If so, do you carry a condom in your handbag these days?
Because not so long ago, academic research on the subject said you probably didn’t — Korean women were just too scared of being slut-shamed for it, leading to popular attitudes that contraception was overwhelmingly — or even exclusively — men’s responsibility. Further contributing to that stigma, bans on contraceptive commercials weren’t lifted until as recently as 2006, although (bland) public campaigns promoting condom use had been made two years earlier for the sake of HIV/AIDS prevention.
Since then though, surveys show that attitudes among young Koreans are changing, and there’s been some alarmist articles about how much casual sex they’re having these days. Also, I often see commercials for the pill on television (especially MNet, a music channel) and in women’s magazines. But for condoms? I haven’t seen any personally, beyond minimalist ones in newspapers and magazines.
So, I was very happy to learn from a reader that he just saw two Durex ones on television, both of which encourage women to be very prepared:
And the men too:
What’s more, they’re both based on Sticky Tape below, Iggy Cerda-Salas’s winning entry for Durex at the MOFILM London 2012 Awards, which only had a male version. Add that these are the only videos on Durex Korea’s Youtube account, and that its Facebook pages were also only set up recently, then it appears that they were specifically created for the Korean and/or Northeast Asian market.
Or in other words, Durex Korea at least now feels that there’s a definite market for their product among Korean women, and that they’ll no longer be so embarrassed if they’re caught with them.
Here’s hoping sales go well!
But have any readers seen any previous Korean commercials or ads by other condom manufacturers? Did women feature in those too?
(Related: See Korean Sexuality: Still Awaiting a Revolution? for more on the curious parallels between Korean women’s *previous* attitudes to contraception and those of their UK counterparts in the 1950s.)
(Update: Durex Korea has just confirmed that these are Korea’s first condom commercials)
(Update, June 2014: Unfortunately, these commercials proved to be just a one-off, with no real attempt to engage with female consumers and challenge double-standards. Sigh.)
9 thoughts on “Single Korean Female? Love Sex?”
Without turning your blog into a sex diary, in my first sexual encounter with a Korean woman she insisted — and I mean really insisted — that we didn’t use a condom as she “didn’t like it” (whatever that means.) I insisted right back. This was only three years ago. Since then, I have never had a woman bring it up. Considering the lenghts women here can go to avoid being seen as easy, if I had to guess, I would say *extremely* few Korean are going to be caught dead with a condom in their purse. Not a chance. This isn’t Amsterdam or Berlin we are living in.
Oh, feel free to turn my blog into a sex diary — variety is the spice of life and all!
But seriously though, I’m a bit confused at your own confusion at your partner not liking condoms? Because I’ve never personally heard of a woman liking them per se, more that there’s a certain sexiness in being safe, and/or that it made no difference to them personally. What’s more, many of the same women who told me — when we are all quite young — that they made no difference, later came to positively hate them, once they’d had experienced using other methods like the IUD etc. with partners that they trusted.
Not that my limited conversations with a limited number of female friends, now ex-partners, and wife can speak for everyone of course. And sorry if I’m making too much of your comment.
Anyway, I don’t doubt that many Koreans would be caught dead with a condom in their purse or wallet — I too would be slightly embarrassed, as I think many supposedly sexually-liberal Westerners would be. But I hope Durex Korea is right in reckoning that Korean women are now more willing to pull them out behind closed doors, and fortunately that’s been Martin’s experience (below) at least (and my own, albeit 12 years ago!).
This is an interesting post. Sexual attitudes are changing here in South Korea. I’ve always used a condom when I’ve slept with women, Korean or foreign. Most Korean women I’ve been with insisted on it, which is good. I’ve seen that though Korean women like sex, they still won’t discuss it in public and sex with foreigners is very discreet. I’ve rarely seen Korean women and foreign guys leave bars together, unless they were already a couple. It doesn’t seem to be socially acceptable for foreign guys to pick-up girls at the bar like in Western countries. It happens, but oftentimes there’s an introduction by a Korean male friend. I haven’t seen Korean women have condoms in their purse, but where I live, social attitudes are very conservative. In cities like Seoul or Busan, you may see more liberal attitudes towards sex.
Western men picking up Korean women is socially unacceptable because, frankly, some Korean people have a bee in their bonnet about rabid foreign men deflowering the nation’s virgin princesses. People at the very top of politics and in the media in Korea have openly spoken about the “problem” of foreign (white) men “stealing” the women. You and I might call this racism.
You have hit the nail on the head with “seen.” See and do are not the same.
Trust me, Korean women leave clubs with foreign men all the time in places like Itaewon. It is not uncommon. The catch often is it will be a secret and she will be gone the next morning before you have woken up or will have made you swear not to tell her friends (Have experienced both.)
This country is amazingly hypocritical and dishonest about sex.
It is not the not liking part, so much as I think it is insane to insist a guy you just met not use one.
A theory I have heard is that a condom implies a woman has had many partners and is therefore “dirty.”
Thanks, I understand now. And that is strange!
Hi, I’m a recent follower of your blog. Really fascinating. Keep up the good work. If you haven’t seen this article already, I think it highlights how condom use is evolving in Korea:
Sorry for the late reply, and thanks — that was interesting reading. Next time I’m in Seoul, I’m seriously thinking I might interview the store owners for a Busan Haps article.
I love sex