Korean Sociological Image #71: “Specs” for the perfect Korean wife or husband

(Source: Slutwalk Korea)

When I lived abroad in Korea, I spent a lot of time doing work in cafes. Probably a 100 or more during my 2 years there. As such, I eavesdropped on thousands of conversations. And nearly every one of those conversations was about two topics: complaints re studying English and complaints re losing weight.

(Patricia Park, Korean Bodega, June 15)

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for my bachelor days, but it’s conversations about “specs” (스펙) that I’ve really noticed myself. A Korean term for the criteria used to evaluate a potential spouse on, it’s also my experience that it’s almost exclusively used by women, although that may just be because there’s usually more women than men at my local Starbucks.

Either way, in February Kim Da-ye at the Korea Times argued that looking at marriage this way is a relatively new phenomenon, and that it’s “matchmaking companies that rate spouse seekers by specs [that] have fueled [such] materialism.” And, as if to bolster that point, Donga-Reuters would report on exactly the same phenomenon emerging in China after I’d already begun writing this post.

But as discussed below, matchmakers have been encouraging such pragmatism for decades, so they can hardly be described as driving that change in outlook. Rather, it’s economic factors that are responsible, as Kim later acknowledges in her article:

(Source: Ozzyz Review; edited)

…today’s buzzword “Sampo” generation (삼포세대) …indicates a 30-something who has given up dating, marrying and giving birth because of the lack of financial means…

Contrast the “880,000 won generation”, which generally refers to 20-somethings. Continuing:

….What’s interesting about such preferences for the partner’s economic qualification is that they don’t come from conservative parents or rigid social structure but independent, young individuals….

….The near obsession with fine lifestyle is a contrast to the attitude of the baby boomer generation, many of whom used to say that they can start from a small rented room….

When asked why the younger generation isn’t willing make such a humble start, Lee, a single woman in her mid-30s working at a media firm, said, “Back then, amid fast economic growth, people had hoped that they would be able to climb up the social ladder and afford a bigger place in the future. Nowadays, people feel that if they start in a small room, they will be stuck there for the rest of their lives.”

The high cost of getting married naturally leads to some couples to be heavily indebted after the honeymoon ends. In addition to the Sampo generation, another phrase linked to both the economy and marriage has emerged — “honeymoon poor.”

And Kim — whose article is still very informative overall — gives several examples of engaged couples’ fights over money, some of whom ultimately break up. Yet those would not be out of place in popular discourses of marriage in, for example, the 1980s, when women’s magazines were similarly promoting the virtues of arranged ones. Presumably, at the behest of their advertisers:

(Source: Google Books)

Passage Rites Made Easy [A 1982 Korean book by Ko Chonggi] describes marriage through an arranged meeting as more “rational” behavior than simply falling in love because the candidates for romance and matrimony have already been carefully scrutinized by parents and matchmakers. Korean women’s magazines also emphasize the value of prior screening in choosing a mate, suggesting by the frequency with which they address this topic that their youthful readership is by no means convinced of the merits of matchmade matrimony:

Today, with the trend towards frankness in sexual matters, talk of “arranged meetings” or “matchmade marriage” might sound excessively stale. Even so, in marriage the conditions of both sides enter into things. Matchmade marriage, where you can dispassionately investigate these considerations beforehand, has some advantages that cannot be ignored (“The Secrets of a Successful Arranged Meeting,” Yong Reidi, 3 March 1985: 347).

From pages 89-90 of Getting Married in Korea: Of Gender, Morality, and Modernity (1996), by Laurel Kendall, the next page sounds a little ironic 18 years later:

The evolution of Korean courtship practices provides one excellent example of how notions of progress, of an enlightened “now” versus a repressive “then”, mask the particular disadvantages for women in new forms of matrimonial negotiations, be they “matchmade” or “for love” — a mask which sometimes slips in angry conversation or social satire. Through courtship and through all of the talk about getting married, notions of ideal “man” and “woman”, “husband” and “wife”, “son-in-law” and “daughter-in-law” are constructed, reinforced, and resisted….

