Sunday, September 30, 2007

Korea Is Not A Conservative Country

Okay, let's just end this one right here and now. Korea isn't a conservative country. They might be conservative when it comes to foreign males dating their women, but Korea is not a conservative country. This is particularly so considering the amount of foreign women imported into the country as "entertainers" or as mail-order brides.

This post from the Korea Beat blog had me dying laughing:

“Korea is a Conservative Country”

As The Grand Narrative suggests, I think we can file that one under fan death and kimchi cures SARS. This advertisement is inescapable if you spend any time browsing the online edition of the Sports Chosun, which surely has made for some interesting over-the-shoulder spousal conversations. Note that you’ll need a Korean citizen’s number to make it past the front page.

Basically, it's an advert for an online sex toy shop.

I'm from liberal California and wandered through a sex toy shop in Hollywood on a dare in high school. I'm so over it. However, Koreans seem not to be over it and feel they need to hide or lie about simply being human, curious and experimental just like any other country that allows it.

I've written about the superficial nature of Korea's "conservative" that causes it to freak out and ruin conferences and a sex trafficking scandal in the past but there are some recent things that have come up that make the hypocritical fakeness crystal clear.

Basically, you have people saying one thing and behind closed doors (or at your local train stations) they're doing something different. When you have most of the females of a country unable to pry themselves from mirrors, forgoing holiday fun and food to not gain weight and to get plastic surgery and balancing on too high heels even in the rain, it's not a conservative country. When you have prostitutes openly on display next to train stations, it's not a conservative country. These women are preening and ruining their feet or gait from balancing on stiletto heels because they get positive feedback for it. These prostitutes are there just to add flavor to the neighborhoods around the train stations. Someone is paying to keep these ladies in business.

Furthermore, I was really shocked to discover how many Koreans are shaking up. Now really, that's not a huge deal as it's very common where I'm from these days. But you can't claim to be a conservative society with pure maidens when Koreans are shaking up with a fair amount of frequency. I don't have any statistics, so I'm just going on the people I know and the stories I hear. I also know that some Koreans are turning to test marriages. That is, they go through the motions but they never officially file the papers. They file those later when the test period has passed and they can tolerate each other. If they can't tolerate each other, they move on as if it never happened. Conservative societies have much more strict social norms in place and don't allow things like this to happen.

Futhermore, as the following articles discuss, Korea hasn't been conservative for hundreds of years.

The first is an article on a porographic play written during the Chosun dynasty period. Here is a snippet from that article:
Chosun-Period Pornographic Play Discovered
"With an arrow put to the string, I have no choice but to shoot it." "How shameless you are! We're almost there. How can I stop it even if you ask me to? Damn this skirt of mine! Why is it here now?"

These are lines of dialogue from an explicit play dating back to the late Chosun Dynasty. Titled “Buksanggi”, it was discovered by Ahn Dae-hoe, a professor of Korean literature in classical Chinese at Sungkyunkwan University. On Saturday, Ahn will publish a paper on the play at a seminar sponsored by the Korean Classical Literature Association at Hanyang University.

The play is presumed to have been written either in 1780, the fourth year of the reign of King Jeongjo, or in 1840, the sixth year of the reign of King Heonjong. The author’s name is given as Donggo Eocho, a man presumed to have been a ruined aristocrat. At 124 pages long, it was written in the Chinese style then current as a story in dialogue. It is the second Chosun-period play, following "Dongsanggi" by Lee Ok.

The second article talks about how Koreans have expressed sexual desire through art. It also links the superficial conservative nature of Korea to Confucianism.

Erotic Art Reflects Conservative Korea's Passionate Side
Korean society is outwardly conservative about sex, mainly due to the Confucianism that has been the nation's governing philosophy for a long time. Yet underneath the stolid formality, there survives a more powerful desire for untrammeled sexual expression that has always found some form of expression in art. What Koreans really thought and felt of human beings, nature and life can be seen in the erotic art that has had a special place in society since ancient times. Remains from the ancient Shilla Kingdom, for instance, suggest that people at the time recognized sexual desire as a natural part of life, just like the ancient Greeks.

Anyway, Koreans aren't as conservative as they claim, so don't believe the hype.

Speaking of hype, I found this load of crap over at the Chosun Ilbo. It's from a couple of years back: What is it about Korean Women that Western Men Like? It's both positive and negative stereotype central.

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