In response to a former Korean pornography actor’s shame preventing them from dating, I like to think that if they were monogamous with me, and didn’t behave in real life the ways they’d been required to in their videos, then I wouldn’t mind their past at all. But that’s all very easy to say when an opportunity to meet is so unlikely to ever occur. If it did, would I turn out to be a hypocrite? Would you?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes. Source left, Namu Wiki. Source right, Joshua Gandara on Unsplash.
In Korea, something pretty big was cut from Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson’s classic portrait of the 1970s LA porn industry. But it wasn’t what you might think.
Instead, it was the three-minute scene where Julianne Moore, playing pornography actor Maggie/”Amber Waves,” tries and fails to get visitation rights to her son. Not only is it an extraordinary performance by Moore, but it also shows a very human side to the industry, providing a profoundly dark, thoughtful counterpoint to the glamour, sex, drugs, and tension that defines the rest of the movie. It was easily the most memorable scene from when I first watched the movie in New Zealand in 1998, and why I was virtually apoplectic when I suddenly realized it was just not there at all when I watched it again in Korea two years later.
Seeing the headline “Adult actress Seo Ha-hee looks for genuine love through tears” the same day as tributes to 25 years since the release of Boogie Nights then, I felt a duty to highlight her story. Yet it’s not really a news item per se, but rather a few slides from Insight’s Instagram account about her appearance (and lamentation) on a new Disney+ show; as Netizen Buzz has already translated the comments, the least I could do is translate the captions in a moment below.
But if felt insufficient.
Looking ahead then, eventually I’d like to cleave through the mass of (contradictory, hypocritical, patronizing, completely ineffectual) censorship laws in an attempt to determine exactly how South Korea remains one of the few developed countries where pornography is largely illegal. In particular, considering just how simple it is to download pornography from overseas, I’m especially intrigued by how the legal domestic Korean pornography industry continues to exist at all, when even pubic hair may not be shown on it (let alone genitalia) and the sex is so obviously simulated. Is the hospitality industry literally its only consumer, given that even in 2022, Korean hotels, motels, and yogwans still invariably have a few cable Korean pornography channels available on their TVs?
Either way, as Kelsey the Korean points out in her recent video above (from 6:08), while there’s a great deal about mainstream pornography that’s objectionable, it’s not like Korean censorship laws are achieving their stated aim of protecting the sexual morals of Koreans from it. If anything, she alleges, they may in fact be no small factor in their utter corruption and distortion. The lack of healthier homegrown options, I tend to agree, may indeed play no small role in channeling many young men to what (illegal) Korean pornography has become notorious for instead—an ongoing spy-cam epidemic.
Yes, healthy feminist pornography does exist—provided you’re prepared to pay for it, to help ensure the working conditions and salaries which make it such. And, seeing how much damage Korean censorship laws seem to have done in promoting unhealthy alternatives, then why not unblock access to other options?
In that sense of changing hearts and minds about pornography, would you say Seo Ha-ni’s “confession” below is a step in the right direction? Or do you think her shame about her former profession, so great that she hadn’t been prepared to date at all in the last five years, merely perpetuates stereotypes? Please let me know in the comments!
Source, all images: Insight @Instagram.
“I’m looking for a man who can understand what it’s like [/not worry about] to be [dating] a [former] pornography actor.”
A woman sheds tears in her quest to find true love.
[Insight reporter Gwon Gil-yeo]
Many people claim their loved one’s pasts are not important.
But if it were you, to what extent would that be true?
An interesting new dating reality program tests whether you can really fully understand/[not worry about/forgive] your true love’s past.
Released on Disney+ on 5 October, Pink Lie is a show in which one cast member each episode confesses lies they’ve been living under, in order to find true love from people who accept them for who they are.
In the first episode, Seo Ha-ni (36) drew attention for having formerly worked as a pornography actor.
For the last five years, she has run a candle manufacturing workshop. She describes herself as a candle artist, never revealing her past as a pornography actor.
She has performed at a high level in the industry, appearing in such movies as The Purpose of Reunion 2 and Private Tutor: Advanced Course (NSFW). [James—Rather confusedly, the former has no sex or nudity, and indeed is even available on YouTube.]
Seo Ha-ni, who cried while talking about her past, said “[Because of my former job], men [constantly] send me photos of their genitals or nude body shots on social media.”
This has meant she’s never been comfortable in romantic relationships.
“I’m always worried that someone will recognize me in public,’ Seo Ha-ni said. “So, I’ve never held hands with a boyfriend while walking among the cherry blossoms. I’ve never had fun in water with a boyfriend in the summer, never walked together in the Autumn leaves, and never gone skiing with someone in the winter.”
In fact, Seo Ha-ni has [been so nervous she has] avoided men completely, confessing she has not been in a relationship in a whopping six years.
There is a lot of interest in her case, and everyone is anxious for her to find true love with someone without prejudice.
[James: The remaining two slides just explain a little more about the show.]
Meanwhile, three other women and four men appeared in the first episode.
They were: Han Ba-reum (33), a researcher at Samsung Electronics’ Future Technology Research Center; Han Da-on (31), a beauty company marketer; Kang Da-hae (26), an intern at a fashion company; Hong Ha-nu (32), CEO of Hallyu Entertainment; Park Han-gyeol (25), a wedding video company CEO, and Mo Chan-sol (29), an elementary school gym teacher.
Although they disclosed their age and occupation, in fact, just like Seo Ha-ni [at first], they were all lying.
According to the rules of the show, they must not reveal their lies [until their turns in later episodes].
MCs singer Kim Hee-chul, actor Lee Sun-bin, and YotuTuber RalRal all expressed their curiosity about what truths were hidden by the cast.
Episodes 1 and 2 of Pink Lie were released on 5 October, which single episodes to be released once a week on Wednesdays. (END)
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- “Spring Girls,” by Sunwoo Jung-a, Is Both Feminist and as Sexy as Hell. Lets Give It the Attention It Deserves.
- The Pornification of K-pop?
- Korean Sociological Image #77: Sexualized Girl-Group Performances at Schools
- The Korea Herald: Should pornography be censored?
If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)