writing coffee pexels(Source: Pexels)

Just a quick note to say sorry for the unplanned blogging break everyone, and to let you know that it’s almost over. Mainly, it was just because I had a journal article to complete, which turned out to be much more work than expected. Truthfully though, I’ve also been feeling surprisingly angsty about turning 40 next week, not helped by a good friend just leaving Korea, and by a close colleague of mine suddenly dying over the vacation (she sat next to me actually—it’s been painful thinking about her empty desk). So, it’s been difficult to get in the mood for blogging.

But it felt good to make a fresh start with the new semester today. And the combination of splurging on a trip to Seoul to get drunk with said friend last weekend, and seeing my daughters being just plain adorable enjoying the unexpected blizzard, was already more than enough to break me out of my melancholy. Plus, OMG DID I MENTION ALL THE BOOKS I BOUGHT? SQUEEE~ #BOOKGASM #BESTSEOULTRIPEVER

Books, 27.02.16But seriously: I’m back, it feels great, and I’ll have some posts for you next week! :)

Screening Tomorrow: Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community (2002) and Us & Them: Korean Indie Rock in a K-pop World (2014)

us and them korean indie rock in a k-pop worldVia the event’s Facebook page:

Please join our screening on Saturday 17th October. We will be showing two short documentaries about the Korean indie and punk rock music scene. Producer Stephen Epstein will be there to introduce the documentaries and take part in a Question and Answer session after the screening. This is your chance to hear all about the vibrant Korean indie rock and punk scene. FREE ENTRY & ENGLISH SUBTITLES.

서울필름소사이어티의 10월 17일 토요일 영화상영회에 초대합니다. 이날 상영드릴 영화는 한국의 인디 음악과 펑크락 음악을 주제로 한 두 편의 다큐멘터리입니다. 상영을 마친 후에는 본 다큐멘터리를 감독하신 스테판 엡스타인 감독을 직접 모셔 다큐멘터리에 대한 설명을 듣고 관중들과 함께 질의응답을 하는 시간을 가질 것입니다. 한국의 다채로운 인디 음악과 펑크 음악의 현주소를 알아볼 수 있는 좋은 기회입니다. 입장은 무료이며 영화는 영어자막과 함께 상영됩니다.

Stephen Epstein, you may recall, wrote most of was my coauthor for our chapter in The Korean Popular Culture Reader, and I’ve linked to many of his articles over the years; suffice to say, I’ve no hesitation in recommending literally anything he’s produced. See the link for more information about his and Timothy Tangherlini’s documentaries screening tomorrow, and for further details about the event schedule and location.

Meanwhile, apologies for the late notice, and for the lack of blog posts. Both are because, sadly, my wife’s grandmother had a stroke over Chuseok, and while she’s recovering (relatively) well from that, she’s also been diagnosed with cervical cancer, which little can be done about at her advanced age of 86. Specifically, Korean patient-care being what it is, my wife has been spending much of her time in her hometown taking care of her, leaving me to look after our daughters. That can’t be helped of course, and I’m managing, but it does mean it’ll be a few more weeks before I’m able to start writing again sorry.

Until then though, sorry for the downer, and you still keep up with the news via my Twitter and/or the blog’s Facebook page :)

On Grandly Narrating…Korean Dramas?

Misaeng(Source: The Huffington Post Korea)

Sorry for the slow blogging everyone. Not just for the last few weeks, but for the last few months. Many of you have noticed and have been wondering, so I thought I should offer a quick explanation.

Long story short, I’ve got much less time than I had in 2014.

I’m doing a Master’s again. I’m teaching more classes this semester. I’m working on my first academic journal article. My daughters have started a (lovely) alternative school for multiracial children, which is a long commute away; it’s nice spending the extra time with them, but that’s another 10 hours a week that I used to spend on other things. And so on.

Still, I could and did work on the blog a little. But then I caught an on-off, debilitating flu for over a month. As you can imagine, now I’m behind on just about everything.

All that said, after 8 years of blogging, I am in a bit of a rut with regards to topics and style, and am looking for new ideas to motivate myself—and hopefully to interest and entertain you too. One possibility might be an episode by episode discussion of the recent(ish) drama Misaeng, which I’ve heard was a very realistic portrayal of Korean corporate life, and especially of the position of women therein. I’ve already watched the first episode, and, although it wasn’t earth-shattering, it was refreshingly free of K-Drama cliches, especially the childish female roles. If, like me, you’ve been disappointed with “progressive” Korean dramas before, this might finally be one worth getting stuck into.

If you’re interested in following along with me, at the pace of one episode per week say, please let me know in the comments. And/or, about anything else you’d like to see more of on the blog. Thanks!

