She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music(Source)

Just a quick note to apologize for the slow posting everyone. Actually, I’m not taking a holiday (although Christmas was a little busy), it’s just that my next post is taking longer than expected. But rest assured that it’ll be up on Monday sometime next week (update: forgot that my kids were off next week sorry!).

In the meantime, my latest article for Busan Haps, “K-girl Power: The emerging trend of empowerment and sexuality in K-pop,” is available here, a condensed version of this post. And, as a Christmas present to myself, I’ve just ordered — squeee! — the third edition of She Bop above, just released this month; The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf (my other copy is in my mother’s spare room, and my friend’s gift of a PDF just isn’t cutting it!); Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, by Richard Burger; and finally, belatedly, Tune by Derek Kim.

If anyone’s read any of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And Happy New Year everybody!

Korean Gender Reader, December 15-21

Park Geun-hye(Source)

For anyone interested in my thoughts about the election result, Vishakha N. Desai at the Asia Society sums them up much better than I could:

The fact that so many Asian countries have accepted women as political leaders and heads of state long before Americans have managed to put a woman in the White House has led some observers to believe that it must mean Asian societies are ahead of the Western world in accepting women in leadership roles. The truth is far more complex than the simplistic observation that this automatically means women will benefit from such role models at the pinnacle of their power. In the case of Park, she may have earned the position on her own merits more than other female counterparts, but that doesn’t mean her leadership will bode well for women’s rights in South Korea or the region during her tenure.

See Tales of Wonderlost here and here for short but telling summaries of exactly what Park Geun-hye has done for women’s rights so far; National Public Radio and Arirang for people’s expectations of her in this regard; and Bloomberg for more on the paradox of why Asia leads the globe in the number of years women have ruled, yet also leads the globe in gender discrimination (Hint: Many of those leaders come from political dynasties). Also, I think it says a lot about a candidate’s and his or her party’s democratic credentials when they refuse to extend voting hours to allow more people of working age to vote, effectively disenfranchising them.

Other interesting reporting on the election include what it says about Korea’s rapidly aging population and increasingly large generation gap; and Roboseyo’s suggestions that Park Geun-hye should (but probably won’t) cut the government’s extensive ties to mass media (the role of biased reporting in the elections was also mentioned at Global Voices), as well as radically reforming the National Security Law.

Update: Seungsook Moon’s article at CNN is also a must-read.


Auditions in Gwangju for The Vagina Monologues – Feb 3 (Korea Maria)

Survey: How do you keep in contact with Koreans? (Loving Korean)

Body Image, Health

Korean Teens Ask ‘Please Rate My Face’ on Online Community (KoreaBANG)

Looking Pretty In North Korea (NK News)

Dueji and ‘Diet’ stamps: the importance of weight in Korea vs. the United States (Mapping Words)

Girl’s Day Yura’s cute tummy flab ‘looks good’ (Netizen Buzz)

Plastic Face — Grimes and Brown Eyed Girls (Frank Kogan)

Honesty is the Best Policy for B.E.G and Plastic Surgery (Seoulbeats)

Local lads slap on Korean makeup for K-pop look (Asiaone Showbiz)

“Beauty” According to Google (Tales of Wonderlost)

A Video about Fashion and also Beauty in Korea (Foreigner Joy)

The absence of help: a Korean girl’s testimony on recovering from an eating disorder (Mapping Words)

Meet 1912’s Perfect Woman: Pear-Shaped, 171 Lbs, Doesn’t Know Fear (Jezebel)

Samsung chip plant caused woman’s breast cancer, S. Korean gov’t agency rules (Monster Island; ILDA)

Censorship, Media

Teenagers’ Exposure to Sex in the Media (South Korea Human Rights Monitor)

Grab them while you can: Hara, HyunA, and Hyorin’s ‘Chum-Churum’ CFs to be taken down (Omona They Didn’t; Netizen Buzz; The Chosun Ilbo; allkpop)


New police guideline allows easier house searches (The Korea Herald)

USFK Soldier Sentenced To More Time In Korean Jail for Drugs Than A Korean Received for Rape (ROK Drop)

A Crackdown on Sex Crimes Against Children? What Crackdown? (Expat Hell)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

Female Body Issues That Arise When Dating Asian Men (AMWW Magazine)

Christmas in Korea: It’s time for romance! (Seoulbeats)

