Media Watch: Korean Dramas – How the Media Creates or Changes Perceptions

Language Skills

I started watching these shows, since Hulu added this category. What’s interesting to me, is that I’m beginning to understand what the characters are saying in Korean. Words are floating around in my head, because they’re repeated so often. I can read a few words in some languages, but I’ve never picked up a language as fast as this one. I’ve always viewed myself as foreign language impaired. I’ve had Spanish in school. I’ve listened to Spanish for years, and I still cannot make heads or tails out of most of it.

In the Korean Dramas, the people speak slow enough that I can tie the English subtitles to the spoken words. The dialogue isn’t complex, very long or involved. On occasion, some characters that supposedly spent time in the US, or are Americans, make a determined effort speak to English. Although badly. Nearly everyone mumbles words they need to enunciate.

Media Image is Everything

Since watching these programs, I’ve come to realize that they aren’t made just for a Korean audience. They are created with an awareness that the rest of the world will be paying attention.

These shows have given me a different impression of Koreans, as opposed to the ones I’ve been acquainted with here in the USA. Do I see the portrayals as realistic? I don’t think that’s the point of the programs. Whatever images there have been of Korean men, have been modified, if not overhauled, by these shows.

According to a Washington Post article (from 2006), the success of the revamped or enhanced image of Korean men have done the following:

In recent years, the wild success of male celebrities from South Korea — sensitive men but totally ripped — has redefined what Asian women wantGone are the martial arts movie heroes and the stereotypical macho men of mainstream Asian television.

…Yoshimura signed up last year with Rakuen Korea, a Japanese-Korean matchmaking service, to find her own Korean bachelor. And she is hardly alone. More than 6,400 female clients have signed up with the company…

In part, the new allure of Korean men can be traced to a larger phenomenon known as the “Korean Wave”…

…the number of foreign tourists traveling to South Korea leapt from 2.8 million in 2003 to 3.7 million in 2004. The bulk of the growth, South Korean tourism officials say, stemmed from Korean Wave-loving Asian women. Partial statistics for 2005 indicate the feminine tide has not yet let up.

For the South Koreanswho have long suffered discrimination in Japan and who have hardly been known as sex symbolsit all comes as something of a shock.

Entertainment industry leaders in Seoul credit the phenomenon to good marketing coupled with an uncanny response throughout Asia to the expressive nature of the South Koreans — long dubbed the Italians of Asia. A hearty diet and two years of forced military duty, industry leaders and fans insist, have also made young South Korean men among the buffest in Asia. Most important, however, has been the South Korean entertainment industry’s perfection of the strong, silent type on screen — typically rich, kind men with coincidentally striking looks and a tendency to shower women with unconditional love….

Throughout Asia and other countries, women are watching TV shows and movies to such an extent that they have become enamored of the fictional representation of a specific group of men. So here we have proof that there is a direct connection between a positive image of a group and the corresponding response to it.

What Some of the Guys Look Like

I find some of the Korean male actors smoking hot, some cute and others moderately good looking. Although I find the “fashion” on the shows rather odd looking, but hey, I congratulate men who aren’t afraid of being edgy.

Cha Seung Won

Cha Seung Won: He's able to look so different each time.
Jung Gyu Woon: I have yet to see a show where he doesn't end up fighting.

 

Kim Sung Soo: Love those lips. Puts my dirty mind into overdrive.

 

Kang Ji Hwan
Kang Ji Hwan: I love his nose.

 

Positive propaganda: is enhancing imagery to increase the desirability of a group.

The entertainment industry, basically the media, alone is responsible for the complete overhaul of the image of Korean men, so much so it has made the men hot commodities for the women who travel the country looking for one as a husband. It’s overturned reality and made such an indelible impression on women just from watching Korean Dramas.

In case you ever wonder why black women have negative, degrading stereotypical images, always remember to thank Hollywood and our media. Think about it the next time you think it’s important to embrace the “othering” of black women with those “keeping it real” negative images.

If anyone really wants to improve the desirability, popularity and increase of desire for black women: the best looking have to be highlighted, the most sophisticated has to be highlighted and the most engaging, lively and lovely ones have to be embraced.

Otherwise, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.

So, think about who you are embracing if the only thing they highlight about black women is constantly negative or off-putting. Those people aren’t doing you any favors. They’re deliberately sabotaging you.

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Update: Korean Men Marriage Rates

I was asked to provide some data, so I dug up some stats. If they seem funky to anyone, please put up the correct numbers.

Throughout the world, more males than females are born. This imbalance is natural. However, in Asian countries it is exasperated by female reduction from sex selection in the womb (abortion), export adoption of girls, and other extreme methods. The result is a population of males outnumbering females. Based on the gender imbalance in Korea, social changes, population movement to urban areas, there are more men than women available and interested in marriage.

So, whom do Korean men marry? Funny enough, it turns out they marry all women. Although black women are a miniscule portion of the population in Korea, there are likely marriages between the two. With the USA having 1.3 plus million Koreans, it turns out that they are the East Asian men black women are most likely to marry. Certainly not in significant numbers overall, but it does happens.

And I’m just as surprised as y’all are by that information.

In 2005, 14% of all marriages in South Korea were marriages to foreigners (about 26,000 marriages); most were Korean men marrying other Asians. Government figures show the number of Koreans marrying foreign spouses increased from 4,710 in 1990 to 33,300 in 2009. And numbers are expected to continue rising. More than 100,000 women among South Korea’s 1.2-million foreign population are estimated to be foreign brides.

Bonus

YouTube link: the marriage between a Korean man and an African American woman. The wedding is awesome; sexy and sweet too.

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Black Women – Devil’s Advocate: Has our femininity been denied?

It’s September, and it’s Devil’s Advocate* month. This topic will be a bit spicier than usual. :D

Are black women allowed to be women? Has our femininity been denied or compromised? Do we have the right to be respected, protected, and cherished like all other women?

We are accused of being jealous acid tossing lunatics by lying media whores. We are accused of being overly racially sensitive when we are being insulted by deranged bigoted radio talk show hosts. We are the first ones tossed under the political bus by individual(s) we overwhelmingly support out of misguided and ignorant racial loyalty.

Most of our issues are ignored by or are back-burner issues of so-called women’s groups. All of our issues are ignored by “civil rights” groups, unless it is to lay blame in our direction, raise funds from us, or rally around violent black male felon(s) who are a lethal and deadly menace to black women and men in their neighborhoods. We are berated, harassed, and demeaned to put all out, audition for a date, and prove our worth to useless black males who wont lift a finger to respect, provide, or protect us.

How are we being portrayed in the mainstream media right now?

One of the latest covers of Elle’s magazine is mendacious. No, it is beyond that, it is evil.

One of these pictures is not like the others.

Gabourey Sidibe a.k.a. Gabby

It winks: We’re making fun of her, ’cause this is the best looking actress they (black people) have to offer. They have three average looking, cosmetically enhanced white women all glammed up. We get someone who pc-wise people are gushing to declare is beautiful, acceptable, and attractive. Elle couldn’t use Jennifer Hudson?

And miss me with the garbage about hating on Ms. Sidibe. This topic is deeper than that.

Who do these folks think they’re fooling? The publisher of Elle is French – Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Inc. (HFM U.S.) , and the editor-in-chief is Robbie Myers. That’s who’s making a mockery of this black woman and the rest of us.

Is this their answer to requests for black staff? Investments in black magazines? Whether black women are attractive? Oh, I know, this fits the “Black women don’t sell covers. We lose money with their faces on the magazine” B.S.

Why is she the only big person?

Hey, I would ecstatically and gladly accept Ms. Sidibe as part of the unique, multicultural, fat acceptance, and “quirky looking people are beautiful too” cover, once they have a 400 pound homely white woman, with too much makeup on, wearing a tent-sized red mu-mu, and her stringy dishwater hair looking like dry straw, filling an entire magazine cover.

White women don’t “other” themselves. They are very, very protective of their image as feminine, sexy, and desirable women – despite the carping of “feminists” over some images.

Someone once said: I’d rather they ignore us than pay us this kind of attention.

You need to watch them. They are quite eager to get black women to be the tough-manly-gal, the jealous-and-hateful-acid-throwing chick, the loudmouth sassy troublemaker, the office mammy / Oprah / free therapist, and the “oh, you’re so brave to be xyz” kind of person.

Ask yourself these questions: At work, do some of these chicks come to you complaining about people like you’re going to be the one to set their tormentors straight? Do you get asked to lift heavy objects when there are plenty of guys around they could ask? Are you always volunteered for clean-up duty, cooking, or bringing in food? Do people push their leftovers, Halloween Candy, fattening meals, or other unhealthy garbage at you? I’m sure there are more examples that come to mind.

I’ll repeat myself: I might be willing to accept the alternative “other” images of us, once they let Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC be as unattractive and masculine as their original, keeping-it-real selves used to be. But if you notice, the first thing they went through was a total and complete makeover. They were made to conform to an ideal;  an existing feminine and attractive package.

Ladies. All of these people out there enjoy “othering” you. DO NOT EMBRACE IT. Let those bitches go first.

It’s a disgusting and deadly thing these people like to do to black women. When you accept “othering”, MEN wont and do not regard you as feminine. They will not come and protect you. You leave yourself vulnerable. That’s why people like throwing “strong black woman” at us. No one feels we are entitled to respect, protection, to be provided for, or cherished like other women.

Nearly everywhere one looks, there’s an overweight, or obese black woman (who’s often loud) receiving  mainstream media attention and accolades. Even if her career is going to last 5 minutes. Or maybe she’s the face of an extremely harsh and pungent detergent, feminine yeast problems, or other unattractive ailments, and even if she’s pleasant, the product is nice – there’s something off about her.

That big loud woman fits a mammy stereotype. Things haven’t changed when it comes to this offensive image of black women. She’s been around since Gone With the Wind and before. Her imagine was created to “other” us. I honor and respect her sacrifices. Black women needed these roles to survive and thrive.

However, we do not need to embrace her now.

A lot of us – feeling conflicted – honestly believe that if we embrace these “othering” images, they’ll eventually give way to those of beautiful, feminine, graceful and glamorous black women. Haven’t we been here before?

Don’t black women realize that when we ARE making strides, they deliberately bring up garish images of us?

Unfortunately, some of us fight each other over it, because for a number of us it means some kind of “acceptance” in all our diverse glory. I notice that this diversity almost always happens to be represented by the same type of morbidly obese, grotesquely crude, asexual and unfeminine black woman. I’m not putting all of this at Ms. Sidibe’s door. But would she have been as widely embraced if she was as slim as Zoe Saldana after doing only one bloody damn movie? At least Ms. Saldana has several blockbusters under her belt.

Funk that nonsense. I am not embracing “otherness.” I want black women to look as hot, glamorous, sexy, desirable, and feminine as the average looking, cosmetically enhanced, photoshopped white chicks on the cover of any magazine. We are women too. We can look as good, if not better, than they do.

Do we believe we are feminine? Are we equal to them as women? Or have we gone so deep down the “othering”, unfeminine and unattractive well that if Tyler Perry showed up as Madea on the cover of a magazine as an Influenial Black Woman – we’d talk about how much progress that is for us? Or would we only complain about the dress and wig he chose to wear? Would we miss the insult entirely?

I think we’re still missing the insult(s).

Black women wake up. Embrace being a woman first. These people are working hard to rob us of our womanhood, our femininity, and sense of self. Don’t let them do it. Don’t accept this distorted view of ourselves, where we are the “other.”

We are women. Our luminous, satiny, and beautiful dark skins do not detract or subtract from that.

*According to Wikipedia, Devil’s Advocate is:

In common parlance, a devil’s advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, just for the sake of argument. In taking such position, the individual taking on the devil’s advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process. The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position.
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