….In Korean popular discourse, the evils of old-fashioned matrimony, in which near-children were forced by the will of their elders to marry total strangers, have been replaced by more enlightened practices. The “old days” are still on the horizon of living memory, but are recalled as from an utterly vanished time. In confessing that he never saw his wife’s face until his wedding night, the writer Cho P’ungyon states [in 1983] with a touch of hyperbole that “Today’s young people would consider this laughable and the faint-hearted might swoon away, but in my day these procedures were considered natural.”

(Source: Korea Portal)

The difference being that in 2012, financially-strapped singles can no longer afford to be so dismissive (nor Japanese ones either). Moreover, while they’re not marrying complete strangers perhaps, many Koreans do marry people they’ve only known a few weeks, as discussed in an earlier post. Also, some mild social coercion can indeed be involved, as Gomushin Girl explained:

It’s important to differentiate between different kinds of matchmaking arrangements…lots of Koreans use services that are similar to eHarmony, It’s Just Dinner, and other similar paid and unpaid services. Just like in the US, there’s free and paid computer matching sites, and more expensive and comprehensive personalized dating services. These offer a great deal of flexibility, and allow you to reject partners at many stages of the process – the worst consequence being that the agent in charge of finding you matches will decide you’re too picky, and start sending you “lower quality” matches. You’re free to meet multiple people at once, and they’re basically meant to facilitate dating.

However, 선 (Seon) matches are pretty different. Most of the time the people proposing the arrangement are close family or friends (of your parents), and parties are expected to make up their minds pretty quickly. Delaying too long or changing your mind after the first few dates is strongly frowned upon, and may even cause major social riftts. This means that women especially are pressured to marry people before they’re comfortable with them, and even if they’re not really what they’re looking for. Seon is serious, and you’re expected to commit yourself pretty quickly.

It’s also expected to override existing social relationships. My Korean host mother once called me up to ask if I’d go down to Busan to meet a friend’s son, who was interested in a seon meeting with me. I told her I’d just started dating someone, and her response was essentially, “That’s wonderful! When can you come to Busan?”

(Source: Sinbustory)

And on that note, let me leave you with a translation of the image that prompted this post, a poster for last week’s Slutwalk in Seoul. The slogan reads, roughly, “Let’s stop these fantasy gender roles now. Let’s play at being ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, 2012 Slutwalk Korea.” Many of the specs it mentions would be shared by people the world over, but there are also some quintessentially Korean ones:

For the “man” (literally, it says “manliness”):

  • 키180이상 Over 180cm in height
  • 전문직 A professional
  • 대기업정규직 Regular worker at a big company
  • 인서울4년제 Went to a 4-year university in Seoul
  • 자차소유 Owns a car
  • 장남아닐것 Not a first-born son
  • 데이트비용 Pays for everything on a date
  • 신혼집구입 Buys a home after marriage
  • 사회생활잘함 Good social skills
  • 성격좋음 Good personality
  • 술잘마심 A good drinker
  • 정력왕 Good sexual stamina

For the woman (“womanliness”):

  • 키170미만 Under 170cm tall
  • 몸무게50미만 Under 50 kg
  • 가슴C컵이상 A C-cup or over
  • 30살이하 30 or under
  • 날신한몸매 Thin body
  • 작고하얀얼굴 Small and white face
  • 화장은기본 Always wears make-up
  • 제모는상식 Shaves legs and underarms
  • 명품백하나쯤 Have at least one brand-name handbag
  • 애교있는성격 Have aegyo
  • 시댁을부모처럼 Treats parents-in-law like her own parents
  • 섹스경험없음 Be a virgin

Are there any others readers would add? Especially Korean ones?

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

Korean Gender Reader: Slutwalk Tomorrow!

(Source)

Starting 4pm, from Tapgol Park in Seoul. Again, see here, here, and here for the organizers’ Facebook event page, Facebook group, and blog respectively, here for an English translation of  the “Slut Walk Korea Declaration 2012″, and finally here for R0boseyo’s excellent write-up of last year’s event.

Sorry that I can’t join you Seoulites this year, and please let us all know how it goes!^^

Body Image/Health:

Both men and women may be hardwired to objectify women’s bodies (io9)

Are Men Attracted to What They Think Other Men Approve Of? (Jezebel)

Miss Korea 2012 Dubbed ‘Miss Plastic’ by Netizens (Korea Bang)

A(nother) Problematic Experience in a Korean OBGYN Clinic (Agent 071)

S-line is default dynamic pose for female comic book characters (Escher Girls)

I’m Loving It? The Fast Food Health Epidemic in Singapore (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Why is plastic surgery considered bad? (Angry K-pop Fan)

The Skinny Fat Girl (Or: It’s not just the Korean media that fatshames skinny women) (Nursing Clio)

Singapore blogger undergoes major facial surgery in Korea (Yahoo! Entertainment Singapore)

Great legs but ridiculous poses on Min Hyo-rin (Omona)

An Ugly Reflection: Plastic Surgery In Korea (Follow Your Hart)

Cosmetic Surgery Patients Getting Younger (The Chosun Ilbo)

Objectification: Nothing As Easy As It Looks (Seoulbeats)

Crime:

Repeat offenders commit half of sex crimes (The Korea Times)

Korea’s kiddie porn enforcement lax (The Marmot’s Hole)

Sex offenders poorly monitored (The Korea Times)

Children and women remain unprotected against sex crimes (The Korea Times)

Sometimes you have to wonder about the world… (The Marmot’s Hole)

Missing girl found dead in Tongyeong (The Korea Herald)

Sex-Offender Website Swamped After Child Killing (The Chosun Ilbo)

South Korean Police Tire of Abuse by Drinkers (The New York Times)

Children from poor families more likely to be targets of sexual crimes (The Hankyoreh)

Dating/Relationships/Marriage:

Celebrating 10 Years Together With My Husband (Speaking of China)

PDA in South Korea (From Korea with Love)

“The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men” Series at Gusts of Popular Feeling:

Part 8: After the ‘hidden camera sex’ report… victim hurt again through ‘comment terror’

LGBT/Sexuality:

Women’s Gait and Dancing Attractiveness Across the Menstrual Cycle (Psychology Today)

Teen prostitution – the numbers have grown, the conditions are worse (Ilda)

Shoutout: Gay Friends in Seoul

What should schools teach about sex? (The Korea Herald)

Misc:

The male feminist: a contemporary player in the fight for women’s liberation (The F-Word)

A Glimpse into the Lives of the Women of the Coalition for North Korean Women’s Rights (Ministry of Unification)

Beware of sexy waitresses in North Korean restaurants – they may be spies? (Examiner.com)

Feminist Culture Clash (Us in Busan)

Now Confucian Culture Causes Nuclear Meltdowns Too? (The Unlikely Expat)

Politics/Economics/Workplaces:

How Eve Grew up in Korea (Seoulbeats)

Womenomics for growth (The Korea Times)

Concern for Young Temporary Workers’ Rights (Human Rights Monitor)

Retirees in South Korea find it’s no country for old men (Reuters)

Pop Culture:

Nice to see a Korean MV simply featuring black people as – well, people (Mixtapes and Liner Notes)

Can you recommend the Korean route to becoming an idol? (Angry K-pop Fan)

On (Bad) Driving in Korean Popular Culture (Seoulbeats)

The Weaknesses of SM, JYP, and YG Entertainment (Allkpop)

When fans forcibly pair up two males who are actually straight (Angry K-pop Fan)

Pregnancy/Abortion/Childbirth/Demographics/Parenting/Education/Multiculturalism:

Anti-English Spectrum vs. the Asiatic Exclusion League (Gord Sellar)

One brain, two minds: The surprising impact of speaking another language (Kim Yuri)

South Korea teenagers bullied to death (CNN)

Children with Smart Phones: Are We Being Smart About It? (Human Rights Monitor)

Japanese women fall behind Hong Kong in longevity (BBC)

Weekly Chosun on multiculturalism, xenophobia (The Marmot’s Hole)

Korean Sociological Image #70: “The Healthy Man-Meat Ham”

(Source)

Alas, the irony here is probably unintentional: Koreans actually say “the water is good” (물이 좋다) when there’s lots of hot bodies around, not that it’s a meat market. So, if you want a real satire on that theme, go see Kara’s wonderful effort for Cob Chicken instead, back when male objectification in Korean ads was really taking off.

