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Two links of note

1) In Japan Focus, Stephen J. Epstein and Rachael M. Joo examine “Korean Bodies and the Transnational Imagination.” Definitely worth the read:

In this paper we concentrate on two complementary phenomena that have surfaced in the last decade, a focus in popular media on both muscled male torsos and long, slender female legs in order to interrogate how changing social and institutional contexts are shaping new physical ideals in Korea, transforming meanings and practices of the body and inculcating technologies of the self that have come to function as a panoptic discipline. While other media-driven trends related to the body have also appeared, such as a growing interest in “average”-looking people who rise to fame through previously undiscovered talents in reality-show competitions, these alternative exemplars are inevitably measured against ideals shaped by celebrities. To what extent does the increasingly ubiquitous representation of these body ideals pressure individuals toward ever more normative yet rarefied standards of beauty?

My only complain is that it needed more photos of long legs.

2) In the Korea Times, Andrew Salmon pens a wonderful column on lefty activist-turned-North Korea human rights activist Kim Young-hwan, an example of what Salmon suggests might be “Pyongyang blowback”:

For six decades, Pyongyang has waged an espionage campaign against Seoul. Standout incidents include the attempted 1968 special forces assassination of President Park Chung-hee; the 1980 hit on the South Korean Cabinet, which, while visiting Rangoon, was blown up by North Korean operatives; and the 1984 bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 by North Korean agents.

But these are just the standouts, the most spectacular and murderous operations; Pyongyang also sponsored a range of less kinetic moves aimed at fermenting revolution. Amid the pro-democracy protests against the Chun Doo-hwan regime in the 1980s, one man carrying out this work in the South was Kim Young-hwan.

An ardent believer in Kim Il-sung’s “juche” ideology, Kim established underground networks and distributed subversive literature. He was arrested and imprisoned but his quality had been spotted. He was later conveyed to North Korea by submarine for training, and met “The Great Leader” himself.

As recent news reports make clear, Kim is today deploying his experience against his former sponsors. His recanting of his youthful ideology and his activities in China suggest that he possesses a gift that is rare in politics: Integrity.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Stephen J. Epstein and Rachael M. Joo made Brendon A. Carr glad that he’s not in graduate school anymore by the end of their very first sentence: …inculcating technologies of the self that have come to function as a panoptic discipline. Whew! “Panoptic”. There better be lots of pictures of tits in that paper.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    I’ve read it. There were none. Panoptic indeed.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    Perhaps they set out to pan optic discipline?Anti-opthamologists! Or possibly anti-opticians? Or just anti-photography? The loss of the aesthetic aura, after all . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • Arghaeri

    I’m still stuck at the fact this article on korean fixations was publushed in Japan Focus

  • http://throughwhiteyseyes.blogspot.com whitey

    B. Carr beat me to it. I wanted to thank the authors in #1 for the great parody of academic writing.

  • Charles Tilly

    As recent news reports make clear, Kim is today deploying his experience against his former sponsors. His recanting of his youthful ideology and his activities in China suggest that he possesses a gift that is rare in politics: Integrity.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

    이 극단의 전향, 그 지독한 자기애:

    이택광 경희대 교수(영문학)는 이들 행위의 심층에 자리잡고 있는 것이 ‘자기에 대한 사랑’이라고 꼬집는다. “사람이 누군가 혹은 무언가를 좋아할 때, 그 대상이 무엇인지는 중요하지 않다. 핵심은 좋아하는 행위 자체다. 그 행위가 나에게 쾌락을 주기 때문이다. 그래서 특정 대상이 나에게 더 이상 쾌락을 주지 못할 때, 그 대상을 망설임 없이 버리고 다른 대상을 찾아나선다. 주저 없이 신념과 사상을 갈아치우는 사람들, 그들의 행위를 추동하는 것은 결국 ‘자기애’다.”

    물론 이 교수는 주사파의 극적 변신을 전향으로 규정하는 것에 회의적이다. 이것은 주사파를 과연 ‘좌파’로 볼 수 있느냐는 논쟁적 주제와 관련된다. 그가 볼 때 ‘주사파=좌파’는 일종의 착시다. 한국에선 보수 우파가 민족·국가를 방기하다 보니, 민족주의자가 졸지에 좌파가 돼버렸다는 논리다. “그들이 희구한 것은 정상국가, 곧 민족국가였다. 자주적 통일국가는 결국 부강한 국가, 열강과 당당히 힘을 겨룰 수 있는 국가다. 그 가능성을 북한에서 찾았던 이들의 일부가 실상을 확인한 뒤 뉴라이트로 돌아섰다. 그들은 여전히 이상적 민족국가를 추구하고 있다. 뉴라이트의 선진화론이 대표적이다. 그게 과연 전향일까.” 이런 시각에서 본다면 주사파의 변신은 총체적 자기부정이라기보다 즉자적인 ‘노선 선회’에 가깝다.

    More here and here.

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    Yeah, i’m with Brendon on this one: that’s an awful lot of windbagging. They ought to pay attention to George Orwell: “Never use a long word where a short one will do.”

  • hamel

    Charles Tilly: Why don’t you supplement the long quote and multiple links with something of your own?

  • YangachiBastardo

    No kidding, all this to basically say there are in Korea lots of leggy chicks who like to show off their stuff

  • Charles Tilly

    Why don’t you supplement the long quote and multiple links with something of your own?

    Nah.

  • hamel

    Then good day to you.

