Quick Hit: Korean police blaming sex crimes on scantily clad women

Slutwalk Korea(Sources: left, right)

From the Korea Times:

The government is vowing stronger punishment on sex offenses. As a start, the Justice Ministry has rewritten the law to allow law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute sex criminals without a complaint filed from the victim.

But were loose laws ever much of a problem because the majority of our obtuse police officers are regressive enough to claim that some female victims simply had it coming?

The Korea Women’s Development Institute recently quizzed some 200 police officers in South Gyeongsang Province cities over their thoughts on sex crimes against women and the results were disturbing.

About 54 percent of the respondents supported the view that women who wear revealing clothing are somehow culpable in any attacks on them. Around 37 percent of them felt the same about women who drink and 21 percent about women walking alone at night. And 24 percent said they found it difficult to believe a victim when they don’t report the incident right away.

Read the rest at the link. Meanwhile, I’ll try to find the original KWDI report on the survey and/or related news article, and translate it for you by sometime next week.

Also, for anyone interested in the Korean Slutwalk (잡년행진), see here for information about the last two years’ events. I’ve been unable to find any information about this year’s, but do hope that one will go ahead. After all, as the police officers’ attitudes above indicate, unfortunately it’s needed more than ever…

Update: I’m No Picasso has a must-read response to the article.

Korean Sociological Image #71: “Specs” for the perfect Korean wife or husband

(Source: Slutwalk Korea)

When I lived abroad in Korea, I spent a lot of time doing work in cafes. Probably a 100 or more during my 2 years there. As such, I eavesdropped on thousands of conversations. And nearly every one of those conversations was about two topics: complaints re studying English and complaints re losing weight.

(Patricia Park, Korean Bodega, June 15)

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for my bachelor days, but it’s conversations about “specs” (스펙) that I’ve really noticed myself. A Korean term for the criteria used to evaluate a potential spouse on, it’s also my experience that it’s almost exclusively used by women, although that may just be because there’s usually more women than men at my local Starbucks.

Either way, in February Kim Da-ye at the Korea Times argued that looking at marriage this way is a relatively new phenomenon, and that it’s “matchmaking companies that rate spouse seekers by specs [that] have fueled [such] materialism.” And, as if to bolster that point, Donga-Reuters would report on exactly the same phenomenon emerging in China after I’d already begun writing this post.

But as discussed below, matchmakers have been encouraging such pragmatism for decades, so they can hardly be described as driving that change in outlook. Rather, it’s economic factors that are responsible, as Kim later acknowledges in her article:

(Source: Ozzyz Review; edited)

…today’s buzzword “Sampo” generation (삼포세대) …indicates a 30-something who has given up dating, marrying and giving birth because of the lack of financial means…

Contrast the “880,000 won generation”, which generally refers to 20-somethings. Continuing:

….What’s interesting about such preferences for the partner’s economic qualification is that they don’t come from conservative parents or rigid social structure but independent, young individuals….

….The near obsession with fine lifestyle is a contrast to the attitude of the baby boomer generation, many of whom used to say that they can start from a small rented room….

When asked why the younger generation isn’t willing make such a humble start, Lee, a single woman in her mid-30s working at a media firm, said, “Back then, amid fast economic growth, people had hoped that they would be able to climb up the social ladder and afford a bigger place in the future. Nowadays, people feel that if they start in a small room, they will be stuck there for the rest of their lives.”

The high cost of getting married naturally leads to some couples to be heavily indebted after the honeymoon ends. In addition to the Sampo generation, another phrase linked to both the economy and marriage has emerged — “honeymoon poor.”

And Kim — whose article is still very informative overall — gives several examples of engaged couples’ fights over money, some of whom ultimately break up. Yet those would not be out of place in popular discourses of marriage in, for example, the 1980s, when women’s magazines were similarly promoting the virtues of arranged ones. Presumably, at the behest of their advertisers:

(Source: Google Books)

Passage Rites Made Easy [A 1982 Korean book by Ko Chonggi] describes marriage through an arranged meeting as more “rational” behavior than simply falling in love because the candidates for romance and matrimony have already been carefully scrutinized by parents and matchmakers. Korean women’s magazines also emphasize the value of prior screening in choosing a mate, suggesting by the frequency with which they address this topic that their youthful readership is by no means convinced of the merits of matchmade matrimony:

Today, with the trend towards frankness in sexual matters, talk of “arranged meetings” or “matchmade marriage” might sound excessively stale. Even so, in marriage the conditions of both sides enter into things. Matchmade marriage, where you can dispassionately investigate these considerations beforehand, has some advantages that cannot be ignored (“The Secrets of a Successful Arranged Meeting,” Yong Reidi, 3 March 1985: 347).