Still this commercial does make me laugh. Especially when the meat in question is miniature hot-dog sausages:

The actor is Cheon Jeong-myeong, and the company is CJ Freshian. The text reads:

사람들은 더할수록 완성된다고 믿는다 People believe that the more you add to something, the more complete it will be

하지만 더 건강한 햄은 But as for the healthy ham

빼고, 빼고, 빼고 Remove, Remove, Remove

(無) 합성아질산나트륨, 무첨가 No added sodium nitrate

(Source)

“無”, or “moo/무”,  literally means “no, not, nothing”, but here it’s also a clever pun because the Chinese/Hanja character looks like a six-pack. The usual choice though, would be “王”, or “wang/왕” , or the Korean one ““chocolate abs” (choco-lat-bok-gun/초콜릿복근) that was made popular in early-2010.

Continuing, the voiceover says:

합성착향료, 합성보존료, 에리쏘르빈산나트륨, 전분 무첨가 No added flavorings, preservatives, sodium erythorbate (an antioxidant), or flour

필요없는 것을 빼고 Remove things that are not needed

맜있게, 더 건강하게, 프리시안 더건강한 햄 Deliciously, more healthily, Freshian the healthy ham

(Source)

For comparison, see the discussion at Korean Sociological Image #35, about Lotte Chilsung’s (롯데칠성음료) 2010 commercials for “Hot 6iX” (핫식스), which featured both men’s and women’s shirts bursting open:

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

Korean Sociological Image #69: Attitudes Towards Sexual Objectification, 2004 vs. 2012

Back in 2004, I would study Korean by translating articles about Lee Hyori’s breasts. Because that was much more interesting than reading about the joys of kimchi-making in Korean textbooks.

So, I hardly romanticize that era as more innocent and chaste than today’s. Nor, by highlighting just one complaint by one women’s group from then, do I mean to imply that the Korean public was necessarily more prudish back in 2004, or that it’s necessarily more permissive today. After all, my Google News Alert for “성상품화” (sexual objectification) still provides me with fresh critiques of the recent Miss Korea Pageant every day. And who can forget the role “Bikini Girl” played in April’s congressional elections?

Having said that, things definitely have changed in 8 years:

  • Starting about 2006, ubiquitous soju ads started featuring women in revealing clothing after decades of almost exclusively using demure, virginal-looking models.
  • A little later, dominant media narratives about girl-groups, depicting middle-aged male fandom as platonic rather than sexual, provided a window for their objectification to flourish.
  • Men have also been increasingly objectified, particularly after the “chocolate abs” label was coined in 2009.
  • The number of smutty online-ads has surged, especially in the last year.
  • And last but not least, it’s difficult to find an advertisement for water-parks (also ubiquitous) that doesn’t feature a scantily-clad girl-group, with one—Ocean World—even inventing a group specifically for that purpose. (Boy bands and male models are used also, most notably by Caribbean Bay below, but my strong impression is that there’s much less of them than women)

In short, it is via the increasing objectification of (especially) girl-groups that you can see a clear McDonalidization of Korean cultural industries in recent years (see here, here, herehere, and here for more on the hows and whys). And, because of that shift, it’s difficult to imagine a complaint like this being given much attention in 2012:

전남관광 책자 두고 ‘여성상품화’ 논란 일어 / Controversy over Sexual Objectification of Women in Jeollanam-do Tourist Brochure

Oh My News, June 15 2004. By Gang Seong-gwan.

지난 6월초 전남도가 여름 관광객을 겨냥해 제작배포한 관광 홍보책자 ‘남도스케치’에 사용된 비키니 차림의 여성사진이 논란이다. 광주여성민우회는 14일 성명을 통해 “남도스케치 배포를 즉각 중단하라”고 요구하고 나섰다.

Controversy has arisen over the use of women in bikinis in the June edition of tourist brochure Namdo Sketch, a widely-distributed brochure aimed at summer tourists . In an announcement on the 14th, the Gwangju branch of Womenlink demanded that it stopped being distributed immediately.

