Extra! Korea

June 4, 2011

Hong-dae club encourages one-night stands by paying for drinks and motel fees?

Filed under: drinking, rapid cultural change, What the hell?!, youth — extrakorea @ 10:19 am

A dance club in Hong-dae has been encouraging customers to hook up in one-night stands. The flyer below was for its second “sex party,” the first one having been held in March.

I figured that it was to drum up business, but then I read this:

This club even offers to pay for the drinks and motel fees if clubbers find their partners for the night, encouraging people to actively engage in sexual activity.

How does a club manage to turn any profits if it gives its drinks away for free? Exorbitant entrance fees? They’d have to be at least as much as a motel room just to break even.

I also found this to be funny.

People who came across the poster online expressed shock and disbelief. “I naturally assumed that nightlife in Hongdae has changed, but this is going too far. This club is bringing down the already bad image of clubbing culture. It should cancel the event,” said one netizen.

I have news for the pimply-faced, teenage netizens who are suffering from “shock and disbelief”: People have been hooking up for one-night stands at Hong-dae clubs for years and years. This is simply the first time that a club has been openly encouraging it.

Students suspected of sexually assaulting classmate on “school field trip” (Membership Training?)

Filed under: crime, drinking, education, gender equality, youth — extrakorea @ 9:40 am

Three medical students of Korea University have been accused of molesting, taking indecent photographs of, and raping a female classmate. The alleged sexual assault took place during what has been described as a “school trip” and a “field trip.” I’m assuming that it’s what’s called an “MT” in South Korea, an acronym for “Membership Training.” (No actually “training” goes on at these trips –more like games, drinking, chatting, drinking …) I’ve written before about sexual assaults on MTs, as has the Grand Narrative blog. Also, in the comments thread of this blog post, someone asked

Have you ever heard of a sexual assault on a Korean University campus?

to which a commenter by the username of Darth Babaganoosh responded

Yep. Happens all the time at events such as MT. Just because it’s not reported to the police or in the newspaper doesn’t mean people on campus don’t talk.

Harrassment, sex-for-grades, the occasional assault… they all buzz about campus. They’re open secrets. People know, but don’t say anything.

And incidents do find their way into the newspapers. For example

Freshmen at Sejong have University complained that they had to participate in an inappropriate game during a department’s welcoming party last February.

According to students who attended, some games went too far to the extent they felt humiliated. One game had them compete in making the most sexual pose they could come up with, while others also included sexual pranks.

I don’t know how widespread this kind of thing is, but I think it’s fair to assume that for every incident that makes it into the newspapers, there are many that don’t.

May 10, 2011

Seven bar “hostesses” have committed suicide since July

Filed under: celebrities, drinking, gender equality, music, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 12:56 pm

On March 24th, a young woman committed suicide, the seventh bar “hostess” (known as “jeopdaebu,”) to do so since last July.

In a suicide note, the 27-year-old said she was forced to have sex against her will and was no longer able to stand the abuse from customers and the bar owner.

Apparently, she was not able to quit because of a “slave contract.” In such bars, the owners are, or are connected to, loan sharks who lend out money at excessively high interest rates.

In the article, it is subtly hinted that the recent crackdowns on prostitution may have actually exacerbated the situation by forcing prostitution underground, leading to the exploitation of women who, unlike those in red-light districts such as Chongyangni and the now-defunct Yongsan, never had any intention of becoming prostitutes.

As shown in the crackdown by the Pohang Police, the sex industry has developed into a well-organized business run by bar owners, gangsters and loan sharks who exploit the women, they say.

Many of them first start working at a bar or club to earn “easy money” without knowing it will put them in a trap from which they can’t get out, they say.

“Most of these hostesses regret starting the job,” Lee Jung-mi, the head of the Korean Shelter for Women, said. “They first thought they would make a lot of money by simply talking to male customers at bars or karaoke, serving drinks and singing for them. But the reality is they are forced to sell sex and they can’t say no due to money they have been loaned in advance.”

Here is a statistic that, if true, is interesting:

According to Statistics Korea, one out of 60 economically-active women work in bars, clubs and karaoke rooms, or in red light districts.

Also, in case you were wondering, the Korean music industry, despite all the rhetoric since the suicide of Jang Ja-yeon, still harbors sexual exploitation. Here is a report from this past February, in which journalists went under cover to find out what happens to young trainees.