Update (July): Thanks for the comments everyone, and sorry for the false starts in June. I’ll start sometime this month.

p.s. Three Cheers for Halcion, the only way I managed to finally get a good night’s sleep last night!

From The Archives: October

Kirin Neo-Confucian Hierarchy(Source; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Apropos of this quick look back at over 7 years of blogging, here’s a picture of an old ad close to my home that I must have passed hundreds of times in the last few years, which often gets me thinking. I hope some of these posts can still do the same for you too.

Meanwhile, please feel free to use the picture for your own post or presentation on gender, hierarchy, and (Neo-)Confucianism(!). From my perspective, it’s a pity it’s Japanese and not Korean, but that does raise the interesting question of how similar Japanese society is (or not) in those regards. Continuing today’s theme, please see here for some investigating of that I did back in 2008.


Taking a Short Break…

how could you(Source)

Sorry everyone, but with some offline deadlines looming, final tests beginning for my students, and this new hobby of getting over 6 hours of sleep a night I’ve started (very decadent of me, I know), I’m going to have to take a short break from blogging. But I’ll still be very much around, tweeting and posting interesting links to the blog’s FB page as per usual, and I’ll be blogging again sometime after December the 16th. See you then!

R.I.P. Korean Gender Reader

Girls' Generation Shocked(Source)

Sorry everyone, but this will be the last Korean Gender Reader.

It’s not the workload—this new format, decided upon a few months ago, is really quite light. I even enjoy collecting all the links now. And I do realize that many people look forward to these posts and rely on them.

Really, if I could keep doing them, I would.

The problem is that by their nature, they require a regular posting each week. Whereas partially because of my very limited free time, and partially because planned short posts often turn out to need weeks of extra research and writing, my natural posting style is anything but regular.

Try to combine the two? You’ve already been seeing the results—little but Korean Gender Reader posts filling in the gaps between the long ones. It doesn’t look good at all, and has an obvious solution.

And, frankly, it feels great to be able to post on what and whenever I like again, rather than constantly feeling pressured.

I could go on, including mentioning — no joke — developing repetitive strain injury in my right arm last month, but I’m sure you get the idea. Let me just say that it’s reminded me to only work on what I enjoy, while still doing my best to keep you entertained and informed in the process.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to post links on Twitter (@JamesTurnbull) and on the blog’s FB page, so all the stories that would have been going up will still be quite accessible really. And I’ll still be very happy and grateful to receive ideas and leads from readers, and/or to post announcements of your upcoming events and so on.


Wanted: Your Stories Of Love Lost, Unrequited Love and More (Speaking of China)


Girls & Guitars: K-Girls Rocking the Hallyu Wave (Elegiacomo; YAM Magazine)

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

Sasaeng fan guests on CulTwo’s Veranda Show (Netizen Buzz)

Could This Be China’s Long-Awaited Youth Movement? (The Diplomat)

Why Aren’t Asian Actors Getting Leading Roles in Hollywood? (Jezebel)


Children of executed Chinese criminals don’t count as orphans, doomed to be homeless (Shanghaiist)

South Korea lives in the future (of brutal copyright enforcement) (Boing Boing)

— “It was not so long ago that writing an article on queer cinema in Korea was a real struggle, for want of source material.” (London Korea Links)

Former celebrity trainee reveals how much sexual favors cost (Netizen Buzz)

Chinese matchmaking agencies to regulate online dating due to lying scumbags (Shanghaiist)


From incorrectly calculated foreign crime rates to tabloid TV (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Abs in Review: Super Junior (Seoulbeats)

Do It Palli-Palli, Keep Doing It Palli-Palli (Outlook India)

Number of students with HIV increasing, Chinese sex-ed still sucks (Shanghaiist)

And Hollywood’s latest bad guys are… the North Koreans (The Independent)


It’s Not (and Never Was) a Korean Wave — It’s a Globalization Wave (Mark Russel’s Website)

JTBC’s “We are Detectives” looks at foreign crime using the KIC report (Gusts of Popular Feeling; Part 2)

Beyond the Bad and the Ugly (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Couleur de peau: Miel, aka Approved for Adoption, screens at Leeds Young Film Fest (London Korea Links)

Government says flash mobs must be registered in advance (The Hankyoreh)


Failed minister nominee makes bitter attack on Korea’s ‘old prejudices’ (The Korea Herald; The Washington Post)

Why do they do that? Korean culture and the K-pop industry (Beyond Hallyu)

Sun Yat-sen University wants to see you masturbate (Shanghaiist)

Scenes from a Tokyo Skid Row Clinic (Japan Subculture Research Center)

