Sex and the University, Part 3: University Students’ Cohabitation Culture

(Live Together, 2007. Source)

Much to my regret later, I never properly met any Koreans in New Zealand before I first came here.

But by coincidence, a Korean woman replaced me in my last flat after I left. And as my ex-flatmates soon gleefully reported, she was the perfect flatmate, paying her share of the rent without ever actually spending so much as a single night there.

Glee rapidly turned to genuine concern though, as she completely disappeared a week after moving her stuff in, not answering her cell-phone at all for 2 weeks.

Alas, once she was back from her trip home(!), she explained she was actually living with her Korean boyfriend at his place. But, lest she be caught with him by her parents back in Korea somehow, she needed a separate address and home phone number, and a pretend bedroom just in case they made a surprise visit.

And once they were in the loop, then naturally that was fine with her flatmates, and she would end up spending less than, say, 4-5 hours a week there for the next 6 months.


Of course, I’m sure she had good reasons for what she did. And even 10 years later, openly cohabiting is a big taboo in Korea, testament to which is the fact Korean portal sites like Naver require age verification for you to search for anything related to donggeo, “동거”, the Korean word for cohabitation, placing it on a par with pornography and so on.

Granted, along with pregnancy, couples are generally forgiven if they have already made arrangements to marry, or at least do so shortly after being discovered.  But as a Seoul-based friend who wrote his MA thesis on them frequently lamented, that means it can be near impossible just to find cohabiting couples, let alone ones willing to talk about their experiences with a researcher.

Still, that’s not to say that they don’t exist, and fortunately amorous Yonsei University couples at least don’t seem to need to go to quite such extremes to hide their living arrangements, as the third of four articles on the “Sex and the University” theme from the Yonsei Chunchu (연세춘추) campus newspaper explains. Not really giving any background on the subject though, if you haven’t already then I recommend reading this short introductory article I wrote for the Korea Times before starting here, and it also has a list of links to many other related posts for anyone further interested.

Update: Strangely, the internet searches work fine if you add an extra term, and hence there’s unrestricted access to info about the 2007 movieLive Together (donggeo-donglak; 동거동락) in the opening image for instance, which sounds great to watch in bed with your partner interesting. Anybody seen it already? It’s also known as Happy Together, and yes, that is indeed a dildo mosaiced out at 0:42.

And without any further ado, thanks again to Marilyn for translating the article:

지금 사랑하는 사람과 살고 있나요? Are you living with the person you love?

원주캠, 신촌캠, 신림동 고시촌…요즘 젊은 세대들의 동거문화를 엿보다

Wonju campus, Shinchon campus, Sillim-dong gosichon [area where there are many people studying for Civil Service or other exams] – a look at the young generation’s cohabitation culture

『개인의 취향』, 『풀하우스』, 『옥탑방 고양이』….

모두 미혼남녀의 동거를 소재로 한 드라마들이다. 이런 드라마들은 동거생활의 알콩달콩한 면면을 보여주며 화제를 불러일으켰다. 미디어의 영향일까. 동거를 바라보는 대학생들의 시선은 관대한 편이다. 실제로 성의식 설문에 응답한 우리대학교 학생 중 43.6%가 “동거를 할 의향이 있는가”를 묻는 문항에 “그렇다”고 답했다. 그러나 동거에 대해 긍정적으로 생각한다는 것과 진짜 동거를 하는 것은 다른 법. 직접 학생들을 만나 실제 대학생들의 동거생활과 이에 대한 인식을 들어봤다.

Personal Preference, Full House, Attic Cat – all dramas about unmarried men and women cohabiting.  These dramas have caused a stir by portraying the cute side of cohabitation.  Does the media have influence [on us]?  University students’ views on cohabiting are on the tolerant side.  When asked, “Are you interested in cohabiting with a partner?”,  43.6% of students at our university who participated in a survey about attitudes toward sexuality said “yes.”  However, there is a difference between having positive views of cohabitation and actually cohabiting.  We met students and heard about real students’ experiences and perception of cohabitation.


매지리 동거족, 말하지 않아도 알아요

Cohabitation in Maejiri, known about even though they don’t talk about it

우리대학교 원주캠퍼스의 경우 학생 대부분이 타지방생이다. 그래서 통학생은 거의 없고 대부분 기숙사에 살거나 인근 지역인 ‘매지리’에서 자취한다. 상황이 이렇다보니 매지리에는 동거에 관해 다소 관대한 분위기가 형성돼 있다. 동거 사실을 공공연히 밝힐 정도는 아니지만 동거족이 많은 것은 알 사람들은 아는 사실이다. 실제로 매지리의 한 아파트에서 남자친구와 살고 있는 전아무개(23)씨는 친구들에게는 굳이 동거 사실을 숨기지 않는다고 말했다. 매지리에서 동거는 크게 문제시되는 사안이 아니기 때문이다. 그녀가 살고 있는 아파트에서 만난 김아무개(24) 커플은 완전한 동거 형태는 아니었지만 ‘거의’ 함께 살고 있다. 김씨는 기숙사생이지만 남자친구의 방에서 지내며 기숙사에는 거의 들어가지 않는다. 매지학사의 경우 기숙사비가 비싸지 않은 데다 집으로부터 의심을 피할 수 있기 때문에 들어가 살지 않더라도  일단 신청해두는 것이다. 김씨는 “이런 원주캠퍼스의 특징이 비교적 자유로운 동거 생활이 가능한 분위기를 조성하는 것 같다”고 말했다.

Most of the students at our university’s Wonju campus are from other areas. There are almost no students who commute from home, and most live in a dormitory or live independently in ’Maejiri’, a neighboring area. Because of that, an atmosphere of tolerance toward cohabitation has developed in Maejiri.  It’s not to the point where people publicly reveal their cohabitation, but it is an open secret that many people are doing it.  One Ms. Jeon (23), who actually lives in an apartment complex in Maejiri with her boyfriend, says that she doesn’t feel the need to hide the truth from her friends.  She says it’s because in Maejiri living together is not a very problematic issue.  In the same apartment complex, a Ms. Kim (24) and her partner are not quite in a cohabitation situation but are “almost” living together. Ms. Kim lives in a dormitory, but stays at her boyfriend’s place and hardly ever goes to the dorm.  In the case of the Maeji school,  a place where the dormitory fee is not expensive, students enter the dorm to avoid suspicion from home, so even though they don’t live there, it’s important to apply. Ms. Kim said, “One special feature of the Wonju campus is that it seems to create an atmosphere in which comparatively free cohabitation is possible.”


존재하지만 눈치 보이는 신촌

Sinchon, where it occurs but they care about others’ opinions

그렇다면 신촌캠퍼스의 상황은 어떠할까. 우리대학교 뿐 아니라 인근에 여러 대학이 밀집해있는 신촌의 경우 대학생들의 수 자체가 클 뿐 아니라 대학 간 커플도 종종 보인다. 그러나 동거를 대하는 학생들의 태도는 앞서 살펴본 매지리와는 사뭇 다르다. 신촌의 동거 커플들은 동거를 한다는 사실에 대해서는 크게 심각하게 받아들이지 않았다. 그러나 상대적으로 매지리에 비해 타인의 시선을 의식하고 있었다. 이아무개(22)씨는 여자친구와의 동거를 진지하게 고민해봤다고 했다. 그러나 그는 동거를 좋지 않게 보는 사람들의 시선이 신경 쓰여 망설이다 결국 단념했다. 지방에서 올라온 김아무개씨(21)는 그와는 조금 다른 경우로, 현재 신촌에서 여자친구와 함께 살고 있다. 김씨는 “처음엔 혼자 살았는데 어느 때부터 여자친구가 놀러오는 빈도가 잦아졌고 얼마 안가 동거를 제안하게 됐다”고 말했다. 그러나 둘 다 집에는 전혀 알리지 않았고 그것이 반드시 필요한 절차라고는 생각지 않는다고 했다.

So then how is it done in Sinchon?  In Sinchon, where not only our university but several others are clustered, not only is there a large number of students, but also couples who go to university are often visible.  However, the students’ attitude towards cohabitation is quite different than that seen in Maejiri above.  Sinchon’s cohabitating couples don’t take living together very seriously.  Compared to Maejiri, though, they were more conscious of others’ views.  One Mr. Lee (22) has seriously considered cohabiting with his girlfriend.  But because some of the people whose views he cares about think that cohabitation is not good, the plans fell apart and he finally gave up.  A Mr. Kim (21), who came from outside of Seoul, was in a slightly different situation; he is currently living with his girlfriend in Sinchon.  He said, “At first I lived alone but at some point my girlfriend started coming over a lot and not much later I asked her to move in with me.”  However, he said the two have certainly not told their families, and he doesn’t think that it’s absolutely necessary to do so.


