Korean Gender Reader, March 23-29

Sex, Art, and American Culture Sistar Hyolin Loving U(Sources: left, right)

As I type this, I’ve just returned from having a vacuum cleaner stuck in my ear — an opening line I hereby copyright, just in case I do ever start that novel.

Seriously though, the procedure itself was mercifully painless and brief. But, it came after one trip to an incompetent dentist this week, then two to a much better ear, nose, and throat doctor. Add all the ibuprofen I’ve been taking too, then I didn’t have much time or concentration left for posts this week sorry.

There will be one next week soon about objectification and SISTAR though (specifically, SISTAR19), whom I’d be happy and grateful to hear your thoughts on as I finish writing this weekend. Or, on Camile Paglia, who’s Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992) — a collection of short, impactful magazine articles — has just blown me away since picking up a copy in Seoul a few weeks ago. I didn’t need to think twice about making her my first official writing role model, and am already calculating average sentence word counts!^^


All is Well in Gwangju Vagina World (Gwangju Blog)


For transgender Koreans, sex change not about organs, but “a question of life and death” (The Hankyoreh)

Dear Mr. PD, Give Me a Break! Female bodies on K-pop TV shows (Beyond Hallyu)

‘Leftover’ men of China: You’re okay (as long as you’re rich) (Shanghaiist)

There is now a stereotype for psychics in Korean cinema (Gord Sellar)

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)


Does Peer Pressure Ever Discourage Dating Differently? (Speaking of China)

Japanese Women Take Command, Finally (TIME)

The Korean Baby Box: What makes single moms give up their babies? (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Korean Subway Sexual Harassment Prevention Tips Constrict Women’s Behavior (ILDA)

Romantic North Korea: Comrade Kim Goes Flying (The Wall Street Journal)


Women warriors break down barriers across Asia (The Nation)

Has there really been a drop in Japanese suicides or should we look at it as a drop in homicides? (Japan Subculture Research Center)

In a Room Full of Naked Koreans, Margaret Cho’s Body Is an Unwelcome Sight (Jezebel)

5 K-hiphop Producers You Shouldn’t Miss Out On (Angry K-pop Fan)

Is immigration at sustainable levels? (The Korea Herald)


Flight Attendants Can Now Wear Pants, but the Question Remains, Does Sex Sell Anyway? (Busan Haps)

The Big Fat Post About Weight, Women, and Body Image in K-Pop (The One Shots)

Korea drama’s breastfeeding scene under controversy for being ‘too sexually suggestive’ (Netizen Buzz)

Chinese crackdown begins on illegal reproductive clinics (China Daily)

Soo Joo Park Doesn’t Want to Be Typecast As an Asian Model (The Cut)


The March 1st Independence Movement, Led By Teenage Girls (ILDA; Part 2)

What do you do when you discover your husband of nine years is gay? A new Taiwanese rom-com (Scene Asia)

“Censorship has had a long and storied history in South Korea” (The Marmot’s Hole)

Crackdown brings to light China’s lucrative black-market reproductive clinics (Shanghaiist)

Korean Teenagers Go Online to Find Random ‘Ghost Friends’(koreaBANG)


Kodansha & AKB48′s Kasai Tomomi cleared of child porn charges cause nobody cares anymore (Asian Junkie)

Women in Combat? Old Hat, in North Korea (TIME)

North Korean Defector Working as Prostitute Found Dead in Motel (koreaBANG)

— “Why is it that even completely American Korean-Americans get one whiff of Korean culture and then are obsessed with it like there is no tomorrow?” (Ask a Korean!)

