Korea Times 'Fashionista' piece on Park's 'enraged' and 'resentful' color palette

In Park the fashionista the Korea Times joins other news outlets in ascribing emotional significance to President Park Geun-hye's color palette. This is the SECOND time this quarter that the Korea Times felt Park's fashion was newsworthy, please see our first post at "Park Geun-Hye & Skirts: HATE this Double Standard." Korean Gender Café also discussed, analyzed and critiqued this trend in previous posts: Part 2 "Still HATE this Double Standard," and Part 3 "A Late-comer to the Race to Ascribe Stereotypes to the President."

Quite unfortunately, with each new iteration, this "news" trend grows more offensive. This latest article ramps up the sexist rhetoric by characterizing Park's fashion choices as indicative of her 'enraged' and 'resentful' attitude. These are word choices frequently ascribed to sexist depiction of women political leaders and their use here in the context of fashion adds to the gendered rhetoric describing President Park. Article quotation and our running commentary below:
PGH Still President in Any Color

"Now, the first Korean woman head of state is changing her style but not baring more." [CBM: Is it necessary to discuss womens' fashion in terms of bared skin, or is this alluding to the recent ban on 'indecent exposure' that went viral a few weeks ago?]

"When Park met leaders of the governing and opposition parties just after the atomic test, she was dressed in a grey jacket with black lapel and looked solemn.

Park wore a dark-green outfit on March 4 when she issued a statement to urge the National Assembly to promptly pass the government reorganization bill so she would able to complete her Cabinet.

She was enraged back then because her nominee for the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning - former Bell Labs head Kim Jeong-hoon - stepped down a day earlier because of the parliamentary impasse. [CBM: Enraged is a quite objectionable word choice to describe a political leader because of the emotional and unhinged tone. Though, to be balanced we also find that South Korean media has criticized "Lee Myung-bak’s angry outbursts."]

As Park highly regarded Kim as the perfect fit to lead the science ministry, which she thinks is most important to achieve her goal of a “creative economy,” she strongly expressed her frustration and resentment [CBM: Again, pointing to resentment draws on gendered tropes that for so long have characterized women as "resentful" and threatening to patriarchal power]."

We have never read that a male politician expresses his inner rage and resentment through fashion choices or a color palette. This media coverage obviously fails the Name it Change it reversibility test and reveals a sexist tone. Journalists shouldn’t describe her clothes unless they would describe a male politicians. "If media coverage doesn’t mention a male candidate’s eye color, haircut, makeup, marital status, children or lack thereof—then it shouldn’t mention those things about a female candidate. When it does mention these things about a female candidate, it hurts her [politically]. That's why it's so important to respond."


[CAUSE] Systemic Change: Donation Drive for Single Moms' Day

I am always impressed with the highly engaged and passionate individuals and groups in and outside of Korea that volunteer for and donate to orphanages, women’s' shelters and other direct-service providers.

I also appreciate projects like Single Moms' Day that work for systematic change, that work to disrupt structural forces that separate families, deny children's human rights, and discriminate against women. 

SMD advocates for human rights in a number of important ways, in particularly by addressing systemic discrimination by “informing people inside and outside Korea about the factors that pressure unwed mothers to relinquish their children for adoption. Push factors include fathers’ child support obligations being unenforced; lack of adequate social welfare from the Korean government; social discrimination against unwed mothers and their children. Pull factors include the fact that more than half of unwed mothers in facilities are living in unwed mothers’ shelters that are owned and operated by adoption agencies; a money-driven international adoption system that does not conform to the UN CRC or the Hague Convention, i.e., it does not respect children’s humans rights.”

SMD Planning Meeting
Most impressively, Single Moms' Day is an inclusive collaboration of parents and adoptees initiating this change and demanding a departure from stigmatization and legal discrimination. I have learned so much about international human rights law, Korean society, family life, policy and  from Single Moms' Day and I hope to share this knowledge with my friends who are also passionate about structural change.

We don't want to continue to witness a system that separates children from their parents, do we? We want to learn about the persistent legacies of adoption policy in Korea, don't we? We want to make sure that all children have full human rights, educational and social opportunities, right? Please join us in attending and supporting "Accountability for the Past, Rights for the Future: The 3rd Single Moms’ Day."
Event information available here.

Please consider making a donation today:

입양단체 TRACK의 월간운영예산은 2백만원입니다. 그예산으로 한국인 3명 (그중에서 두명은 양육미혼모)을 파트타임으로 고용합니다. 대표인 Jane Jeong Trenka를 비롯하여 TRACK에서 활동하는 입양인들은 돈안받고 활동하고 있습니다. TRACK는 다음달에 인권에 대한 만화 (예산 3백만원)도 출판하고 제3회 싱글맘의 날 행사 (예산 1천2백만원)를 주최할 예정입니다. 이러한 활동을 지원해주고 싶으신 분 TRACK웹사이트에 방문해주시길 바랍니다. TRACK는 TRACK의 원리를 따라서 정부나 종교 단체에게 지원을 받지 않습니다). 