From pages 89-90 of Getting Married in Korea: Of Gender, Morality, and Modernity (1996), by Laurel Kendall, the next page sounds a little ironic 18 years later:

The evolution of Korean courtship practices provides one excellent example of how notions of progress, of an enlightened “now” versus a repressive “then”, mask the particular disadvantages for women in new forms of matrimonial negotiations, be they “matchmade” or “for love” — a mask which sometimes slips in angry conversation or social satire. Through courtship and through all of the talk about getting married, notions of ideal “man” and “woman”, “husband” and “wife”, “son-in-law” and “daughter-in-law” are constructed, reinforced, and resisted….

….In Korean popular discourse, the evils of old-fashioned matrimony, in which near-children were forced by the will of their elders to marry total strangers, have been replaced by more enlightened practices. The “old days” are still on the horizon of living memory, but are recalled as from an utterly vanished time. In confessing that he never saw his wife’s face until his wedding night, the writer Cho P’ungyon states [in 1983] with a touch of hyperbole that “Today’s young people would consider this laughable and the faint-hearted might swoon away, but in my day these procedures were considered natural.”

(Source: Korea Portal)

The difference being that in 2012, financially-strapped singles can no longer afford to be so dismissive (nor Japanese ones either). Moreover, while they’re not marrying complete strangers perhaps, many Koreans do marry people they’ve only known a few weeks, as discussed in an earlier post. Also, some mild social coercion can indeed be involved, as Gomushin Girl explained:

It’s important to differentiate between different kinds of matchmaking arrangements…lots of Koreans use services that are similar to eHarmony, It’s Just Dinner, and other similar paid and unpaid services. Just like in the US, there’s free and paid computer matching sites, and more expensive and comprehensive personalized dating services. These offer a great deal of flexibility, and allow you to reject partners at many stages of the process – the worst consequence being that the agent in charge of finding you matches will decide you’re too picky, and start sending you “lower quality” matches. You’re free to meet multiple people at once, and they’re basically meant to facilitate dating.

However, 선 (Seon) matches are pretty different. Most of the time the people proposing the arrangement are close family or friends (of your parents), and parties are expected to make up their minds pretty quickly. Delaying too long or changing your mind after the first few dates is strongly frowned upon, and may even cause major social riftts. This means that women especially are pressured to marry people before they’re comfortable with them, and even if they’re not really what they’re looking for. Seon is serious, and you’re expected to commit yourself pretty quickly.

It’s also expected to override existing social relationships. My Korean host mother once called me up to ask if I’d go down to Busan to meet a friend’s son, who was interested in a seon meeting with me. I told her I’d just started dating someone, and her response was essentially, “That’s wonderful! When can you come to Busan?”

(Source: Sinbustory)

And on that note, let me leave you with a translation of the image that prompted this post, a poster for last week’s Slutwalk in Seoul. The slogan reads, roughly, “Let’s stop these fantasy gender roles now. Let’s play at being ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, 2012 Slutwalk Korea.” Many of the specs it mentions would be shared by people the world over, but there are also some quintessentially Korean ones:

For the “man” (literally, it says “manliness”):

  • 키180이상 Over 180cm in height
  • 전문직 A professional
  • 대기업정규직 Regular worker at a big company
  • 인서울4년제 Went to a 4-year university in Seoul
  • 자차소유 Owns a car
  • 장남아닐것 Not a first-born son
  • 데이트비용 Pays for everything on a date
  • 신혼집구입 Buys a home after marriage
  • 사회생활잘함 Good social skills
  • 성격좋음 Good personality
  • 술잘마심 A good drinker
  • 정력왕 Good sexual stamina

For the woman (“womanliness”):

  • 키170미만 Under 170cm tall
  • 몸무게50미만 Under 50 kg
  • 가슴C컵이상 A C-cup or over
  • 30살이하 30 or under
  • 날신한몸매 Thin body
  • 작고하얀얼굴 Small and white face
  • 화장은기본 Always wears make-up
  • 제모는상식 Shaves legs and underarms
  • 명품백하나쯤 Have at least one brand-name handbag
  • 애교있는성격 Have aegyo
  • 시댁을부모처럼 Treats parents-in-law like her own parents
  • 섹스경험없음 Be a virgin

Are there any others readers would add? Especially Korean ones?

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

Korean Gender Reader: Slutwalk Tomorrow!

(Source)

Starting 4pm, from Tapgol Park in Seoul. Again, see here, here, and here for the organizers’ Facebook event page, Facebook group, and blog respectively, here for an English translation of  the “Slut Walk Korea Declaration 2012″, and finally here for R0boseyo’s excellent write-up of last year’s event.

