Extra! Korea

October 6, 2010

Age of sex offenders and their victims keeps getting lower

Filed under: crime, prostitution, youth — extrakorea @ 11:22 am

For the last two years, the age of people who committed sexual crimes against minors, and their victims, has been getting lower.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on Monday said a study of 879 people convicted of sex crimes against minors last year revealed that the age of offenders and victims dropped by 1.7-1.8 years from the previous year.

Among 879 offenders, 76 were younger than 19, up from 45 in 2008. This lowered the average age of offenders from 35.5 years in 2008 to 33.7 years last year.

The average age of victims dropped from 14.4 years in 2008 to 12.7 years in 2009. Rape victims were 14 on average, sexual assault victims 11.4 and those involved in the sex trade 13.2.

Children need to be protected from loan advertisements?

Filed under: advertising, censorship, legal issues, television, youth — extrakorea @ 10:36 am

In an effort to further protect children from undesirable influences, the Korean government is extending the hours during which adult material will be permitted to be broadcast.

Currently, adult-rated TV programs are banned from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on public holidays and vacations. But from October, that will be expanded from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on holidays. Advertising for alcohol, tobacco and private loan companies is also banned at those times.

Children need to protected from private loan company advertisements?

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.

September 11, 2010

Rep. Ahn: Girl groups’ agencies breaking the law

Filed under: gender equality, legal issues, music, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 6:44 am

According to Rep. Ahn Hyung-hwan of the Grand National Party, the agencies of girl groups f(x), Kara, and GP Basic are breaking Korean labor laws. Sulli (of f(x)), Kang Ji-young (of Kara), and Henna and Janie (of GP Basic) should have obtained permits from the Ministry of Labour due to the fact that they are minors, but they did not, and thus may be summoned to court.

The current labor standard act states that no one under the age of 15 can be considered part of the workforce unless given presidential approval.

In response to Ahn’s charges, SM Entertainment released an official statement saying the company would make their next move only after looking into the matter with its legal team.

Management camps for both Kara and GP Basic said they too would quickly look into the matter with the help of legal representation.

I’m a little confused, because both Sulli and Ji-young are 16 years old (international age).

August 24, 2010

Some teen entertainers coerced into wearing revealing clothing, skipping studies

Filed under: gender equality, music, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 6:34 am

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family surveyed 88 teen entertainers, 47 boys and 41 girls (Chosun Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo, Korea Times). About ten percent of them were found to have been coerced into wearing revealing clothing. Remember how some performers have been too young to legally watch their own performances (e.g Hyun-ah and GP Basic)?

Korea’s Broadcast Law is geared at protecting children and adolescents from viewing programs containing sexually explicit or violent content, but does not have any clauses regarding children or adolescents depicting such content.

It seems that some have also suffered sexual harassment and pressure to go on diets or to have plastic surgery.

Moreover, 9.1 percent said they had to caress, cuddle or kiss someone on stage and on the set.

Another 4.5 percent said they have experienced sexually insulting words or sexual harassment.

Many are encouraged to go on a diet or undergo plastic surgery. Among female teen celebrities, 56.1 percent were pressured to go on a diet and 14.6 percent to have cosmetic surgery.

Are these teens being allowed to keep up with their schooling?

Among 85 celebrities who are attending primary or secondary schools, 40 percent said their right to study is not guaranteed. In addition, 47.5 percent said they skipped a quarter of a day’s classes per week in a semester, and 34.1 percent said they have no time for homework.

The trend is that young singers drop out of school and get into college by taking a qualification exam because their right to study is not protected. Yet 65.9 percent said it is important to attend classes.

Sun-mi (ex-member of the Wonder Girls) and Minzy (of 2NE1) are two examples of dropping out of school and taking a qualification exam.

So what do Korea’s child labour laws have to say about this?

Among teen celebrities under the age of 18, 39.5 percent worked eight hours or more per day and 10.3 percent worked for 40 hours or more per week. Though the Labor Standard Act stipulates the working hours of a youth under 18 as less than seven hours a day and 40 hours a week, the law does not apply since entertainers are categorized as special workers such as insurance agents or salesmen.

(emphasis mine)

Lastly, some seem to suffer from insomnia and/or depression.

Fifty female teen celebrities and aspiring wannabes say they experience insomnia (64.3 percent) or take anti-depressants (14.3 percent).

August 13, 2010

Court agrees that entertainer’s contract is “slave-like”

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 7:37 pm

In 2006, a member of the boy band U-Kiss signed a 10-year contract with his entertainment agency. The contract further states that “if his performances were suspended due to health problems or mandatory military service, the inactive period would be added to the term.”

Two years later, he took them to court, saying that it was unfair, and today, the court agreed.

