Korean Gender Reader


A light and colorful image to counter the shocking and depressing news of the past week.

First, that of the Suwon rape and murder case, which I’ve given just about all of the news and blog links on it I can find below (but please let me know of any more that you think should be added). As you read through them though, please bear in mind that despite the public stereotypes, despite the abject incompetence of the Suwon police, and despite their outdated attitudes to rape and domestic violence, in fact the Korean police as a whole have dramatically improved in the last 5 years, particularly with the latter. As I wrote back in 2009:

…while Korea certainly does have a great deal of work to do in combating domestic violence – and criminalizing spousal rape would be an essential first step (see #2 here; for a 2011 update, see #5 here) – it’s also true that police and legal attitudes towards it have considerably hardened in recent years, both cause and effect of a law change in 2007 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). In addition, Korean women are now more likely than ever to divorce on the basis of verbal or physical abuse, rather than suffering silently as in past decades.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see this mentioned in the English-language media:

April 12 – Does Suwon killer have other victims? (Asian Correspondent)

April 12 – Korean rage? And what about the Chinese-Koreans? (The Marmot’s Hole)

April 11 – Korean media publish name of Suwon killer (Asian Correspondent)

April 10 – Political parties say police chief’s resignation was just (KBS Global)

April 10 – Suwon police apologize for failing to save kidnap victim (The Dong-a Ilbo)

April 9 – The police (and everyone else’s) blunder in Suwon (My Musings)

April 9 – Police fail to save murder victim despite 7 min phone call, GPS tracking; police commissioner resigns (The Three Wise Monkeys)

April 9 – Police chief quits after murder case (The Korea Times)

April 9 – Police chief to resign (The Korea Herald)

April 9 – With victim screaming, police bungle response (Korea Realtime)

April 8 – “Simple sexual violation” (10 Confessions)

April 8 – Why Korean police are worthless: more news from the rape front (The Unlikely Expat)

April 8 – Suwon murder shames police (The Korea Times)

April 7 – Brutal murder in Suwon, police incompetence and online comments (And with your help, I’ll get that chicken)

April 7 – Police can’t save woman after she calls with location (Korea Joongang Daily)

Next, there’s the Open World CEO sexual assault case. All links are from Allkpop unless otherwise indicated:

Managers taken aback at Open World Entertainment Incident (Mnet)

Managers react to the Open World Entertainment CEO incident (Koreaboo)

Open World Entertainment issues official statement

Open World CEO admits to some of the accusations against him + female victims total 6

Police investigate reports of Open World CEO allegedly forcing male idol group members to sexually harass female trainees

Open World Entertainment CEO arrested for alleged sexual harassment on artists and trainees

Now for some good news. Specifically, some upcoming events:

V-DAY returns to Busan with a series of events (Busanhaps)

Korean Unwed Mothers’ Family Association holding fundraiser (Tales of Wonderlost; via I’m No Picasso & Roboseyo)

More posts in the excellent English Spectrum series at Gusts of Popular Feeling:

Part 10: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women

Part 11: “Middle school girls will do anything”

Part 12: Netizens propose ‘Yankee counter strike force’

Part 13: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1

And now everything else. There’s so many links these days, I’ve decided to put them into categories, although obviously many could go into several. Please let me know what you think of the new format:


Here/Queer: Two years as a lesbian expat in South Korea (Autostraddle)

Japanese sex museums are where your sanity goes to die (io9; NSFW)

Infographic: Sex in China (Shanghaiist)

Gay entertainment (Noona Blog: Seoul)


“K-pop Utopianism” and its discontents (Occupied Territories)

Is T-ara’s member change a way for Kim Kwang Soo to punish T-ara? (Allkpop; also see The Mind Reels)

Boys becoming men overnight: the new drama trend (Dramabeans)

Girls run this world of K-dramas (Seoulbeats)

K celebs raising their voices (My Musings)

K-pop’s faulty perception of an homogenous West (Seoulbeats)

JYP sheds light on Korea’s deep-rooted racial divide (Soompi)

ZE:A’s Kwang-hee proudly admits to having his entire face ‘retouched’ (Korea Joongang Daily)

Is porn manly? (Seoulbeats)


‘Little Monsters’ in South Korea are not amused (International Herald Tribune)

Lady Gaga concert stirs debate about young fans (Korea Joongang Daily)

T-ara’s Lovey Dovey MV banned due to violence, criminal acts, harmful businesses, suicide, and drugs (Omona They Didn’t; see Seoulbeats here for a review of the song)

KBS bans MC Sniper’s “Push It” music video for rebellious content (Omona They Didn’t)


Documentary: Korean-American woman has 50 weddings in 50 states (Hello Korea!)

Naked culture clash: Chinese husband uncomfortable with family nudity in Finnish saunas (Mandarin Stories)

Divorce/family lawyers in Korea: Korean divorce explained by U.S. military (The Korean Law Blog)

“Couples immortalize engagement with photos” (Visual Anthropology of Japan)


JYPE to take legal action against online harassment of Sohee (Soompi)

A culture of tolerating sexual harassment (Korea Times)

Seoul: Former JMS cult members tell their stories (Asian Correspondent)

Korean rage: stereotype or real issue? (San Fransisco Chronicle; via The Marmot’s Hole)


S Korea to respond to violence in schools (AlJazeeraEnglish; via The Waygook Effect)

South Korea: Case tests legal system’s approach to bullying (Asian Correspondent)

Korean girls, mothers assist development of Lego Friends (The Dong-a Ilbo; not something to be proud of IMO!)


Korea’s sexual revolution (Korea Law Today)

The election swept 47 women into the 300-seat assembly, the most ever (Korea Realtime)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

5 thoughts on “Korean Gender Reader

    1. I think you’ve misunderstood. I wrote that Korean police attitudes to domestic violence have dramatically improved despite the stereotype that they’re unconcerned about it.

      Alternatively, if you don’t believe that there’s been an improvement, then read the UNHCR report for yourself. Granted, rereading that now I realize that it’s a Korean police representative making that claim rather than the UNHCR itself, and so perhaps it has to be taken with a grain of salt. But the fact remains that the 2007 law change means that, regardless of police officers’ own attitudes, now they have to investigate all cases of domestic abuse and have to prosecute all offenders (unless the victim wishes otherwise).


  1. More depressing news about the Korean police: the girlfriend of one of the boys involved in the 2004 Miryang gang rape case has become a police officer. Netizens have uncovered a message she wrote back in 2004 saying she was glad that most of the boys didn’t face charges, and the personal statement she wrote on her police application has also surfaced:

    I am a very honest and diligent person and I know myself well. I think about crime from the viewpoint of criminals too, and in case of sexual assault I am able to consider both – victim’s as well as criminal’s position and whether the victim did not walk around in a manner encouraging to be assaulted. So please choose me for this position. I can do some martial arts as well.


  2. Re: the censorship of Lady Gaga, will lmfao also get an under-18 ban? It would be nothing but obvious homophobia if they banned Gaga but not them.

    Last week I got their song Shots banned from my school’s lunchtime play list.


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