Sorry that I can’t join you Seoulites this year, and please let us all know how it goes!^^

Body Image/Health:

Both men and women may be hardwired to objectify women’s bodies (io9)

Are Men Attracted to What They Think Other Men Approve Of? (Jezebel)

Miss Korea 2012 Dubbed ‘Miss Plastic’ by Netizens (Korea Bang)

A(nother) Problematic Experience in a Korean OBGYN Clinic (Agent 071)

S-line is default dynamic pose for female comic book characters (Escher Girls)

I’m Loving It? The Fast Food Health Epidemic in Singapore (Thick Dumpling Skin)

Why is plastic surgery considered bad? (Angry K-pop Fan)

The Skinny Fat Girl (Or: It’s not just the Korean media that fatshames skinny women) (Nursing Clio)

Singapore blogger undergoes major facial surgery in Korea (Yahoo! Entertainment Singapore)

Great legs but ridiculous poses on Min Hyo-rin (Omona)

An Ugly Reflection: Plastic Surgery In Korea (Follow Your Hart)

Cosmetic Surgery Patients Getting Younger (The Chosun Ilbo)

Objectification: Nothing As Easy As It Looks (Seoulbeats)

Crime:

Repeat offenders commit half of sex crimes (The Korea Times)

Korea’s kiddie porn enforcement lax (The Marmot’s Hole)

Sex offenders poorly monitored (The Korea Times)

Children and women remain unprotected against sex crimes (The Korea Times)

Sometimes you have to wonder about the world… (The Marmot’s Hole)

Missing girl found dead in Tongyeong (The Korea Herald)

Sex-Offender Website Swamped After Child Killing (The Chosun Ilbo)

South Korean Police Tire of Abuse by Drinkers (The New York Times)

Children from poor families more likely to be targets of sexual crimes (The Hankyoreh)

Dating/Relationships/Marriage:

Celebrating 10 Years Together With My Husband (Speaking of China)

PDA in South Korea (From Korea with Love)

“The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men” Series at Gusts of Popular Feeling:

Part 8: After the ‘hidden camera sex’ report… victim hurt again through ‘comment terror’

LGBT/Sexuality:

Women’s Gait and Dancing Attractiveness Across the Menstrual Cycle (Psychology Today)

Teen prostitution – the numbers have grown, the conditions are worse (Ilda)

Shoutout: Gay Friends in Seoul

What should schools teach about sex? (The Korea Herald)

Misc:

The male feminist: a contemporary player in the fight for women’s liberation (The F-Word)

A Glimpse into the Lives of the Women of the Coalition for North Korean Women’s Rights (Ministry of Unification)

Beware of sexy waitresses in North Korean restaurants – they may be spies? (Examiner.com)

Feminist Culture Clash (Us in Busan)

Now Confucian Culture Causes Nuclear Meltdowns Too? (The Unlikely Expat)

Politics/Economics/Workplaces:

How Eve Grew up in Korea (Seoulbeats)

Womenomics for growth (The Korea Times)

Concern for Young Temporary Workers’ Rights (Human Rights Monitor)

Retirees in South Korea find it’s no country for old men (Reuters)

Pop Culture:

Nice to see a Korean MV simply featuring black people as – well, people (Mixtapes and Liner Notes)

Can you recommend the Korean route to becoming an idol? (Angry K-pop Fan)

On (Bad) Driving in Korean Popular Culture (Seoulbeats)

The Weaknesses of SM, JYP, and YG Entertainment (Allkpop)

When fans forcibly pair up two males who are actually straight (Angry K-pop Fan)

Pregnancy/Abortion/Childbirth/Demographics/Parenting/Education/Multiculturalism:

Anti-English Spectrum vs. the Asiatic Exclusion League (Gord Sellar)

One brain, two minds: The surprising impact of speaking another language (Kim Yuri)

South Korea teenagers bullied to death (CNN)

Children with Smart Phones: Are We Being Smart About It? (Human Rights Monitor)

Japanese women fall behind Hong Kong in longevity (BBC)

Weekly Chosun on multiculturalism, xenophobia (The Marmot’s Hole)

Korean Gender Reader: Slutwalk Next Saturday!

(Source)

See here, here, and here for the organizers’ Facebook event page, Facebook group, and blog respectively. Alas, there isn’t any information available in English, but R0boseyo’s excellent write-up of last year’s event gives you a good idea of what to expect.

Update: The “Slut Walk Korea Declaration 2012” has an English translation.

