Monday, October 07, 2013

Hustler magazine tramples the purity of the Korean race

The 1988 Seoul Olympics
Part 1:  The Seoul Olympics, 25 years later
Part 2:  The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 3:  Americans and bad first impressions
Part 4:  Reptilian Style: The 'live-or-die general war' against Hollywood
Part 5:  An attack in a boxing ring
Part 6:  Media responses to the boxing ring incident
Part 7:  No more lion: US swimmers' 'prank' becomes 'diplomatic incident'
Part 8:  KAIST catches Big Ben
Part 9:  Hankyoreh interviews Korean witness to theft by swimmers
Part 10: Stop me if you've heard this one: Four GIs head to Itaewon in a taxi...
Part 11: Taxi-kicking US runner taken to Itaewon police box
Part 12: NBC uses the power of t-shirts to insult Korea... again
Part 13: Cultivating outrage toward America
Part 14: Politicians engage in damage control
Part 15: Heaven on Earth

Part 16: Hustler magazine tramples the purity of the Korean race

In a September 19, 1988 Joongang Ilbo article titled "Women’s Organizations give 'final warning': we can’t take any more sexual abuse," it was reported that the day before the Olympics began, the United Korea Women's Association gave a statement denouncing the attack by US military teens against a pregnant Korean woman (mentioned here) and criticized the "special privileges" of the US military, citing a government statistic that out of 15,000 crimes committed by US soldiers in the past decade, the Korean government had exercised jurisdiction in less than one percent of the cases. As well, they called for the perpetrators' parents and the US Ambassador to publicly apologize to Korea citizens, a speedy and fair investigation and punishment by government authorities, and "revision of the unequal SOFA." They also declared that it "wasn’t simply an assault, but a reflection of Americans' tendency to look down on Koreans." Another such example was given by the association:
As well, they condemned and announced they were considering countermeasures against an article in the most recent issue of the American pornographic magazine Hustler titled "Olympic-goers guide to Korean sex," which insultingly portrayed many Korean women as cheap prostitutes who entice men on the streets.

The article stated that because there were fears that Korean women might be infected with AIDS from the millions of foreigners visiting Korea during the Olympics, some groups argued that foreigners entering the country should carry AIDS test certificates, but were silenced by the government's plan to distribute free condoms in the athletes' village.
That's right, the October 1988 issue of Hustler did indeed feature a 'Korean sex-scene guide':

Introducing the article is a two-page not-safe-for-work illustration, and as the article begins, the title 'Guide to Korean sex' is followed by the subtitle 'The casual Western visitor to Seoul will be astonished to find armies of big-titted, strapping young whores.' While one could understand that offense would be taken at a description of the prostitution available to visitors during the Olympics (again, "the unspoken rule that [journalists] should only look at what Koreans chose to show them"), and at NBC itself broadcasting reports about prostitution in Korea, the article was quite a bit more offensive than that. Here's the opening (click to enlarge):

The writer, Jun Kanda, maker of sex tapes shot in Asia, offers up some howlers as well, such as describing a “culture dominated by women” (because “Even today, a Korean bride keeps her family name after marriage”) and asserting that “The real power in the country is concentrated between the dewy thighs of Korea’s proud vagina owners." He also tells us, "I was cruising Itaewon, the red-light district of Seoul." Right. Kind of like how Myeongdong is the shopping district of Seoul. It gets more offensive, however, as he describes the tutelage of the US military and the nature of Korean women:

