Korean Gender Reader

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1) As mentioned in #9 last week, Christian Dior has been heavily criticized on the web for the heavily Orientalist imagery of its latest advertising campaign Shanghai Dreams. But it turns out not to be Christian Dior’s own creation, but rather that of Chinese photographer Quentin Shih, who commented in an interview at China Rises that he:

…wanted to express a dialogue between Chinese fashion (60s to 90s) and Western fashion (Dior Haute Couture represents it the most). During that time, China was a country with socialism — people wearing all the same outfits and divided into different groups/identities like workers, students, intellectuals etc.

And that far from being racist, the Caucasian model:

…stands there only to represent the clothes, not herself and not a western people. I was not lucky enough to shoot a Chinese model wearing Dior — if I did I would have put her in my work.

But as commenters there point out, given the obvious potential for misinterpretation then it was still a bad choice on Christian Dior’s part, and in particular Gary Soup says:

I half agree with Shih. The “cloning” of a representation of a Mao-era worker is just a device frequently encountered in contemporary Chinese art. It’s generally used to good effect, and the artist seldom seen as racist. But China certainly has plenty of tall, elegant models who could pull off the generational contrast, and the use of a Caucasian model certainly seems to send the wrong message.

While we’re on the subject of art, see works by Zhang Wei for examples of a common Occidentalist theme in East Asia, particularly Qi BaiShi vs. Marilyn Monroe and Madonna vs. Qi BaiShi (both NSFW).

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2) Just out of curiosity, I noticed these Bunny Girl-like headbands above all over Haeundae Beach last weekend, and wonder if they are just a Busan thing, or if they are the fashion in the rest of Korea too?

For a photo to compare the above headbands with the originals, see this interesting article about how the “Chick-Lit” label is very frustrating for women authors!

3) A doctor in Gwangju has been arrested for molesting sleep-induced patients, and was ultimately caught when one became suspicious and brought a hidden camera in her bag.

This reminds me of a UK scheme I once read about to prevent such abuses, under which all patient visits were to be recorded by a security camera and automatically deleted perhaps 3 months later, but before which they could be reviewed by authorities if any allegations of abuse are made. Can anyone confirm if that scheme was actually implemented?

4) From this week, sex-offenders and murderers are to be paroled wearing electronic ankle bracelets. See #2 here for more on why now exactly, but regardless it’s about time, as despite its low crime rate in general Korea is in fact becoming one of the worst places in the world for sex crimes against teenagers, outnumbering those in Japan by more than three times and Germany by nearly nine times. Moreover, those high figures are despite a great number of such cases ending up being unsettled because victims are reluctant to undergo police investigations, and also the age of consent in Korea being 13 serving to lower the number of ultimate prosecutions.

Meanwhile, the Korean military has set August up as a special month to reduce sex crimes within the ranks; see my post Sex as Power in the South Korean Military for more background, and also this follow-up.

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5) Not unsurprisingly, a recent straw poll has shown that most teen mothers quit school. Also, the numbers of miscarriages and infertile couples are rising, as are the numbers of women drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and it probably doesn’t help that some old people are almost literally assaulting pregnant women for sitting in subway seats reserved for both of them either.

Perhaps the government response will again be to devise slogans to encourage childbirth, just like in Taiwan?

On the positive side though, the drama Nanun Jonsol Eeda (I am Legend; 나는전설이다) is currently providing a very positive portrayal of a young single mother. And for positive news in real life, see the New York Times for more on a group that is resisting the Korean stigma for unwed mothers.

6) I haven’t been following the inane “virtual marriages” of various celebrities on Korean variety shows in recent years, but hijinx at SeoulBeats notes that in one, Ga-in of the Brown Eyed Girls has yet to show her bare face to “husband” to Jo-kwon of 2AM, and says that apparently a lot of Korean women do go out of their way to always have make-up on when their boyfriends or even husbands see their faces. Which says a great deal about their relationships if true, but is it?

7) Unfortunately the video that spawned it has since been removed from YouTube, but still see Curiosity Killed The Eccentric Yoruba for a great post on relationships between African women and Korean men. And for more practical advice, also see The Three Wise Monkeys and Hot Yellow Fellows for why you can seem to be having a great relationship with a Korean guy…but then all of a sudden he may completely and inexplicably cut off all contact with you.

8) Not that he doesn’t still have a great body, but perhaps I was mistaken in thinking that singer Chang-min’s pecs had been badly photoshopped?

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9) I’ll let Lee’s review of Remembering Koryo, a fascinating book written by S.K. Chae, a Korean French adoptee, speak for itself:

The story of Korean adoption is highly complex and prone to being misunderstood. While I don’t claim to know the whole truth behind the scenes, I do know some things from my own experiences and have heard a lot more from interacting with others in the Korean adoptee community. Making claims for or against adoption is futile unless one first understands that each case is unique and that there are a multitude of societal forces at play.

Remembering Koryo follows the lives of a few Korean adoptees returning to Korea for various reasons. The stories are unique and colourful, easily understood by an adoptee like myself, but perhaps more unfamiliar to the average reader. To appreciate Remembering Koryo in a realistic context, one first needs to know a little more about Korean adoption in general.

Read the rest at Lee’s Korea Blog.

10)As pedotastic as some of us feared” says Extra! Korea of GP Basic’s new video, whom with an average age of just 15 years, are easily Korea’s youngest girlgroup. But is it as bad as that? Take a look for yourself below, and see my posts Reading “The Lolita Effect” in Korea and Ajosshis & Girls’ Generation: The Panic Interface of Korean Sexuality for some context, then two separate posts by hijinx at SeoulBeats here and here for a big debate among its readers: