Girls’ Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment and K-pop (Updated)


Apologies for the slow posting and unanswered emails everyone, but as this post goes up I’ll be en route to the Korean Pop Culture Conference 2011 at the University of California, and preparing for the trip has taken a lot more work than I expected. But I’ll be back and blogging by Wednesday next week, and so until then I thought you might be interested in the abstract of co-author Stephen Epstein’s and my presentation topic, which – assuming no disasters – is likely to become a chapter in the forthcoming book The Korean Popular Culture Reader by Duke University Press:

Girls’ Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment and K-pop

“The hottest phrase in Korea nowadays is undeniably ‘girl group.’ But girl group fever is more than just a trend: it’s symbolic of a cultural era that is embracing the expulsion of authoritarian ideology.” So reads the content blurb for a story on the rise of girl groups in the March 2010 issue of Korea, a public relations magazine published under the auspices of the Korean Culture and Information Service. Nonetheless, despite official, top-down promotion and cheerful assertions that this phenomenon is a liberating pop movement, a reading of the lyrics and visual codes of the music videos of popular contemporary Korea girl groups raises serious questions about the empowering nature of “Girl Group Fever.” In this paper, we will engage in a close analysis of the music and videos of groups such as the Wonder Girls, Girls’ Generation, KARA, T-ara and the discourse that has surrounded their rise to popularity in South Korea in order to deconstruct the notion that contemporary consumer society is making a radical break from more traditional, deeply embedded power structures.


We will argue that a set of recurrent tropes in the studied media and marketing presentation of Korean girl groups undercuts claims to a progressive ethos. In particular, as we hope to demonstrate, girl group videos and lyrics often fall into one of three categories: first of all, while girl group singers can express desire in potentially empowering fashion, the viewer is generally constructed as male, and expression of desire is accompanied by a coyness and feigned innocence that returns power to men (Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” and “Oh”; T-ara’s “Like the First Time”; KARA’s “Mister”). A second set of songs and videos suggests exertion of female power, but influence is wielded through recourse to the overwhelming force of feminine sexuality that either embarrasses (After School’s “AH!”, which adds the tease of a forbidden relationship between teacher and student) or renders males helpless in its midst (The Wonder Girls “So Hot”) and thus projects the message that narcissistic desirability is the route to redress power imbalance. Finally, a number of songs have lyrical and video narratives that depict female solidarity in wreaking revenge on callous boyfriends or threatening men (2NE1’s “I Don’t Care”, The Wonder Girls’ “Irony and “Tell Me”, the latter of which has lyrics that are at odds with its visual narrative), but in doing so continue to foster the discourse of a battle between the sexes. As we will show, in noteworthy contrast to J-pop girl group videos from the dominant entertainment group Hello! Project, which emphasize the expression of youthful energy without reference to a validating or polarizing male presence, Korean popular music’s engagement with larger discursive structures has yet to break free of ideologies that pit male and female against one another (end).

(Source: Screen Capture, “Magic Station”, Asahi-TV, 15 October 2010)

Update: Very much the lens through which I’ve been writing about Korean music for the last few months, nevertheless I should really have stressed that the abstract was written almost a year ago, and indeed developments in K-pop and J-pop since then have rendered much of it out of date, let alone the opinions of my co-author and myself growing and changing as we deepened the extent of our research. Also, word limits for the paper precluded necessary related discussions of boy-bands and J-pop, with 8000 words unfortunately barely being enough to even begin to scratch the surface of the subject.

Unfortunately then, in hindsight the abstract isn’t actually a very good guide to our current opinions on the subject and/or what we’ll be presenting on Friday(!), so please understand why it’s necessary to close this post to further comments. Instead, for now at least please accept the abstract simply as something to hopefully get you thinking about possible common themes in K-pop and why they exist, and if it becomes possible then I will definitely (re)open the discussion at a later date.

Finally, my special apologies to those who already commented, and frankly I didn’t expect such a wealth of expertise to be brought to bear on the abstract so quickly!


Female Flesh Under Consumer Capitalism: Meet the Meat?

(Source: Busan Focus, 16 May 2011, p. 13)

Hey, I get it, I really do: ads that make men want the girl, can make women want to be that girl.

Hence the memorable things Lee Hyori did with a hose for Vidal Sassoon back in 2007 for instance. Or indeed this ad, which, despite the English copy, actually says that “the lunch for amazing women has started”, and then proceeds to do no more to sell to said amazing women than simply plonking Kim Sa-rang (김사랑) with a smouldering gaze on it, flanked by Lee Tae-im (이태임) with textbook hair-preening and hand on hip.

Surely there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that, although being aimed at women, it’s still squarely aimed at a male gaze?

But if that’s what so bugged me about it, then critically analyzing ads would only ever be an exercise in frustration. And I’m not even against gendered marketing per se either: despite the vast majority of it having no biological basis, and also serving to create and/or reinforcing existing gender stereotypes, admittedly it does sometimes have a genuine financial logic.

Rather, it’s the sheer laziness of this ad that gets me: was this really the best T.G.I. Friday’s could have come up with to get women to eat more steak?

Also, it’s amazing how unnatural the ad suddenly appears if you mentally replace the copy with “amazing men” instead (let alone considering how the ensuing male models would pose). When I did so myself, it really hit me just how much gendered marketing is actually aimed only at women, and how many normative advertising categorizations of female consumers (e.g. Alpha Girls, Omega Girls, Gold Misses etc.) completely lack any male equivalents.

Which is an unfortunate association I now have with T.G.I. Friday’s I guess. But then they’re the ones that came up with such a lame ad!

Korean Sociological Image #59: Childcare is (Still) Women’s Job!


Do crosswalk lights with only male-shaped figures really discriminative against females? That’s a hard sell on any occasion, let alone when it would cost 21 million dollars to replace them all with both male and female ones instead, and so netizens have rightfully “responded with merciless mockery” to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s plan. As has the cartoonist Ju Ho-min too, whose humorous extension of the city’s logic needs no translation!

Instead, a much better candidate for signs to replace would be these ubiquitous reminders that it’s only women that should look after children:

Women do look after children of course, and so technically signs like these aren’t discriminatory in themselves. But as this photo and those below make clear, they’re not just not countered by equal numbers of signs showing men taking care of children, but in fact female figures are only used when a child is also involved:

Lest I sound like I’m singling Korea out for criticism however, note that such images are almost universal, and indeed the above ones look almost exactly the same as those in Dublin airport. Moreover, once you move away from signs to language instead, then, possibly following overseas examples, actually discriminatory English slogans are sometimes chosen rather than making Korean ones, such as with airline Asiana’s “Happy Mom Services”. Or alternatively, consider the 부산국제임신출산육아박람회 that I learned about today, which would simply be “The Busan International Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Childcare Exposition” in English, but which somehow got translated as “The 9th Busan Mom & Baby Fair” instead:

As it’s not just for moms and babies if you can read the Korean though, then accordingly there are many fathers and would-be fathers featured on the website, and actually I was one of them myself back in either 2005 or 2006 before my first daughter was born. I don’t recommend going though, as I recall finding some of the services being promoted there – stillbirth insurance for example – just a little cold and off-putting!

Finally, for some Korean takes on subway signs that I managed to find, see here and here. Unfortunately, they’re a little old (2004 and 2006 respectively), which suggests that no-one’s really thought about them in a while. But on the plus side, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s misguided plans have at least brought national attention to the issue of (potential) sexual discrimination in signs, so now may well be the best opportunity ever to suggest that something be done about them. Ideally, by using the money earmarked to change the crosswalk ones to change the subway ones instead.

If anybody knows how to go about contacting them, then that would be much appreciated!

Update: On Becoming a Good Feminist Wife has more commentary on the planned new crosswalk signs here.

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


The Grand Narrative’s Facebook Page Launched!

For about a year now, I’ve been tweeting about all the interesting Korean gender issues, advertising, and pop-culture stuff (and much more) that I don’t get a chance to blog about, but a lot of readers have suggested that it’s high time I created a Facebook page also. With apologies for the wait then, here it finally is, and I definitely hope to make it a site in its own right, not just a glorified RSS feed for the website proper.

To that end, I’ll not just be providing cool stuff that you won’t see here, and taking advantage of the opportunity to interact more with readers, but I plan to let my hair down and be a little less intellectual on Facebook too.

For instance, as a dispassionate critical commentator on Korean girl groups K-pop, normally I would never ever reveal that there’s something about Love Alone (러브얼론) above by Miss A (미스에이) that has me smiling radiantly almost every time I listen to it. Indeed, although I was initially very disappointed that there wasn’t a proper music video produced for it, now just seeing the members being themselves in it has me smiling all the more!


Granted, all of them being attractive women certainly helps,  but I genuinely think that some unique combination of the music, voices, and lyrics makes this an incredibly warm song, especially for what can often be very tinny and artificial-sounding K-pop.

