Yoon is NOT in a 'sex scandal'

South Korea is not humiliated by a 'sex scandal.'
South Korean English dailies and reports are calling the recent accusation of buttocks grabbing by Yoon a sex 'scandal' but doing so overlooks the fact that this was not consentual sexual contact. It is important to distinguish sexual assaults from sex scandals.
Here is a great media education tool by The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Children and Young Women which discusses the damaging misuse of the term sex scandal.
In particular, the term sex scandal diminishes the seriousness of the crime.
According to Yonhap News, "Yoon, 56, was accused of grabbing the buttocks of his temporarily hired secretary" and did so "without her permission." He was also accused of "presenting himself naked to her."
The consentual sex in the Shanghai diplonatic mission might be called a sex scandal. The Villa bribery case might be called a sex scandal (although some reports indicate there was blackmail involved).
The pending case in which Yoon is accused of indecent exposure and grabbing an intern's buttocks, is not a sex scandal.


Fondling through the Bamboo Gloryhole

Read more of Enzo Cho'Gath's ongoing Queer Corner series.

Queer Corner: Fondling through the Bamboo Gloryhole

When I first read Kissing in a Bamboo Closet by Jarrod S.Chlapowski over at the Huffington Post, I was uneasy.It wasn’t terribly written, and it echoed a lot of my own sentiments with regards to gay life in Korea. There truly is a closet in Asia that is nearly incomprehensibly difficult to understand to many young Westerners. Though I grew up in the bible belt with gay-hating parents and a heavily condemning family, America still had quite a bit of media that showed, at the very least, that gay people are a real thing that exist and are real.

In Korea, for many young gays, it’s different. I’ve known about homosexuality from a very young age, even if it was a slur at the time that I learned about it. The narrative that I often hear from older Koreans is often that they had no idea what it meant to be gay; they didn’t understand that men can solely be attracted to other men, and that women could be solely attracted to other women. It was an invisible sin for many years in a country whose technological development was so rapidly outpacing the social evolution that we now see occurring.

Many of the gay Koreans I met, especially in the southern sections of the country, hours outside of the cosmopolitan Seoul, shared that although their first attractions to men were at a young age, their first male-on-male sexual experiences occurred in the army. Cloistered away from society for nearly two years, surrounded by men and often forced to share both shower and bed with comrades, many men are so bathed in hormones and male flesh that it becomes a common act to ‘help a brother out’ and engage in anything from mutual masturbation to actual intercourse. Talk about a good friend, right?

But these experiences force gays even further into shame. Straight men who engage in these acts do so out of desperation, or out of a sense of group loyalty. Fraternities in the US also use acts of male-on-male sex as a means of power and oppression against pledges and younger members. So what about the participants who enjoy the acts? How much further must they strive to hide the fact that what should only be an act of duty is actually enjoyable to them?

Thus we see some of the outlining of the so-called Bamboo Closet. What sort of name is that, anyways? Orientalism much? It is undeniable a fact that gay life and culture is uniquely Korean. But I don’t really even remember seeing that much bamboo in Korea. Why don’t we be more specific and call it something like the ‘Semiconductor Closet’ (their number one national export) or the ‘Wireless Telecommunications Equipment Exporting Closet’, or maybe even the ‘Kimchi Closet’? Just the idea of a kimchi closet makes my nose itch.

But that’s the reality of the situation. Mr Chlapowski wrote an interesting article on some of his observations about Korea but the whole thing fell pretty flat for me. He writes from an extremely privileged perspective that is very common when Westerners go to Asia and critique the culture without ever really understanding it. He is too busy rubbing himself in self-satisfaction as he mutters to himself, “Oh yes, you are changing the world, oh yeah, that’s the spot, you impressive world-changer.”

He barely comments on the role of traditional Confucianism in daily life, especially for those that live outside of Seoul. He seems to fundamentally misunderstand the traditional role of Jongro- it is popular largely among older Korean gays because it is where closeted, married Korean men went to find gay prostitutes, young boyfriends (often money-less high school dropouts from the countryside) and each other. Because it was always a popular area for drinking, it was easy for gay men to hide among the bars and find other men seeking sexual partners. Telling your wife that you’re going for drinks in Jongro triggered nothing unusual in a country where 회식 (‘company dinner’) figures so prominently in the life of the salaryman.

Mr Chlapowski refuses to engage on the life of the truly closeted young possibly because it is so complex and hopefully he recognizes his own ignorance on the subject. Koreans can be notoriously close-mouthed and nervous around foreigners and there is nothing that will make them quiet more than an unknown white guy, wandering around their own, few safe spaces, asking questions about something that remains so strange and shameful to many gay Koreans.

Interviewing some bartenders and activists in Korea may provide the Huffington Post with a few interesting facts about gay life in Korea. It’s a light, shallow and very perfunctory glance at something incredibly complex and painful for many people. The pressure and pain that every member of a family faces when difference is encountered is something not to be made light of, but Jarrod seems to ignore all of those dynamics with little more than a brief, cast-aside mention of the importance of family dynamics.

Such a desultory account of a short time in a complex country is little more than groping around in the dark, hoping to find a few interesting stories to grab on to and then boast about later. Nearly half of the article revolves around his personal account of bragging about kissing another foreigner in public. Wow, man, great job. You’re super brave for kissing on a train platform. Next in line for ambassador, I presume?

In the end, though his account occasionally hits on a few truthful points, his portrayal of the Bamboo Closet is broken, at best, and downright fallacious at worst. An activist? The last thing Korea needs is random foreigners swooping in and telling them how to live their lives and improve their country. It’s not Saudi Arabia, after all. Because America did such a good job swooping into the Middle East and telling THEM how to live their lives and improve their countries, right?

Jarrod says that he cares what happens in his world. I would agree that the lives of LGBT humans all over the world are a concern because so many are denied their human rights. Yet his calling himself a social scientist, bragging about his work and publishing compliments that people throw at him does little other than stroke his own ego. He isn’t saving the world; from far outside and away, he’s fondling progress through the bamboo gloryhole. 


Awkwafina "My Vag" Music Video

Let's listen to Awkwafina & her new music video "My Vag"

NYMag The Cut asks "Can an Asian Woman Be Taken Seriously in Rap?"
"Lum grew up in from Forest Hills, Queens, of Chinese and Korean descent. She attended LaGuardia High School where she studied music, focusing on the trumpet (“I played 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' at the audition, and they let me in,” she smiles), which she still picks up every now and then. From there, she went to SUNY Albany, where she majored in Women’s Studies. Not surprisingly, this has changed her view of the rap game. “If women dabble in rap but they’re not rappers, to get from dabbling to doing it is really difficult, confidence-wise,” she says. “There’s a degree of having to prove yourself, also, and that’s really hard: I’m not trying to ruin your institution, I’m trying to be a part of it.”
But Awkwafina’s not just in the rap minority as a female, she’s also in it as an Asian female. She says there aren’t enough similar women in creative fields like hers. “The Asian stereotype is real. The whole guilt trip, like we came on a dinghy from Hong Kong to give you a better life, we work at a friggin’ sock store, and we want you to become a doctor so you can take care of us for the rest of your life.” Her father wishes she would reconsider her career choice. “He wants me to be like a sonogram technician or a nurse or something,” she says, nodding, as if that sounds like her own version of failure."
Open discussion, what do you think of the song, the music video and the interview? 

Also: I want to try her "Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margaritas)" love all the toppings. Check the video at 2:05 for more comments on gender.


You Look Like a Woman, Stop It

Guest blogger Tamara Gater adds a voice to our discussion of the Korea Times 'Fashionista' piece with this comparison to their coverage of sports broadcasters "Are sports shows going too far?" Read more from Tamara here

Un-Dress to Impress

Ladies, ever feel like no one is listening to you? As if though what you’re saying is going in one ear and out the other? Is your skirt below the knee? Shirt buttoned all the way up? Yeah. See there’s your problem right there.

Don’t despair. You’re not alone. Even the fashionistas[1] amongst us get it wrong; like our female president Park Geun Hye [PGH] for example. Recently, the Korea Times, has been giving PGH a bit of a hard time over her wardrobe choices. The newspaper points out that her outfits are a clear indication of her emotional state which can be described as “enraged” and “resentful”. Naturally, it is risky to have a commander in chief who wears her heart on her sleeve. Just think what would have happened if Kim Jung Un happened to see an image of PGH on the day she so foolishly decided to wear her camouflage green jacket? He could have easily interpreted her ‘enraged’ ensemble as a threat and nuked us in preemptive defense.

Luckily though, days later Park was spotted wearing a white coat, in what can only be understood to symbolize Picasso’s dove of peace and so a nuclear crisis was averted. However the fact remains - all of this could have been easily avoided if only PGH wasn’t so hell bent on being “solemn” and “dignified”. The Korea Times tried to give PGH a gentle push in the right direction with a subtle hint that "now, the first Korean woman head of state is changing her style but not baring more.[2]" And why in the name of national security is she not? What’s so wrong with giving the people what they want and showing a bit of leg?

At least some women out there are getting it right though, as the Korea Times are quick to point out (always ahead of the curve they are).  Meet the female sports broadcasters on the network channels. Bet these women have never had to repeat a sentence in their lives. Their audience is all ears:
 “I am convinced that it is good to watch a sports show hosted by beautiful and sexy women. What’s more interesting is that I started to care about sports that I really did not care about before watching the show,” Oh said.[3]
Sure it’s possible to ask whether it’s Mr Oh’s interest in sports or his attraction to the sports presenter that spiked. But that would be cynical. What’s the colour for resentful again?

So it’s time to own up, ladies. We got it wrong. Ever since the day when you put on a crisp white blouse and an Aline black skirt for your first job interview, you have been living a fashion lie. An urban legend that says dare you not confuse your male colleagues with any of the following: bare skin (how’s anyone meant to look you in the eye when your shoulder is staring at them?), bright colours (black means you have a degree/ pink means you have lady parts) and above the knee lengths (are you here to meet a deadline or a future husband?) You’ve faithfully abstained because every sensible woman knows that your male colleagues will not appreciate it, what’s more – they will not respect you. Show up to work looking like a woman and guess what? You’ll get treated like one. Is that what you really want?

Well apparently – yes. I know I know. I am confused too. But the evidence presented by the Korea Times is undisputable – it’s not what you say, it’s what you’re wearing when you say it.

The advocates of the sexy and beautiful broadcasters, who the Korea Times explains are “self-proclaimed “master” of adult videos”[4] enjoy the sports shows because it gives them an adrenaline rush distinctly different from “such videos” which are understood to mean pornography. And suddenly with those words, the sports shows become an alternative to porn and the sports presenters …well definitely not the PGH of this world.

The opponents of the sexy broadcaster ladies only confirm this point of view by declaring that
they [the presenters] can show off their beauty in other preferable ways; not by revealing their bodies. I think it is their obligation to keep their dignity as a presenter and not become a feast for men’s eyes…If some of them want to wear such revealing dresses, rather than being identified as a spokeswoman of public opinion, I think they do not deserve the title of presenter”[5]
Ah dignity! There it is again. So before you run off to the seamstress to have all your dresses hemmed in and taken up, word of caution. Once you go (little) black (dress), you can’t go back. You are either somber and dignified PGH or sexy and beautiful broadcaster. Choose one and choose wisely because according to the Korea Times, woman only gets to be one or the other, never both.

Or you could write your own story.

[1] The Korea Times, Park the Fashionista, 26 April 2013, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/04/116_134686.html
[3] The Korea Times, Are sports shows going too far?’, 23 April 2013,  http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/04/135_134471.html
[4] Oh, a self-proclaimed “master” of adult videos, said he felt an adrenalin rush different to what he experiences from such videos when watching the sports round-up. “The announcers in such shows are not explicit, but sexy, and at the same time they are active and elegant,” The Korea Times, “Are sports shows going too far?’, 23 April 2013, http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/04/135_134471.html
[5] Please note that in the article, the speaker Choi is identified as a woman,  which would cement an all too obvious of a stereotype promulgating that it’s the men who in support of these adult video cum sports shows whilst the women are the moral bearers of society banning these female presenters from the public view, The Korea Times, “Are sports shows going too far?’, 23 April 2013, http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/04/135_134471.html