How Did You Know He/She Was The One? (Geek in Heels)

On My Negative Dating Experiences With Chinese Men, and Why I Still Kept Smiling About China’s “Dating Scene” (Speaking of China)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Apparently Being a Student-Parent is a “Colossal Blunder” (Omona They Didn’t)

Adoptee’s search strikes a chord (Korea Joongang Daily)

Why are Korean men estranged from their families? (The Korea Times)

Vietnamese Population on Rise in Korea (Arirang)

A day in the life of a Chinese kindergarten – in pictures (The Guardian)

Pregnant pause (The Hong Kong Standard)

Sex-Specific Toy Preferences: Learned or Innate? (Homo Consumericus)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces, Ladygate

Our New President: the Views of Korea’s Young Women (The Three Wise Monkeys)

Female business owners rank higher than men in particular areas (Korea Joongang Daily)

Justifying Conscription? (Sorry, I Was Drunk)

What Conscription Really Means for Koreans (Beyond Hallyu; update)

S. Korea to cut mandatory military duty by three months (Yonhap)

Closing the Gender Gap: A short PDF introduction (OECD)

Migrant workers report physical abuse, wage discrimination (The Hankyoreh; see here also)

51% of Japanese public thinks wives should stay home (The Daily Yomiuri)

Japan’s Suicidal Salarymen Are Dying for Work (Vice)

Global Times to leftover women: Find a gay best friend because no-one else will love you (Shanghaiist)

LGBT, Sexuality

I Will NOT Love You Long Time (Fuck yeah, feminists!)

Yet another sexy reason why robots will replace humans [NSFW] (io9)

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

So I take it the classroom will be a homosexuality-free zone? (The Marmot’s Hole)

Reading List: Homosexuality in ancient and modern Korea (The Kimchi Queen)

More Men Kissing Men Please: The Need for LGBT Representation (The One Shots)

Here’s some news about the only gay men to exist in Korea (Omona They Didn’t)

Reading List: Queer North Korea (The Kimchi Queen)

Pop Culture

From Sexual to Sensual (Seoulbeats)

T-ara turns down alcohol cf but gets on board with Pachinko ad (Omona They Didn’t; Netizen Buzz)

What’s in a Logo? (Seoulbeats)

End of the Road?: Ten Rookies We May Not See Come 2013 (MTVK)

Koreaboo: Phase or Foe? (Seoulbeats)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

The Korea Herald: Should pornography be censored?

Pornography Censorship(Source)

I make a brief appearance in the Korea Herald today, in an article by John Power on the recent government crackdown on pornography. With his permission, here are all of his original questions and my replies, with some links for further reading:

1. Do you foresee the Korean public becoming increasingly unhappy with the heavy censorship of pornography and other sexual content in the short term? Or do you think a largely conservative Korean public will remain happy with the status quo?

In all my 12 years in Korea, ordinary Koreans have loudly and consistently complained of being treated like children by censors. But the censorship of movies has been considerably relaxed in recent years (recall that the Korean Supreme Court overturned a ban on Shortbus for instance), and even the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has begun to acknowledge its own excesses with music videos. So this latest crackdown actually goes against recent trends, and I expect it to face a lot of opposition.

2. Often, censorship is justified to protect young people. Do you think there is a feasible way of protecting youth, while not controlling what adults wish to see?

Frankly I don’t, but this is a dilemma faced by every democracy. Most, however, don’t resort to the draconian restrictions imposed by the Korean government, yet somehow have equal or lower rates of sex crimes by and/or against minors nonetheless.

(“Because I’m a man / 남자기 때문에.” For English subtitles, click on “captions”)

3. A local site pornography site called Soranet had 600,000 subscribers before it was shut down in 2004, showing the widespread nature of its consumption. Do you think the government is fighting a losing battle in trying to ban such material?

If nothing else, banned sites will remain available via proxy servers, but I’m sure young, tech-savy Koreans won’t need to resort to using those. With the proviso that of course the government should continue to monitor the pornography industry as a whole, to prevent exploitation and the use of minors, you have to question the government’s zeal in attacking an otherwise victimless activity, and which there is clearly a huge demand for. Surely the time and resources could be better spent? Perhaps on more up-to-date and effective sex-education, so people could better judge the supposed harmful effects of pornography for themselves?

4. What do you think is the true motivation for censorship of adult content in Korea? Or, put another way, do you think there are sometimes hidden agendas at play?

As someone who notoriously devoted Seoul to God as mayor, and who believes that (re)criminalizing abortion is an effective method of raising the birth rate, clearly Lee Myung-bak’s conservative and religious beliefs are playing a big role here. That aside, blaming pornography for sex crimes, and censoring it on that basis, is also an easy way for the ruling party to appear to be doing something to address public concerns during its candidate’s presidential election campaign, yet without doing anything about their real causes whatsoever.

Ga-in's BEG Concert Teaser(Source)

5. Do you think there are double standards at play in the how and what content is restricted?

If we’re talking specifically about pornography, then no. As for K-pop however, both fans’ widespread perceptions and the empirical evidence suggests that female entertainers are disproportionately censored, often for things that make entertainers are allowed to do scotfree. In particular, whenever female entertainers present themselves as sexual subjects rather than just objects for the male gaze, then the ironically-named Ministry of Gender Equality and Family can be expected to come down hard on them. A good recent case of this is the ban placed on Ga-in’s Bloom, a rare song about sexual awakening from a woman’s perspective, whereas the Ministry had no problem with the gratuitous skin shots in Hyuna’s Ice Cream.

What do you think?

SNL 코리아 Satirizes Korea’s Cosmetic Surgery Craze (Translation)

SNL Korea Plastic Face 1(Source)

And, crucially, it doesn’t just poke fun at the obvious negatives, but also at the public discourses surrounding the industry. Namely, the hypocrisy of the men who loudly criticize women who get operations, yet shamelessly admire the results.

In addressing such a gendered contradiction, it strongly reminds of the messages in Miss A‘s (미쓰에이) Bad Girl, Good Girl (배드걸 굿걸). It also happens to be hilarious too, one of several skits by the Brown Eyed Girls (브라운아이드걸스) on the show last week.

In this one, the main character is Narsha (나르샤), joined by co-member JeA (제아) and Miryo (미료) (Ga-in /가인 is absent). None of the other actors are familiar, but I can find out who they are if anyone is interested:

Here’s my translation. Apologies in advance for any mistakes, but frankly there were some very new words that even my wife didn’t know (let alone be in my smartphone dictionary), and of course the swear words especially are open to interpretation!

너쌍꺼풀 수술했지?

너 코도 했지?


난 자연 미인이 좋아

You got double-eyelid surgery, right?

A nose-job too, yes?


I [only] like natural beauties.

SNL Korea Plastic Face 2(Source)

아무리 예뻐도 성형하면 싫어

웃겨 니들 사실 알아보지도 못해 (병X들)

니들이 좋아하는 얘네도 다 한 거야

X같은 것들이 항상 성괴라고 욕해

However pretty we become, you hate it when we get cosmetic surgery

That’s funny…you guys don’t actually recognize us (jerks!)

The girls you like, got everything done

Guys like that always swear at [criticize?] women who become “plastic surgery monsters”

SNL Korea Plastic Face 3(Source)

오오 오오오~

고경표 신동엽 강진도 헀을걸?


눈했어 코 했어 그래 싹 다 바꿨어 턱했어

(압구정역 4번 출구)

맞았어 넣었어 그래 싹 다 갈았어 다헀어

(강남역 10번 출구)

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x4)

Probably Go-gyeong Pyo, Shin Dong-yeob, and Gang-jin all got it done


[People] get their eyes done, their noses done…they change everything…they get their jaws done

(Apgujeong Station Exit #4)

That’s right, they put [botox? silicone?] in…Really, they change everything

(Gangnam Station, Exit #10)

Plastic Face (x4)

SNL Korea Plastic Face 4(Source)

네 여자친구 성형 안했을 거 같지

했어도 눈코 정도 했을 겉 같지 (x밥들)

들어 봤니 눈코 입돌려 깎기 양약

너 환장하는 그 가슴은 물방울 코젤

오오 오오오~

너보다 훨 알럽 의느님

You think your girlfriend didn’t get anything done?

And even if you think she did, you think she just got her eyes and nose done? (You fucking dickheads)

Have you heard of maxillofacial surgery, which involves breaking the upper and lower jaw?

The breasts you’re crazy about are just saline implants

Oh oh, oh oh oh ~

She will probably love her Doctor God more than you

SNL Korea Plastic Face 5(Source)

똑같아 똑깥아

니얼굴 내얼굴 다 똑같아

압구정동에서 했니

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x4)

또또또 똑같아 모두다 같아

They’re the same, they’re the same

Their faces are all the same

Did they all get them done in Apgujeong?

Plastic Face (x4)

They’re all the same, they’re all the same

SNL Korea Plastic Face 6(Source)

우릴 욕할 때가 아냐 거울 좀봐

눈코 입은 요좀 헐값

명품가방 살돈으로

눈코 입을 달아

세트로 하면 디씨돼

친구랑 가면

더 디씨

부끄럽게 생각 마

자신감이 중요해

It’s not time to swear at us, look at yourself in the mirror

Nose, eye, and mouth-jobs are so cheap

With the money for a brand name bag

You can get a new face

If you get them all done as a set you can get a discount

If you get them done with your friends at the same time, you can get even more of a discount

Don’t be embarrassed

Confidence is important

SNL Korea Plastic Face 8(Sources: above, below)

당당해 당당해 우린 너무 당당해


(과거 사진 X까라해)

꺼내봐 꺼내봐

네 얼굴에 가려진 매력들

(넌시X 존X 매력있어)

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x2)


당당해 우린

프프프플라스틱 페이스 (x2)SNL Korea Plastic Face 7

Bold, Confident, We are all so bold and confident

We are satisfied

(Don’t you ever fucking show old photos)

Bring out those changes to your face that you hid

(You’re fucking hot now)

Plastic Face

Bold, Confident

Plastic Face

(Hat tip to dogdyedblack)

Update: Naturally, a translation from earlier today popped up shortly after I finished this post. But which I couldn’t find at all when I decided to write it!

Swallowing my pride (and several hours’ worth of effort), I have to admit that it’s much better than mine (although—*sniff*—I still disagree with a few lines here and there):

Korean Gender Reader, December 8-14

Jo Kwon I'm Da One(Source)

Not related to any of the stories sorry — I just love the colors, and the retro look. But see pop reviews now if you’d like to know more about his album.


Queer Shorts Shot on Smart Phones Film Festival, December 22nd (The Kimchi Queen)

Body Image, Health

Masseurs find narcissists easy prey (Korea Joongang Daily)

Pretty boys and dancing divas give South Korean cosmetics Asian appeal (Reuters)

More handsome men entering women-heavy professions in Korea (The Dong-a Ilbo)

Do Koreans and Korean Americans have different standards for if someone looks “American”? (I’m No Picasso)

The Real Bodies Manifesto: Finding Each Other (8asians)

So … did Shin Se Kyung have plastic surgery or not? (Asian Junkie)

“My, What Healthy Breasts You Have!” (said no one, ever) (Nursing Clio)

Fashion Interviews: A Shot of Soju With Monika Rofler (chincha)

Censorship, Media

SKorea’s porn fight ‘like shoveling in a blizzard’ (The Marmot’s Hole)

‘Cheongdamdong Alice’ apologizes for offensive words spotted on screen (allkpop)

Park Geun-hye Rally Photo Doctored Ahead of Election (koreaBANG)

Korean CF Types: The dance, the star power, the drama (Hangukdrama and Korean)

Facial Recognition Technology and Privacy Issues (Visual Anthropology of Japan)

Yoon Il Sang: “It’s Sad That Korean Media Tries to Find Humor by Putting Down Their Wives” (soompi)


Myeong-dong Hiking Club still pimping Korean girls to Japanese tourists, doing very little hiking (The Marmot’s Hole)

Subway stations main location for sex trade of runaway youths (The Korea Times)

Man rapes mentally handicapped kid, walks on appeal because he shows regret (The Marmot’s Hole)

“I Want to Throw Flowers”: a series that records the experiences of a survivor of sexual violence (ILDA South Korean Feminist Journal)

So, just to be clear, it’s OK for a teacher to have sex with a 12-year-old student as long as the student wants it? (The Marmot’s Hole; Waygook)

A heartfelt and concise piece on what “human trafficking” really means (Japan Subculture Research Center)

Japan’s ‘life-less’ anti-stalking laws are costing lives to be lost (The Japan Times)

Is self-defense properly recognized? (The Korea Herald)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

Tharp On: Marriage (Busan Haps)

Websites Sell Burmese Brides to Chinese Bachelors (The Irrawaddy)