Any other fans?^^ Call me naive, but I’ll be investing 660won (US$0.61) in the MP3 as soon as I finish typing this!

Update: See here for some high quality screenshots of the video.


Korean Gender Reader


1) Sunny (써니) Now Playing in Theaters

And all about girl power, according to Dramabeans. Judging by the trailer, my first impression is of a comic version of the excellent Take Care of my Cat (2001; 고양이를 부탁해).

Meanwhile, does anybody know of any similar coming-of-age movies for guys? Other than the violent and overrated Friend (2001; 친구) or pornographic Plum Blossom (2000; 청춘) that is?

2) May 11th was 6th Annual Adoption Day in Korea

See Ask a Korean! for the details. Also, Korea Real Time has more on the controversy created by soon to be aired commercials encouraging more domestic adoption.

Update: Yesterday was also the first Korean Single Moms’ Day, Busan Haps had a good photo-essay on adoption last month, and the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network has translated a December article on how unwed mothers are not necessarily poor, but society ultimately forces them to become so.

3) Only Foreign Staff Made to Attend Sexual Harassment Seminar at Korean University

After all, it was actually a Korean professor that was fired for having a sexual relationship with one of his students, so I’m sure you can see the logic. What’s more, the seminar was given by a completely unqualified speaker too, according to blogger Supplanter clearly both uncomfortable with and clueless about the subject he was presenting.

Ironically, the very next week after enduring that, Supplanter himself would be accused of sexual harassment at his local swimming pool.

4) A Normal Night Out in Seoul?

See Banana Milk to learn more about it. Call me sentimental and/or trying to (mentally) relive my twenties, but I subscribe to a lot of Seoul social, fashion, nightclubbing, and/or dance-music sites like it (in particular, M.S Photography always has *ahem* very interesting pictures), and am thoroughly jealous of people unencumbered by kids that get to actually enjoy it!

Speaking of which, tomorrow Paul Van Dyk will be performing in Seoul, only…sigh…10 years too late. See 10Magazine for the details.


5) Ending Bias Against White Male and Asian Female Couples

Like Shanghai Shiok! says:

Women with a preference for black men get a thumbs up. Women with a preference for Asian men get a thumbs up. Women with a preference for Middle Eastern men get a thumbs up. Women with a preference for white men get a thumbs down. Generally true?

Unfortunately, yes, and it took a lot of persuasion from her readers to get her to open the comments on that post!

6) “Prostitution Thrives on Twisted Entertainment Culture”

While I don’t mean to sound facetious, particularly not in light of seven bar hostesses committing suicide since last July, this is an unusually good article on the subject for the otherwise appalling Korea Times, and I look forward to reading more articles from author  Kim Tae-jong (see Extra! Korea also).

7) Korea: Sex Criminals Easily Become Taxi Drivers

Again I don’t mean to sound facetious, but, like Asian Correspondent explains, the fact that taxi-driving is one of the few occupations open to ex-convicts in Korea does explain a lot about their wild reputation.


8) Desert: A Movie About Kiwi-Asian Marriages

If you’re living in Auckland, New Zealand, make sure to see Desert while you still can. First shown at PIFF last year, it:

…reveals the untold story behind many Kiwi-Asian marriages….Based on real life events, Desert follows the story of Jenny, a young pregnant Asian girl living in Auckland who is left to fend for herself; when she is abandoned by her Kiwi boyfriend just before they are about to get married. Jenny is rejected by her Asian community for getting pregnant to a westerner out of wed-lock and after unsuccessfully searching for her run away boyfriend; she is forced to look inside herself to find a positive solution for her and her unborn baby.

Jenny’s story is a reality for the growing number of Asian women in New Zealand. The Asia NZ Foundation recently recorded that there are 26 per cent more Asian women than Asian men, aged 25 to 49, living in New Zealand and nearly a quarter came to New Zealand to get married. [Director Stephen Kang’s] inspiration for the film came from observing the struggles facing many Asian women living in New Zealand and Desert is the first film of its kind to give a platform and voice to these common challenges and personal stories.

While I take exception to the title of the article that that’s from, the movie itself sounds really interesting, and you can see its Facebook page for more details, interviews, and a trailer. There’s also its webpage of course, but unfortunately the designers made a big mistake not providing a mute button(!),  and the trailer should really have been uploaded onto YouTube too.

9) The Changing Face of Cosmetic Surgery

As always, South Koreans have the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries per person in the world, but an increasing number of people receiving them are from China and Japan: 80,000 per year in fact, with many of the most famous clinics reporting 20% growth rates in their numbers of medical tourists.