장래 약속한 동거커플 많은 신림동

Sillim-dong, where there are many cohabitating couples who’ve made promises for the future [about marriage]

신림동 고시촌은 함께 살며 고시를 준비하는 동거족들이 많은 지역이다. 이진아(25)씨는 자신의 고시촌 입주 당시를 회상하며 “큰 문화적 충격에 휩싸였었다”고 말했다. 동거하고 있는 커플들이 생각보다 너무 많았기 때문이었다. 주위 몇 집만 둘러봐도 동거 중인 커플들을 쉽게 볼 수 있다는 것이다. 이씨는 “공부에 전념하느라 연애할 여력이 없을 것 같은데 의외의 현상이었다”고 말했다. 또 다른 고시촌 거주 고시생인 김지영(28)씨도  비슷한 얘기를 전했다. 김씨는 “결혼을 약속한 남자친구와 함께 살며 공부하는 친구가 있다”며 “고시공부로 인한 외로움을 달래고 경제적인 부담도 줄이려는 것”이라 말했다. 김씨는 “같이 고시를 준비하는 고시촌 동거 커플들은 특히 장래를 약속한 사이가 많은 것 같다”고 덧붙였다.

The Sillim-dong gosichon is an area where there are many people cohabiting while preparing for major exams.   While recalling moving into the gosichon, Lee Jin Ah (25) said, “It was a big cultural shock.”  It was because there were many more cohabiting couples than she had thought.  It’s that looking around at just a few of the nearby houses, she can find many cohabiting couples.  Ms. Lee said, “It seemed like they would be too busy studying to have energy for romantic relationships so it was an unexpected situation.”  At another gosichon residence, Kim Ji Young (28), who is preparing for an exam, also had a similar story.  She said, “I have friends who are studying while living with boyfriends they have promised to marry,” and “It soothes the loneliness caused by studying for a major exam, and lessens the financial burden too.”  She added, “It seems that many of the couples cohabiting in the gosichon and preparing for a major exam together have made special promises about the future to each other [are engaged].”


(Part 1, Part 2, Part 4)

Sex and the University: Part 2

(Sources: left, right)

With thanks to reader Marilyn for translating it, here is the second of four articles on that theme that were recently published in the Yonsei Chunchu (연세춘추) campus newspaper:

대학생들, 신중하게 즐겨라, 섹스 칼럼니스트 박소현 인터뷰

University students, enjoy cautiously! Interview with sex columnist Park So Hyun

현재 「일간스포츠」에 ‘처녀들의 수다’라는 칼럼을 연재하고 있는 박소현 칼럼니스트의 원래 직업은 방송작가다. 연애칼럼으로 시작해 자연스레 섹스에 관련된 칼럼을 쓰고 있다. 저서로는 『쉿! She it!』『남자가 도망쳤다』가 있다. 섹스에 대해 거리낌없이 글을 쓰지만 보수적인 집안에서 자라 지금도 필명으로 활동하고 있다. 박 칼럼니스트에게 대학생들의 연애와 섹스에 대해 물어봤다.

Park So Hyun, whose column “Single Girls’ Talk” currently appears in ‘Ilgan Sports’, originally wrote for TV programs.  After starting with a dating column, she now naturally writes a column related to sex.  Shh! She it! and He Escaped are among her writings.  Though she writes openly about sex, she grew up in a conservative household and so even now uses a pen-name.   We asked Ms. Park about the love and sex lives of university students.


Q. 설문조사에서적지않은수의학생들이연애에서성관계는필수적이라고답했습니다. 연애에서섹스가필수적이라고생각하시는지?

Q: In a study, considerable numbers of students said that sex is essential to dating.  Do you think that sex is essential to dating?

A. 동의합니다. 그렇다고 사귀면 무조건 해야 된다는 이야기는 아니고, 상대에 대한 마음의 깊이에 따라 신중하게 결정하는 과정이 뒷받침돼야겠죠. 섹스를 원하는데 사회의 기준을 따르느라 ‘하면 안 된다’라고 생각하거나 이를 억지로 참는 건 좋지 않다고 생각해요. 하지만 20대 초중반에는 성욕과 사랑을 구분하는 게 어려울 수 있어 섹스가 관계를 그르치게 되는 경우가 많을 수 있어요. 그러니 연애가 성숙해지고 나서 신중하게 결정하는 것이 필요해요.

A: Yes, I think so.  However, that’s not saying that it’s something you absolutely must do when dating, and it must be supported by a careful decision-making process according to the strength of your feelings toward your partner.  I think wanting sex but following society’s norms and thinking “Having sex is not allowed”, or suppressing it forcefully, is not good.  However, in our early to mid-20’s, separating sexual desire from love can be difficult so there can be many cases in which sex ruins a relationship.  Therefore, dating requires making decisions carefully after becoming mature.


Q. 잡지를보면성관계에서의고민에서테크닉에대한조언까지성에대한정보가넘쳐나는데, 대학생들에게이런정보가도움이된다고생각하시는지?

Q: Because of worries about sex, magazines are overflowing with information about sex that even goes as far as advice about technique.  Do you think that this kind of information is helpful to university students?

A. 저도 가끔 의뢰가 들어오면 잡지에 글을 쓰기도 하는데, 그런 정보들에는 트렌드가 담겨있어요. 물론 테크닉이나 내 애인은 어떤 걸 좋아할지를 참고할 수는 있겠지만 결국 성적 문제는 자기 기준, 자기 인생관에 결부되는 문제예요. 트렌드보다 자신이 더 중요하죠.

A: If a commission comes in, I also sometimes write for magazines; that kind of information includes (is made up of?) trends.  Of course, technique or what my partner will like can be taken into consideration, but in the end sexual problems are problems linked to personal standards and outlook. One’s self is more important than trends.


Q. 요즘젊은사람들의경향을봤을신기하거나놀라웠던점이있다면?

Q:  When you’ve looked at the tendencies of young people today have there been any amazing or surprising points?

A. 정말 사회가 많이 개방적으로 변한 것 같다고 생각이 든 게, 혼전섹스나 동거 같은 것이 많이 자유로워진 것 같아요. 전 30대 후반인데 제가 학교 다닐 때만 해도 그런 얘기 자유롭게 못했었거든요. 놀라웠죠. 책임이 뒷받침돼야 한다는 사실만 기억한다면 괜찮다고 생각해요.

A: The thing that makes me think that society seems to have really become more open is that things like premarital sex and living together seem to have become much more natural.  I’m in my late 30s and even just when I was going to school, we couldn’t speak freely about that kind of thing.  It’s surprising.  If you just remember the fact that responsibility needs to underlie it (it needs to be backed up by responsibility?), I think it’s okay.


Q. 대학생들에게해주고싶은조언이있다면?

Q: Is there any advice you would like to give to university students?

A. 제가 처음 칼럼을 쓰기 시작할 때는 예전에 실패했던 경험들을 반성하는 느낌으로 많이 썼어요. 20대는 정말 실수할 수밖에 없는 시기라고 생각해요. 제가 자주 하는 말 중에 “나쁜 섹스는 빨리 잊어라”라는 말이 있는데 연애나 성관계에서의 실수와 자기 인생을 너무 깊게 연관 짓지 않았으면 좋겠어요. 물론 실수를 통해 깨닫는 바는 있어야 하겠죠. 하지만 그 실수에 얽매이지 말고 털고 일어나라는 거예요. 그리고 다시 한번 말하자면, 신중해야 해요. 저도 한때 남자들과 많이 자봤다는 걸 자랑스럽게 생각한 적도 있지만 결혼하고 나서 돌이켜보니 그렇게까지 할 필요가 있었을까하는 생각이 들어요. 자기감정, 욕구에 솔직해 자유롭게 관계를 가지는 것도 좋지만 절제할 줄 아는 미덕도 있잖아요. 그때는 멋있어 보이고 즐거울 수 있지만 뭐든지 얻는 게 있으면 잃는 게 있기 마련이에요. 가벼운 생각으로 결정했을 때는 후회가 반드시 뒤따를 수 있다는 것을 명심했으면 좋겠어요.

A: When I first started to write my column, I often wrote with a feeling of self-reflection on my past failed experiences.  I think that our 20s are a time when we really can’t help but make mistakes.  “Forget bad sex fast” is among the things I often say, and I hope that they don’t make (feel?) a connection between their mistakes in dating or sexual relationships and their lives too strongly. Of course, through mistakes we have to come to some realizations.  But don’t get tied up in the mistake, let it go and get back up.  And to repeat myself, you have to be cautious.  For a time I also thought with pride about the fact that I’d slept with many men, but after marriage, when I looked back, I wondered if going that far was necessary.  Being honest about your personal feelings and desires and having relationships freely is good,  but there is also the virtue of self-control.  At that time I looked cool and could have a good time, but if there’s anything to gain there’s certain to be something to lose.  I hope they keep in mind that if a decision is made without much thought, regret can certainly follow.

(Part 1, Part 3, Part 4)

Sex and the University: Part 1


Well, sex and Yonsei University to be precise, with 4 articles on that theme being published in the latest Yonsei Chunchu (연세춘추) campus newspaper, providing valuable insights into modern Korean students’ sexual experience and attitudes.

Unfortunately for the authors though, Yonsei happens to be a notoriously Christian university. And so according to my anonymous informer, they were actually punished for them in some way.

Details are sketchy at the moment, but the main problem appears to have been a sex survey sent to all students, with the first article below discussing the results. Perhaps the board of trustees was shocked and embarrassed that 1 in 3 Yonsei students are quite happy having one-night stands or something?

연세인, 당신의성의식은어떤가요? 대학생성의식은개방으로황새걸음, 사회적인식은아직도뱁새걸음

Yonsei students, how is your awareness of sexual issues? While university students’ awareness is progressing by leaps and bounds, Korean society is still only making baby steps

가장 기본적이고 보편적인 욕구인 동시에 가장 은밀하기도 한 것, 바로 ‘성(性)’이다. 아직 성적인 이야기를 스스럼 없이 털어 놓을 수 없는 한국 사회에서 연세인들은 성에 대해 어떠한 생각을 갖고 있는지 「연세춘추」에서 알아봤다. 설문조사는 이메일을 통해 지난 9월 13일에서 10월 4일까지 약 3주간 진행됐으며 1천287명의 학생들이 이에 답했다.

Sex is the most basic, universal desire, but at the same time it’s also the most private one. And in a society in which people still feel unable to speak frankly and openly about sexual matters, how to find out Yonsei students’ thoughts on them? So, the Yonsei Chunchu conducted an email survey for 3 weeks between the 13th of September and the 4th of October, and received 1,287 replies from students.


연세인 2 1, “나는성경험이있다

1 in 2 Yonsei students have sexual experience

성경험의 유무를 묻는 질문에 거의 절반에 해당하는 49.5%의 학생들이 “있다”고 답했다. 또한 “있다”고 답한 응답자 중 72.5%가 08학번 이상이라고 답해 고학번이 높은 비중을 차지한 것을 볼 수 있었다. 이에 대해 ‘행복한 성문화센터’ 배정원 소장은 “사회적 분위기 자체가 달라져 성관계를 맺는다는 것이 쉽게 받아들여지고 있다”며 “예전에는 공개적으로 등장하지 않았던 혼전 성관계가 대중매체에서 자연스럽게 나오면서 사람들이 이에 대해 대수롭지 않게 생각하게 됐다”고 말했다.

또한 우리대학교 성희롱·성폭력 상담실 이정화 교수는 “실제로 성경험이 있는 학생들의 숫자도 늘어났지만 그 사실을 드러내놓고 이야기 할 수 있게 여건이 변한 탓도 있다”고 말했다. 이러한 사실은 “성경험이 있음에도 주변사람들에게 거짓말을 한 적이 있다면 그 이유는 무엇인가”라는 문항에서도 찾을 수 있다. “주변의 인식 때문에”라는 답변을 33.0%의 학생들이 선택한 반면 “사생활에 대해 말하기 싫어서”를 택한 학생은 40.8%로 가장 많았다. 이 교수는 이 결과에 대해 “성관계를 가졌다고 해서 안 좋은 낙인이 찍히거나 이상하게 보는 분위기가 아니기 때문에 주변의 인식의 문제보다 ‘이건 내 사생활’이라는 의식이 더 크게 작용한 것”이라고 분석했다.