(Source: James Turnbull)

전 남도는 ‘남도스케치’를 제작하면서 책 표지, ‘전남이 추천하는 여름 여행지 BEST’ 중 완도 명사십리 해수욕장 등 7곳을 소개하면서 비키니를 입은 여성의 사진 10여장을 게재했다. 이 책자는 겉표지까지 총 85페이지로 구성됐으며 비키니 사진은 책자 앞 부분에 게재했다. 전남도는 제작된 책자 2만여부를 터미널 등 공공장소와 전남도내 기초단체 등지에 배포를 마친 상태이며 조만간 2쇄에 들어간다는 계획이다.

이에 대해 광주여성민우회는 “여성을 성 상품화했다”면서 전남도의 공개사과는 물론 책자 배포 중단을 요구하고 나섰다.

With a cover title of “Best Recommended Tourist Sightseeing Areas in Jeollanam-do” [James – I can’t see that title myself, but unfortunately that opening photo was very small], Namdo Sketch introduces 7 tourist sights, including Wando and Myeongsashibri Beach, and uses a total of 10 pictures of women in bikinis on the front cover and in the first part of the brochure, out of 85 pages. By the end of its first printing, the Jeollanam-do Provincial Government had distributed roughly 20,000 copies to transport terminals, public places, and civic groups, and planned to make a second printing.

Gwangju Womenlink said that the brochure sexually objectified women, and demanded a public apology as a matter of course, as well as a halt on further distribution.

“여성 성 상품화 한 것, 배포 중단”…”문제제기 이해하지만, 시원한 여름을…” / “This is the sexual objectification of women, distribution must stop”…”We understand, but hey: this is summer…”

광주여성민우회는 “전남 관광홍보는 여성의 비키니만이 유일한 대안인가”라며 “공공기관에서 나온 책자인가 할 정도로 낯뜨거운 장면이 많이 실려 있어 당혹스러움과 황당함을 느낀다”고 밝혔다.

Gwangju Womenlink argued that “Are women in bikinis the only option for a tourist brochure?”, and said “We are embarrassed and perplexed that a public institution would go so far as to use such crude [James – I think this is a better translation of “낯뜨겁다” than “obscene” or “rude”] images in a tourist brochure.” (source, right)

이어 “지역에 관광객을 유치하기 위해 명소를 소개하는 것은 좋지만 관광지역의 구체적인 정보와 특색 있는 프로그램의 홍보 대신 여성의 비키니 복장을 내세워 시선을 끌어보고자 하는 공무원의 얄팍한 속셈은 용납될 수 없는 행위”라고 비판했다.

Continuing: “It is good that tourists are being attracted to this area by having places of interest introduced to them. But instead of providing concrete information and unique tourist programs, the PR simply consists of pictures of women in bikinis, designed to attract one’s attention. This is both shallow and misguided of Jeollanam-do officials, and can’t be forgiven.”

또 여성민우회는 “지역의 명소를 알려내기 위한 기본 조건은 다른 지역과 차별되는 테마를 만들어 남도만의 색다른 맛을 느끼게 하는 것이다”면서 “노력해야 할 것은 따로 있는데 엉뚱한 것으로 메꾸려는 것은 직무유기”라고 주장했다.

여성민우회는 “여성의 성 상품화를 부추기는 공공기관의 홍보책자는 결코 용납될 수 없다”면서 ‘남도스케치’의 배포중지를 요구했다.

Also, Womenlink emphasized that “What should have been done to inform tourists about places of interest was showing them how different they were to other ares and what unusual tastes, experiences, and feelings Jeollanam-do has to offer. Instead of making an effort and doing their duty though, officials offered this rubbish.”

It added that “Promoting the sexual objectification of women is never acceptable”, and so demanded an immediate halt to the distribution of the brochure.

(Sources: left, right)

이에 대해 전남도청 한 공무원은 “문제제기는 이해한다”면서도 “여성의 사진을 표지에 넣는다고 해서 이 책자가 눈길을 끌고 있는 것은 아닌 것 같다”고 말했다.

