Gangnam Style Minus Gangnam Style

As The Daily What put it:

It seems now that we’ve moved beyond parodies and imitation for Gangnam Style, descending into bizarre postmodern art.

Not unrelated, earlier today I saw a Klingon parody…

…and when I did, I seriously had to sit down for a moment, and just marvel at how weird, wonderful, and utterly surreal and sublime it was to be living in 2012. How could I ever have imagined that, one morning, I’d be dancing along to people dressed in Star Trek uniforms (of all things), imitating a South Korean music video, that over 320 million people had seen? Then in the same evening, staring in horrified fascination — and laughing myself silly — at another version that had no actual music?!!

Best Chuseok EVER!

(Via: My Current Insanities)

Korean Gender Reader

(“Oohlala Spouses makes best poster ever” — Dramabeans. Source)

This new theme is AWESOME, yes?^^ Have a happy Chuseok everybody!

Body Image, Health

Seoul Cosmetic Surgery Clinic Looking for (Naked) Before and After Models (The Marmot’s Hole)

Why the Rise of Asia In Fashion Isn’t As Beautiful As It Seems (Speakeasy)

Korean eunuchs reveal clues to why women live longer than men (BBC; see also Science)

What rejuvenates my vagina?!?! Not Lasers!!! (Korean Gender Cafe)

It takes hundreds of employees, thousands of hours and millions of dollars to launch a mass market lingerie line. And one blogger to take it all down. (Racebending; see also Bitch)

How do you explain the Gramscian concept of hegemony to a 10 year old? (Tales of Wonderlost)

Censorship, Media

Teen sexualization on TV faces stronger censorship (The Korea Times; see also The Korea Herald)

New Term: “White Endorsement Monkey” and “White Defamation Monkey” (Gord Sellar)

Men finally behave badly (The Korea Times)

“Unqualified foreign instructor” problem…in 1973 (Gusts of Popular Feeling)


I cannot remember a period of time in my life when I was not scared by older ahjussis (Lost in Traffic Lights)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

Culture and Language Issues in Foreign/Korean Relationships (I’m No Picasso II)

Dating Asian Women When You’re an Asian Guy (Radical Ramblings)

Marriages between North American(?) men, Korean women top 2,000 in 2011 (The Korea Times)

Male writer and I have a Korea / dating column starting in October’s 10mag (Meet me at the wall)

What’s the REAL appeal of a Samsung or LG guy? (Dating in Korea)

SECRET’s Hyosung says her ideal type is a stalker … great (Asian Junkie)

Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Parents Refuse to Meet Me (Speaking of China)

Why I have no female Chinese friends (Seeing Red in China)

Are Yangxifu (The Western Wives of Chinese Men) More Difficult Wives? (Speaking of China)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Breaking the promise of universal day care (The Hankyoreh; see also Korea Joongang Daily)

Funny, sad, and revealing answers to questions from Korean students (South Korea)

Adventures in Parenting Abroad Pt. 3: The End is Just the Beginning (The Three Wise Monkeys)

“The Challenges of Korean Education in Historical Perspective” Asia Institute Seminar with Professor Michael Seth (Korea: Circles and Squares)

A Trojan Wall of Separation: The Battle Over South Korean Textbooks (Busan Haps)

South Korea to probe corruption in international high schools (Asian Correspondent)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces

Low Unemployment Rates, But No Jobs for Youths or Women (The Korea Economic Daily)

Park Geun-hye: Female President, Patriarchal Society? (Roboseyo)

Feeling the pinch: The housewives of Japan are giving less spending money to their husbands (The Economist)

Asia Institute Seminar on ‘Women in Science’ in Seoul (Korea: Circles and Squares)

Gangnam Style

The Obligatory Gangnam Style Post (Ask a Korean!)

PSY And The Acceptable Asian Man (Racialicious)

Is “Gangnam Style” a Hit Because of Our Asian Stereotypes? (Mother Jones)

Growing Up Gangnam-Style: What the Seoul Neighborhood Was Really Like (The Atlantic)

Dead horse (Liminality)

Gangnam Style’s Irony is Missed b/c of the Publicity Wave (Asian Security Blog)

On Gangnam Style (The Korea Times)

What’s so funny about Gangnam Style? (The Guardian)

Why Psy and not JYP? (The Korea Times)

A Few Things JYP Can Learn From Psy for Wonder Girls’ American Venture (Seoulbeats)

The Gangnam Phenom (Foreign Policy)

LGBT, Sexuality

A Different Color of Sexual Identity (The Yonsei Annals)

Former senior police officer: “Registered brothels needed” (The Korea Times)

Queering Korean Literature: Author and Activist Yi Gwang-su (The Three Wise Monkeys)

Beware of people asking you for 키알 / 섹알 (Hangukdrama and Korean)

Why are men so obsessed with breasts? (io9)

Reading List: Mapping the Vicissitudes of Homosexual Identities in South Korea (The Kimchi Queen)

Dirty Little Secrets: A variety of Korean Sex Links (The Marmot’s Hole)


The death of the red ink taboo in Korea (The Marmot’s Hole)

Meeting the Mannam Cult: My Korean volunteerism at an end (Travel Blog)

Crazy beautiful: Understanding the Korean mind (WND Diversions)

Pop Culture

The Korean Wave and the Question of Soft Power (Seoulbeats)

Nice Guy: Han Jae Hee Character Analysis (Idle Revelry)

“Courtship is usually portrayed (in heterosexual pairings) as something a man does; it’s an act he performs, while the woman is passive and simply receives his love. If she rejects him, it doesn’t mean he should stop, it simply means he has to try harder.”