On the question of it they had sexual experience, almost half of students (49.5%) replied that they had, of whom 72.5% entered Yonsei University in 2008 or earlier. About this, Bae Jeong-won, head of the Happy Sex Culture Center said “the social atmosphere is changing, and nowadays people are becoming much more accepting of [premarital] sexual relationships”, and that “in the past, you never saw premarital sexual relationships depicted in the mass media. But as they’ve naturally started appearing, people have come to think that they’re nothing to really get concerned about.”

(Source: Extreme Movie)

Also, Professor Lee Jeong-hwa of the university sexual harassment and sexual violence consultation center said “because society is changing, the number of people who openly admit to having sexual experience is increasing”. And about that, one of the questions in the survey was “have you ever lied about your sexual experience, and if so, what was the reason?” [James – I think “have you ever pretended you didn’t have sexual experience when you did?” is more accurate], and 33% of those that replied that they had did so because of what others would think of them, whereas 40.8% replied that they did because they didn’t want to talk about their private life. About those results, Professor Lee said “respondents were more concerned about keeping their private life private than being stigmatized and/or branded by those around them”.


Society is conservative, but I am liberal

이런 분위기에도 불구하고 학생들은 한국 사회를 보수적이라고 평가했다. 전체 응답자의 67.0%가 한국 사회의 성개방 정도에 대해 보수적이라고 답해 아직 사회 전체적으로는 개방적이지 않다고 생각하고 있었다. 이에 비해 자신의 성개방 정도에 대한 평가는 개방적이라는 답변이 41.1%로 보통이라고 답한 26.8%와 보수적이라고 답한 32.0%보다 많은 비중을 차지했다.

Despite this [changing] atmosphere, students think Korean society is still conservative, and on the question of sex in particular, 67% of the total replies that is was conservative and not yet liberal. Of themselves in contrast, 41.1% considered themselves to have liberal attitudes towards sex, 26.8% were middle of the road, and 32.0% considered themselves conservative.


스킨십은성관계까지, 원나잇은애인이없을?

As for skinship [James – Basically, physical affection towards a boyfriend or girlfriend], does that go all the way to sex? Are one-night stands only for when you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend?

자신은 개방적이라는 연세인의 생각은 다른 문항에서도 나타났다. 스킨십의 허용 범위를 묻는 질문에서 “성관계”라고 답한 응답자가 55.9%로 가장 많았고 “키스까지 가능하다”는 응답이 20.6%로 그 뒤를 이었다. 지난 2004년 7월 「연세춘추」 연애에 관한 설문조사에서 스킨십의 허용범위를 묻는 질문에 “키스까지 가능하다”는 응답이 54.3%로 가장 많았던 것과도 달라진 결과다. 또한 연애를 함에 있어서 성관계의 중요도를 묻는 질문에는 “꼭 필요한 것”이라는 응답이 37.0%를 차지한 데 비해 “절대 안된다”고 답한 연세인은 13.2%에 불과했다.

연세인들은 이성친구가 과거 성경험이 있는 것에 대해서도 높은 관용도를 보였다. 이성친구의 성경험에 대한 관용도를 묻는 설문 문항에서 “괜찮다”는 응답이 49.4%로 “안된다”고 답한 26.8%보다 월등히 많았다.

모텔에 가는 것에 대한 수용 수준은 “괜찮다”는 응답이 45.9%를 차지해 “안된다”고 답한 32.1%보다 많았다. 또한 원나잇스탠드에 대해서도 애인이 있는 경우에는 “절대 안된다”는 응답이 65.1%, “괜찮다”는 응답이 5.8%에 불과했지만, 애인이 없는 경우에는 “절대 안된다”가 32.9%, “괜찮다”가 33.1%로 큰 차이를 보였다.

The fact that Yonsei students are now quite liberal about sex also emerged from a different question. To the question of how much physical affection they permitted, most (55.9%) said “all the way to sex”, while 20.6% only limited it to kissing. In a similar survey given by the Yonsei Chunchu in July 2004 though, as many 54.3% said they would limit it to kissing, and on the additional question of how important sex is for a relationship, 37.0% replied that it was essential, whereas 13.2% said they would absolutely not have sex [James – presumably before marriage that is]. (source, right)

On the question of how they would react if they discovered their boyfriend or girlfriend had sexual experience prior to meeting them, Yonsei students also showed a high level of acceptance: 49.4% saying it was okay, with 26.8% saying it wasn’t.