The trainee was also asked to call the director of her agency without alerting him that he was being recorded. When asked about the contract fee she was forced to pay, he replied, “There are no agencies these days that support you financially 100%. Since we do support you 100%, don’t leave us. Even if you say that we forced you to provide sexual favors, you really have nothing to say in the end.”

Upon hearing his shocking statement, reporters visited the agency themselves while hiding their cameras. They found that the agency, on the outside, looked no different from any other agencies, and when asked to name the celebrities they housed, they had no trouble listing the names.

[ … ]

Another trainee hoping to become an actress later gave her own account, revealing, “The agency said they were looking for a small role and wanted to meet me in person. They instead dragged me to their home and force fed me various drinks, claiming that they needed to check my limit. After a while, they taped my mouth shut so that I couldn’t scream, and further claimed that in order to become a celebrity, I needed to have sex with him.”

What was even more shocking for viewers was that this all happened before she entered her third year of junior high school.

April 13, 2010

13% of soju’s alcohol comes from rice. And the rest … ?

Filed under: drinking — extrakorea @ 12:43 pm

Currently, 13% of soju‘s alcohol comes from rice. There are plans to raise that to 33% this year.

OK, so where does the other 87% (soon to be 67%) of soju’s alcohol come from? Nobody seems to know for sure. And that, friends, is why I don’t drink soju. That, and the fact that it smells like a hospital’s rubbing alcohol.

April 12, 2010

Korea is not the Ireland of Asia because Ireland kicks its ass (in drinking)

Filed under: drinking — extrakorea @ 7:31 am

According to this article in the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea (“the Ireland of Asia”) is not the country with the most boozers highest per capita alcohol consumption in the OECD. That honor belongs to Ireland, the Ireland of the world.

According to the OECD Health Data 2009, Koreans aged 15 or over consumed an average of 8 liters of alcohol per person in 2007, less than the OECD average of 9.5 liters. Korea ranked 11th among the 16 countries surveyed, while Ireland took first place with 13.4 liters followed by Denmark and the Czech Republic with 12.1 liters.

Now, can somebody explain this?

So where does the misperception [that Koreans are a bunch of boozers consume more alcohol than most other nationalities] come from? It derives from an error made in a 1999 World Health Organization report which ranked Korea 2nd in the world with per capita alcohol consumption of 14.4 liters in 1996. But in the WHO statistics, ethyl alcohol concentrated from fermented cereals was mistaken for a kind of alcoholic drink and the delivered quantity of the ingredient (6.8 liters per capita) was counted in the consumption figure.

OK, if it’s not being made as a beverage, then what is its purpose? Rubbing alcohol? Mouthwash? Cough medicine?

Also, don’t celebrate Korea’s well-being healthy habits just yet.

But some experts attribute the nation’s low ranking to the wide difference in consumption between the genders. As Korean women drink comparatively less alcohol than their male counterparts, the nation’s ranking would rise significantly if it measured only men’s consumption, they point out.

To a certain extent, that would be true of most nationalities.

April 11, 2010

I’m sure the rape at the MT (“Membership Training”) is just the tip of the iceberg

Filed under: crime, culture, drinking, gender equality, safety, suicide, youth — extrakorea @ 9:59 am

Not too long ago, Brian (formerly) in Jeollanam-do reported on the university student who committed suicide after being raped on an MT. MT is short for “membership training” and they have nothing to do with any sort of training. Groups of students who are associated in some way (e.g. are members of the same club or have the same major) go somewhere, stay the night, and then return the next day. Participation is supposedly optional, but declining could get you ostracized, which is a big deal in Korea, particularly among university students. What do they do there? Drinking alcohol. Lots of it. Again, you’re pressured to conform and participate. If you don’t drink, or only a little, you will be angrily accused of “spoiling the mood” by your superiors (“seon-bae”). In Korea, subordinates (“hoo-bae”) basically have to do everything that their seonbaes demand, or risk the aforementioned excommunication. It’s common for male seon-baes to try to get female hoo-baes drunk so as to make sexually harassing them easier.

You say, “Wait a minute, they stay overnight? I thought that Korea was a conservative society. I thought that Korean parents are worry-warts with regards to their children. What do they think about that?” Good question. I think it’s a combination of: a) naivety (“Just because a big mixed-gender group stays somewhere overnight doesn’t mean that they’re having sex.”), b) denial (similar to a)). Korean parents don’t want to think about the fact that their kids might be humping like rabbits.), and c) people know, and it’s kind of a dirty little secret. Have you ever seen the movie “Memories of Murder“? (If you haven’t, be sure to.) In one scene, two police officers speculate on what might be happening on these MTs.