Review: Words of Farewell Fiction by Korean female writers (Korean Modern Literature in Translation)

Revisiting the women who changed Korea with their pens (Yahoo!)

I ain’t here to make you honkies laugh! (The Marmot’s Hole)

Review: “Style” by RaNia (Mixtapes and Liner Notes)

Review: T-ara’s “Sexy Love” is the sound of the girl group in crisis, and the song’s mock-seductive chorus goes just a step too far (Occupied Territories)

Nothing like a healthy dose of fangirling (Hangukdrama and Korean)

This is why you can’t lump “Asia” together (SNSD Free For All)

How to make sure there are more “Pieta”s for the Korean film business (The Hankyoreh; see also this interview of Cho Min-soo)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

Open Thread: Flashback by After School

Just a quick note to let you know that in addition to my regular feature articles at Busan Haps, I now have a K-pop music column too. See page 41 of the latest issue here (scroll down to “current issue”) for my first review of After School’s Flashback, before it’s replaced next week with my second of Secret’s Poison in the October edition.

At just 200 words though (thank God for mini-albums!), unfortunately it’s difficult to say much more than the bare minimum.  So, please feel free to add any rants or raves here, and, to get the ball rolling, I think that Eyeliner is much better than the title track, and singer Nana vastly underrated by most other reviewers. But, since first writing, I’m beginning to see what people mean about Rania and Jungah complimenting each other in Timeless too, although the song itself still leaves me feeling rather empty.

Here’s all the songs in the mini-album (and the Japanese version of Rip Off), in the order I mention them in the review:


Related Posts:

No V-lines Required: Miss Korea in the 1960s

(Source: Munhwa Ilbo)

Alas, this brief article from today’s Munhwa Ilbo isn’t exactly a scathing critique of Korea’s body-labeling craze, and I don’t mean to imply that there aren’t much more substantial ones out there. But still, it’s good to be quickly reminded that perhaps “V-lines” aren’t as necessary as pop-culture icons would like us to think (e.g., see ZE:A in Brazil below), and I hope the photo makes it to the front page of major Korean portal sites.

See here or here for better quality versions, or here and here for pictures of the 1957 and various 1970s contestants respectively.

60년대 미스코리아는 ‘V라인 아닌 건강미’ / In the 1960s, Miss Korea Had a Healthy Beauty, not a V-line.

‘미인’의 기준은 문화와 관습에 따라 다르지만 시대에 따라서도 변합니다.

The criteria for a beautiful woman depend on time, culture, and customs.

사진을 보면 1960년 미스코리아 선발대회에 나온 여성들은 건강미가 넘쳤습니다. 당시에는 서구적인 마스크를 선호했다고 하죠. 1980년대 이후 한동안 도시형 미인이 인기를 끌었고, 요즘은 ‘V라인’의 작은 얼굴과 뚜렷한 이목구비가 대세라고 합니다. 성형미인도 많아졌고요.

If you look at this photo of the 1960 Miss Korea contest, you see women overflowing with healthy beauty, [even though] it is said that people preferred Western masks [looks?] then. [But] from the 1980s, for a while urban beauties were preferred, and these days having a V-line and distinct facial characteristics are huge trends. There are many cosmetic surgery beauties.

1957년 시작된 미스코리아 선발대회는 초창기 큰 인기를 모았습니다. 공중파 TV를 통해 전국에 생중계됐고, 수상자들은 카퍼레이드까지 하며 미를 뽐내기도 했었죠. 그러다 여성단체 등의 ‘성상품화 조장’ 반발로 2002년 이후 공중파에서는 중계를 하지 않고 있습니다.

(Source: Yufit)

Starting in 1957, from the beginning the Miss Korea contest was very popular. From being shown live on TV, to winners taking part in car parades, their beauty was shown off. However, later women’s groups denounced it as promoting sexual objectification, and from 2002 it was only allowed to be shown live on cable.

예전에는 미스코리아 선발대회를 통해 연예계로 진출하는 경우도 많았지만 요즘은 오디션 프로그램 등 연예계로 나설 방법이 다양하게 생겨났습니다. 그래서인지 대회의 인기가 예전만 못합니다.

In the past, there were many cases of Miss Korea contest participants entering into the entertainment industry through the competition, but these days there are a variety of audition programs that provide the same opportunity. Because of that, the contest can’t reach the level of popularity that it enjoyed in the past. (End.)

Update: Here’s a video of the 1981 to 2008 winners. As one of the commenters on YouTube put it, it’s interesting to see how much their faces seem to change from the late-1990s onwards.