그 러나 또 다른 공무원은 “여성의 비키니 사진을 두고 상품화까지 이야기하는 것은 지나친 것 아니냐”며 “오히려 여성단체들이 그렇게 주장하면서 폄하시킨 것은 아닌지 모르겠다. 물론 어느 정도는 이해할 수 있지만 이런 사진을 많이 사용한 것도 아니지 않느냐”고 주장했다.

In response, a Jeollanam-do official said ” We understand the concerns, but it’s not because of the women in bikinis on the cover that people are drawn to the brochure.” Another emphasized that “It’s a complete exaggeration to claim that just pictures of women in bikinis is objectification. Rather, it’s women’s groups that are degrading women by doing so. And it’s not like we used many in the brochure.”

관광책자 제작 담당부서인 전남도청 관광진흥과 이명흠 과장도 “여성단체의 지적사항에 대해서 전혀 모르는 바는 아니다”면서도 “행정관청에서 발행한 책자여서 그럴텐데 여름에 맞춰서 시원한 해수욕장과 수영복을 입은 모습의 여성을 모델로 했을 뿐이다”고 말했다.

이어 이 과장은 “행정기관이 발행했다는 느낌이 들면 잘 보지 않는다. (관광객들의) 눈길을 끌 수도 있다는 생각에서 진행한 공격적인 마케팅의 일환이다”며 “너무 한쪽으로만 생각하지 말고 발상을 바꿨으면 좋겠다”고 주장했다.

(Source: Metro Seoul, 31 May 2012, p.49)

Lee Myung-hum, the head of the Tourism Promotion Office of Jeollanam-do Provincial Government that produced the brochure, said “It’s not like I don’t understand women’s groups concerns. But only swimsuits are appropriate for female models promoting cool swimming areas in the summer.” He added that “No-one ever pays attention to anything produced by a council tourism promotion office. The images were simply part of an aggressive marketing technique designed to get the attention of tourists, and shouldn’t be overanalyzed.”

한편 ‘남도스케치’ 표지모델은 전남도청 여성 공무원 중 희망자들이 참여하기도 했으며, 지난해에도 전남도는 여름 관광홍보 책자를 제작하면서 표지 등에 비키니을 입은 여성 사진을 게재한 바 있다.

The models used in the brochure included Jeollnam-do female officials [James — it says only the cover, but there were only 2 women on that], and a similar brochure was produced the previous year (end).

James — While the Jeollanam-do officials didn’t sound too sympathetic in that June 2004 article, another from the next month points out that in the second printing the bikini models were removed from the cover and 2 more pages, although some did still remain. It’s from that article that the before and after covers came from.

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

Korean Gender Reader: Slutwalk Next Saturday!

(Source)

See here, here, and here for the organizers’ Facebook event page, Facebook group, and blog respectively. Alas, there isn’t any information available in English, but R0boseyo’s excellent write-up of last year’s event gives you a good idea of what to expect.

Update: The “Slut Walk Korea Declaration 2012” has an English translation.

Body Image/Health:

Do I look fat in this country? A look at beauty ideals in Korean culture (Chatelaine)

“Rougan”: How My Husband Helped Me Love My Curves (Speaking of China)

Big Boobs in Korea (Eat Your Kimchi)

Continued Criticism of Miss Korea Pageant (Korea Human Rights News; scroll down for translation)

London 2012 Olympics: let’s celebrate sportswomen’s bodies (The Guardian)

Comic Book Industry Rejects Human-looking Female Characters (Escher Girls)

Blog Shoutout: Women’s Comic Book Poses in Real Life (Maxi and April)

Snoop Dogg vs. SONEs: The Tweet Heard ‘Round the K-popiverse (Seoulbeats)

North Korea Experts Can See a Lot in a Hemline (The New York Times; Asia Times)

Censorship:

Rolling Changes in K-pop (Seoulbeats)

China arrests 31 in U.S.-hosted porn website crackdown (People’s Daily Online)

Bill to ban alcohol ads by young celebrities (The Korea Times, EUCAM; see The Wall Street Journal also)

Crime:

Girl Posts Picture of Alleged ‘Molesting’ Man on Bus (Korea Bang)

Teen rape exposes dark side of the Korean Web (Korea Joongang Daily)

Anti-Trafficking NGO to Set Up Shop in Korea (The Chosun Ilbo)

“Looking for Pretty Women: Minimum 1 Million Won per Day” (Human Rights Monitor)

Foreign Ministry engulfed in sexual harassment case (The Korea Times)

Dating/Relationships/Marriage:

Getting Your Marriage Certificate in China (My Beijing Survival Diary)

Dating in Korea (Rok On!)