At this point, it should be remembered that, like everywhere outside of Europe and America, Korea had been the object of many 'studies' and travelogues in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some of which were written to justify Japanese occupation of the peninsula, others which were written to make the superiority of western culture stand out in relief. The following paragraph (which I first posted here) from George Kennan's October 8, 1904 Outlook article, "The Land of the Morning Calm":
American friends who have spent in the peninsula more years than I have weeks tell me that the Korean, as a man, is intelligent, courteous, teachable, kind-hearted and superior in many ways to the Japanese; but in the first place, he impresses me as lacking in virility, and, in the second place, he is so abominably dirty in his personal habits and his environment that I find it almost impossible to credit him with a spark of self-respect. His apologists say that he has been crushed and disheartened by centuries of bad government. This is undoubtedly true, and it accounts for many of his weaknesses and defects; but bad government does not prevent him from cleansing his premises, nor a body of citizens from cleaning up their neighborhood. So far as my limited observation qualifies me to judge, the average town Korean spends more than half his time in idleness, and instead of cleaning up the premises in his long intervals of leisure, he sits contentedly on his threshold and smokes, or lies on the ground and sleeps, with his nose over an open drain from which a turkey-buzzard would fly and a decent pig would turn away in disgust.
Even when writers were trying to say nice things, it could come out laced with a large amount of condescension, or worse, as this paragraph from the 1950 book 'The Epic of Korea' (looked at here) reveals:
Korea is a land of gooks ; the Korean is a gook. He is incomprehensible because his thought processes are different, his philosophy not of the earth but of the air. He belongs to another world. But just when we think that we can never understand the Korean, the light of comprehension shows in his dark eyes and in his ready smile and laughter, and we call him gook with foolish tenderness. Almost unwittingly we find ourselves so fond of him that we want to shelter him from all harm.  
And while nowhere near as offensive as the Hustler article, his comments on Korean women are rather objectifying and condescending:
The Korean woman, like all Asiatics, is small, but she is much better proportioned than other Asiatics. Unlike the Japanese, in whom the torso is normal in size, the hips larger than normal, and the rest of the body diminutive, the contours of the Korean woman are superbly regular. Her body is almost rigidly erect, largely because of the burdens she has borne on her head. Unlike the breasts of the Japanese woman, those of the Korean woman are well developed and sometimes even bulging. But, with a kind of winding-sheet, she binds her breasts, outward and downward, to her body. And the Korean woman, although very modest, has no squeamishness or childishly sensual attitude toward the various parts of her body. They were created with her soul and are to be treated with dignity, not laughed at by people with a sudden awareness that the human body has members. By way of example, a young American officer said to a barmaid in Seoul in his broken Japanese, Anata wa, chichi ga arimasen ka? ("But haven't you any breasts?") The barmaid, a very pretty young woman, said, "Yes." With complete aplomb, she reached into her tunic, opened her red flannel undershirt, unwound her winding-sheet, and produced a white-gold orb, which she held in the palm of her hand and said, "See!" Even amid American guffaws she retained her native impassibility. Only complete chastity such as most Korean women possess can produce such perfect self-composure.
The illustration which accompanied the Hustler article can also be connected to images like this (from halfway through Michael Hurt's photo essay here) or to more ribald photos taken by G.I.s I won't link to here.

Needless to say, and no doubt with the type of writing above in mind (at least for some of them), the Hustler article certainly made an impact upon university students. The following was published in a regular column in the Donga Ilbo titled 'Hyujitong,' or 'garbage can' on September 23:
Students from Suwon area universities such as Gyeonggi University and Hansin University are carrying out a signature campaign in opposition to a seven page feature article published in the most recent issue of the American-published lewd magazine Hustler, titled 'Hustler's Korean sex for Olympic tourists,' which provides information about prostitutes to foreigners coming to Seoul to see the Olympic games.

The problematic article in the most recent issue of Hustler says that "Itaewon, an area crowded with apartments and shopping beneath Namsan in Seoul, is a mecca for enjoying Korean sex" and goes as far as introducing hotels where one can easily meet Korean women and how much money to pay for sex. It also insults Korean women, saying "Because some women who tend to prefer foreigners spend lots of money, you don't need any special preparations to enjoy Korean sex."

Regarding the article in the American magazine with distortions and fabrications which sexually degraded Korean women and said they preferred foreigners, students are carrying out a "Signature campaign to prevent sex Olympics and stop AIDS and the commercialization of women" to demand the government formulate measures.
The article gained a wide audience after it was photocopied, translated, and posted up at universities, as the September 30 Miami Herald article titled "Korean Students Fuel Anti-U.S. Sentiment" makes clear:
Come to Korea, where the women are all sluts: so says the latest issue of Hustler magazine. The article has been taped to a wall at Seoul's Yonsei University for all to read, labeled a typical example of American journalism.

Illustrated by a drawing of naked Oriental women frolicking in the basin of the Olympic flame, the magazine piece, titled "Hustler's Olympic Goer's Guide to Korean Sex," is an imaginary and pornographic description of Korean women, who are portrayed as so eager to please visiting Americans that even prostitutes among them will entertain Yanks for free.

Reading the article, which has been translated into Korean, are scores of students of both sexes, their faces intent, sober, controlled. The article is unremittingly vile, vividly insulting.

Just the ticket to incite an anti-American demonstration, which is what a young man with a microphone nearby is trying to do.

"You see? The Olympic Games are just an excuse for Americans to come to Korea and pollute our country with AIDS!" he shouts. "Yankees out of Korea!"

"Yankees out of Korea!" echoes the crowd of about 50 students. Across the front of the building are four huge posters proclaiming: "Yonsei University students curse American barbarism."

Across town at Korea University, about 15 miles from the Olympic stadiums, a group of 1,000 students charged police and hurled firebombs, shouting, "Down with the dictator's Olympics!" and "Yankee go home!" But even this rally, wild by Western standards, is just an afternoon's drill for students here. They used to do this every other day before the Olympics began.
The connection between the Hustler article, AIDS, and America would be made more than once. On September 28, the Hankyoreh published a letter from Seoul resident Jin Jeong-mi, in which she used the term minjok (nation/race/ethnicity) a number of times:
In holding the Olympics, Korean women are mocked
Low American magazine 'Hustler' says they are "traditionally gisaengs"

If you are a Korean woman, or no, if you are citizen of this country, I believe all of you should know about this, and I write these words unable to calm my indignation. A few days ago I saw a poster at school with an image and article which appeared in the pornographic American magazine Hustler. The image had semi-nude Korean women lying in the Olympic torch with a set of giant chopsticks next to them. The picture has the meaning that "Come to Seoul, where the Olympics are being held, and using chopsticks, help yourself to Korean women."

Furthermore, the article next to the image made me feel even more unbearable outrage and humiliation as a Korean. [...]

As I read the article, I was shocked at how the majority of foreigners coming to the Olympics may look at our country's women.  Our history of subordination, with 36 years of Japanese rule followed by the stationing of US military here, has shown our minjok to be the nothing but the plaything of foreigners, and if this country is seen as a den of kisaengs, what in the world do many women, beginning with those volunteering for the Olympics, look like in the eyes of a foreigner.?

The government, meanwhile, hasn't taken any kind of measures against the main route for AIDS into this country, the US military, which is in various places across the country, and during the Olympics, instead of having AIDS tests for foreigners entering the country as they should, they're giving away condoms for free in the Olympic Village, something I really can't help but deplore. Beneath the splendid signs for the Olympics, Korean women are suffering mockery and the purity of the minjok is being trampled. How can this be "the Olympics, pride of the minjok"?

I think that denouncing and severely condemning America, which looks at this country's women as nothing but prostitutes, and the current government authorities who allow this is the least we can do to recover the pride of our minjok. I earnestly appeal as a woman to combine the power of all citizens in order to do this for the country.
As the Miami Herald article noted, the Hustler article had been "labeled a typical example of American journalism," and above we see the writer claim that "America... looks at this country's women as nothing but prostitutes." After the humiliation of seeing their own sporting officials assault a foreign referee in the ring suffering this mockery and trampling of their purity by America, students took further action. On September 30, the Donga Ilbo published the following article:
SNU Student Council Reps Visit US Embassy
Deliver letter protesting distorted media reports

Seoul National University Student Council president Park Jae-hyun (Astronomy and science, 3rd year) and 4 other student representatives went to the US embassy to deliver a open letter protesting a series of recent crimes committed by Americans and distorted news reports.

Seoul National University Student Council's letter claimed that, "The recent series of events involving NBC and US soldiers are more than accidents - we cannot but see the explicit expression of a trend showing implicit contempt for Korea and Koreans." "In regard to this we are also looking into the "88 Olympic Korean Sex Tour" article published by the American magazine Hustler.
And so the tale of the Hustler article ends... at least during the Olympics. It would be invoked in a very prescient article a few weeks later. That will have to wait, however.

[Note: I first learned of the Hustler article here, and it was, ironically, through the Hustler article that I learned about the government's plans to test foreign Olympic visitors for AIDS.]


ZenKimchi said...

That link to Mike Hurt's full photo essay--I'm embarrassed to admit that I had forgotten what a great and sensitive photographer he is.

King Baeksu said...

To paraphrase Ian Buruma: "If banging hookers, individually or with de facto government-approval, is a cultural value, then let us help change the value or shut up about the 'purity' of the Korean race."

K said...

'Hustler Tramples the Purity of the Korean Race' by giving directions to all the red-light districts the Koreans built.