Extra! Korea

June 4, 2011

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.

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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.

October 28, 2010

Going Soon: Yongsan’s red-light district

Filed under: economics, gender equality, hard to categorize, prostitution — extrakorea @ 7:57 am

The area around Yongsan train/subway station is currently being redeveloped. People and businesses are being moved, sometimes unwillingly, either because they have no other place to go or because they feel that they are not being compensated fairly. (The value of the land has gone up to the point that it’s more expensive than some parts of the wealthy Gangnam district of Seoul.) At the beginning of 2009, there was a violent protest that resulted in six lives lost.


(Source.)

Literally across the street from those protests is Yongsan’s red-light district. It’s been known since early 2009 that its days were numbered. Even though the development plans have been put in jeopardy by the sundering of the partnership* between the railroad operator that owns the land, Korail, and Samsung C&T, the company that would have led in financing and construction of the development project, the plans to close down and redevelop the area have gone ahead. Word is that it will be gone within a week.

* See here, here, here, and here.

October 27, 2010

Nearly one-third of teenagers would consider exchanging money for sex

Filed under: gender equality, prostitution, youth — extrakorea @ 2:59 pm

The Women’s Human Rights Commission of Korea (WHRCK) recently surveyed 2,894 teenagers this past June and July about their attitudes regarding sex. One finding was that nearly one-third of them would consider exchanging money for sex.

A total of 1,891 or 66.9 percent said they would “reject” having sex for money.

Eighteen percent of the respondents said they would take money “depending on the situation”; 3.5 percent said they definitely would take it; and 11.5 percent said they were “unsure.”

Some reported that they had experienced such exchanges and had set them up through Internet chatting, which is how this adolescent met her “clients.”

Teenager had unprotected sex with men knowing she was HIV positive

Filed under: gender equality, health, prostitution, youth — extrakorea @ 9:20 am

Police in Busan have arrested a 19-year-old* girl, Ahn, who had sex with 20 men despite knowing that she was HIV positive. It looks like she was engaging in “wonjo kyoje” (원조교제), so-called “compensated dating,” in which men pay schoolgirls for sex. The kicker in this story?

She [Ahn] reportedly said that she suggested using condoms, but they refused to do so.

(emphasis mine)

What could be the cause of such a rash attitude? Lack of sex eduction? Naivity? The desire to experience the “full pleasure”? I bet Grand Narrative could write a lengthy post.

* I’m not sure if this is by East Asian age or international age. If the former, she could be as young as 17.

October 15, 2010

Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager faces a maximum of one year in jail

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime, gender equality, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 2:34 pm

Jang Ja-yeon was a young actress who committed suicide on March 8, 2009. In her suicide note, she described how her former manager, Kim Sung-hoon, beat her up, embezzled money that she had earned, threatened her and her friends, and forced her to sleep with directors, executives, and CEOs. Kim fled to Japan but was caught and extradited. The trail has begun, and he faces a maximum of one year in jail. Verdict hearings will begin on October 29th.

One year? That’s it? He abused a young woman terribly, and probably drove her to suicide, and that’s the maximum punishment that he’s facing? Something isn’t right.

October 14, 2010

Girl group Nine Muses adds unnecessary member, must change name

Filed under: eye candy, gender equality, music — extrakorea @ 1:05 pm

You might have heard of the girl group Nine Muses. As their name suggests, there are nine members, and they have pretty legs, which makes them completely different from Girls’ Generation.

Girls’ Generation

Nine Muses

Girls’ Generation

Nine Muses

You see? Completely different. Anyway, they will be adding a new member (which would make them Ten Muses, no? I guess they’re trying to prove that in girl groups, the number of members is inversely proportional to the amount of talent per member.) And why would they do so?

Because some of the members who performed the song ‘No Playboy’ are currently working as models, we decided to add Hyuna to Nine Muses to provide a new energy to the group.

In other words, some of these so-called “singers” are so busy with non-singing activities that they can’t, well, sing.

October 13, 2010

Did H-Line Entertainment obliquely admit to pimping out an underage trainee?

Filed under: crime, gender equality, music, prostitution, youth — extrakorea @ 4:47 am

Recently, “Kim,” the CEO of an entertainment company, referred to as “H,” was accused of pressuring two of his trainees, aged 17 and 20, to perform sexual services for the owner of a clothing company.  After doing this over ten times, one of the trainees (the 17-year-old, I believe) tried to refuse, but the CEO forced her to continue, saying,

“If you don’t show up for work, you will be paying an extreme amount of penalties.”