Ask the Yangxifu: My Boyfriend Doesn’t Understand My Past Child Abuse (Speaking of China)

“The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men” Series at Gusts of Popular Feeling:

Part 8: After the ‘hidden camera sex’ report… victim hurt again through ‘comment terror’

Who’s Hunting Who? (The Korea Times, The Marmot’s Hole)

Newspaper Reveals the ‘Truth’ About Foreigners in Korea (Korea Bang)

LGBT/Sexuality:

LGBT Groups Oppose Reappointment of NHRCK Byung-chul Hyun (Human Rights Monitor)

Xiyadie depicts homosexual love in Chinese paper-cuts (Los Angeles Times)

Dance, Mingle, Be Gay (Matt Lemon Photography)

Misc:

Tokyo’s new Robot Girls Restaurant will bring out your inner cyber-fetishist (io9)

London 2012: Japan, Australia and organisers face sexism claims (The Guardian)

China 2050: Caucasians to Become China’s Migrant Workers in the Future? (Chinasmack; Ministry of Tofu)

Koreans are Individualistic (in Stressful Environments) (Via Korea)

Is it okay to bar the visually impaired from bath houses? (Ilda)

Politics/Economics/Workplaces:

How to avoid false accusations of sexual harassment (I’m No Picasso)

Dreaming of a future where people finish work at 5pm (The Wall Street Journal)

Solbi shares that she was in a sexual harassment prevention video (Allkpop)

Problems with Korea’s labor law (this time from an employee perspective) (Korea Law Today)

Best Places to Work in Korea (Human Rights Monitor)

Park Geun-hye pledges after-school childcare for working couples (The Korea Times)

Are Koreans ready for woman president? (The Korea Times)

Lighting the way to female leadership (The Korea Times)

Pop Culture:

How To Be The Asian Female TV/Movie Sidekick (8asians)

Gender and Race: The Relationship Between Same-Sex Couples and Interracial Depictions in US Television (Overthinking)

Being branded as a K-pop fan (Angry K-pop Fan)

New drama series “Answer to 1997” to tackle obsessive fans (My First Love Story)

Why all the English phrases in K-pop? (Angry K-pop Fan)

Variety Screen Time: An Idol’s Ongoing Battle (Seoulbeats)

‘You only like Korean idols because they’re good looking’: the role of visuals in K-pop (Angry K-pop Fan; Part 2)

Pregnancy/Abortion/Childbirth/Demographics/Parenting/Education/Multiculturalism:

National economy threatened by shrinking population (The Hankyoreh)

After corporal punishment debate, Korean students still being hit (Asian Correspondent)

Refugee Rights Movement Finally Takes Root in Korea (Human Rights Monitor)

Mandatory HIV Testing Policy Challenged at the International Level – Korea charged with violating racial discrimination treaty (Gusts of Popular Feeling, Voice of America)

Op-Ed: A Need to Better Understand Youth Suicide Issues in Korea (Human Rights Monitor)

Life about to get enough tougher for migrant workers (The Hankyoreh)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

Handmade Korea Fair 2012

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Apologies for the off-topic post, but I thought my more artistic readers would appreciate a heads-up about this. Unfortunately, there’s no English information available on either its homepage, blog, or Facebook page, but I’m sure everyone can find COEX for themselves, and I can at least tell you that tickets are 10,000 won each. Also, see The Constant Crafter and Alien’s Day Out for write-ups about last year’s fair, here for an extensive Flickr gallery of it, and finally below for a quick video:

If anyone does go, please let me know what you thought!^^

Update: Note that the 2nd Seoul Slutwalk is also next week, on Saturday the 28th. I’ll put up a separate post about that tomorrow.

Update 2: See here for Foreigner Joy’s report on the fair.

Update 3: And here for Cute in Korea’s.

