Saturday, August 30, 2008

Korean Women's Roles

Roboseyo posted another topic on his blog that I too often think about. He put a video showing Korean men who work for night clubs prowling the streets trying to pick up hot women so to make the night club they work for more beautiful and gain more business.

What is depicted in the video shows that these men (known as bikkis) go about their business in an aggressive and I suppose sexually harassing manner.

My response to this video was this:
I have to say I am not really sympathetic to these women or their situation.

I think in large part that we are trained in America to think about social issues like this from a feminist perspective. And tend to lean in that direction instead of the objective or cultural.

I see this over and over again, that why are women in other parts of the world subjecting their selves to sexism?

It is as if we westerners think we hold the power and golden answer to all women's troubles in the world without first considering just what it is we are witnessing and disregarding the history and culture.

Again I see this as kind of a feminist manifest watching these bikkis is like watching savages and we westerners must swoop in and be heroes to the women.

I feel we shouldn't just jump to the conclusion that feminism hasn't arrived in this country. For one think that these women who are being targeted are walking the streets freely and dressed nicely. Perhaps in a country where women have less power she would be dressed more conservatively.

I am just saying that perhaps feminism is in this country just not being shown in the shapes and sizes that we recognize. Simply due to that it is a different culture taking on the globalized idea of feminism.

A point I want to leave with is one about safety. I am a woman and I understand that I can be targeted by men for any reason, one of which is rape.

I come from San Francisco, where I feared walking the streets at night. And ever since I have come here I feel safe walking alone at night in the streets here. I am saying that feminism is good and all but it still doesn't mean that the world has been cured of bad men.

Anyways this video was very thought provoking and begs the need that we as foreigners need to better understand the role of women in Korean society. Including the brothels and business-su's where men go. And please don't think this is a modern aspect of society. Sex and women's roles have been around since the dawn of time.

ok ok ... ;)
As you can see my point of view is a little different. I for one just feel that as feminist mind trained westerners we tend to see the world from this point of view first and forget about the rest.

Do I think women in this country could use more strength in their defences = yes. But I am not everywhere all the time and for all we know women are strong here.

Anyways, good thought provoking topic.


  1. actually, I DID make that video. :)

    also: in my response to your comment on my site, I didn't mention: even just in the time I've been here (only five years) I've seen HUGE changes in the way women act, live, and are treated. Things are getting better, frankly, by leaps and bounds. That shouldn't be forgotten, especially by those of us who come from countries where feminism had an eighty or hundred-fifty year head start on Korean feminism.

  2. thanks Roboseyo sorry if it came out like I was bashing the video... I will update my post

    glad to see that you have seen what has been going on over time.


  3. it didn't come out that way at all. I threw that video on in order to start conversations, and it did, so in my mind, it's a success. I'm glad to hear your thoughts on it.

  4. yeee! yea I am glad it has kicked a conversation! I think it would be awesome if could turn into a podcast ;)

    Anyways I hope it sparks thoughts from other ppl too!

  5. As a feminist from the 70's, I'd like to know what definition of "Feminism" is at hand while tossing the word around here in this 21st century discussion?

  6. Next Questions:
    1. Where are the police?
    Are there foot police or police cars patrolling the streets in Seoul?

    2. Has this phenomenon made the local tv news as an issue?

    AND here's the feminist from the 70response:

    3. Don't Korean women know where it hurts? Kick 'em (knee 'em) in the balls!
    Why don't u post a video teaching 'em how to do that!

  7. Hi Mom~

    Well certainly we could sit around and figure just what type of feminism we are talking about here.

    But I think one point people are making is that women are being targeted for their beauty and bodies and that is considered sexual harassment.

    I asked BK about this and he told me it is not shocking to him and rather normal. We didn't go in too deep but I think the idea here is that it is just normal.

    It would be great to hear it from the Korean woman's perspective.

    But I have to tell you if you do make Korean women mad (as in my experiene) they really have a feirce tongue which is just as painful as a kick.

  8. Hmmmm....maybe for you, but not for "that" part of male anatomy from what I've heard!

  9. yea true I think men would suffer more from a kick to the groin than a woman's fierce tongue.

    Although both are something to be avoided.

  10. No response so far re: Police Presence on the streets/sidewalks of Seoul??

  11. The Jongno police are 1. busy enough with old drunks in Jongno that they might never get around to the bikkis, and 2. I guess nobody/not enough people have complained, or complained in the right ways, to get them to do anything about it.

    In my conversations about feminism in Korea, with Korean women, the overwhelming attitude seems to be a kind of resigned, "This is just how things are" -- I've heard Korean feminism dismissed as "mostly lip service" (Korea's president recently decided to merge the ministry of health and family with the ministry of gender equality), and my girlfriend basically said, "I try not to think about women's issues, because it'll just get me upset about things I can't change."

    I'd also love to see one of those bikkis get a good knee where it hurts -- just once -- but there are too many cultural safeguards and deterrents against creating that kind of a stir, so it wouldn't happen.

    I've heard a few people now say, "read the locals' reaction before you place judgement," and I'm still mulling over how I feel about that, given the culturally enforced hate for "causing a stir" that exists in Korean culture (it's called nunchi -- don't disturb the harmony), which might cause one to sublimate even an outrage that WOULD be given voice if there weren't cultural safegards against venting. Same for the way NOBODY likes the old men who act like assholes, but because of the cultural safeguards and protocols about respecting elders, nobody dares call them out, even though EVERYBODY wishes somebody would.

  12. Roboseyo...

    Thank you for your input... I think the main thing here is we (westerners) will always be at awe with the ways in which people treat each other here. I wonder though if it is possible to assimilate and just be like another person in the crowd?

  13. Thanx for your input re: police, etc...Roboseyo!
    Eventually the complacency could change as a result of education.
    Educating the young men & women about the ways women in other cultures respond to these type of situations, etc.. and how inappropriate the male actions are as well.

    All v. interesting from my perspective back here in the States.

  14. is it possible to assimilate?

    A question the joshing gnome has struggled with for a long time is, if it IS possible, would we even want to?

    (PS: re: five months to go: month eight is when the completion bonus starts looking really nice. Hang in there, Joy. Just put your head down and do it.)

  15. Thanks Roboseyo~ however I won't get a completion bonus because my year contract actually ends in June 2009 not January 2009

    Oh welll hehehe!

  16. You live in the Cheonho area, don't you? I lived on the other side of Olympic park, Jamsil, for two an a half years.

    I know a few restaurants in the area which you and BK should try.

    Drop me an e-mail at the address on my blog if you like.


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