As for if they were happy to go to a love motel to have sex, 45.9% said that was fine, with 32.1% disagreeing. And if they had a partner already, 65.1% would never have a one-night stand with someone else, whereas 5.8% replied that it was okay. If they were single though, 32.9% would still never have a one night stand, but 33.1% were fine with it.

학생들 따라가지 못하는 성교육

Sex education is not keeping pace with students’ needs

이렇듯 젊은 대학생들은 점점 개방적으로 변화하고 있지만 성교육은 이를 쫓아가지 못하고 있다. “지금까지 받아온 공식적인 성교육이 충분했다고 생각한다”는 문항에 과반수를 훌쩍 넘는 85.6%의 연세인이 “아니다”라고 답했다. 또한 가장 실용적이고 도움이 되는 성지식의 출처를 묻는 질문에 “공식적인 성교육”이라고 답한 응답자는 13.4%로 대중매체와 관련 책 항목에 밀려 세 번째를 차지했다. 이에 도지연(생명공학·09)씨는 “문화가 개방적으로 빠르게 변하는데 비해 성교육은 제자리걸음인 것 같다”며 “성교육 자체가 보수적이라 실생활에서 활용이 불가능하다는 것이 문제”라고 결과에 동의했다.

이 같은 결과에 배 소장은 “상담을 받아 보면 학생들의 성지식이 턱없이 부족하다는 것을 느낀다”며 “학생들은 성에 관한 정보를 점점 더 많이 접하고 있는데 그에 비해 성교육은 충분하지 않아 잘못된 지식을 갖게 될 위험성이 매우 큰 것이 문제”라고 비판했다. 나아가 이 교수는 “사실 성관계를 맺는 과정에 대해서는 인터넷 같은 데에 충분히 개방돼 있고 접하기가 쉽지만 중요한 것은 의사소통인데 이것이 공식적인 성교육에서 매우 부족하다”고 말했다.


In light of all this, as university students become more liberal about sex, then sex education is not really following suit. In response to the question of “has the sex education you have received up until now been satisfactory”, 85.6% replied that it hadn’t, and only 13.4% replied that it was the most practical and helpful source of information for them, well behind the mass media and sex-related books. Second-year biotechnology student Do Ji-hyeon agreed, and said that “even though culture is changing and rapidly liberalizing, sex education remains the same,” and that “as it is taught conservatively, it doesn’t really meet students’ practical needs”.

Similarly, Happy Sex Culture Center head Bae said “from consultations we’ve had with students, we get the feeling that their knowledge about sexual matters is woefully inadequate”, and that “because sex education is also  inadequate, and because students are getting information for themselves instead, then there is a danger that they will be misinformed.” Professor Lee Jeong-hwa of the university consultation center agrees, and says that “it’s easy enough to find information on the internet about the process of sex [James – does she mean the basic biology of it?]. But the important thing is communication, and in this sense public sex-education is severely lacking”. (end)


To play Devil’s advocate for Yonsei punishing the authors for giving the survey to students, of course we don’t know how severe that punishment was as of yet; Yonsei’s religiosity is by no means uncommon for Korean universities (my own has similar requirements for Chapel attendance in order to graduate, regardless of one’s religion); the punishment probably pales in comparison to effectively expelling a student for being gay like this one is; it has the oldest LGBT group of any Korean university; and, as Part 3 will reveal (see here for a sneak peek), it even has mandatory sex education classes. Indeed, in the light of the last in particular, then the fact that there was any punishment at all is very surprising and confusing, and I’d be very grateful if any Seoul-based readers can send me any further information about that (and please feel free do so anonymously if you prefer).

Meanwhile, what did you think of the survey? Do you think the results are actually of any use, given that only 1,287 students out of nearly 30,000 replied? Has anyone heard of similar surveys and/or mandatory sex education classes at other Korean universities?

Regardless, thanks again to the person who sent me all the articles, and – writing this next week now – here is Part 2!