Year: 2016

My first racist ‘attack’ in Europe and what I learned from it

Image source: Daum Blog Caption: Choose the wrong option. (the artist is mocking the idea of racism by using a multiple-choice question format popular in Korean education) Last Friday, I was leaving a supermarket when a group of young, white, mostly male, Dutch people ran up to me, took a photo of me, then ran away laughing. I froze, ran into MediaMarkt, the electronics store next door, which I was headed to originally, and stayed there for a good fifteen minutes before I went outside, looked around and made sure they were gone, got on my bike and pedaled back home. I asked myself if what had happened had really just happened. Yes. I saw the flash. I heard them laugh. I was sure. Back home, I sat down and wrote an angry and descriptive post along the lines of: “To the white, male, Dutch youth who just took a picture of me in front of the supermarket on this street, go fuck yourselves, go get cancer, go crash into a train. Same to the people who have …

[Documentary] Inside Korea’s Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry (i-D, 2016)

Episode 1 Grace faces Korea’s traditional beauty standards, and is wildly stared at by passers-by. She talks to a young Korean woman who embodies Korea’s obsession with beauty. “How would you feel if you could never wear makeup again?” “I will die” Episode 2 Grace talks to Korean tattoo artist Apro and gets passport photos of her made, heavily photoshopped so she looks ‘normal’ Episode 3 Grade sees Soljee, a young Korean woman, reveal her tattoos to her parents for the first time. Episode 4 Grace meets a gang member and asks about the relationship between gangs and tattoos in Korea. She also meets a young woman who’s getting her first-ever tattoo. After seeing the young woman’s tattoo, her father decides to get one.

Interview with BBC (August 15th, 2016)

South Korea gaming: How a T-shirt cost an actress her job I’ve been interviewed by the BBC for about thirty minutes regarding the recent Nexon incident and feminism in Korea in general. It’s interesting to see how news reporting works. I have to admit, the following quote isn’t what I’d have chosen to write out of that conversation, and it could use some elaborating, since the first sentence now makes it seem like I’ve had plastic surgery and that’s why I’ve taken my picture down – and it’s not clear why ‘Korean women are in such despair’. A blogger who writes under the pseudonym Emily Singh told the BBC she had taken her picture down from her own blog because she feared reprisals. She said that many Korean women were in such despair that they considered emigrating. But I’m happy to see the BBC is taking interest in feminism in Korea.

Feminists Protest Outside Nexon’s HQ Against Dismissal of Voice Actor Kim Ja-Yeon

  “All goods received at the protest against Nexon’s dismissal of CLOSER voice actor have been provided by feminist of feminist-friendly organisations. Nexon has only provided us with 20 bottles of water, and we haven’t touched any of them” (July 22nd, 16:36) Twitter user @imapine6 also stated earlier that “crowdfunded drinks and ice cream have been delivered to the protesters”, that “somebody has sent a coffee van and the protesters are enjoying cold coffee”,  and that the group were looking to close around 19:00, KST on Friday. My post on the Korean feminist movement Megalia has been referenced by a dozen online outlets over the Nexon incident – I hope to provide more insight on its impacts soon – such as the massive number of cartoonists and artists who have officially released support for dismissed actor Kim and/or Megalia and/or feminism. For now I’m travelling in Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Stuttgart. (Picture from Nexon Game Center)

Korean student speaks out against government hiring practice requiring interpreters to “look pretty”

“Why is it my duty to be pretty just because the President [of Korea] is coming to town? Image: JTBC News A Korean student currently studying in Paris has spoken out against absurd hiring conditions imposed at the 2016 KCON France held at AccorHotels Arena on June 2nd (the original message can be found on her Facebook account. A transcript is available via Kyunghyang Daily) Elodie Kim was hired as an interpreter at the KCON. But she was later demanded by KakaoTalk (equivalent of WhatsApp), to provide her measurements and a full-body photo. She asks whether they are indeed talking about the same job offer – that of an interpreter. The hiring agent replies “Yes, but looks are important”. Another student hired at the event is told that “You are hired as an assistant at an information booth for Korean SMEs. Looks matter as much as your [French] language skills”. Bibigo (Korea, US, UK), a Korean restaurant chain, has gone as far to highlight in red that their hiring requirements are “looks, French language skills, and …

Answer 2. Can you tell South and North Koreans apart?

South and North Korean soldiers depicted by Hankyung Daily.   Yes. First by their height (and physical build), then by their accent. Usually. Many younger defectors become fluent in the South Korean accent (I’ve witnessed them quickly change back into North Korean with their friends, but I do this too when I meet my friends from Busan). But the height difference – harder to change. One thing I noticed when meeting North Korea defectors was that the women were always wearing high heels. I didn’t initially give this much thought. “Well, they’re young women who grew up in or are currently living in South Korea, so of course they have to care about their looks”, was my logic. Heels are everyday wear in Seoul. The women were also very fashionable and wore impeccable makeup, so that ended there. Then came a day when I was gathered to talk with four different defectors on the same day. And it hit me – they are wearing heels because they don’t want to be a head (or more) shorter than everyone else! …