TRACK's operating expenses are $2,000+ per month. With this money, we provide part-time employment for three Koreans, two of whom are unwed mothers raising their kids and who provide the daily administration for Dandelions (the families of origin of adoptees). I am a volunteer, as are all of the adoptees who participate in TRACK. If you would like to donate towards our operating expenses, our comic book on human rights to be released in early May ($3,000+) or Single Moms' Day ($11,000+), please see our Web site to find out how to donate. Out of principle, we do not accept money from the Korean government or religious groups. Please and thank you!

Updated Guide to Psy’s Gentleman MV 싸이 젠틀맨

Let's discuss why Psy highlights women and women's dance moves in his recent music video. For more of our analysis on Psy, see our pieces on 강남 스타일 Gangnam Style and 오빤 딱 내 스타일 Oppa, you're my style

Some early critics posited that “the video appears to show Psy playing tricks on women he's dating, until he meets a woman who is as tricky as he is. Except, that's not what the song is about.”

But... then they didn't offer an interpretation of the video, so we will!

Is this music video a fantasy of what we would really LIKE to do, but we will never do because we would shame ourselves? Does it mean that there is no real ‘gentleman’ on the South Korean dating scene? Is Psy once again poking fun at pretentious behaviors of the young and rich?

First, our Guide to Gentleman. We will attempt to decode the allusions and jokes you might be missing.

Guide to Psy’s Gentleman Music Video
The music video opens with Psy and a group of older men carrying shopping bags. We interpret this as a nod to consumerist dating, in particular the gifts that men will purchase for their dates.

0:24 Psy sits drinking coffee with three older ‘gentlemen’ while a woman dances in the background. Although the scene is set outside, we think this could be bringing to light the 다방 Dabang / 룸사롱 Room Salon commercialized sex industry.

0:44 Psy pushes a coffee cup into the face of his date. We think maybe Psy is also poking fun at the 된장녀 Bean Paste Girl attitude and men’s internal attitude toward women they perceive as being Bean Paste Girls.

0:59 This scene is shot in Seoul Library. Psy farts into his hand and rubs it in a student’s face. We think the scene is a prank pulled on the pretention of studying.

1:20 Who could be more pretentious than a bald man blow-drying his hair?

1:30: Even the waiter gets in on the action, exposing his inner disdain for pretentious customers in the fancy restaurant.

1:50 Ga In of Brown Eyed Girls turns the tables on Psy, knocking out his hair. The setting is interesting, they have a first date not in a fancy restaurant but at a포장마차, a common cheap pop-up sidewalk diner. This is why the noodle scene is so funny, rather than spaghetti at a fancy Italian restaurant, they slurp cheap noodles.

1:53 Psy dances and bites a roll of uncut 떡 rice cake. This is because this rice cake is used as slang or euphemism for sex because of the noise made by cutting the rice cake into slices for soup, and because in the old days it was made by hammering rice. Psy’s sexual innuendo is heavy in this scene, and he caps it by shaking explosive bottles of beer, not unlike many female Kpop stars in commercials.

The DANCE: This dance is sometimes referred to as 시건방 춤 and has an impertinent or cocky attitude, th e audience might feel judged as the dance looks down on them while they watch the dance.

UPDATE: In the closing scene, Psy is 'pole-dancing' at an intersection in Hallyu World. Professor 이택광 points out that he is ridiculing hallyu with satire:

“뮤비에서 싸이의 전봇대 봉춤이 고양시 ‘한류월드’ 사거리를 배경으로 진행되는데, 이것은 한류마저 조롱·풍자의 코드로 끌어들인 것”이라고 했다. 그는 “주목해야 할 것은 싸이를 만들어내는 대중의 욕망이다. 그 욕망의 코드는 ‘재미’ ”라고 말했다.
Commenter crazyno pointed this out: "Psy is known as "wet psy" because he guested on a popular TV variety show (which the main cast from this MV are made up of--Immortal Song (IS)) and he lifted his arms up and there was a massively wet armpit. in the music video there is a clip shown at the 2:35 mark!"

What significance can we attach to Psy's decision to perform traditionally female Kpop  dance movements? I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but it puts me in mind of Roald Maliangkay's The Bra Boys of South Korea


[Daegu & Seoul] Volunteer for KUMFA and Single Moms' Day 한국미혼모가족협회 대구지부는 여성 리더십 교육

KGC is happy to support an amazing organization by spreading the word about a great opportunity to volunteer.