Park Si Hoo’s Sexual Assault Case: A Timeline Of What We Know So Far (Asian Junkie)


This is why there is only a 2.7% rate of success for adoptees that search for their families (Tales of Wonderlost; update)

Korean Media Deliberately Exaggerates Foreigners’ Crime Rates (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Translation: Guidelines prepared for police to protect the rights of sexual minorities (The Kimchi Queen)

Case of prolonged abuse shows the need to protect South Korea’s intellectually-disabled from sexual violence (The Hankyoreh)

The Asia-Pacific may be home to 60% of the global population, but it only boasts 6% of the most beautiful female celebrities (The Diplomat)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

2 thoughts on “Korean Gender Reader, March 23-29

  1. You need to do some serious reflection.
    You view every aspect of not only Korean culture, but also the greater Confucian sphere of culture through your own racist, white, Western lens (as a quick tangent, there are difference between Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism. For you to make a joke of it in the prior article from 2008 shows your complete lack of scholarship and willingness to do some research before proceeding with disparagement). Are there some sexism issues in Korea, and East Asia in general? Yes, there are; we’d be stupid to to say otherwise. But for you to talk about Asian women like they are helpless children in need of some a WHITE knight (emphasis added) to come riding to their rescue is not only insulting, but also disgusting, and feeds into the Orientalist view that you clearly attempt to cloak with talk of “equality” and “modernity.” Anyone perusing your site will notice the wealth of articles discussing the objectification of women in Korean media; this of course occurs, but did it ever occur to you that these GROWN women CHOSE to become part of the machine? Or is your mind unable to switch off the “Asian women are weak and need white help” mode? And how does any of this relate to Confucianism, or Neo-Confucianism, at all? Do you have any empirical evidence that this is the primary reason that sexism is an issue in Korea? Of course, if one took a few seconds to think, one would note that sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Central Asia, Western Europe, and Oceania ALL HAVE ISSUES WITH SEXISM. Are these issues because of Confucianism too? Maybe instead of continuing with the racist, Orientalist, and paternalist views that flow from this position that you staked (Koreans are sexist because they are controlled by a bad philosophy from which they cannot escape), you could actually devote some time to researching why sexism is an issue and coming back with empirical evidence, rather than your little historical equivalent-to-modern-day-soundbyte quips. I know, true scholarship is hard and just spewing your own unfounded opinions is much easier; unfortunately, this is something that you need to do before adopting the centuries-old European colonial mindset that you so perfectly personify. Your views are best summed up in one question: “Why the hell can’t they be more like us?”

    And speaking of colonialism, I gathered from your articles that you’re from New Zealand. Funny thing that we’re both from vestiges of the British empire; I am from the United States. Another funny thing is that both of our countries of origin would not exist were it not for the successes of said empire, and that said empire was borne of death, destruction, racism, subjugation, torture, and a host of other things we consider nasty nowadays. You may argue quite reasonably that the hypocrisies of your own culture do not invalidate your criticisms of the faults of another. However, it is best to keep in mind that you are making your criticisms while pointing a scepter robbed from some Oriental treasure trove whilst perched high above the throngs in a white tower, the bricks of which are made from the ground bones of entire native populations wiped out by genocide and were stacked by slaves and child laborers. You may also want to keep in mind that your own beautiful nation of New Zealand, as recently as 2010, had a national problem involving thousands of under-16 year olds working for low wages in substandard conditions. While a few of the criticisms you make may be valid (even a broken clock is right twice a day), you surely understand that it falls on deaf ears when people from countries that weren’t based on genocide hear them because no one likes to be belittled by hypocrites. The only way people from our types of countries, which rose from the ashes of slaughtered aborigines, can have ANY moral high ground over another culture whatsoever is if our countries cease to exist. Until then, get off your high horse and try to really understand where others are coming from before you carry on. Sinitic cultures are ancient; China, for example, is 5000 years old and counting. Even those from such countries can’t grasp every intricacy of Confucianism. What makes you think you can? The fact that you have a Korean wife? Laughable indeed.

    I must first make clear that I think that gender issues in East Asia, indeed the world over, require attention and improvement. However, I do not think that liberal dogma, racism, paternalism, Orientalism, and the white-savior psychological complex are the right ways to go about it. Scholarship, mutual respect, mutual understanding, and intelligent discussion, on the other hand, are productive. Unfortunately, unlike important groups in K-Pop and what the weather in Korea is today, these concepts are unequivocally “foreign” to people like you.


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