Some trainees are under very stringent contracts, some as long as 13 years. Some contracts stipulate that if the trainee quits or is let go, they have to pay back the costs that the company has spent on their training, housing, etc so far, or would have spent on them had they continued onto a successful debut.

The clothing company owner gave Kim $46,000 US for “sponsorship expenses” of which Kim kept $30,000 for himself.

Kim rejected all claims by stating that the money in question was earned from his shopping mall, and not from forcing the two trainees into sexual acts. Authorities investigated his bank account, however, and found that he was deceiving them, as they failed to find any connections between the shopping mall and the amount held in his account.

Internet surfers, called “netizens” in Korea, began trying to discover the identities of H and the two trainees. Many of them believe that H is H-Line Entertainment, and that the two trainees are members of the new girl group Chocolate. Two of Chocolate’s members, Cheryl and Meng, are the correct ages, 17 and 20. Furthermore, back in August, Chocolate, which had not yet even debuted, managed to secure a prestigious endorsement deal with a clothing brand, NUZZON.

Since then, Cheryl and Meng have spoken publicly about the issue, denying that they are the trainees in question. Their company backed them up, stating:

The two girls mentioned, ‘A’ and ‘B,’ were former trainees, and have already left the company. They are definitely not Cheryl and Meng.

Wait a minute. Did they obliquely confirm that they did in fact pimp out two of their trainees (one of them underage), just not specifically Cheryl and Meng?

October 8, 2010

Are “Korean style” hot pants causing a rise in dengue fever?

Filed under: eye candy, gender equality, health, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 1:37 am

This year, 90,000 cases of dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes, have been reported in Thailand, and 100 people have died of the disease.
In an effort to stem the disease, the Thai government has advised people to wear long pants, as opposed to the hot pants that have become popular in Thailand because of the popularity of K-pop (South Korean pop music) girl groups like Girls’ Generation and Kara.

“Teenagers that wear the ‘Korean style’ short pants are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes,” said the Thai Deputy Minister of Public Health Anutarasak.

I was unaware that Koreans invented hot pants. I suppose they invented blue jeans and hoodies, too.

(Sources: Chosun Ilbo, Korea Times, AllKPop)

Another look at those dangerous garments.

September 12, 2010

New (inconsistent) regulations planned for K-pop girl groups

Filed under: censorship, eye candy, gender equality, legal issues, music, youth — extrakorea @ 4:20 am

It looks like TV station SBS is planning some new regulations for K-pop girl groups. Read the following quote and see if you find anything that doesn’t quite make perfect sense:

SBS’s “Inkigayo” set three bans on outfits: shirts that reveal too much cleavage, shirts that expose the belly button, and wearing white shorts under miniskirts. Starting from the 4th, the producers of “Inkigayo” asked singers to make the appropriate changes, keeping the three bans in mind.

So, cleavage is bad, but showing lots of leg by wearing hot pants is OK. As they stated, miniskirts are acceptable, but white shorts underneath them are not. Girls showing their belly button is inappropriate, but guys can rip off their shirts and go topless. And thrusting your buttocks towards the camera/audience, and doing some bump-and-grind, gets a green light.

Evidently, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the “ab dance” or “belly dance” by Rainbow. You can take a look at the video below and judge for yourself if it’s so bad. (By that, I mean, compared to what some other groups have done.)

Rainbow’s company has promised to take the gesture out of the choreography. In the meantime, their bellybuttons are being censored out by flashing the letter A (the name of the song) over them. No, I’m not making this up.

Furthermore …

Although Rainbow was forced to change their choreography on the “Inkigayo” episode broadcast on the 4th, Chaeyeon, Narsha, and An Jinkyung were allowed to wear short hot pants without any changes and their performances were broadcast with no edits.

While I appreciate that somebody feels that ever-increasing sexuality in girl group performances needs to be slowed down, the inconsistencies are problematic.

I would have also liked to have seen some dialogue about this, instead of the usual ham-fisted methods that are typically employed. There are, unfortunately, some obstacles to this. One is the lack of teaching of critical thinking skills, in favor of rote-memorization of exam material. Without these skills, it’s difficult to debate. Another is the tendency to go into denial until a situation has deteriorated significantly (and then to over-react). Also, there is the real need to teach conflict resolution here. People in this country have a real inability to resolve things peacefully (witness the regular brawls in the parliament). Lastly, South Korea isn’t really that far removed from its dictatorships of the past, which may explain the tendency to resort to dictator-like solutions a little too quickly.

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