The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: interracial relationships

I take it this is some sort of hipster humor thing, right?

I suspect this is somebody’s idea of humor, and to be honest, the “trying to get all up in your wonton soup” line was kinda funny.

Still, with what’s passing for racial dialogue on the Internet nowadays, I can never be too sure.

See the writer’s follow-up post here.

And on the drunken, high and sexually miscreant foreigner (and gyopo!) front…

Over at Three Wise Monkeys, Christopher Smith writes the unthinkable—that Westerners living in Korea may be contributing to their own occasionally besmirched reputations:

Can any sympathy be given for MBC’s program and its producers? Some might say that there is no smoke without fire. Are Westerners blameless and merely the victims of Korea’s insecurities about foreigners? After all, they do use the same word for “alien,” “외국,” as they do for “foreigner.”

A few weeks ago there was a foreigner beach party on Wando beach, Jeollanamdo, which every teacher currently working in public schools in that province will have heard about. The party-goers caused quite a number of complaints to come from locals that included too much noise, rubbish on the beach, topless women, and, worst of the lot, the vandalism of a closed public toilet, which was broken into and although without any plumbing (the reason for the closure), was utilized anyway causing what I would imagine to be a particularly unpleasant sight and smell.

The regional coordinator of public school teachers was quite rightly furious and sent a strongly worded e-mail to all teachers warning against any future misconduct and declaring the price that would be paid if the perpetrators are identified.

But this was all a one-off, right? I mean people from any country and any culture can have a bad day, and there are plenty of expats living in Korea who would turn their noses up at such behavior. While this last statement is obviously true, perhaps it is time that those of us coming from Western English-speaking cultures admitted that we have a growing problem with our moral behavior and reputation in other countries and especially with regard to Asian countries.

Not sure what the 외국 comment meant—we use “alien” and “foreigner” interchangeably, too. Or at least we used to, before we abandoned them both in favor of “immigrant,” used regardless of sojourn status or even legality of residence.

Besides that, though, his other observations ring sadly true. I by no means intend to discount the role racism and sexual insecurities play in the occasional displays of resentment expressed by Korean men at Western men. Much of the resentment, though, is based on racism and disrespect aimed at them by Westerners, not all of which is just perceived.

Sadly, the structure of Korea’s Western community probably doesn’t help. Between the English teachers and the GIs, you’re dealing with a lot of young men, the social constituency most likely to do stupid shit. This already troubled constituency is then hit by a double whammy—living overseas, the social pressures of their home societies no longer apply, and in Korea, the host society does not do a very good job of enforcing its social pressures on Western foreigners.

They are, in essence, free of social restraint. Most Westerners can handle it, but many cannot. We’ve all seen it, and more to the point, your Korean neighbors have all seen it.

Anyway, read Mr. Smith’s post in its entirety. The writer also has what seems like quite an interesting blog here, and I see he’s been to Indonesia’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, which ranks very, very high on my list of places to visit and photograph at least once in my life.

While we’re on the subject of misbehaving Westerners, NoCut News has run a four-part series on, and I quote the series title, “The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men.”

No, I’m serious, that’s what’s it’s called.

The inspiration for this, of course, was NoCut’s big scoop on the Western dude who secretly recorded himself having sex with Korean women (who has reportedly been sacked and is undergoing investigation).

Anyway, Part I deals with the ongoing saga of Chris Golightly, the American contestant on Superstar K3 who, according to the report, is now being investigated on charges of defrauding and blackmailing his ex-girlfriend. Most of the story, though, deals with him being a serious player. Or at least allegedly being a serious player. And a douche. Or allegedly a douche, anyway, with most of the testimony coming from his ex-girlfriend.

Since, as everyone knows, angry ex-girlfriends usually make the most reliable of sources.

Part II deals with websites and books on dating Korean women, such as this site, some nameless Youtube video I’d be keen to see and the book “Making Out in Korean.” The big beef is that many white guys come to Korea already with ideas about Korean women.

Part III is about drugs, and Part IV—personally, my favorite—deals with Itaewon’s night culture. This one is pure comedy gold, and ends with this money quote:

Of course, we don’t intend at all to defame all foreign men in Korea just by one nightime scene of Itaewon’s club street.

It’s true, however, that the foreign men this reporter saw on the street in Itaewon appeared to be nothing more than hunters chasing Korean women. It was filled with, literally, “white hunters.”

I assume they’re not referring to these guys.

At least the Nigerians can enjoy a break.

I wish I had time to translate these stores—their entertainment value alone is immeasurable.

Now, dear gyopo readers, before you get too giggly reading about the journalistic misfortunes of your more melanin deficient brethren, you haven’t been forgotten, either. In E-Today last week, one story on drugs noted that while native speaking teachers (i.e., whitey) needed to submit drug tests and criminal records, you guys—and by you guys, I mean F-4 visa-holding gyopo—did not, and this was a blind spot in Korea’s drug enforcement efforts. With the number of gyopo involved in drug offenses on the rise, this has led to calls for F-4 visa holders to submit drug tests and criminal records, too. They even got somebody from Anti-English Spectrum on record calling for strengthened controls on gyopo.

On a positive note, though, it appears—judging from this comment—that somebody in an official position has issued an opinion about the MBC program on foreign relationships.

Cute, even with the excessive references to big foreign shlongs

Check out the parody of the MBC program posted at The Grand Narrative.

A piece of unsolicited advice to MBC

Any future “Foreigner-Gate”-related statements probably should be made by the station’s PR people, not people connected to the program itself.

I say this because it seems like any time somebody connected with the program opens his or her mouth, it just makes the problem worse. For example:

In response to the outcry from non-Korean viewers over the show, Kim Ji-wan, deputy chief of “Saesangbogi Sisigakgak,” said he couldn’t understand why foreigners were offended.

“We’re receiving a lot of calls [about the show] but I don’t understand what makes them angry. We all think the show is okay,” said Kim in a furious tone during a phone interview the Korea JoongAng Daily. “I watched the show several times and you’ve probably noticed—we said ‘some’ foreigners make trouble.

“But why are all these foreigners making a fuss over it? Maybe because they have a guilty conscience,” added Kim.

(Facepalm)

You know what makes this whole, stupid story so bemusing? It could have been handled so easily. A simple, “Sorry you were offended. We didn’t intend to cause offense, and will be more sensitive in the future” would have done, whether you meant it or not. Heck, it’s not like anybody really cared about the segment, anyway.

Instead, you’ve got the lead writer of the show saying, “We only tried to show that there is a difference in culture”; an MBC producer telling the WSJ of all people about “Korean women who are out of their sense and get involved in these kinds of affairs”; and finally this guy. I almost feel the last guy’s pain—I imagine he’s getting lots of nasty calls from both foreigners and perhaps from his superiors, and it’s clear he doesn’t understand why. I’d be pissy, too. But really, dude, “Maybe because they have a guilty conscience?” Jesus. As Matt put it:

Something to keep in mind, of course, is that criticizing MBC means not that MBC did something wrong, but that you did. Perhaps all mixed race couples out there owe MBC an apology for taking out their guilty consciences on such a well-meaning broadcaster.

Seriously, MBC, sit the program’s people down and tell them to keep their mouths shut any time a journalist calls. They aren’t helping. After you’ve done that, either do the classy thing and issue a statement of regret or something else resembling an apology or shut up and wait the angry foreigners out. Either way is better than what’s happening now.

Great column on MBC Foreigner-gate in Joongang Ilbo

If you read Korean, check out Noh Jae-hyeon’s column on MBC’s program and interracial couples-it’s a good one. Here’s just a sample:

인터넷에는 방송 프로그램을 옹호하는 댓글도 적지 않 다. 외국인, 특히 백인 남성이라면 가리지 않고 좇는 ‘일 부’ 한국 여성이 문제라는 글도 있다. 그러나 어느 나라든 좋은 사람 있고 나쁜 사람 있는 법이다. 게다가 남녀관계 는 지극히 사적인 영역이다. 성적(性的) 자기 결정권은 모 든 성인의 권리다. 임신이나 에이즈 감염? 누구나 조심해 야 할 일이지 외국인만 해당되는 게 아니다. 돈 떼먹는 짓 도 마찬가지다. 잠깐만 생각해도 너무나 뻔한데 외국인이 라는 틀 안에 모든 것을 넣으려 했으니 인종차별·제노포 비아(외국인 혐오증) 혐의를 받는 것 아닐까. ‘쿨’하건 ‘핫’하건 상관없이 상기해야 할 게 있다. 인류 모두의 조상 은 아프리카에서 태어났다는 사실이다.

‘Foreigner-gate’ producers wonder what all the fuss is about

Talking to Evan Ramstad of the WSJ, the producers of “The Shocking Reality About Relationships With Foreigners” expressed their bewilderment at the anger expressed by some foreigners at the segment (grab your pills!):

The producer responsible for the newsmagazine, who asked not to be named, said the story was pitched by an outside production firm, called All That Media, that’s one of seven MBC has been relying on for content since its journalists went on strike.

“When they presented the item, we thought it’s a kind of issue that had been talked about for a long time, Korean women dating American English teacher to learn English, and especially in Itaewon area,” he said, referring to a neighborhood that’s long been frequented by foreigners due in large part to its proximity to the U.S. army post.

“I don’t understand why foreigners get angry about the issue while they are living with their spouses and having no problem,” he said. “Foreigner-Korean women couples are living happily, but why are they angry over an issue that has nothing to do with them?”

He said the piece intended to portray “Korean women who are out of their sense and get involved in these kinds of affairs.”

“We need to be awakened and try to change this culture,” he said. “We had no intention to disparage foreigners. We wouldn’t do a report about foreigner-Korean women couples who are living without any problem.”

See? They didn’t mean to demean foreigners. They meant to portray “Korean women who are out of their sense and get involved in these kinds of affairs.” They’ve actually done you guys a favor, helping you avoid these “women who are out of their sense.” As a resident of the Itaewon area, and therefor especially at risk of encountering such senseless women, I thank you.

Apparently, however, not all the higher-ups at MBC have appreciated “Sesangbogi Sisigakgak”‘s public service:

The producer said one of MBC’s senior managers conveyed a complaint about the piece from a couple he knew in which the husband is American and wife is Korean. “His American friend got angry about the report,” the producer said. “I don’t understand why he would get angry if it’s not something he was involved in.”

I guess he might understand the anger better if somebody like FOX or the Daily Mail ran a similarly produced piece about “The Shocking Truth about Korean Students Who Shoot Up American Universities.”

Anyway, I said we shouldn’t expect much. And we didn’t get much, the comedic value not withstanding. Now that the WSJ—or at least its blog—has mentioned it, I wouldn’t count out a statement by MBC, but would caution that nobody should get their hopes up—I’ve heard/read far worse directed at joseonjok and other non-Western foreigners with little in the way of reflection (or bitching from Western expats, for that matter) besides the brief window following the election of Rep. Jasmine Lee to the National Assembly.

More from MBC Foriegner-Gate

OhMyNews ran a nice little story on a silent demonstration taking place in front of MBC to protest a recent program depicting foreign guy—Korean girl relationships in a negative light.

There’s also an online petition being conducted to get an apology from the MBC president for the program. Check out this Facebook page, too.

The production company that did the program, meanwhile, wants to know what the fuss is all about:

The lead writer for the show, made by external production company Pan Entertainment, said that she did not consider the content to be controversial, and claimed it was an accurate representation of the situation.

“Our report is based on the facts that we found as we were covering the story and it strictly reported on the present situation. We have made it clear that it only reflected the few,” she said, adding that she was concerned about the potential harm to the image of Korean women.

“We have not revealed the races of the men we talked to and we tried our best not to reveal the areas that it was filmed. We only tried to show that there is a difference in culture and I hope that there is no more misunderstanding.”

Last, but not least, R.M. Adamson posted a very good post on the whole mess at Three Wise Monkeys—be sure to read it in its entirety.

Just to make some comments of my own, like Roboseyo, I think things have gotten much better, and I try to have a sense of humor about these things. MBC president Kim Jae-chul probably has more pressing issues at hand, too. Still, the MBC segment in question was so over-the-top—and its objectives so unclear—that an apology from somebody at MBC is in order. I do think MBC will eventually issue some sort of statement if they get enough phone calls and/or somebody like the WSJ’s Korea Real Time picks up the story. As for the production company itself, they seem pretty clueless—I’d be keen to here them explain just what they think that “difference in culture” is—so don’t expect much from them.

Hide the women and children!

Or at least the women—check out this hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism by MBC.

One can only hope An Seon-yeong watches all this before it’s too late.

Foreign husband troubles

The JoongAng looks at the woe that has befallen some of the Korean women who have married men from Pakistan and Bangladesh:

As the number of international marriages continues to rise, there is no shortage of stories painting multiculturalism in a positive light. But one such marriage has left a woman fighting for custody of her son in a trend of marital deception that appears to be growing.

The woman, who asked to be identified only as Oh, 38, is part of an Internet group with thousands of members who have suffered as a result of marriages with Pakistani and Bangladeshi men. The Korean women writing there have shared stories of being tricked into marriages with migrant workers from the two countries as well as verbal and physical abuse.

Needless to say, it’s all TV’s fault:

“There are so many women who have similar stories as mine. Most of us were hesitant to marry a migrant worker, but all of the TV shows and news stories beautifying multiculturalism and the stories of multicultural families living happily in Korea comforted us,” Oh said. “But now, all of us are suffering from broken marriages. I just don’t want to see any more victims like myself.”

Your Uncle Marmot is not going to touch this.

And don’t blame me. Blame Gypsy Scholar. I read it on his blog first.

Moving on…

Earlier in the month, online daily eToday looked at how even as Korean society grows more multicultural, Korean women married to foreign dudes are still being ostracized (great graphic, BTW). They talked to one woman who just broke up with her American boyfriend: the relationship was fine, but she got tired of people around her asking her questions (“How could you go out when you can’t communicate? How’s he in bed?) and thinking she’s a slut. They also talked to another woman who married a Thai man she met while she was studying abroad. He’s an educated man, good-looking and capable, but people still think he’s a guest worker. Moreover, because he’s neither a “marriage immigrant” or a Korean national, they can’t can’t the government support offered other multicultural families.

The paper notes that while attitudes towards international marriages and relationships are turning towards the better due to globalization, women stll avoid making public relationships with foreign men due to lingering social prejudices.

They asked women with foreign husbands or boyfriends why it seemed only Korean women still faced difficulties with international relationships. Their responses?

  • The stigma of the yang gongju—the Korean women who went about with American servicemen in the 1960s and 1970s—continues to live on. The woman who just broke up with her American boyfriend cited this as the reason, saying that people carefully but continuously kept asking her questions about their sex life, questions that nobody would ask if her boyfriend were Korean. The paper noted you could easily find hateful comments or posts about women dating foreigners on portal sites.
  • Pure blood and parental opposition. The parents of Mrs. A, who is married to a Canadian of Chinese descent, wouldn’t meet her husband while they were still going out. Only after he proposed did they relent and meet him. In Korea, where ideas about “pure blood” still run strong, women who date foreigners are branded. Strong parental opposition to their daughters dating foreigners is connected to this. Moreover, foreign husbands without Korean blood are thoroughly relegated to non-mainstreem status in Korean society. In the case of the woman who married the Thai dude, they left Korea to live in Thailand due to the discrimination she witnessed her then-boyfriend take. He spoke perfect English, and spoke Chinese, Thai and Korean, but could find no work in Korea, and was sometimes treated unkindly because he was Thai.
  • Cultural tensions. Mr. B, a university English instructor who married a Korean women, said he felt when he was dating his wife in Korea, Koreans they met would force Korean culture on him. For example, in America, squid is rarely eaten, and there are few dishes with fish with heads still attached. When they went out to eat in Korea, however, Koreans would not respect these cultural differences and forced him to eat unfamiliar dishes, telling him they were good for him and delicious. He wanted to actively learn and exerience the culture of Korea, the land of the woman he loved. He was perplexed, however, at being forced to chose between his tastes and cultural sensibilities and those of Korea. Korean women with foreign boyfriends are apparently sick of this, too, having to hear people bitch about “Korean identity” when they try to protect their boyfriends from this.
  • Only Korean men are supposed to marry foreigners.

The problem is, according to the paper, that these attitudes are deeply rooted in society. You can easily see this in the Multicultural Family Support Law, which defines multicultural families as “marriage immigrants and family members who have acquired Korean citizenship.” Korean women who marry foreign men resident in Korea are not included.

See? It’s not yellow fever. We’re just hard wired this way.

So says the Department of Psychology at Cardiff University:

Scientists have discovered that white people tend to choose other races when asked to rate which faces they find most attractive.

The scientists discovered that white men prefer the facial features of Asian women while white women go for the faces of black men.

Or as the Daily Mail put it: “Why white men are more attracted to women with Asian faces: Humans are hardwired to fancy other races.”

The parts of the study quoted deal exclusively with the preferences of white men and women; I’d be keen to see what the results were for men and women of other races, too.

(HT to the Seoul Shinmun)

Ooo… Interracial Marriage Stats

Interracial sex and marriage is a favorite topic of discussion here… and now we have the stats to go along with the mudslinging (.pdf)!

Read the Pew report on your own, but Oliver Wang notes in the Atlantic:

TNC has delved into interracial marriage trends within the African American community at some length so I won’t retread those discussions. I did want to highlight some of the trends amongst Asian Americans, who, according to the Pew study, are the most likely to outmarry (30 percent of newlywed Asians are not married to Asians).

Within the Asian American community, this trend has existed for decades and is a never-ending source of debate and tension. The dumbed down version (emphasis on “dumb”) usually finds Asian men accusing Asian women of selling them out in favor of (usually) White men but once you start to look at the newlywed data, it seems that regardless of sex, if you’re an American-born Asian, the odds of you marrying a non-Asian skyrocket (and if a study looked at inter-Asian-ethnic marriages amongst American-born men and women, I’d guarantee the percentage would be even higher).

Some 40 percent of Asian women outmarry, compared to only 20 percent of Asian men…and surprisingly, this gap has grown since 1980, when the ratio was 1.5:1 instead of 2:1. But that’s looking at all Asians, regardless of generation. For example, about one-third of foreign-born Asian women outmarry compared to roughly half of American-born Asian women. Among men though, while about 12 percent of foreign-born Asian men outmarry, that percentage nearly quadruples to 42 percent when you’re counting American-born Asian men. In other words, 1 out 2 American-born Asian women outmarry, 2 out of 5 American-born Asian men do the same; that’s not a huge difference and certainly showers cold water on the overheated idea that Asian women are “abandoning their people” in droves. Sex has little to do with it; generation is a far more powerful indicator.

(HT to reader)

Single Korean Females Eye Foreign Husbands?

As part of a series on Korea’s multicultural future, the JoongAng examines what might lead single Korean women to — sit down for this, children — seek foreign husbands.

Here’s just a sample:

Koo Hee-ok, a 29-year-old office worker in Sydney, has been in a relationship with the Australian man she met there a year ago, and the couple plans to tie the knot in the next two years.

Born and educated in Seoul, Koo went to the Land Down Under to get her master’s degree in accounting in her late 20s and then got a job at a local firm. She did not consider marriage before meeting the man she now considers her life mate. She had a few Korean boyfriends in her early 20s, and dated some Korean men in Sydney as well. But she could not help feeling repulsed by what she described as their “typical way of thinking.”

“I was upset about Korean men making chauvinistic remarks, that women are supposed to be coy and kind and that it’s even better if [a potential marriage partner] is younger, pretty and knows how to cook,” she said via e-mail. “ I have never heard the foreigners I’ve dated say such things.”

Talk amongst yourselves — I know you want to.

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