Monday, February 25, 2013

[Cultural criticism] Hongdae club day lewd party incident

The 2005 English Spectrum Incident

Part 1: English Spectrum and 'Ask The Playboy'
Part 2: The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created
Part 4: How to hunt foreign women

Part 5: Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?
Part 6: The 'Ask The Playboy' sexy costume party
Part 7: Stir over ‘lewd party’ involving foreigners and Korean women
Part 8: The 2003 post that tarred foreign English teachers as child molesters
Part 9: Netizens shocked by foreign instructor site introducing how to harass Korean children        

Part 10: 'Recruit a Yankee strike force!'  
Part 11: The Daum signature campaign: 'Let's kick out low quality foreign instructors!'
Part 12: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women
Part 13: "Middle school girls will do anything"
Part 14: Netizens propose 'Yankee counter strike force'
Part 15: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1

Part 16: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 2
Part 17: Web messages draw Koreans’ wrath
Part 18: Thai female laborers and white English instructors
Part 19: KBS Morning Newstime: 'I can also suffer from the two faces of the internet'
Part 20: AES: Grandfather Dangun is wailing in his grave! 
Part 21: 'Regret' over the scandal caused by confessions of foreign instructors
Part 22: "Korean men have no excuse"
Part 23: "Unfit foreign instructo
rs should be a 'social issue'"
Part 24: Growing dispute over foreign English instructor qualifications
Part 25: 'Clamor'at foreigner English education site
Part 26: Foreign instructor: "I want to apologize"
Part 27: No putting brakes on 'Internet human rights violations'
Part 28: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 1
Part 29: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 2
Part 30: Don't Imagine

Part 31: Anti-English Spectrum founder's statement
Part 32: 'Foreign instructor' takes third place
Part 33: Art From Outsider's Point of View
Part 34: U.S. Embassy warns Americans of threats near colleges
Part 35: Internet real name system debated
Part 36: Dirty Korean women who have brought shame to the country?
Part 37: Invasion of Privacy Degrades Korean Women Twice Over
Part 38: 60 unqualified native speaking instructors hired for English instruction
Part 39: The rising tide of unqualified foreign instructors
Part 40: Warrant for Canadian English instructor who molested hagwon owner
Part 41: MBC Sisa Magazine 2580: "Korea is a paradise" 
Part 42: Foreign instructor: "In two years I slept with 20 Korean women."
Part 43: Viewers shocked by shameless acts of unqualified foreign instructors.
Part 44: Warrant for the arrest of a man in his 30s for breaking into home of foreign instructors
Part 45: [Cultural criticism] Hongdae club day lewd party incident

Part 46: Unqualified English instructors seen as major problem here

Part 45: [Cultural criticism] Hongdae club day lewd party incident 

On February 4, 2005, the Busan Ilbo published the following column:
[Cultural criticism] Hongdae club day lewd party incident

In the end, the victims are the 'Korean women with real names [exposed on the internet]'

There was an episode known as the "Hongdae club day lewd party incident.' For some time there has been a lot of noise on the internet, and finally it has been broadcast on public television. In the beginning the incident made some small ripples but due to the nature of the internet it has magnified significantly. The internet does not simply replicate the story. So-called embellishment is also added. Replication does not lead to replication in itself but to complexity. Therefore replication does not simply reiterate the story but makes it into another story.

The source of the incident was a "racy costume party" held at a club in Hongdae. A number of photos leaked from the party went around, and [information about] the problematic club and unrelated photos were spread with them, which created the image of "Thoughtless, bad Korean women fooling around with foreign men." As always, opinions surrounding the incident were divided. Interestingly, both of KBS and MBC's representative flagship current affairs programs took different positions when dealing with this incident. SBS also plans to discuss this issue soon, so this incident seems to go beyond the dimension of a simple ‘happening’ [해프닝]

KBS framed the issue in terms of human rights abuses caused by the internet, while MBC focused on the incident as being due to foreign instructors without qualifications. At first glance, the two viewpoints seem contradictory, but if you look at the reality, both revolve around only one center. Both viewpoints represent the 'common sense interpretation' of this incident. What has been thrust to the surface in this case violates common sense interpretation. This case is beyond moral judgment of right and wrong. In other words, this case is the like a trial without a criminal. If this incident is continuously drawn in the direction of judging right and wrong, the bad guys will turn out to be 'anonymous foreign instructors' or 'anonymous netizens' in the end. Between these anonymous people the only victims to be seen in the end are the Korean women whose real names are exposed.

Here the problematic Korean women are equated with unrealized objects of desire. So to speak, for anonymous foreign instructors, the Korean women with their names exposed are something which restores the male authority lost in their home countries, and for anonymous netizens, the Korean women with their names exposed are something which resolves the sorrow of a small and weak nation. The former is sadism and the latter is masochism. But regrettably, their desire cannot be met. The reason is simple. The thing which frustrates their desire is not because of the Korean women with their names exposed. Even though the terms 'anonymous foreign instructor' and 'anonymous netizen' are different, for the Korean women whose real names were exposed, what was said to them was the same. In the end, their words were "I am happy(angry) you rashly gave away your body."

In this way through the phenomenon of this incident the deeper structure is revealed. Anonymous foreign instructors, to be precise Anglo-Saxon white people, cannot achieve in Korea what is impossible in their own countries. For problematic foreign instructors, Korean women are but substitutes to satisfy the emasculated desires of their home countries. It's the same for anonymous netizens. For netizens, the problematic Korean women are nothing more than the objects of their venting of spite for the tragic fate of being 'citizens of a small and weak nation.' This is all rooted in feelings of self torment. Trying to shift interest in a problem capable of solution with effort, without regard for the efforts of the anti cafe manager or the victimized women, in this way the settlement of impossible desire is always overflowing with more than what we know.
There's some interesting analysis above (and I found out about the KBS news report through this article, so I'm glad he brought it up, and his breakdown of the differences between the KBS and MBC reports wasn't bad, though I'd say that the KBS report was actually balanced (it looked at the things both the foreign teachers and netizens wrote), unlike the MBC report. However, I find his assertion that the foreign teachers and netizens are morally equivalent to be troubling. Let me clarify: When it comes to the foreign teachers who wrote about 'K-bitches' and the netizens who complained about these women and called them sluts, I see little problem perceiving these two groups as morally equivalent. But I think you'd have a hard time arguing that the people who posted the photos of the girls at English Spectrum (some of which portrayed what the owner of the bar said were essentially public performances) wanted these women to be harassed and threatened, which is what some of the netizens did to them. Saying these two groups are morally equivalent seems unfair (especially since this incident was one of the first to make the issue of internet vigilantism in Korea a topic of discussion, a discussion that wouldn't really gain mass attention until the 'dog poop girl' incident four months later; the internet real name system, which was suggested during the English Spectrum incident, would grow out of that discussion). As for his statement that "For problematic foreign instructors, Korean women are but substitutes to satisfy the emasculated desires of their home countries," is this a bit over the top? Or is it getting at the root of the neo-colonial attitudes some of the foreign teachers at 'Ask the Playboy' displayed (while not quite getting at why these foreign teachers might consider Korea to be a 'playground for men' in the first place)?

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