Korean Gender Reader

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( Source: Sex, Art and Politics )

In a very comfortable-with-my-heterosexuality way, this picture from Tamotsu Yato’s 1972 book OTOKO: Photo-Studies of the Young Japanese Male is really rather good, and the hat reminds me a little of th

( Source: Sex, Art and Politics )

In a very comfortable-with-my-heterosexuality way, this picture from Tamotsu Yato’s 1972 book OTOKO: Photo-Studies of the Young Japanese Male is really rather good, and the hat reminds me a little of this award-winning shot too. Not so much artistic as soft gay porn however (interestingly, most of the models were heterosexual), then unfortunately the remainder of the book is not really up my alley personally, but you can download it in full from Sex, Art and Politics if you’d like. (via: Doing it Korean Style)

1. LBGT news and events

In related news, and with apologies for the late notice, this weekend there is the 11th Annual Queer Pride Festival in Seoul. See Roboseyo and Busan Haps for more links and event details, and Gusts of Popular Feeling for a more detailed analysis of the public acceptance of LGBT culture in Korea (and also here also for an excellent chronological overview).

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court is expected to soon decide whether Article 92 of the Military Law stipulating the punishment of homosexual soldiers is a violation of their constitutional rights. Currently soldiers who have a sexual relationship with a member of the same sex are punished with one year’s imprisonment, which – forgive me if this sounds trite – is surely  rather ironic in light of a pervasive culture of sexual abuse in the South Korean military. And probably not by coincidence, I was surprised to learn that apparently gay rape is not considered a crime in Korea also, something which emerged from the news that a male songwriter was sexually assaulted by a male comedian earlier this week.

Finally, The Three Wise Monkeys has a post about Gi Hyeong-do (기형도), “a misunderstood modern gay Korean poet” (via: Korean Modern Literature in Translation); another about a trip to “Homo Hill” in Seoul; and finally, albeit not LGBT-related, also on that blog is this, this, and this post on Korean “room-salon” culture.

2. Parents demand government action on mini-skirted school uniform scandal

Young Korean celebrities may no longer be legally allowed to advertise school uniforms (see #7 here), but apparently that isn’t stopping female students from altering them to be “mini uniforms” or “S-line uniforms” themselves.

I’m reminded of an observation that a friend living in Japan made of their Japanese counterparts, who would attach velco to their skirts to raise them while hanging out in Shibuya, only to lower them while back at school. Has anyone heard of Korean students doing the same?

( Source: unknown )

3. Elementary school student raped in Seoul

See Brian in Jeollanam-do for more details, and I’d echo one commenter’s amazement and incredulity that the alleged rapist was able to wander the hallways unnoticed for an hour before dragging the student from the playground at 10am. Indeed, with two preschool daughters myself, it’s led me to seriously consider homeschooling here for the first time.

(Ironically, that inattention by the school comes at a time when parents in Seoul were outraged to discover that videos and audio of their children’s kindergarten classes were being streamed real-time onto the internet, all without their consultation or consent)

Brian also mentions that “in a very uncommon move in South Korea, the authorities released his name and photograph,” but in fact these were already available due to events set in motion by the rape and murder of a 13-year old girl by Kim Kil-tae (김길태) in Busan in February. Revealed to be a former sex-offender, but whose personal details had been kept anonymous by existing legislation, then the ensuing popular outrage led to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs retroactively making all sex-offenders’ whereabouts publicly available on the internet (see #8 & #10 here), and accordingly so too here is the alleged rapist a former sex-offender.

This incident follows that of a 15-year-old middle school girl losing her life after being sexually assaulted and robbed by two 14 and 15 year old boys in Seoul last month. Apologies if the above image seems tasteless in light of that, and I don’t mean to imply a direct relationship between the two. But I did find the juxtaposition of stories interesting, and at the very least it points to a dire need to at least acknowledge the sexuality of teenagers, and hence provide decent sex education and – for want of a better term – awareness of sexual ethics accordingly.

Update: It remains true that as an already registered sex-offender, then the alleged rapist’s details were already public knowledge. But with apologies to Brian, I completely forgot what I wrote back in April:

…the government has now decided to release the names and faces of alleged sex-offenders when there is “strong evidence of guilt and a public demand to know,” and one immediate problem that comes to mind is how open that is to interpretation.

See #9 here for further details.

4. Forced ‘love shot’ constitutes harassment

From The Korea Times:

A court ruled Tuesday that a high school in Gyeonggi Province did not overstep its authority in dismissing a male teacher who forced a group of trainee teachers to drink “love shots” against their will at an evening get-together party.

A “love shot” is when two people drink with arms entwined, a drinking ritual meant to boost teamwork and forge closer relationships but which is often abused by male superiors.

Compare this landmark case from June 2007, in which a female employee successfully sued her boss for being forced to drink at a work dinner.

5. The trials and tribulations of being an unmarried 30+ year-old woman

Not a critical analysis, but another interesting and amusing post from Mental Poo nonetheless.

6. Women in Korea webcast

If you don’t know already, then every Sunday night (usually around 8 or 9) KoreaBridge has a live “women in Korea” webcast. Always interesting, anybody can listen and/or watch the discussion here, and more women are always welcome to join via Skype (but a headset is recommended!).