What is quasi-rape? Is Park Si-hoo charged with rape? (Korean Gender Cafe; Asian Junkie)


The problem with debuting a girl group labeled as “tomboys” is that you gotta deliver the goods (YAM Magazine)

Korea: A Case Study in Normalcy Bias (The Patriot Post)

Journalist spotlights interview of school bullying victim in light of recent suicides (Netizen Buzz)

For JTBC, consensual sex between white men and Korean women is a “sex crime” (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

My Best Gay Friends Big YouTube Hit for Vietnam (The Diplomat)


Quite frankly, Taeyeon is not necessarily the “prettiest” member of SNSD. But… (Phenomenology/Intervention)

Experts call for a long-term vision of Korea as a multiethnic society, social agreement on overall immigration policy (The Korea Herald)

‘Extreme’ Hagwon Adverts Start Korean Education Debate (koreaBANG)

Hypergamy, Immigration and the Sexual Market in Hong Kong (Via Korea)

Confessions of a Fangirl: Girl Crushes? Oh, I Definitely Got Those (Seoulbeats)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)

Adieu, Korean Gender Reader Version 1.0

Speech Balloons Background(Source)

Some minor changes to announce, blogging-wise.

The main change is that I’ll be completely redoing the format of the Korean Gender Reader posts. Because really, they’ve long been superseded by the blog’s Facebook page and Twitter feed where I first post the stories, and where they seem to generate much more discussion too. Also, although the posts may not look like much work, they actually involve 4-5 hours each week of tedious searching through RSS feeds, then copying and pasting them here. Frankly, I’ve long been tempted to simply stop writing them, but have kept at it for readers’ sakes.

I could also mention that I’d probably lose half of my readers if I stopped writing them too, but let’s not go there.

So, I’ve been looking at ways to automate the process somehow. Unfortunately, my options are very limited because this blog isn’t self-hosted, but one possibility is using paper.li instead, which produces “papers,” or digests of stories on a single webpage (which I could link to). Previously, I’d rejected it because those few examples I read always seemed to be very randomly-generated and unfocused, but I’ve since learned that it’s possible to be very selective with the stories you add, especially if — obvious, in hindsight — you choose your own Twitter feed as the only source.

After doing some experimenting, I’m quite happy with the results. It does have some minor issues, particularly with not being able to choose category names, or which stories go in which, but they’re still all easy to access. And, with excerpts and images thrown in to the mix too, it may well be an improvement.

I’ll roll it out next Friday Saturday, and will use the time saved to be a little more consistent in my production of longer, analytical pieces like this recent one, with translations thrown in here and there. And I have a lot more offline things I’m working on this year too, but I’ll let you know about those when they come up.

In short, my blogging plans for 2013 sound *ahem* suspiciously similar to those for 2012. But I’ll try really hard this time round!


Gay Shorts on Smartphones Screening 1/9 through 1/26 (The Kimchi Queen)

Body Image, Health

My lucky thunder thighs (Salon)

Erin Li’s L.A. Coffin School Puts the Spotlight on Mental Illness Among Asian Americans (Mochi Magazine)

— The top 10 most handsome actors as chosen by a plastic surgeon (Netizen Buzz)

New Online Game Attracts Women Gamers with Free Beauty Treatment Offers (Korea IT Times)

My Body, My Self-Image, My Self-Destruction (Geek in Heels)

A new line of confidence-wear for girls (The Ethical Adman)

Ministry of Employment and Labor denied proposals of NHRCK on Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Koreans Are Heaviest Drinkers Among Asian Americans, Study Shows (KoreAm)

400 Years of Women Removing Their Body Hair (Jezebel)

Israel’s New Ban on Super Skinny Models Won’t Fix the Problem (XX Factor; Thick Dumpling Skin)

Claims ginseng is ‘new Viagra’ just don’t stand up (NHS)

Woman’s Work: The Ugly Truth Behind the Beauty Premium (Bitch)

Vogue Italia Breaks Another Barrier With First Asian Cover Model (TIME)

Top celebrities suing Gangnam cosmetic clinic for using their images and names without permission (Omona They Didn’t)

Dr. Michi, I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether a heavy consumption of K-Pop can influence a young person toward disordered eating (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Perpetuating Stereotypes: How Korean high school girls (supposedly) see themselves (I’m No Picasso)

Censorship, Media

Power of the Korean Film Producer: Park Chung Hee’s Forgotten Film Cartel of the 1960s Golden Decade and its Legacy (The Asia-Pacific Journal)

BBC World Service considering opening station aimed at North Koreans (The Independent)

“I no longer use Naver as my primary search engine…because I am fed up with their tactics in manipulating media.” (Arari)