The Romance Issue (Mochi Magazine)

Interracial Dating 2: Black Women & Asian Men desexualized? (The Vanguard Element)

Exhibition journeys into Asian marriage customs (The Korea Herald)

Six Chinese Men in the Movies Who Loved Western Women, from Least Sexy to Most Sexy (Speaking of China)

China’s Singles’ Day Beats the US’ ‘Black Friday’ On E-Sales (chinaSMACK)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Study: Korean students excel in math and science, but lack confidence (The Hankyoreh)

Why I gave my daughters English names (BBC)

How I Learned to Love College By Rejecting the Model Minority Stereotype (Mochi Magazine)

Seoul lays out new support plans for multicultural families, foreigners (asiaone)

US Soldier – Filipina mixed kids acquire illegal immigrant status before they are born (The Marmot’s Hole)

What’s for Dinner? One mother’s adventure in maintaining a balanced diet for her Chinese-Canadian baby (bejingkids)

Disposable diapers or bare bottoms? China frets over potty training (Christian Science Monitor)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces, Ladygate

Workplace discrimination prompts ‘whitened’ job applications (BBC)

Why are so few educated Asian women marrying? (Marginal Revolution)

S. Korea’s gender wage gap highest among OECD (MK Business News)

Women in North Korea: ‘Men can’t earn enough money so it’s our job now’ (The Guardian)

Park Geun-hye: Female Presidential Candidate (Korean Gender Cafe)

As South Korea Tackles Drinking Culture, Samsung Sets Guidelines (Korea Realtime)

Three out of four sexual harassment victims are women in their 20s and 30s and half of it occurred at the workplace (The Korea Times)

Ri Sol-ju, Conspicuous Wealth, and the “Military Wife” Type in the DPRK (SINO-NK)

‘Korea still male-dominated’ (The Korea Times)

Korean Through K-pop 101: The Bean Paste Girl (Seoulbeats)

South Korea’s Forgotten War (The Atlantic)

Is South Korea ready for “Madam President”? (Reuters)

China’s Job Market Tightens for Young Foreigners (The New York Times)

McKinsey & Company Report on the Job Market for New Korean Graduates (Korea Business Central)

LGBT, Sexuality

Venery and the sin of transgression in Joseon Korea (The Marmot’s Hole)

On Sex In The US, and How My Husband Taught Me the Word “Sao” (Speaking of China)

Women rights advocates call on China’s population planning officials to de-link household registration from compulsory fitting of IUDs (Radio Free Asia)

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

Gay, transgender Korean students discriminated against at school (Asian Correspondent)


Are you Russian? An interview about Causasian female stereotypes and harassment in Korea (mapping words)

CERD (and other) updates (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

What I’ve Learned About Crises, or How My Vaguest Shadow of a Doubt Died Today… (Gord Sellar)

Cultural Assimilation (I’m No Picasso)

If You Wanna Be My 형… (Gord Sellar)

How Taiwan is better than Korea (The Marmot’s Hole)

Expat Diaries: ‘Night Vibes’ Spreads Black Culture Throughout South Korea (Ebony)

Pop Culture

Natthew and Diversity in K-pop (Seoulbeats)

The politics of Pandora: is international music really that “different”? (Mellowyel’s Collection)

Cast walks out of Great Seer shoots citing no pay (dramabeans)

Unpopular Opinion: Defending Jay Chou’s Hit on “Gangnam Style” (Seoulbeats)

NSFW Fanart: ELFs are on another level, man (McRoth’s Residence)

Worry for the Right Reasons: K-pop and Kohaku (Seoulbeats)

2012 a tough year for idol groups as singers shine (Korea Joongang Daily; Netizen Buzz)

HallyU.S.A: K-pop’s Appeal to Asian-Americans (Seoulbeats)

Q & A : ‘9 Muses of Empire’ director Hark-Joon Lee on IDFA (fuck yeah nine muses)

2012: The Year Of Scandals, Relationships, And … Americanism? (Asian Junkie)

Streaming to Be Heard: K-pop on Internet Radio (Seoulbeats)

Finding Korean literature in English (In Imminent Danger)

MBC and A Look at Korean Sitcoms (Seoulbeats)

Korean films get controversial (ampm)

K-pop’s Appeal to a Black Fan (Seoulbeats)

Psy’s Apology (in chronological order)

‘Gangnam Style’ Rapper Psy Apologizes For Lyrics About Killing Americans (Speakeasy)

Quick Thought about PSY’s Past Anti-American Lyrics (Ask a Korean!)

