Korean Sociological Image #23: Male Objectification

Acutely aware of the role my heterosexual male gaze can play in my choice of subjects and images for this blog sometimes, ironically I spend more time looking for those involving men these days, hoping to find something of note with which to achieve a balance.

In itself, this new commercial with boy-band 2PM hardly qualifies. But not only is male objectification an increasingly common theme in Korean advertising in recent months (see here and here for two examples featuring Lee Byung-hun {이병헌} and JYP {박진영} respectively), this would easily be one of the most audacious examples I’m aware of.

And coming so soon after this one for Cob Chicken (Cob 구어조은닭) too, then perhaps, like kissing, male objectification will be yet another advertising taboo discarded in 2009?

Granted, this may sound like exaggeration to readers based outside of Korea: all of the above examples are rather tame compared to their Western counterparts (NSFW) for instance, and the frequency of male objectification in the Korean media is easily paled by that of women, whom are also subject to excessive objectification and commodification in daily life here.

Nichkhun's Abs Real Brownie CommercialBut that media imbalance is hardly confined to Korea, and the speed of change is particularly remarkable. After all, however unbelievable it may sound today, recall that social norms prohibited Korean women from publicly admiring men’s bodies until as recently as 2002!

Meanwhile, apologies for not providing a translation for the commercial, but given the product’s name then I think you’ll quickly get the idea!^^ And I would very much appreciate it if readers could tell me of any more examples like it that I may have missed.

(For all posts in the Korean Sociological Images series, see here)