( Source: Extreme Movie )

7. Drama version of Level 7 Civil Servant (7급 공무원) in the works.

Not that gender-related sorry, but then I have always liked the poster. See Dramabeans for more details, and actually it does sound interesting:

The movie’s plot centered around a woman who hides her spy identity from her slightly bumbling but well-meaning boyfriend. When her stories don’t add up and he gets tired of being shoved aside for odd reasons, he finally leaves her and goes abroad for his job. A few years later, he comes back as a rookie agent and runs into her again, much cooler now but not without a trace of his former dorkiness. (LOVE him!) But of course, neither can let on that they’re both spies, and moreover, their respective teams are working on cases that bring them repeatedly in contact with each other. The plot didn’t always convince — bioweapons, Russian baddies, blah blah — but the humor and the two leads made for an entertaining ride.

(Update: I’m curious. Would you say that this particular image conveys the common media theme “that sex is about male aggression and female submission”? I honestly can’t tell)

8. OMG: a Korean young female idol was not interested in what an elder was saying!

Quickly adding these stories to a draft version of this post as they appear throughout the week, sometimes my original, rather direct titles for them remain the most appropriate! In one of those only-in-Korea moments, see K-Bites and Omona! They Didn’t for more on f(x) (에프엑스) band member Krystal’s supposedly heinous faux pas for which she was roundly criticized by netizens for.

Probably not coincidentally, I’ve only been able to find precisely one actual video of it available unfortunately, and a mirror-reversed one at that. Lest even that be deleted eventually though, then I’ve uploaded it to Youtube so you can see for yourself, but have kept the title vague so as to not get flagged for copyright violation:

9. “Korean ladies refuse to date black men”

So claims the author of a letter to the editor of The Seoul Times, which in turn made it to The Dallas Blog. For some reason it appears to have been deleted at the latter, and unfortunately the former doesn’t allow direct links to articles, so here is the original from Ken Washington:

I am a Black American and I have lived in South Korea for eight years. I have recently been denied several jobs because I am Black.

My father fought and risked his life in the Korean War so Koreans could be free. Free to hate Black people. How ironic?

Several Korean ladies have refused to go out with me because they said that I am Black and when they were young they were made fun of because their skin was darker than most Korean. I then asked them “Would they not date Koreans if someone teased them for being Korean” and they said no because they are Korean and then I said you are also dark skinned so why do not like dark skinned people.

Anyway I began to understand how they felt as I watched Korean TV where all of the people in ads and TV shows are 99% white or light skinned. South Korea has effectively isolated a large majority of their population because they have color in their skin.

I was hoping (The Audacity to Hope) that when Obama became president that maybe the country would change about how they feel about Blacks but I was wrong.

The most disappointing aspect for me is that I really love Korea but I know that it is time for me leave where I know I am not wanted.

South Koreans have a great country with a lot of positives but to exclude so many people, simply because of their skin color, in the 21st century with no end in site is simply limiting the possibility of greater deeds.

Admittedly more interesting for the basic message rather than the quality of the content per se, I’d be very interested to learn more from any Black readers about your dating experiences with Koreans; alas, I’ve only had one Black friend in Korea myself, and he left with his Korean wife to live in Alabama in 2001. But I do know that her parents refused to meet him until the weekend before they left, which was a whole year after their wedding! Would you say that that story was typical, and/or would you say that things have changed since? (Source right: China Smack)

Meanwhile, interracial marriages are soaring in the US, but not evenly. According to CNN (via The Marmot’s Hole):

…About 16 percent of African-Americans overall are in an interracial marriage, but researchers point out a gender difference: It’s more common for black men to marry outside of their race than for black women.

The gender difference was the reverse in the Asian population surveyed. Twice as many newlywed Asian women, about 40 percent, were married outside their race, compared with Asian men, at about 20 percent.

10. What’s in a name?

In case any of you didn’t know already, my wife and I decided to give both our daughters English first names and Korean middle names (actually, my wife’s surname). Here’s why:

When I was a freshman in Auckland University back in the mid-90′s, I took some sociology courses (confusedly for Americans, they were called ‘papers’ in New Zealand, although the terminology may have changed since then). In one, the Maori lecturer explained that like most Maoris born in the 1960s and 1970s, she had an English first name and only a Maori second name because her parents didn’t want her to be discriminated against. Sure, racists may not ultimately have hired her because she was a Maori, but at least her name would have ensured that she at least got an interview.

New Zealand has of course changed a great deal since then, and I doubt Maori parents today would think twice about giving a Maori first name, but instead the problem has shifted towards another group: East Asians. Shortly before I left NZ in 2000 I read in The New Zealand Herald, the biggest paper there, that despite some schooling in the country, qualifications gained there, and near native English fluency, many people with East Asian names were still finding it difficult to find employment because employers, solely based on their names, feared a lack of English ability and/or an inability to ‘fit in’ at work.

In short, this is still a problem there 10 years later, and I mention the subject now because my Korean Twitter friend pompeiigranate recently changed her name partially for that reason, but mostly because of a lifetime of being teased. See here for more on her reasons why, which I’m sure have parallels with many other immigrants’ experiences.

“Give me a job! I don’t even look half-Korean!”

11. Reclaiming the F-word

Not strictly related to Korea sorry, but after 10 years of living here then I’m a little out of touch with the state of feminism in Western countries to compare it against, so once it becomes available at What The Book then I’ll probably be buying the above title, which appears to be an excellent summary of contemporary UK feminism. See here for basic information about it, here for several reviews, and here for more on the book launch earlier this week.

Male songwriter gets sexually assaulted by a male comedian

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