Korean Unwed Mothers' Families Association (KUMFA) Daegu Branch Manager Kim Eun Hee has asked for assistance finding local volunteers. The KUMFA Daegu Branch is holding job skill training and other classes for members, and they would like to recruit some volunteers to provide childcare during the classes.
There are also ongoing / weekend volunteer opportunities for KUMFA in Seoul.

한국미혼모가족협회 대구지부는 여성 리더십 교육을 5월 18일부터 실시합니다. 아이들이 어려 엄마들 교육받는 동안 한달에 두번 (첫째주 토요일과 셋째주 토요일) 2시부터 4시까지 아이돌봄을 해주실수 있는 봉사자가 절실히 필요합니다. 대구지부는 활동한지 얼마 안됐지만 정말 열심히 열정적으로 시작하는만큼 우리도 응원하십시오! 일단 5월 18일에 시간 가능하신 분 제게 연락 주세요!

The Daegu branch of KUMFA will begin leadership training on May 18th. Twice a month (first and third Saturday of every month), they need volunteers who will watch the children while moms are in seminars from 2-4pm. The Daegu branch is newly formed, but they are off to a passionate and energetic start. Let's support them in their new endeavor! If you are able to help on the 18th from 2-4, please contact us.

Learn more about KUMFA and SMD in our summary of literature on the topic in English and Korean "Single Moms & Korean Fertility Policy 싱글맘와 한국의의 가족계획."

I first got involved as a childcare volunteer during KUMFA Seoul meetings, but I now volunteer for the Single Mom's Day (SMD) Conference and Human Library Discussion series May 10-11, 2013. SMD is one of KUMFA’s several projects. SMD is a really inspiring collaboration of groups that fight for Korean children's human rights, including: parents whose children were adopted by unethical means; unwed parents who are fighting workplace and social discrimination to raise their children; adult adoptees who campaign for ethical reforms to adoption laws; supporters and volunteers who work to bring policies into the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In order to volunteer for the Daegu Branch, please contact us via the KUMFA Facebook Page or by email at kumfa.volunteer@gmail dot com.

In order to volunteer for the Seoul branch, please join the Facebook Page 
Donations for Single Moms’ Day welcome at TRACK

About Children’s Human Rights & KUMFA:

Korean Unwed Mothers' Families Association (KUMFA) is an organization that works to promote children’s human rights while addressing systemic discrimination. KUMFA advocates for the human rights of unwed pregnant women, unwed mothers and their children in Korea. KUMFA’s goal is to enable Korean women to have sufficient resources and support to keep their babies if they choose, and thrive in Korean society.
 More information is available in this subtitled interview and at the Single Moms’ Day event page. RSVP for the SMD Conference at the National Assembly and for the Human Library discussion at Cafe Dari in Hongdae.  
KUMFA members advocate in a number of important ways, one of which is to address systemic discrimination by “informing people inside and outsideKorea about the factors that pressure unwed mothers to relinquish theirchildren for adoption. Push factors include fathers’ child support obligationsbeing unenforced; lack of adequate social welfare from the Korean government;social discrimination against unwed mothers and their children. Pull factorsinclude the fact that more than half of unwed mothers in facilities are livingin unwed mothers’ shelters that are owned and operated by adoption agencies; amoney-driven international adoption system that does not conform to the UN CRCor the Hague Convention, i.e., it does not respect children’s humans rights.”


What is quasi-rape? Is Park Si-hoo charged with rape?

This week in "Police Press Rape Charge Against Park Si-hoo" the Choson Ilbo reports that
"Police have recommended that Park be indicted on the charges of quasi-rape and injury resulting from it as the victim was unconscious and able neither to resist nor consent at the time of the incident, and because she was injured while being raped."
What is quasi-rape (준강간/準强姦)?

The term in Korean law seems to refer to rape or sexual assault wherein the assault survivor was unable to give consent. A longer discussion of the term quasi-rape is available at Oh My Law. Perhaps quasi-rape might be charged in cases of alcohol or substance abuse, but it has also been applied for the assault of the developmentally challenged, as cited in the example below.

A quasi-rape case was reported in February 2013 "'못된 이웃 어른들' 지적장애 자매 성폭행 징역 4~6년" wherein four 50-60 year old men were sentenced to 4-6 years in prison for sexually assaulting two developmentally disabled sisters:
"They had become friends with the parents for the sole purpose of gaining access to their house to abuse the sisters. Mentally, the sisters are at the level of a 4~7 year old, and the assaulters abused the fact that they are not proficient in language enough to explain to their parents what was happening."
The Japanese Penal Code 1908 defines quasi-rape:
"A person who commits sexual intercourse with a female by taking advantage of a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same matter as prescribed in the preceding Article."