Body Image/Health:

Do I look fat in this country? A look at beauty ideals in Korean culture (Chatelaine)

“Rougan”: How My Husband Helped Me Love My Curves (Speaking of China)

Big Boobs in Korea (Eat Your Kimchi)

Continued Criticism of Miss Korea Pageant (Korea Human Rights News; scroll down for translation)

London 2012 Olympics: let’s celebrate sportswomen’s bodies (The Guardian)

Comic Book Industry Rejects Human-looking Female Characters (Escher Girls)

Blog Shoutout: Women’s Comic Book Poses in Real Life (Maxi and April)

Snoop Dogg vs. SONEs: The Tweet Heard ‘Round the K-popiverse (Seoulbeats)

North Korea Experts Can See a Lot in a Hemline (The New York Times; Asia Times)

Censorship:

Rolling Changes in K-pop (Seoulbeats)

China arrests 31 in U.S.-hosted porn website crackdown (People’s Daily Online)

Bill to ban alcohol ads by young celebrities (The Korea Times, EUCAM; see The Wall Street Journal also)

Crime:

Girl Posts Picture of Alleged ‘Molesting’ Man on Bus (Korea Bang)

Teen rape exposes dark side of the Korean Web (Korea Joongang Daily)

Anti-Trafficking NGO to Set Up Shop in Korea (The Chosun Ilbo)

“Looking for Pretty Women: Minimum 1 Million Won per Day” (Human Rights Monitor)

Foreign Ministry engulfed in sexual harassment case (The Korea Times)

Dating/Relationships/Marriage:

Getting Your Marriage Certificate in China (My Beijing Survival Diary)

Dating in Korea (Rok On!)

Ask the Yangxifu: My Boyfriend Doesn’t Understand My Past Child Abuse (Speaking of China)

“The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men” Series at Gusts of Popular Feeling:

Part 8: After the ‘hidden camera sex’ report… victim hurt again through ‘comment terror’

Who’s Hunting Who? (The Korea Times, The Marmot’s Hole)

Newspaper Reveals the ‘Truth’ About Foreigners in Korea (Korea Bang)

LGBT/Sexuality:

LGBT Groups Oppose Reappointment of NHRCK Byung-chul Hyun (Human Rights Monitor)

Xiyadie depicts homosexual love in Chinese paper-cuts (Los Angeles Times)

Dance, Mingle, Be Gay (Matt Lemon Photography)

Misc:

Tokyo’s new Robot Girls Restaurant will bring out your inner cyber-fetishist (io9)

London 2012: Japan, Australia and organisers face sexism claims (The Guardian)

China 2050: Caucasians to Become China’s Migrant Workers in the Future? (Chinasmack; Ministry of Tofu)

Koreans are Individualistic (in Stressful Environments) (Via Korea)

Is it okay to bar the visually impaired from bath houses? (Ilda)

Politics/Economics/Workplaces:

How to avoid false accusations of sexual harassment (I’m No Picasso)

Dreaming of a future where people finish work at 5pm (The Wall Street Journal)

Solbi shares that she was in a sexual harassment prevention video (Allkpop)

Problems with Korea’s labor law (this time from an employee perspective) (Korea Law Today)

Best Places to Work in Korea (Human Rights Monitor)

Park Geun-hye pledges after-school childcare for working couples (The Korea Times)

Are Koreans ready for woman president? (The Korea Times)

Lighting the way to female leadership (The Korea Times)

Pop Culture:

How To Be The Asian Female TV/Movie Sidekick (8asians)

Gender and Race: The Relationship Between Same-Sex Couples and Interracial Depictions in US Television (Overthinking)

Being branded as a K-pop fan (Angry K-pop Fan)

New drama series “Answer to 1997” to tackle obsessive fans (My First Love Story)

Why all the English phrases in K-pop? (Angry K-pop Fan)

Variety Screen Time: An Idol’s Ongoing Battle (Seoulbeats)

‘You only like Korean idols because they’re good looking’: the role of visuals in K-pop (Angry K-pop Fan; Part 2)

Pregnancy/Abortion/Childbirth/Demographics/Parenting/Education/Multiculturalism:

National economy threatened by shrinking population (The Hankyoreh)

After corporal punishment debate, Korean students still being hit (Asian Correspondent)

Refugee Rights Movement Finally Takes Root in Korea (Human Rights Monitor)

Mandatory HIV Testing Policy Challenged at the International Level – Korea charged with violating racial discrimination treaty (Gusts of Popular Feeling, Voice of America)

Op-Ed: A Need to Better Understand Youth Suicide Issues in Korea (Human Rights Monitor)

Life about to get enough tougher for migrant workers (The Hankyoreh)

(Links are not necessarily endorsements)