As The Economist notes, Korea is a “nation that often struggles to attract foreign visitors, [so] it is hardly surprising that the authorities have begun actively encouraging this trade. It is now aiming at a target of 400,000 such visitors in 2015”.

The author BTW, also has a fine Korean blog of his own here.

10) Skirting the Issue

For those few of you that don’t know by now, a local education board in Gangwon-do is confronting the “issue” of female school students wearing shorter and shorter skirts by…spending $700,000 installing new desks with boards to stop teachers and male students being distracted by them.

For much more on this, see (in no particular order): Gusts of Popular Feeling; the BBC; Extra! Korea; and BusanHaps. But in particular, see Michael Hurt’s comments on Facebook here (roughly the 12th down), who notes the glaring absence of the opinions of the girls themselves in most discussions.


Seniors Routinely Sexually Harass Juniors during “Membership Training”?


When I first came to Korea in 2000, I soon got used to the notion that people should use nopimmal (높임말; respectful language) to their obvious “superiors”, such as their parents and bosses. But also to friends, even if they were just a year or two older? Call me a cultural imperialist, but I still balk at the notion that such people are genuine friends, and God knows what they’d make of the usually whiskey-fueled language my late friend and I, then twice my age, would use with each other (let alone what we usually talked about).

Still, it came as a real shock to hear students using it to some of their classmates at my university, even though the recipients were only just a few months older (I asked). In fairness, that didn’t happen at all at my wife’s university when she was a student, but suffice to say that I’m no longer particularly surprised when I hear of “seniors” taking advantage of “juniors” in various forms at Korean universities. And especially not on “Membership Training” (MT), which as you probably know involves a lot of drinking and various orientation and initiation rituals, as explained in the following report:

(As translator Marilyn notes, makjang means “extreme, in a negative way”, and is usually used to describe dramas where crazy things happen. Meanwhile, with thanks to SuzyinSeoul, the “OT” in the title means “Orientation Training”, one’s first MT)

(Sources: left, right)

막장 OT? ‘학내 성희롱’의 문제 보아야 / Makjang OT?  The problem of “school sexual harassment” must be considered

성희롱문제의 사각지대에 놓인 학생간 성희롱 / Sexual harassment among students is an unseen part of the problem of sexual harassment

얼마 전 인터넷 상에서는 서울 소재 모 대학의 신입생환영회가 논란이 되었다. 지난달 26일 인터넷 포털사이트 게시판에 “대학교 오리엔테이션, 이래도 되는 건가요?”라며 오른 글이 시작이었다.

Recently, the welcoming ceremony for new students at X University in Seoul has become a controversy on the Internet.  It was started by a post, titled “At a university orientation, is this really okay?” and put up on an Internet portal site’s message board on the 26th of last month [February].

성적 수치심 느끼게 하는게임시킨 선배들 / Seniors who make games that cause [juniors] to feel sexual shame

글 쓴이는 몇 장의 사진과 함께 “오리엔테이션에서 선배들이 후배들에게 성적으로 부담스럽거나, 수치심을 느낄 수 있는 행동들을 많이 시킨다”고 고발했다. 사진 속에는 남녀 신입생들이 몸을 밀착시키고 성행위를 연상시키는 동작을 취하는 모습들이 담겨 있었다. ‘게임’을 명목으로 강요된 것이었다. 글쓴이에 따르면, 술자리에서는 “정말 심한” 벌칙들도 많았다고 한다.

The writer of the post put up several pictures and charged, “At orientation, seniors force their juniors to do sexually embarrassing or shameful things.”  In the pictures, new male and female students press their bodies against each other and make sexually suggestive movements.   This was coerced under the pretext of a “game.”   According to the post’s writer there are also many “really severe” penalties at drinking parties.

(한 포털사이트에 성적 수치심을 느끼게 하는 ‘게임’을 강요하는 ‘신입생 오리엔테이션’ 문화를 고발한 글이 올라와 논란이 일었다.)

(Caption [to above image]: A post charging that a “new-student orientation” culture forces the playing of “games” that cause sexual shame was put up on a portal site and became a controversy.)


문제의 사진들은 ‘막장 OT’라는 이름이 붙어 여러 게시판들로 퍼져나갔고, 몇몇 언론에서도 이 사건을 보도하면서 관련 학교와 학생들에게 비난이 가해졌다. 이후 사건은 해당 학교 총학생회가 사과문을 게시하는 선으로 마무리되었다.