Authorities Entering Private Property on Domestic Violence Calls: A Problem? (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Go Young Wook in custody on four counts of sexual misconduct and assault against minors (Asian Junkie; The Chosun Ilbo; Omona They Didn’t)

Revenge Crimes on the Rise (South Korean Human Rights Monitor)

Retroactive application of tracking sex offenders ruled constitutional (The Hankyoreh)

Dating, Relationships, Marriage

[Q&A] Korean wedding customs: do brides give a lot of money for grooms? (Loving Korean)

Photos: Couples rush to wed on lucky day (Shanghaiist)

Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score. (The New York Times; see here for the Korean angle, especially the comments {update: also see “Korean Women Marry for Money”})

Celebrity dating rumors are serious business (Seoulbeats)

Ask the Yangxifu: On Wealth/Income for Chinese Men + Western Women Couples (Speaking of China)

Newly registered marriages in Korea fell to an all-time low last year, study finds (Asia Sentinel)

Education, Parenting, Demographics

Korean police have plan to reduce bullying (Asian Correspondent)

Family planning official in Fujian busted for infant trafficking (Shanghaiist)

Michelle Rhee Featured On PBS’s Frontline Program (ROK Drop)

Without Babies, Can Japan Survive? (The New York Times)

Preference for male babies has created a gender imbalance among young people aged 9-24 (The Hankyoreh)

Reliable Student Exchange Programs in Korea (Angry K-Pop Fan)

— Unwed mothers call for Park’s attention (Tales of Wonderlost)

Blind Stubbornness of Ministry of Health and Welfare is Destroying the lives of Children (The Korean Law Blog)

Growing pains for foreign academics in South Korea (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

— Harvard students marvel at lonely, hard-studying Korean students (The Hankyoreh)

Economics, Politics, Workplaces, Ladygate

“There are lots of reasons why Korea is a nice place to live, but endless Tea Party-style nationalism is not one of them” (Asian Security Blog)

Gender equality key to Japan’s future prosperity (The Japan Times)

Finnish Critique of Korean Hierarchy (Via Korea)

Korean military digs itself into a deeper hole with celebrity soldiers (Netizen Buzz; Asian Junkie; Omona They Didn’t)

Japan needs women power to galvanize economy: party (Reuters)

Korea: The Tyranny of Titles (Via Korea)

Defense ministry urges caution about cutting military service period (Yonhap)

Ministry of Gender Equality Receives More than Initial Budget: Netizens Angry (KoreaBANG)

Lee Hyori’s lack of plans for marriage garners backlash (Netizen Buzz)

LGBT, Sexuality

Queer Links from the Week (The Kimchi Queen)

Teacher Guidebook for Queer Korean Students (The Kimchi Queen)

Lana Wachowski Opens Up About Her Transition in Korea’s Talk Show (Kstar10)

Court questions anti-prostitution law (The Marmot’s Hole; Korea Law Today; The Korean Law Blog)

Foreign Media Perpetuating Stereotypes: “South Korea’s youth are among the most sexually conservative in the world” (VICE)


Think before you say “Korean” before a noun of any kind (I’m No Picasso)

Pop Culture

Is what’s happening to Block B now similar to what happened to TVXQ? (Angry K-Pop Fan)

Block B is Going to Court (Seoulbeats)

Roundtable: Block Bust? (Seoulbeats)

E.via splits with agency, forced to use new name, chooses Tymee (Frank Kogan)

New Korean Films: Raising Social Issues With A Musical (Modern Korean Cinema)

Aegyo Hip Hop: Cultural Appropriation at Its Messiest (Seoulbeats)

New music video teaches Korea’s young about Gwangju Massacre (The Hankyoreh)

Any feminist bloggers watching Chinese martial arts period dramas? (The F-Word)

“Gangnam Style”: Crossing Over in the New World (World Literature Today)

Teaching Sociology with Music Videos (The Sociological Cinema)

Video: Who Will Be China’s Psy? (The Asia Society)

“I am a Failed ABC”: Finding Identity as a Chinese-American K-pop Star (Seoulbeats)

Interview with Poet Kim Hyesoon (Korean Modern Literature in Korean)

Best of Korean Music 2012 (Mark Russell’s Website)

Cross-Cultural Cussing (Seoulbeats)

Social Problems

At the Front Line of Suicide Prevention in South Korea (Korea Real Time)

Korea Needs to Stem the Tide of Suicides (The Chosun Ilbo)

Suicide of Another Celebrity Grabs Koreans’ Attention (Korea Real Time)

Horses Cure Internet Porn Addiction In South Korea (Business Insider)

How can Korea improve road safety? (The Korea Herald; Via Korea)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)