The Grand Narrative’s James Turnbull has a piece in Haps about censors in Korea trying to maintain footing in a rapidly opening society. Some of the examples mentioned are um, interesting.

Korean TV broadcaster SBS decided that female performers could wear hot pants, but couldn’t expose their navels. KBS banned a music video because the singer didn’t wear a seat belt. And the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has slapped R19 labels on dozens of songs just for mentioning alcohol, including Psy’s “Right Now” for the line “Life is toxic like alcohol”, which was deemed “obscene”.

Like most everywhere else, “obscene” on the big screen sells:

The Servant and the remake of The Housemaid would be noteworthy for their salacious content. Indeed, the former has been described as containing perhaps the most erotic scene ever witnessed in a Korean film, which probably explains why Korean audiences watched it in droves.

Looks to be the trend is on.

Facing stiff competition from Hollywood blockbusters, Korean filmmakers would repeat the strategy this year. First, with The Scent in April, which featured actress Park Si-yeon in the nude; then, with A Muse, which showed sex scenes between a teenage girl and a man in his 70s.

Stiff competition. Ouch. Read the rest here.

For the few of you who haven’t checked out Turnbull’s long running and well-researched blog, I highly suggest you do. He is far and away the go-to-guy on Korean gender, sexuality and pop culture issues.

Ok. I’ll admit that part of my admiration is due to the fact that, along with solid commentary, he does manage to find a ton of stellar images.