One of my favorite Korean YouTubers starts a new series
“What is he, man or mouse? Is he interested in nothing more than tea and the wider issues of life? Has he no spirit? Has he no passion? Does he not, to put it in a nutshell, fuck?”
Those who wish to know should read on. Others may wish to skip on to the last chapter which is a good bit and has Marvin in it.
Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Chapter 25.
With that, Douglas Adams finally addresses readers’ burning questions about Arthur Dent, the main character of his classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Reach the same point in the fourth book, and you’d be asking too. Why indeed, describe a cishet man meeting women he was interested in, some of whom felt a mutual attraction for him, only to tell us nothing whatsoever about what happened next? For three whole books?
Those 1980s readers’ frustrations mirror my own with Korean pop culture today. Dramas in particular often fall flat for me because the adult characters seem to have relationships but never sex.
No, I don’t need to see them in bed necessarily. Nor does sex have to be the plot’s focus. Just have them acknowledge it’s a thing. Talk about its associated problems and pleasures sometimes. Admit experience and desire. Make bawdy jokes. You know, like normal adults do, including asexuals.
Don’t, and I just can’t relate to the characters at all.
I could continue with my feelings about other elements of Korean pop culture, such as being unable to find much interest in or desire for K-pop idols presented for our sexual objectification who are not allowed to actually have sex themselves. But you get the idea. You may also find my very limited experience quite unlike your own, and actually know plenty of Korean dramas, say, in which the characters don’t shy away from talking about about one-night stands, contraception, consent, and so on. If so, then do please let me know.
Which brings me to why I’m so excited about YouTuber Daisy’s latest video below. Many years ago, I finally found the relatable, adult stories I was seeking not in dramas, but in the monthly manhwa compendium PopToon instead—only then for it to cease publication just a few months later. Heartbroken, I refused to make the transition to webtoons. But, she’s finally persuaded me to take the plunge, and I hope you’ll find something of interest in her video too, and/or in later ones in the series (note she includes fluent English CC subtitles):
Ironically, I didn’t actually like any of her suggestions here, mostly because I’m not a fan of the sharp, angular drawing style in most of them. But I am looking, so please send me your own recommendations!
If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)
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- Korean Women’s Sexual Histories: Still a slippery subject
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- Korean Comics for Adults
- Korean Sociological Image #91: Shameless Hussy Corrupts Korean Youth
- Korean Sociological Image #76: Gendered Innocence and “The Nation’s First Love”