Quick Hit: Cheongju Sex-Education Camp for Teens

(Source)

Sex-education is still so severely neglected in the Korean education system, and still so stuck in the 1980s, that it’s easy to think that things will never change. Especially with an administration so opposed to women’s reproductive rights.

But it’s not all doom and gloom though, and a quick internet search reveals what seems to many camps like this across Korea each summer:

청주시, 속리산 유스타운에서 청소년 성교육 캠프 실시 / Teenage Sex-Education Camp Held at Sokrisan Youthtown, Cheongju

Newswire, 18 July 2012

청주시(한범덕 시장)는 7월 18일부터 19일까지 청주시 소재 중학교 남녀학생 62명과 함께 속리산 유스타운에서 1박 2일간 청소년기에 알아야 할 올바른 성가치관의 정립과 성행동에 대한 책임의식 고취, 청소년들의 건강한 성문화 정착을 위해 청소년 성교육 캠프를 마련했다.

From 18th to the 19th of July, 62 boys and girls from a middle school in Cheongju will attend a two day, one night sex-education camp at Sokrisan Youthtown. Its purpose is to promote healthy sex-culture among teens by instilling correct sexual values and a sense of responsibility about sexual acts.

이번 사업은 청주시여성발전기금 6백만원을 지원하여 인구보건복지협회 충북지회부설 청주성폭력상담소(소장 엄정옥) 주관 하에 청주시내에 소재한 중학교 남녀 학생 62명을 대상으로 청소년들이 직접 참여하여 눈으로 보고 체험할 수 있는 프로그램으로 운영하게 된다.

This event is organized by the Cheongju Women’s Helpline Consultation Center (Manager: Ohm Jeong-ok), part of the Cheongju branch of the Planned Population Federation of Korea, and was provided with 6 million won by the Cheongju Women’s Development Center. It will give 62 Cheongju male and female middle-school students a chance to experience things directly and see them with their own eyes.

전체 62명을 6개조 모둠으로 구성하여 지도교사(성교육전문가)의 진행 하에 모둠별 집단 프로그램, 신체관련 모형 만들기, 눈으로 보는 성교육(임신·출산·낙태·피임방법·성병)과 청소년 성폭력 예방 동영상을 시청하고 서바이벌게임과 황톳길체험, 별빛 성축제를 통하여 또래 간 친화와 화합의 시간을 갖는다.

The 62 students will be in split into 6 groups, each under the control of a teacher specializing in sex-education. They will progress through various programs, including: making body shapes [James – possibly that’s what they’re doing in the picture below, taken later]; receiving visual education [James – ?] related to pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, contraception, and STDs; watching teenage sexual violence prevention videos; doing survival games; going hiking; and making friendships through a “Starlight Sex Festival”.

(Source)

또 성개방화·성상품화로 인해 다양한 청소년 성문제가 사회문제로 확산되고 있고 급속한 산업화로 인한 잘못된 정보의 홍수 속에서 자칫 일탈의 길로 접어 들기 쉬운 청소년기에 이들의 눈높이에 맞는 성교육 캠프활동을 통하여 올바른 성가치관을 심어주고 성행동에 대한 책임의식을 함양하여 문제를 스스로 예방하고 대처할 수 있는 성적 의사결정 능력을 키우기 위한 일환으로 마련됐다.

Because of greater sexual liberalization [James — meant in a negative sense, i.e. greater exposure to sex in the media and earlier and more frequent sexual experience], teenagers have various sexual problems, which are becoming society’s problems. But because of industrialization [James – the rise of the internet?] there is a lot of incorrect information about sex out there, and it is very easy for teens to take the wrong path. Through an age-appropriate program, this event is designed to instill correct sexual values, to promote sexual responsibility, and to help students themselves prevent sexual problems and make decisions.

청주시 관계자는 “청소년 성문제는 개인의 문제가 아니라 우리사회 전체의 책임이므로 이번 행사가 청소년들에게 올바른 성 가치관을 정립할 수 있는 좋은 기회가 되길 바란다”고 밝혔다.

A Cheongju city official said: “Teenage sexual problems are not just person problems, but all society’s responsibility. I hope this event gives teenagers a good opportunity to gain correct sexual values.”