PSY Apologizes (The Marmot’s Hole)

The PSY scandal: singing about killing people v. constantly doing it (The Guardian)

… In Which America Learns Something Interesting about Psy (and South Korea) (Gord Sellar)

You Shouldn’t Forget about the Past, Cuz It Don’t Forget About You… (Scribblings of the Metropolitician)

Psy, slowly and painfully (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

K-Pop Fizz Fizz: Life After PSY (Spin)

Social Problems

Australian Police Apologise to Korean Assaulted in Melbourne (koreaBANG)

Do 1 in 8 Koreans have an addiction? (Asian Correspondent)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

Victim Blaming: Why “she should have just moved” isn’t a solution to harassment on public transport

Crowded Korean Subway(Source)

First, please read “Man Tries to Take Advantage of Drunk Girl on Seoul Subway” at koreaBANG. Then, with permission, my friend’s response to it:

Line 2 [in Seoul] really disturbs me, I try to avoid it because I have too many weird experiences. I have also made interventions like the one in this video, to ask someone if they know another passenger or if they need help.

In one of the comments, 니애미종범 basically writes “she should have moved” which seems like a simple thing, but I can speak from my own personal experience. On three different occasions a stranger has sat uncomfortably close to me and I moved, and they FOLLOWED me. Two of those times I moved again and they left me alone. I was lucky that there were other passengers around because I just said to them to (politely) leave me alone. But in one of those cases, the guy CONTINUED to sit next to me and talk about my appearance, ask me questions, even though I kept politely declining conversation and then said directly that I do not like to talk to someone I do not know. At that point, I decided to get off the train with a larger group of people… I pretended to go toward the stairs but when out of view I dashed onto another car and walked through the train 3 more cars… I called my boyfriend and asked him to hurry and meet me at the station and described the guy to him and told him I needed him to meet me… I debated whether to try to call the police and how to describe the situation or ask if there was a security box at the station where I would exit… All this time, I thought I had been out of sight… but then he appeared at my side AGAIN… he had seen me and followed me further. At that point, there were no people standing to get off the train and I was really afraid to get off onto an empty train platform again, so I stood up in the middle of the car and just walked around and made light conversation with random people so that people would notice me… and he finally stopped, but when I exited the train I was looking behind my back.

This is besides the frequent (monthly?) ‘accidental’ butt groping on a crowded bus or subway that does not seem so ‘accidental.’ I have taken to wearing my backpack even though it would be more ‘convenient’ to other passengers if I stored it on the top shelf, because wearing my backpack creates a buffer between me and other people and creates a little bit of space so that it is not so easy to discreetly grope and pretend it is ‘by accident.’ Even so, I still have to often tell someone not to touch me.

There are also a number of posts that criticize the person who intervened. I think it is important to be supportive to other people in our community. I try hard to avoid sending a friend home alone, or drunk, but sometimes you can’t control that. So, I take photos of taxis or other things. If my friend has been drinking, I tell the taxi driver directly where she/he is supposed to go, that someone is waiting, and photograph the name plate in the front seat of their taxi that says their name and taxi ID, etc. as well as the plate #. I ask about how long it will take and how much it will be and verbally confirm to the passenger so taxi driver avoids arguing the bill, etc. I do this because I think it “discourages” the idea that my friend is vulnerable, but it isn’t enough because there are still predatory people, complex situations and laws, and we need to support each other in navigating these scenarios.


While she’d like to remain anonymous, she adds for the sake of context that she is a (Caucasian) foreigner, with intermediate Korean skills. Also, another issue is the perception that police will not help and that self-defense might be dangerous to legal liability and visa status, which unfortunately happened with two of her friends that were assaulted

As a non-Seoulite, I was aware that Line 1 was dangerous, but had no idea about Line 2 (although to a certain extent, traveling on any line can be an unpleasant experience for non-Koreans and non-Caucasians). But as my friend tells me, apparently it’s a magnet for sexual harassers because “it connects a number of universities with stops like Gangnam, Sillim, Sadang and others that are very crowded.”

What are readers’ own experiences? How do you recommend dealing with harassers on the subway?

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