“W코리아가 여성을 화보에 담아내는 방식이 마음에 든다. 자기다운 모습으로 카메라를 응시하는 여성 모델들.”

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes. Image sources: @pompomiya

“I like the way W Korea portrays women. Look at the models here all staring back at the camera in their own ways.”

If I die tomorrow, my biggest regret will be never completing my epic series on the queer female gaze in K-pop. No, really. So, while I’m up to my eyeballs with that then, please allow me a quick break today by indulging myself in @pompomiya’s tweet about W Korea‘s July issue. Their point about controlling the viewer’s gaze really resonates with those made about Titian’s Venus of Urbino in my Boobs, Butts, and Biceps post, and is a helpful reminder of what exactly makes that painting so captivating. So too, of why these photos have 6,600 retweets so far.

Three of the models in them are instantly recognizable as K-pop star Amber Liu, volleyball player Kim Yeon-gyeong, and actor Han Ye-seul, but the woman in blue was a mystery. Her name is DJ Seesea (@uuuuman), and the most information about her online seems to be available at W Korea itself, either in their (Korean) article or video interview.

This is the longest performance of hers I was able to find:

Frankly, most of those tracks aren’t to my taste. But the MIXMIX TV channel itself has many more male and female DJs to choose from, and can be good background music to work to when you need a change from Chillhop Music, lofi hip hop radio, and 24/7 lofi hip hop radio. Also, DJ Seesea mentions in her interview that she used to belong to an all female-DJ line-up called Bichinda (Facebook, Twitter), sadly now dismantled but with interesting things to say about the changes more female DJs bring to clubs and the attitudes of audiences, so I’m glad W Korea gave DJ Seesea the chance to give that topic a little more exposure this summer.

Please hit me up if you know anything more about DJ Seesea or Bichinda, or about any other interesting female Korean DJs. Also, make sure to check out 6 Alternative Female Musicians For Fans Of K-Pop at Nylon, many of whom I do like and am eagerly looking for a track or MV to highlight here. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

Update: Here’s DJ Seesea’s Soundcloud playlist.

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

Korean Gender Reader


1) How to find a good Korean man

Excellent dating advice from I’m No Picasso, although like she says, of course most of her advice would apply to any group of men!

Update: Is it harder for women to date in South Korea? From Noona with love answers a (frustratingly vague!) reader’s question.

2) 14% of Korean men subject to sexual abuse as children

To put it mildly, I’ll have to see a lot more detail about the methodology and definitions used before I accept that figure. But I do look forward to finding out more about this survey.

3) Condoms in hotels

In Chinese hotels to be precise. As Shanghai Shiok! explains:

Should hotels provide condoms in guest rooms, whether complimentary or for sale? It’s a question still debated in the hotel industry. In China, condoms in hotels are quite common (after Beijing ordered it), but some foreigners have averse reactions to the foil-wrapped rubbers in their rooms, like my dad who angrily declared the hotel condoms “an embarrassment!” before hiding them away from our eyes.

For me, whether condoms should be there or not just really… depends.

Depends on what? Find out here!


4) Native speaker English teacher sexually assaulted in Anyang

See the details at Gusts of Popular Feeling here. Like a commenter there says, I’m amazed at the attitude of the proprietor of the yogwan (motel) where the assault occurred, who apparently didn’t so much as bat an eyelid when 3 male university students carried an unconscious woman to their room.

Update: Asian Correspondent has more details here.

5) Why so few fathers take paternity leave

An excellent, comprehensive report from The JoongAng Daily, in contrast to The Chosun Ilbo one that waxes lyrical about changing attitudes and the fact that a grand total of 819 men took it last year, an increase of 63% from last year.

Note that seeing as this particular paternity leave seems to have been available since at least 2001 however, then it can’t refer to the 3 day one made available in 2008, so at the very least some clarification about the original Korean terms is required. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do any further investigating myself at the moment, but if anyone’s further interested then I recommend this, this, this, and this to get you started! (and if you clicked on any of those, then I think you’ll find this book fascinating too)


6) Korean documentary on ajummas and ajoshis

No, really. As New Yorker in Seoul described it:

I watched this program with JS, my German-Korean friend, and she and I both had similar reactions. First, here’s how WE perceived what the program was doing:

1-First, it showed the bad perceptions of ajuma and ajoshi.
2-Then it explained how these figures are actually good members of society, thereby reaffirming these roles in society.

There was much to appreciate in the documentary–the interviews, the claymation snippets (from the Arari Show), the surveys. But the way the program was constructed entirely, at least for many Western viewers, seemed pretty cheesy. Or at least, heavy-handed in its delivering of the message of why society actually NEEDS the ajuma and ajoshi figures.

Granted, it was designed for a Korean audience. But I wonder: do any Korean viewers broach programs constructed in this way with at least a modicum of cynicism? Does such a program bear a whiff of sentimentality for Korean viewers?

7) A South Korean farm, a brother & sister, a forbidden love

Found via The Three Wise Monkeys, I confess I’m not quite sure what to make of this:

The video shoot took place on a small farm in Jeollabuk-do province, South Korea in February 2011. The storyline was conceived in response to the song lyrics which tell of an unrequited love or a longing that can’t be satisfied or consummated. We came up with the concept of a brother and sister who are twins who have grown up lived and worked together on their parents’ small farm. They are confused and disturbed by the fact that their closeness has developed into a kind of sexual longing that they know they must hide away deep inside.

8) Korean men do least housework in OECD

To play Devil’s advocate however, it’s somewhat natural considering that women do the least paid work in the OECD, as noted by The Korean Herald article.

See Sociological Images also for some more perspective, and handy graphs of how various countries compare.

9) Protecting Korean women from foreign devils, circa late-1940s

I believe that most resentment towards and/or stereotyping of foreign men in Korea stems naturally from having millions stuck in unemployment or low-paid and/irregular work, and it certainly doesn’t help that – as far as I know – boys born at the peak of Korea’s phase of aborting female fetuses in the early-1990s are now becoming adults (while long since resolved, soon there’s going to be something like 116 eighteen-year old men for every 100 women).

But as this post at Gusts of Popular Feelings reveals however, neither factor explains the harassment some Korean women received as early as the late-1940s, even just for working with American men.


10) Amber returns to f(x)

Like Dora says at SeoulBeats, it’s good that she’s back:

…the moment I set eyes on Amber, I knew I was a goner. Pardon me, but it was during an era whereby K-pop was being flooded with Barbie dolls everywhere, all right? All the Korean girl group members were armed with the typical Bambi eyes, long swishing hair and legs half the width and twice the length of my own. I was desperate for a change; my self-esteem couldn’t take any more beatings. So once Amber popped into the scene, all the other girls who felt the same way as I did went crazy. With her androgynous hotness (oh gosh, the floppy fringe that can totally rival Justin Bieber’s!), Amber has confused poor females everywhere, and became the new obsession of fangirls.