A district court ruled in favor of Woo, saying, “The first ten years after his debut album constitute virtually his entire life as a singer. Given the nature of the industry, the contract term is unfair and excessively infringes upon his rights.”

An appellate court upheld the decision.

Such excessively binding contracts in the showbiz industry came to light when three members of the popular boy band TVXQ filed a suit against its agency, SM Entertainment, to invalidate what they called “life-long slave contracts.”

August 12, 2010

GP Basic’s video teaser looks as pedotastic as some of us feared

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 1:44 am

Do you remember GP Basic, the new girl group with one member in elementary school and the other five are in their second year of middle school/junior high? They’ve released the video teaser for their upcoming debut single and video (via PopSeoul, K-Bites, and Seoul Beats). Unfortunately, it seems to confirm many of my worst worries. Three of the members are wearing short shorts/miniskirts. (I hope the full video doesn’t feature them doing so-called “sexydances.”) They look surprisingly like some other, older K-pop girl groups (e.g. high heels).

Seoul Beats writes:

I did a little research on South Korean child labor laws and they say that: All children under the age of 18 need permission of their parents to work, those under the age of 15 need even more permission from the labor ministry, children need to attend school at least until the age of 14, children between the ages of 15-18 may only work 7 hours a day and no more than 42 hours a week and are not allowed to work overnight hours.

BoA debuted at the tender age of thirteen, but she has always relied upon her dancing and live singing skills instead of wearing revealing clothes or trying to be “sexy.” That’s why I give her a pass.

August 8, 2010

Cube Entertainment has its performers meet with mental health specialists

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 6:36 pm

From Omonatheydidn’t comes a translation of an article which describes how Cube Entertainment (a subsidiary of JYP Entertainment) has its performers meet regularly with mental health specialists.

Every week, the Cube idols are able to meet with a mental health specialist and they can train their personalities and characters to be strong. Cube executive, Hong Seungsung, said, “Our singers are able to receive education and mental consultation.”

Hong also feels Cube has a responsibility to the families of 4minute and BEAST: “Their parents entrusted them to us while they were still in their 10s, and therefore it is our responsibility to think only about their futures. And because the effects of becoming a celebrity is greatly increased the younger a person is, we value character building for our trainees before they become famous in order to avoid problems.”

I’m very glad about that, considering how young some of these performers are when they begin training and debut, and how pitiless the Korean music industry can be. I’d be happier, though, if these kids were allowed to grow up first before being thrown into the corporate gears.

August 6, 2010

(Updated) New girl group has member in elementary school. Stop the madness!

Filed under: music, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 3:17 am

According to K-Bites and AllKpop, a new girl group named GP Basic is set to debut next week. Since you can`t swing a dead cat without hitting a girl group or boy band member these days, what makes this noteworthy?
The youngest member is still in elementary school and the other five are in their second year of middle school/junior high.
Stop the madness! Please, for the love of God, can`t we let kids be kids before throwing them into the meat-grinding corporate gears of the Korean music business?

Edit/Update:

It looks like I’m not the only one who is concerned about the welfare of these young people.

Some believe that dressing prepubescent girls in tight pants and high heels is ethically wrong and should not be attempted.

No sh** Sherlock. And how about this piece of irony?

There is also a problem for GP Basic’s appearance on various music programs, since a handful of them require parental guidance for those under 15. The shows include KBS Music Bank, MBC Show! Music Core, and SBS Inkigayo. If all three shows ban young kids from even viewing the show, how will they be able to perform in the show?

That reminds of when the video for “Change” by Hyun-ah (of the girl group 4Minute) was deemed to be “inappropriate for those under 19 years of age” when she herself was under 19.

August 2, 2010

Are sexual crimes against children increasing rapidly in South Korea?

Filed under: crime, youth — extrakorea @ 6:01 pm

Recent articles by the Korea Herald and Korea Times suggest that the number of sexual crimes against children has increased dramatically. But is it the number of crimes, or the reporting of said crimes, that is increasing? This excellent post by Gust of Popular Feeling strongly suggest that it is the latter.

In any case, the number of such crimes committed in South Korea outnumbers those in the United States, Britain, Japan, and Germany, sometimes dramatically.

Sex crimes against children in Korea outnumbered those in Japan by more than three times and Germany by nearly nine times, but a great number of such cases here ended up being unsettled as victims are reluctant to undergo police investigations.

[ snip ]

Another new finding by the research was Korean victims were much more reluctant to report their nightmarish experience to police than those in the other countries, a factor exacerbating the situation further.

Only one out of 168 victims contacted the police. In Britain, one out of 12.2 victims report their cases to police, while in the United States, one out of 2.7 victims did so, the research showed.

“Given this reluctance, the actual number of child sex crimes in Korea could be far higher than the number officially reported,” said Kang Eun-kyung, a senior researcher at the criminology institute.

(emphasis mine)

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