Korean Sociological Image #65: First Commercial to Positively Feature a Korean Woman with a Non-Korean Man? (2006)

(Source: Paranzui)

Turn on a Korean TV, and you won’t be waiting long before you see a commercial with a Korean man in a relationship with a non-Korean woman. But for a long time, I was only aware of one ever produced with the opposite pairing, which I discussed back when it came out in July last year.

Since then, there has also been at least one music video produced that positively features a Korean woman with non-Korean men (not just the one man in this case!), which you read more about at Mixtapes and Liner Notes and Fanboy vs Fangirl here, here, and here. But again, there’s many many more with the opposite pairing (see here, here, and here for examples). And as far as I know, no more commercials with Korean women hitting on non-Korean men.

It turns out though, that Lee Hyori (이효리) did so back in 2006 in a commercial for Anycall, a mobile phone brand. I must have seen it a hundred times on TV that year, but only ever the fifteen second version, in which the ethnicity of the lucky gentleman at the end was unclear. I would automatically have assumed he was Korean then, but he’s actually Caucasian (with a hint of Latino?), as you can see at 0:27 in the thirty second version above.

As always, I’d be happy to be proven wrong — again(!) — with any further examples of similar pairings. But I doubt I’ll ever receive enough to challenge this clear discrepancy in the Korean media’s representations of different genders and races, which is why I raise it here.

For any readers further interested in why that discrepancy exists, please read last year’s post for more background and many more links.

Update 1) As soon as I’d packed away my netbook and was walking home, I remembered that there was indeed one more example from last year, a promotional video for the 2010 G-20 Seoul Summit. It features a Korean woman and Caucasian man having a traditional Korean wedding, just like I had (the kiss is just for show though—traditional Korean weddings are really quite sombre affairs!):

Update 2) With thanks to Dan for passing it on, here’s a recent commercial for a smartphone, apparently with screen quality so good you’ll be able to see your foreign boyfriend’s bit on the side reflected in his sunglasses:

Until I saw that, I was wondering if the “positively” in the title was a little redundant. But now it seems more apt than ever!

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