Korean Gender Reader and TGN Meetup


Yes, my KTX tickets and hotel are all booked. Hope to see you at Gyeongbokgung Station (경복궁), exit 3, at 6pm tomorrow! :D


Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association looking for 10 volunteers to go on this year’s Chuseok camp to Yeoncheon (Tales of Wonderlost; see also What is KUMFA)

Body Image,Health

Pandora by KARA: Appropriate for Playing on City Buses? (Alleyways)

Hands, Hips, Legs and Butts: Girl Groups’ Dances (Seoulbeats)

Beautiful Genes? But ‘Idol’ Looks Good On Everyone (Seoulbeats)

G-Dragon receives attention for his womanly curves in “Crayon” MV (Allkpop; see also Occupied Territories)

Censorship, Media

Does Secret Need To Change Their Choreography? (Seoulbeats; see also What’s Your Poison and SB Exchange #25: It’s Secret Time)

Sadism, incest, bestiality, oh my! (The Marmot’s Hole; see also The Herald Voice on Facebook)

Regulation of Users Required to Use Real Name Online Abolished (Human Rights Monitor)

New Regulations on Downloading Porn Confuse Netizens (Korea BANG)


More sex offenders to be chemically castrated (The Hankyoreh)

Sexual Assault Against Children (Human Rights Monitor)

Random Stabbings in Seoul Brings Social Instability (Human Rights Monitor)

So, did banning prostitution lead to increase in sex crimes? (The Marmot’s Hole)

Sex Criminal Escapes from Jail In Daegu (ROK Drop)

Amy Arrested for Illegally Using Propofol (Omona They Didn’t!)

Foreign teacher sent to prison for molesting students (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

Comparing Marriage in the Middle Ages and Korea’s Choson Dynasty: 서양의 중세 초기와 조선의 결혼비교 (Korean Gender Cafe)

Marry my Asian Daughter: For all the sassified, successfully single sisters who are in constant disappointment to their loving Asian mothers

Craigslist ad (Dating in Korea)

Guy Talk: I Date Outside My Race Because My Race Doesn’t Want To Date Me (The Frisky)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Tiger mothers in Singapore: The prime minister goes into battle against pushy parents (The Economist)

Non-traditional families on the rise in South Korea (Asian Correspondent)

Why the Korean School System Is Not Superior (New Politics)

Korean-Australian woman finds she was falsely adopted (Tales of Wonderlost)

Went to see 미쓰마마 (Bittersweet Joke), a documentary about unwed mothers in Korea (Tales of Wonderlost)

Babies’ Lead Levels: Who knew baby-proofing could reach such heights? (Shotgun Adventures)

Schools successfully experimenting with vegetarian meals (The Hankyoreh)

Multicultural students jump 5-fold over past 6 years (The Korea Times)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces

Mother’s Job Most Important Factor in Having 2nd Child (The Chosun Ilbo)

Mistreatment of Part-time Workers (Human Rights Monitor)

Nobody Told Asia About “The End of Men”: Mara Hvistendahl takes on Hanna Rosin (Foreign Policy)

Directing all my rage at Slate’s logrolling of “The End of Men” (Feminéma)

The-End-of-Men-Richer-Sex Reality Check #6 (Sociological Images)

What is Violence in the Workplace? 2-Page Guide Translated into Korean (Worksafe BC; PDF)

LGBT, Sexuality

Reading List: Korean Lesbians and Heteronormativity: From the Experiences of Six South Korean Lesbians (The Kimchi Queen)

Queer Offerings at the Busan International Film Festival (The Kimchi Queen)

Survey: Japanese school girls having less sex (Asian Correspondent)

South Korean host bars – for women (BBC)

What is a Room Salon? (Korea Law Today)

S Korea transgender show scrapped after protests (The Hong Kong Standard; Korea Joongang Daily)

Pop Culture

Koreans Have No Idea Why Americans Love Psy But They Can Learn From It (Asian Junkie)

Commentary: Psy and the Acceptable Asian Man (Init_Music)

Viral Video Gets North Korean Propaganda Treatment (The New York Times)

Korean wave and the Gangnam style (ABC Radio Australia; radio program)

Graphic: Number of views of K-pop Videos on Youtube, 2011 (SERI World)

An Ode to the Stellar Females in Variety (Seoulbeats)

Why have Korean dramas eclipsed even Mexican or Latin American serials and long-running American soaps? (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Review: Wayfarer: New Fiction By Korean Women (Korean Modern Literature in Translation)

Social Problems

The Truth Behind Students’ Suicide (Human Rights Monitor)

September Issue: Opening the Dialogue on Suicide (KoreAm)

Runaways flee abuse at home, end up in prostitution (The Hankyoreh)

South Korea: Golden Lion Winner ‘Pieta’ Reveals Society’s Dark Side (Global Voices)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

For S. Korean men, makeup a foundation for success


In The Associated Press today. Please see here if you would like a fuller explanation of my comments in it though — naturally, author Foster Klug had to miss out a great deal of what was discussed in our interview!

Update: By popular demand, here is the quintessential kkotminam commercial, from 2003:

The black-haired man is now retired soccer player Ahn Jung-hwan (안정환), the blonde actor Kim Jae-won (김재원).