singing in Dr. Feel Good isn’t all that great, but Lucy above is indeed okay. Like any group with a lot of members, there’s probably a lot of difference in abilities between them.


  2. James, I’d been expecting you to write on Dal Shabet and you’ve added a tag too, but I’m not seeing an item. Am I missing something?


    1. Sorry to disappoint you, but actually I never intended to write anything on them, just simply to put up their “Pink Rocket” album cover to laugh at! Given the subject of the opening topic though, then I decided it was a little inappropriate.

      Update: Could have put it somewhere else in the post I suppose, but then I can’t really think of anything to write about them until their new album actually comes out sorry!

      (Removed the tags thanks).


        1. Apart from the massive pink overload, all I can say is WTF is a gorilla mask doing there. Plenty of ‘cute’ poses stuffed in there, along with the flowers, and random English.


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