  • Bendrix

    #4.

    Me too. Its place of publication doesn’t make much sense to me. Just giving those net-uyoku more fodder for their trash talk. My Japanese wife watches a lot of Japanese TV here in the states, and I recently saw a show with Matsuko Deluxe (the transgender comedienne), and in the episode they had sent a crew to South Korea to cover plastic surgery. I was like what’s the point of this? Doesn’t Japan have a higher percentage of plastic surgery than Korea? Maybe they should cover their own country first.

  • Bendrix

    Well, after an Internet search, turns out I was wrong about rates of plastic surgery. But still, focus on yourselves.

  • nambangui horangi

    Actually,@#4 and 12, Japan Focus was rechristened as the Asia-Pacific Journal several years ago and has published several good articles on Korea, China, Indonesia, etc. Unfortunately, the domain name remained the same, which, while eliminating some major issues for the editors, has created a confusion.

    Re the writing style, yes, it’s academic: it’s for an academic audience. The level of analysis ain’t for everyone. And, Brendon, I can sympathize with anybody who is glad to be out of grad school and wants a steady diet of lighter reading. But Brendon and hoju_, I think it’s still clear enough, and I hope (especially you, hoju_, as a fellow antipodean) that you’ll step up to the nambangui not-so-Orwellian challenge: can you rewrite the first sentence so that it expresses the same ideas in as concise a way, but that is less offputting? I can see changing “inculcating” to “instilling” or “fostering”, which might make George happy, but beyond that, I actually think you have to get more contorted via two or three sentences and a lot more verbiage to express what the authors are getting at.

  • hamel

    nambangui: as your friend, I must tell you that I was intimidated by the article too, and have put it aside until I can find some really good concentration medicine to help me plough through it.

  • outofspace

    @14 I made a modest attempt below. As someone who read the whole article, the writing really bothered me throughout, not so much because they used big words but because they used them imprecisely and, at times, unnecessarily. (That’s not to say that I could do better, though.)

    Original: In this paper we concentrate on two complementary phenomena that have surfaced in the last decade, a focus in popular media on both muscled male torsos and long, slender female legs in order to interrogate how changing social and institutional contexts are shaping new physical ideals in Korea, transforming meanings and practices of the body and inculcating technologies of the self that have come to function as a panoptic discipline.

    My Version: In this paper, we look at two complementary phenomena that have surfaced in Korea over the last decade–a focus in popular media on muscular torsos for men and on long, slender legs for women–in an effort to investigate the ways changes in social and institutional contexts are leading to new physical ideals in Korea, creating new meanings and practices of the body, and fostering “technologies of the self” that function as panoptic discipline.

  • nambangui horangi

    Thanks, outofspace. The constructive feedback is appreciated.

  • outofspace

    No problem at all. It was a fun little exercise–even if it wasn’t really directed at me. Are you affiliated with the journal or the authors somehow?

  • Wedge

    B. Carr: Not to cast aspersions on your good self, but your guild also has been guilty of using big words as a way to keep the unwashed in thrall to your exceptional knowledge.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    outofspace — Yours goes off the rails at precisely the same point as the original. As soon as “panoptic” makes its appearance, the paper veers into self-parody. The problem is not one of diction — big words ain’t a problem for Uncle B — it’s one of relentless conformity with absurd cant.

  • Wedge

    Hey, at least they resisted the temptation to put “hetero” in front of “normative,” although “ubiquitous” is cringeworthy in this country.

  • nambangui horangi

    But Brendon–and this is meant as a serious question: tell me, how you would express the concepts involved in “panoptic” without using the word? If you find Foucault, Bentham, etc. absurd cant to begin with, I’m not sure there’s a way around it…..

    outofspace, yes, actually I know both authors (one of them extremely well) and the editor of the journal…..

  • outofspace

    @20 You have a point, but I don’t know that there’s any way around using “panoptic” (as nambangui suggests), without changing the meaning, since it’s a word with a very specific meaning and history. At the same time, though, I’m inclined to agree that a similar, more “user-friendly” concept/word could be used in its place without the article losing much in terms of substance.

    @22 That’s quite interesting. Kudos to your friend the editor as I think that journal does a great job of producing some very interesting content. Even the article in question was quite provocative and insightful, if a bit difficult to work through.

  • rockon

    Gender analysis writers shrill with delight because they’ve stumbled onto a secret code to unlock the mysteries of civilization. They prance around like a boy who snagged a garter snake but doesn’t know what to do with it.

    But can the writers get to the point? No, and there’s the rub. There’s only one point. Sex sells things. Has been that way for a long time. Yet gender writes get all giddy because they think they discovered sex.

    Now, if they would just post more pics, then I’d d be okay with it.

  • nambangui horangi

    Rockon, there were a fair few pics, but probably too many guys’ abs and not enough girls’ legs for your liking. The linked YouTube clips do give a few more images that may appeal to you (What really gets me is the second clip that criticizes Ha Ji Won as though she doesn’t have absolutely fantastic legs. It’s a strange world we live in.)

  • YangachiBastardo

    rockon is just spot on

  • Arghaeri

    You have a point, but I don’t know that there’s any way around using “panoptic” (as nambangui suggests), without changing the meaning, since it’s a word with a very specific meaning and history

    Is it being used with that meaning, the usage here seems very obscure?

  • outofspace

    @27 Good question. I assume it was and the writers used it for a reason–but the usage doesn’t provide much support for that assumption, admittedly.