I’m sure that it’s well-known among Koreans that sexual harassment is widespread at MTs. You might remember the Japanese student who shocked the nation by publicly describing when her Korean teacher offered her a sex-for-grades exchange. You might not remember that another girl on the show, a Chinese student, Shang Fang (“상팡”), said that she was sexually harassed by the same teacher while on an MT (“상팡 “문제의 교수에게 MT서 성희롱 당했다””). People here don’t want to talk about it in much the same way that they don’t want to talk about the special barber shops (which don’t offer haircuts), “anmas” (a kind of massage parlor), “room salons” (an expensive bar-brothel mash-up), etc. It’s embarrassing to talk about it, so the problem is not addressed.

Kushibo has written that the problem isn’t as bad as it used to be. Let’s say that he’s right. “Not as bad as it used to be” can still describe a serious problem. Near the school that I teach at, I still see students at the big supermarket loading up for the weekend MTs with snacks like chips and booze. Lots of cheap, strong booze. Kushibo certainly knows the seriousness of the problem, from this story that he reprinted:

Well, one other woman began to pass out while they were all at a noraebang in L.A. Koreatown. My friend noticed what seemed like shallow breathing, but she wasn’t sure. She asked some of her sŏnbae (‘senior’) if the passed-out hubae (‘junior’) seemed all right. She actually got barked at that she was ruining the punwigi (mood/atmosphere) of the party. After a couple minutes, still nagged by concern for the passed-out friend, she decided to call 911.

According to my accountant friend, the call saved the woman’s life. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and her stomach was pumped. The E/R doctor told them that if they had waited another twenty minutes, the friend might have died of alcohol poisoning. Her blood alcohol level was stratospheric, having downed all these “one-shot” drinks, egged on (without any real choice without being ostracized) by her supposed friends.

Also, I’m sure that someone as knowledgeable about Korea as Kushibo is knows that there’s optional, and then there’s “optional,” with big, fat quotation marks around it, which basically means, “It’s your choice not to, but if you don’t, we’re going to make your life f-ing miserable.”

Now, due to this unfortunate tragedy, perhaps the problem will be addressed like it should have been long ago.

April 10, 2010

Would you give your child advice on drinking alcohol?

Filed under: celebrities, drinking — extrakorea @ 12:13 pm

Moon Geun-young (who was known as “Korea’s ‘Little Sister'” until Kim Yu-na came along) has described advice that her father gave her regarding drinking alcohol.

I guess it’s a trait I got from my father who loves alcohol, he always used to tell me ‘No matter how much you drink, never let your eyes weaken and always stay focused.’

Would you advise your children on how to drink alcohol? And how much does Ms. Moon like to drink?

When asked how much is an ideal amount of liquor, Moon Geun Young surprised everyone by answering, “About two Soju bottles are okay.”

April 7, 2010

Wine prices slashed says Joongang Daily and Kim Yu-na

Filed under: advertising, drinking — extrakorea @ 12:34 pm

According to the Joongang Daily, wine prices have been slashed. I have been informed of this same fact by Kim Yu-na, via a flyer in my mailbox from Homeplus.

July 17, 2009

Drunk high-school teachers have a fistfight … in front of their students

Filed under: drinking, education, idiots — extrakorea @ 12:04 am

Two apparently drunk high-school teachers had a fistfight … in front of their school’s gates, in full view of their shocked students. According to the article, the fight started over an argument over marking final exams. The two will, allegedly, face disciplinary measures. Let’s wait and see what kind of slap on the wrist they receive.

The teachers were Korean, so expect Anti-English Spectrum to pretend this never happened.

June 30, 2009

Looking for ethnic restaurants? Here you go!

Filed under: drinking, food — extrakorea @ 12:10 pm

If you’re looking for ethnic restaurants, the Korea Herald has made a nice chart.

I also recommend the following pages from the website Galbijim.

—> Restaurants

—> Ethnic Restaurants

—> Ethnic Restaurants in Seoul

Just go to a link that appeals to you and navigate your way around.

Another excellent resource is this map that Roboseyo made.

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