Korean Gender Reader


To make these Korean Gender Reader posts more timely and readable for you, from now on I’ll be reducing the number of links in them from 5 to 10, which will allow me to put new posts up more often. I hope you all like the change, and, sure enough, the next KGR will be up on Tuesday evening!

1) Korean Men’s Group Demands Ban of Movie You’re my Pet (너는 펫)

As translated at Soompi:

The Korean Men’s Association has filed a petition for an injunction against the film, “You’re My Pet.”

The Korean Men’s Association posted a link on their homepage to a legal petition that will force “You’re My Pet” to cease from playing in theaters. They voiced that the film is degrading to men and the concept of a female “owner” and a male “dog” is sexist and inhumane. They also emphasize their point by asking how people would react if the role was reversed and it was a male owner and a female dog. They ended the note by saying that these kinds of concepts should not be treaded upon, even if it is for entertainment.

Read the rest there.

What do you think? Hat tip to @suzyinseoul and @john_F_power on Twitter for the story, and you can see here, here, here, and here for their own thoughts on it. Also, see here, here, here, and here for some discussion of the differences in the way the male and female actors are portrayed in the posters, which relates to some sexual overtones to the movie that are absent in the original manga.

2) In Korea, Pregnancy Can be a Career-killer

Which I’m sure readers are well aware of (see here if not), but it’s very different hearing it first hand. Make sure to read Groove Korea magazine here then (quickly jump to the last page), for an article by John Lincoln about how an excessive workload forced upon his pregnant wife likely caused their baby’s premature(?) birth, and also about the tactics her company used to effectively force her to resign thereafter.

Update – A much easier to read version is now available on the Groove Korea website here.


3) Slutwalk Korea Having an Impact on Korean Men?

Sure, technically they may not be related (and see here and here if you’ve never heard of Slutwalk), but regardless it’s still great to hear a Korean male celebrity saying that preventing rape is men’s responsibility. As BadMoonRise explains of the above image:

This really caught me as a surprise.

I was watching Strong Heart (a Korean variety talk show)

Dana was talking about her experience in almost being kidnapped as a middle schooler. At the end of the story, one of the other guests asked KHJ “How do you think someone(women) can prevent sexual predators?”

and he responds “Men need to get their act together (a long the lines of “Men need to think clearly” as in “Men need to stop”)”

With apologies, after 45 minutes I’ve been unable to find a clip of that scene itself, although I did find the one of Dana that preceded it:

Badmoonrise reports that the other guests laughed in response to Kim Hyun-joong’s (김현중) comment, which sounds disappointing and confusing: like many people have said, what’s funny about it? But to play Devil’s Advocate, that may more be just have been because of the style of the show, where laughter and overacting is pretty much constant (especially after something as serious as Dana’s story).

Hat tip to I’m No Picasso, and to everyone on Twitter who *ahem* told me who “KJH” was. Also, if anyone knows of any more Korean celebrities – male or female – speaking out against victim-blaming for rape, please let me know.

Update – See Thrive for a more exact translation of what KJH said.

4) “In South Korea, Plastic Surgery Comes Out of the Closet”

A good introductory article from the New York Times, although personally I’m a little skeptical of the claims it makes. While I’ll grant that HDTV and netizens’ sleuthing means that celebrities can no longer hide it, I’m still unaware of any Korean celebrities loudly and proudly admitting that they had any procedures done, at least beyond minimal ones like double-eyelid surgery (but please correct me if you do know of any). Also, the NYT makes a big omission in not mentioning that Korea is one of the only two countries in the OECD where it is legal to require photographs on resumes (the other is Japan), and indeed this leads me to believe that greater acceptance and acknowledgment of cosmetic surgery is probably much more of a bottom-up phenomenon than the NYT makes out.

Update – Make sure to see Johnnie and Angela for some examples of the ensuing numerous Before and After advertisements.

5) Taiwan Legalizes Prostitution

Which sounds great, but most Taiwanese women’s rights groups are opposed. Whether that’s because of genuine concerns with the specific legislation though, or because – like many Korean women’s groups – they have a blanket opposition to prostitution, I’m afraid I can’t say, but I’m sure it’s covered in this 25 minute documentary on it (please don’t be put off by the black screen below; it’s working):

I’ll update this post and let readers know later tonight, once I’ve had a chance to watch it myself!

Update – Fortunately, it’s more problems with the legislation than because of a blanket opposition. In brief, those problems include:

  • Prostitution is quite literally a mobile industry, and confining it to special zones ignores reality.
  • Brothels in Taiwan are actually quite spread out (often next to temples), and well integrated into their neighborhood economies. So zoning penalizes some and not others, and by no means just the prostitutes and pimps themselves.
  • Prostitutes and clients that give or receive sex services outside those zones will receive the same monetary fines. This not just ignores the huge income gap between them, but could be devastating for the prostitutes, who tend to be economically-disadvantaged.
  • Prostitutes themselves haven’t been consulted enough, and the legislation appears rushed.
  • While local governments will be charged with designating and running prostitution zones, all are opposed in a NIMBY sense (and echo the criticism that it’s rushed), and are widely considered much less capable and more vulnerable to corruption than the central government.
  • The legalization is not accompanied by an increase in welfare services and government resources available to deal with the side-effects of prostitution that would be brought to light (although that exposure would be a good thing in itself).
  • And finally, some groups worry that it would lead to an increase in trafficking and sex-tourism. But I’m a little doubtful of that myself, and indeed it’s also questioned by some people interviewed on the program, even though they’re still against the legislation as a whole.