Korean Gender Reader

(Sources: left, right)

1) Oh! Boy (오! 보이) Audition Reality Show Premieres

Does anybody else have misgivings about such a show being explicitly aimed at teens? And that its first two episodes featured high school students? After all, despite the feminine name, the “Lolita Effect” can certainly apply to boys too.  Recall my summary of it from last December:

[The Lolita Effect] is the natural consequence of various industries’ (fashion, cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, diet-related, food, and so on) need to build, expand, and maintain markets for their products, which obviously they would do best by – with their symbiotic relationship with the media through advertising – creating the impression that one’s appearance and/or ability to perform for the male gaze is the most important criteria that one should be judged on. And the younger that girls learn that lesson and consume their products, the better.

Just replace “male gaze” with, say, “opposite sex’s gaze”, then I think Oh! Boy serves as a great example of “the younger that boys learn that lesson”.

2) Sexism in the Korean Literary Establishment?

Granted, it was published back in 1996, and Korean Modern Literature in Translation’s charge comes with many qualifications. But still: it’s just remarkable that less than 1 in 1o of the writers in Who’s Who in Korean Literature were women.

3) Pognae Baby Carriers Rock!

As Geek in Heels explains:

Baby carriers are big in Asia. This is especially the case in urban areas where there is limited space and the majority of the population choose to take public transportation rather than drive.

And where there is demand, there is supply. A great variety of quality supply, I might add.

The Pognae is one such baby carrier. Made in, and popularized in Korea, the Pognae is currently one of the most popular soft structured baby carriers in Asia and Europe.

Read the rest there. If pognae are not to your liking though, then consider modernized Korean podaegi (포대기) instead, discussed in the second half of this post.

(Source: unknown)

4) On Being a Dating Blogger

Dating in Korea ponders her third year of blogging.

Semi-related, see here and here for two Korea Herald articles on what single Korean men and women want from dating these days.

5) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Becoming a Stewardess in Korea

It’s easy to criticize an industry that – in Korea at least – so needlessly stresses age and appearance, and to consider the young women that aspire to it as hopelessly vain and naive. However, despite these stereotypes, not only do the limited options available to Korean women (see #6 below) arguably make stewardessing a rational, adventurous, and even quite rebellious career choice, but Korean airlines even require university degrees from applicants too (and some cabin crew actually have Ph.Ds!).

See the Korea Herald here for more information. Guaranteed, you’ll be much more sympathetic to Korean stewardesses (and hopefuls) after reading it!

6) Should Korean Firms Have Quotas for Women?

Full disclosure: I’ve been a firm advocate of these ever since I wrote an undergraduate essay on the subject back in *cough* 1996. But still, I do think Shin Dong-youb, management professor at Yonsei School of Business, makes a good case for them here. Certainly his opponent Kim Joon-gi, a professor at Yonsei Law School, lacks all credibility when he fails to mention how alleged gains in female employment through  “informal government prodding” of companies, for instance, would prevent the same government encouraging the mass-firing of women again when it felt it was expedient, like it did in 1997 and 2008.

Having said that, one point Shin makes is that women are necessary to bring “feminine values”, such as “openness, diversity, sensitivity, emotional intelligence, nurturing, cooperation, horizontal community spirit, and innovation advantage” to the creative 21st Century economy. Not only do I find that notion repetitive and tiresome, but I’d question whether those are particularly “feminine” values at all, and would argue that the gender stereotypes they are based on not just flawed but actually positively unhelpful in getting women into the workplace. In particular, however modern-sounding, his argument sounds suspiciously like the logic that was used to justify giving women the vote in New Zealand in 1893(!), which, while successful (and the first in the world at that), was actually very much a backward step for New Zealand women, ossifying the Feminist movement there for at least the next 4 decades.


7) “The more feminine you look, the more children you want. Wait, what?”

Not strictly about Korea sorry, but long-term readers will recognize the above image from my post “Sex and the Red-Blooded Woman“, about how the redder a women’s cheeks, the sexier. Which is still quite a valid conclusion from the study discussed there, but for this post at I09 though, instead the image was used to illustrate a:

study published in the latest issue of Hormones and Behavior, [that] concluded that women’s facial features and estrogen levels correlate with their self-reported desire to have children — where higher estradiol concentrations and more “feminine” facial features both correspond with higher maternal tendencies (i.e. wanting more kids, sooner).

As Io9 correctly points out however:

Of course, the findings of the paper are what they are: correlations. Correlation, as most of us know, does not imply causation. That said, correlative results do have a nasty habit of turning into soundbites…”The more feminine you look, the more children you want,” for example.

In the interest of cutting these types of soundbites off at the pass, Scientific American bloggers Scicurious and Kate Clancy have taken the liberty of engaging in a little pre-emptive debunkery.

Read that thoroughly deserved debunking there!

8) The Constitutional Court Rules on the Vandom Case

Which if you’ve never heard of before, was Andrea Vandom’s petition to find mandatory in-country HIV tests for non-Korean non-citizens on E-2 visas unconstitutional. For more background, see the list of articles mentioned at the start of Matt’s usual thoroughly-researched post at Gusts of Popular Feeling.

Unfortunately, the petition was ultimately rejected.  But, as Matt explains, some positive things did still emerge from the ruling.

9) Illict Sex in North Korea

As explained at Clever Turtles, there are a few things that should be kept in mind whenever reading stories “from” North Korea:

Pretty much all news comes through a few anti-North Korean activists who cultivate communication channels with dissidents inside North Korea and refugees who have recently run the border. Several of them have religious motivations and ties with the South Korean evangelical community, who remain the most actively interested audience for news from North Korea. This is transparently obvious in this article.

That said, it is an interesting window into the daily lives of the people of North Korea, and a reminder that they are no more or less than human.

For more commentary, and the article itself (“about how North Korea is becoming a pit of sexual decadence), see here.

10) Sex-trafficking Awareness Ads a Little too Graphic

Again not technically Korean sorry, but from Singapore, and definitely NSFW if viewed at full size. But in light of the fact that 1 in 4 sex-trafficking victims in the US are Korean (see #3 here), and this recent horrific Australian case involving Koreans, then certainly such shocking ads couldn’t do any harm to the anti-trafficking cause here:


See CopyRanter for more details.