The pictures were named “Makjang OT” and spread to several message boards, and as several media outlets reported on this story as well, the school and students involved were subjected to criticism.  After that, the student government at the university brought the incident to a close by posting a written apology.

이 사건은 인터넷 여론이 흔히 그렇듯 사건의 선정성에만 초점이 맞춰져, 관련 대학을 공격하거나 폄하하는 데에만 치중되었다는 인상을 준다. 그리고 논란의 열기는 금방 식었다.

As usual, public opinion on the Internet has focused on the sexual aspects of the story and so given the impression that it has only concentrated on attacking or disparaging the university in this area. Also, the heat of the controversy cooled down immediately.

이 사건이 문제인 것은 건전해야 할 대학 내 행사에서 선정적인 행위를 했기 때문이 아니다. 선배들의 권위를 내세워 신입생들에게 원하지 않는 성적인 행위를 강요했다는 점이 본질적인 문제다. 명백한 학내 성희롱이다.

The problem in this matter is not that there were sexual actions at university events that should be wholesome.  The essential problem is that seniors asserting their authority forced new students to do sexual actions they didn’t want to do.  This is unmistakable school sexual harassment.


하늘같은선배 작아지는 신입생들 / New students that shrink in front of ‘god-like’ seniors

이제 막 대학을 들어온 신입생과 ‘선배’들 사이에는 막강한 권력관계가 작동한다. 대학생활에서 선배는 어떤 면에서 교수보다 더 어려운 존재다. 더구나 신입생 오리엔테이션은 이제 막 대학을 입학해 어리둥절하고 동기들과도 서먹할 때 치러지니 1학년들은 선배들 앞에서 심리적으로 위축되기 쉽다. 더구나 ‘전통’이라고 우기니 ‘참아야 되나’ 헷갈리기까지 할 것이다.

These days there is a strong power-imbalance operating between students who have just started university and their “seniors.”  In university life, relationships with seniors are more difficult than those with professors in every way.  Moreover, new-student orientations happen when students, having just started university, are dazed and still unfamiliar with their peers, so it is easy for first-year students to shrivel psychologically in front of their seniors.  Furthermore, seniors insist that it’s “tradition” so students become confused and think “Maybe I have to endure this?”

성희롱은 권력관계 안에서 일어난다. 이러한 속성 때문에 남학생이 많은 과, 권위주의적이고 위계질서가 강하게 잡혀 있는 과일 수록 신입생 환영회 때 이러한 ‘게임’을 즐기는 경향이 강해지고 ‘게임’의 강도도 높아질 것이라 추측할 수 있다.


Sexual harassment arises inside power-imbalances.  Because of this attribute, it can be supposed that the more male students a department has and the more authoritarian and the stronger the hierarchical structure in the department, the stronger the tendency to enjoy this kind of “game” and the more intense the “games” are at new-student welcoming events.

시대가 변화한 부분이 있으니, 아마도 이러한 신입생 환영행사는 일반적으로 행해지는 수준의 것은 아닐 것이다. 그러나 아주 극단적인 예만도 아닌 것 같다. 관련 게시물들의 누리꾼 댓글에서도 비슷한 경험을 털어놓는 것을 심심치 않게 발견할 수 있다. 남성에게 구강성교를 해주는 여성의 모습을 연상시키는 동작을 하는 남학생들이 찍힌, 모 체육대학의 신입생 오리엔테이션 사진을 올린 이도 있었다.

Though there is the element of the changing times, this kind of new-student welcoming event probably isn’t common. However, it doesn’t seem to be an extreme example, either.  In the replies of the visitors to the message boards in question as well, it is not hard to find confessions of similar experiences.  There were also pictures from the new-student orientation at X Sport University [a university for athletes and coaches] which show male students making movements suggestive of women giving oral sex to men.


대학사회, 성희롱 문제제기 여전히 어려워 / In university culture, making sexual harassment complaints difficult as ever

이번 사건을 문제제기한 학생은 학내 게시판이 아닌, 포털사이트를 이용해 글을 올렸다. 이는 문제의 ‘게임’이 ‘전통’으로 굳어질 수 있었던 배경과 관련된다.

The student who reported this incident used a non-university portal site to put up his/her post. This is related to the setting in which the “game” in question was allowed to become “tradition.”

지난 해 1월, 소위 ‘명문대생‘이 1학년 여학생들을 성추행한 사건이 논란을 일으켰다. 당시 한 피해자가 익명게시판을 통해 문제제기 하자 다른 피해자들이 나타나면서 피해자는 20여명까지 불어났다.

In January of last year, an incident in which so-called “students of a prestigious university” sexually molested first-year female students engendered controversy.  At that time, a victim made her complaint on an anonymous message board; other victims then came forward, until their number reached around 20 women.

왜 20여명에 달하는 피해자들은 성추행을 당하고도 입을 다물고 있을 수밖에 없었을까. 여전히 성희롱‧성폭력은 대학 사회 내에서도 쉽게 공론화하기 어려운 문제이기 때문이다.

Why is it that though the number of victims who were sexually molested reached about 20, they couldn’t do anything but keep quiet?  It is because even in university society, it is still difficult to publicly discuss sexual harassment and sexual violence.


‘명문대생‘ 성추행 사건이 문제가 되었던 당시, 취업전문 포털사이트 ‘커리어’가 이틀간 대학생 768명을 대상으로 진행한 설문 조사에 따르면, 전체 여성 응답자 중 33.3%가 대학생활 중 ‘성희롱이나 성추행을 당했다’고 답했다.

When the “students of a prestigious university” incident became a problem, the job portal site “Career” surveyed 768 university students over the course of two days, and found that 33.3% of female respondents said they “have been sexually molested or harassed” during university life.

주된 가해자(복수응답)는 78.0%가 ‘선배’였다. 흔히 학내성희롱의 주된 가해자로 떠올리게 되는 ‘교수’를 지목한 대답은 33.3%였다. 대응방법을 묻는 질문에는 응답자의 66.5%가 ‘그냥 참고 넘겼다’고 답했다. 대응하지 않고 그냥 넘어간 이유는 ‘가해자와의 관계를 유지하기 위해서(66.9%)’가 가장 컸다.

The main perpetrators (more than one response possible) were “seniors,” at 78.0%.  “Professors”, who usually come to mind as the main perpetrators when one thinks of university sexual harassment, were pointed at by 33.3% of responses.  When asked how they dealt with it, 66.5% of respondents chose, “just bore it and moved past it.”  The biggest reason that they just let it go was, “To maintain a relationship with the perpetrator,” at 66.9%.

이렇듯 학생과 학생 사이에 발생되는 성희롱은 학내 성희롱 문제에 있어서 실질적으로 큰 비중을 차지하며 문제제기 하기도 어렵다. 그런데 교사와 교사, 교사와 학생 간 성희롱의 경우 성희롱 관련법의 규제의 대상이 되는 반면, 학생 간에 벌어지는 성희롱문제는 제외되고 있다. 따라서 학칙에 의존할 수밖에 없다.

Though this kind of student-on-student sexual harassment makes up a relatively large part of in-university sexual harassment, it is also hard to make a complaint.  Unlike in the case of sexual harassment between professors, or between professors and students, [public] regulations leave out sexual harassment that occurs between students.  Therefore, there is no choice but to rely on the school’s rules.


그러나 성희롱을 ‘전통’으로 미화할 수 있는 대학사회에 이러한 미온적인 처치가 얼마나 큰 변화를 이끌어낼 수 있을까.

However, in a university culture that glamorizes sexual harassment as “tradition,” how big are the changes we can hope to effect to this kind of mediocre situation?

앞서 언급한 설문조사에서 전체 응답자 중 51.3%만이 성희롱 문제해결을 위한 대학 내 전담기관이나 담당자가 있다고 답했다. 대학사회에서 학생간의 성희롱이 사각지대에 놓여 있다는 사실을 이를 통해서도 유추해볼 수 있다. 관련 대책이 시급해 보인다.

In the survey mentioned above, only 51.3% of all respondents said that there was a special organization or officer for dealing with sexual harassment in their university.  Through this, as well, we can infer the fact that sexual harassment between students in university culture is not well-recognized.  Relevant measures appear to be urgently needed.

Writer: Park Hee-jeong (박희정), 3 March 2011.


A disclaimer: I’ve never attended MT or even talked about it with students, so, students’ normal proclivities aside, I’m sure many or even most events are perfectly fine, and indeed Joe SeoulMan – ironically the source of one of the above images – has an account of a very nice, almost heartwarming one here. On the other hand, Extra! Korea argues that “it’s well-known among Koreans that sexual harassment is widespread at MTs”, and there’s certainly enough news stories in the Korean media to back that up.

What do you think? Have any readers attended MT themselves? Would you say that sexual harassment is indeed widespread at them, or is that just an impression created by the Korean media and *cough* bloggers, who tend to focus on the negatives?

(Thanks again to Marilyn for the translation)