Saturday, October 27, 2007

She Was Fined For What?!!!

Korea must really evolve when it comes to how women are treated.

A principal dancer for the Korean National Ballet, 김주원 (Kim Joo-won), has been docked one month's pay for a topless photo that was featured in this month's Vogue Korea.

Here is a quote from the article I read explaining the reasoning behind this decision:

"As a member of the Korea National Ballet, Kim is obligated to get prior approval for any actions she may take outside, and thus her independent act deserves disciplinary action," the ballet company said.

"However, we have decided on just a one month salary reduction since this was the first time she has caused any kind of controversy. She had been a model member of the company until now, making great contributions to the company and to the development of Korea's ballet, even receiving the prestigious Benois de la Danse award last year," the KNB added.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHow ridiculous! The steam rising off of that load bullshit is thick.

I haven't seen the photos but now I'm going to run out and find the issue now. At least Vogue Korea will get positive press out of this. It's not like Ms. Kim was butt naked in a raunchy spread eagle pose in Wanker-Korea magazine.

Vogue Korea is a high fashion magazine and the nude body has been featured in other forms of art such as sculptures, illustrations and paintings for centuries. The idea of nude photography in this context is far from raunchy or shameful. The long lines and modest curves of a ballerina's body is not what you see in nude magazines.

What's to discipline? It seems the only reason for the discipline is someone didn't sign off of the concept before it was published. She's been in Vogue Korea before (see below). What's funny is I've framed this as a women's issue, but the artistic director of the Korean National Ballet,박인자 (Pak In-ja), is also a woman. You'd think they'd support her and not fine her.

Kim Joo-won: Vogue Korea 2005

Clearly, artists and entertainers in Korea need to strike such sweeping control clauses out of their contracts. Better yet, they need to expressly stipulate that they don't have to seek approval for images not directly connected to their work with a theater or ballet company, TV show, movie, etc. I know that's purely in theory because this society is all for micro-managing from top to bottom. However, it's got to change if Korea wants a shot at true globalization and maybe it can start with the artists...maybe.

It was because of unreasonably tight control like this that foreign participants in a talk show were canned when their fame got them commercial deals and appearances on other shows: Working Hard in Korea. That decision was just as silly to me as this one involving 김주원. In most cases, in the West, magazine photo spreads, commercials and cameo appearances are seen as a good thing because of the publicity. Sure, you don't want your entertainers who most definitely represent your group or show flashing crotch shots or dancing naked on tables, but that could also be worked out in the contract without limiting them to the point where they virtually have no choice in doing other projects. But getting fired for doing a cameo appearance on another TV show or getting your pay docked for doing a photo shoot for Vogue where you're topless shouldn't be happening.

However, I just remembered something similar happened to a children's show host in the US over a year ago: Make Satirical Video, Get Fired Years Later? Melanie Martinez Fired by PBS.

Here, however, there is so much micro-managing and control that employees don't have very much say and almost no options but to leave when something like this happens.

Here is 김주원 in action:

Update 1: April 20, 2008 @ 6:22am

Since it's the weekend of the extended insulin reaction for me. Instead of getting up to hike up the local mountain again, I decided to check the traffic to my blog. That lead me to this page: Korean Ballerina Posing Nude? (발레리나 김주원 누드)

These are the pics. These are clearly fashion photography/art pics. What's so shocking? Anyway, months after the fact I'm still getting hits. This is more about the porn seekers looking for a cheap thrill than anything else now. Keep movin' pervs. There isn't much to see here.

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  1. Great post as always, and I agree with everything but for the first line: "Korea must really evolve when it comes to how women are treated."

    This is certainly true in general, and I'd be the first to agree that Korean society is still astonishingly patriarchal considering its level of development, but I don't think her gender had much to do with the disciplinary action in THIS case. Like I discuss on my own blog in the link below, the model 장윤주/Jang Yun-Ju also appeared nude in Vogue back in August, and in some rather risque poses that barely quality as artistic nude photography to my eye, but despite that there wasn't any controversy at all about her photos.

    Like you say, I think in this case it was the Korean penchant for bosses to micromanage their employees' lives that was primarily responsible for the (rather spiteful) punishment.

  2. Thanks for stopping by.

    Maybe gender wasn't an issue. However, according to the Chosun Ilbo, she was in the shots with her boyfriend, Lee Jeong-yun, who they report to be a dancer with the same company. As far as I know, he wasn't fined.

    So is it the issue of a prima ballerina baring her breasts without their permission or is it that she didn't get permission? Because if it's really about her not getting permission then he should be docked too.

    It's possible that they just didn't mention his pay getting docked, but I don't buy that his pay got docked.

  3. I take it back, I missed that part about her boyfriend not being fined.

    The double standard reminds me of the reaction to Baek Ji-Yeong/백지영's sex video back in 2000, with her being crucified in the press but with her ex-manager, who made the tape without her knowledge, getting away scot-free for releasing it to the public. It's quite a shame that little seems to have been changed since then.

  4. It really could be that he was fined but none of the media is picking up on it because, well, who cares if a guy is topless?

    If it is, however, that he wasn't fined then I think she should leave the company. She won the Benois de la Danse and prominent companies would LOVE to have her.

    It pretty much sucks. So I hope she packs up and leaves to join a company that isn't so ridiculous in their approach to management.

    It really is a shame and I don't think it's going to change until artists and other employees say enough is enough. Of course, that means people have to be willing to take the risk because it's very much about pride here. Another Korean prima ballerina, Kang Sue-jin, has been in Stuggart for 20 years and seems to be doing well.

  5. In all fairness, her pay reduction is only 1/3rd of her monthly pay. They even said they considered the minor effect of it.

    It's simply a cosmetic thing to make sure their employees don't go around misrepresenting them, which they have every right to do. They hired them and she's represents that ballet company. There's restrictions like this for all kinds of jobs, and it has nothing to do per se with being only a woman (although the nature of her action does, and therefore the nature of her punishment is perceived to). If a guy ballerina did the same thing, I'm sure it would happen with him too.

    I know your blog, so you'll probably flame me for disagreeing with you. But oh well.

  6. Read the article baby, a guy did do the exact same thing. She was in the shoot with her boyfriend, Lee Jeong-yun, who is a dancer for the same company.

    If she didn't get permission what makes you think he did?

    Plus, she posed for Vogue Korea in 2005 and probably a few other times. I don't know and I'm not that invested in the issue to search. Did she ask for permission in 2005? I'm not sure, so I can't weigh in on that point.

    As for flaming, I think that's a bit presumptuous. Just because you don't like how I handled j-commentor (name not written out because you and I know and that's all that matters), that's your problem. I know for a fact that person trolls around on quite a few foreigner written blogs waving the Korean flag at just about every post that he reads as anti-Korean. It's tiresome, and it reads a bit flimsy when the same argument is used over and over. Plus, if Koreans can do it, they should be able to take it. However, that point I've made a few times before, so I'm done. Are you?

    If you want to discuss it further, email me otherwise, keep it to yourself.

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