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Sexism in Korea

March 21, 2013


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Hay! You Nice Nasties: we have to apologize to you for the long disclaimers when we do serious videos like this. We’re sorry if it’s annoying. Honestly, it annoys us to no end, and it makes filming videos like this very difficult for us. But, if we don’t put these disclaimers up, then we get harassed by idiots with a lethal combination of:

+ self-appointed Justice Police badge
+ horrendous listening comprehension skills
+ love of taking things out of context
+ passion for getting offended

The problem is that stupid commenters turn our comment section into a huge fight between viewers, and we’d rather people take the time to leave awesome/intelligent comments. There is no problem with disagreeing with what we’re saying, just do it AFTER you actually watch the video and without so much profanity! YAY!

So, now that that’s out of the way, Hello Nice Nasties! Thank you for keeping us sane! We’re here today talking about sexism in Korea, and we’re sharing our experiences on the matter. We’re fortunate enough to be in a situation in which we don’t have to deal with it often. We have our own business, created our own work environment, and have our own staff. In fact, majority of our staff is female. It’s only the animals that are male in the studio (ha!). We don’t have any bosses that overlook what we’re doing, and so we’re free to be in our own little creative internet bubble, so we’re not really the best source of stories of sexism in Korea, though – like we mentioned in the video – we have experienced it, but only when we dealt with other companies.

A couple of things we didn’t mention in the video.

1) If you really want to understand Korean culture, you’ll need to do a lot of reading on Confucianism. Luckily for me, I (Martina) studied both English and East Asian Philosophy for five years in University, and both Simon and I studied world religion, so we knew what we were getting into when we moved to Korea. Understanding the Confucian value system will help you better understand why Korea is so patriarchal and respectful of their elders. The problem that I think is happening is that modern Korea is in a struggle to keep the positive aspect of it’s Confucian ways alive, while still changing some of the more antiquated values, such as the role of women in society.

2) We didn’t know how to talk about it in an easily digestible video format, is an experience one of our friends had at work. She and her team work on computers all day in the office. One day they got a new manager, a dude. First day of his reign as manager, he had a staff meeting in which he told all of the women that they had to dress prettier and wear more makeup. A few things:

2) How was he not fired immediately for being such a pig?

We were totally appalled when we heard it, as was our friend. Now, we haven’t worked for companies in other parts of the world, so we don’t know if this would be acceptable where you’re from, nor do we know if this is a common occurrence in Korea or not, but that wouldn’t fly in Canada.

This is just an anecdote, and that’s really all we can offer when we talk about this. There are sites online that can tell you more about sexism in Korea, where they can give you stats and whatnot. Stories we tell or stories our friends tell us aren’t representative of Korea as a whole. We could just have had some odd experiences, after all, so we can’t form conclusions off of what happened to us. It’s the same reason I don’t like talking about my terrible experience at my school. I don’t want people thinking that all schools in Korea are bad, and – in this case – we don’t want people thinking that all companies in Korea are like this.

We have heard, though, different stories from different people about staff dinners in which women are expected to pour drinks for men. Can anyone corroborate this? We don’t know anything about it, but we heard about it here and there and want to know if you’ve experienced anything like this, and how you feel about it.

One thing we didn’t mention, though, and we’re not sure if it’s relevant or not, but we’re happy that Korea has a female president. We’re not saying anything about her policies. We don’t follow politics enough to know how she’s doing. We’re just happy to see a woman as president. It sets a good example, not only for people in Korea but also for the rest of the world.



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Sexism in Korea


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  1. I hate that this issue is still pretty prevalent in Korea…I actually got it from my own family members while I was there. My cousin who is 40 now, was very nice at first. When he wouldn’t let me do this or that, I thought it was because he was being polite. Like cooking on the grill, or helping him with more manual related work, he wouldn’t let me touch it. One day though, he told me I couldn’t drive because I was a women, and in Korea, women are bad drivers. That’s when I realized that the entire time he thought lowly of me…
    Worse experience, and I never thought I’d get it from my own family member.

    7 months ago
  2. I know this entry is sort of old but when you mentioned business meetings and people only addressing Simon for replies and “valid” information, really reminded me of some experiences I had. My boyfriend owns a small business and I’m in charge of some parts of it, so I’m the one placing orders, contacting sellers and so on. Until… I realized some companies in Japan and SK would not reply to me or they would not act as friendly, always making things difficult. So I just started using the other email address we have for the company and signing with my boyfriend’s name when I needed something done. This happened with a couple of companies whose international sales managers were men. But I never felt that when the sales manager on the other side was a woman.

    9 months ago
  3. I think Korean music industry has been advancing a lot when it comes to the part women have in society. Miss A has criticized those stereotypes in I Don’t Need A Man, f(x) has Amber (the lovely tomboy of SM), 2NE1 uses the “female empowerment” concept a lot, Global Icon/G.I. has a “tomboish” concept, Brown Eyed Girls have the “powerful female” personas in many of their videos, and (correct me if I’m wrong) 4Minute also explored this “I am better than any men” theme during their early years (I’m not sure if they still do so). Even though the “weak and fragile girl” stereotype is still strongly placed in Korean entertainment, there’s already an attempt to get rid of it as far as I know. Also, congratulations from Brazil!

    1 year ago
  4. I think that men expecting women to perform a more servile role is really common in most East Asian cultures. My husband and I believe it is a major reason why there are so few successful Caucasian female/Asian male marriages comparatively. It works out for us because I enjoy doing all the cooking and cleaning, but let’s face it, most North American women expect equality in housework. However, in their defense, Asian males also tend to work harder to ensure their wives do not have to work or can work less strenuous jobs. Of course, this is simply in my personal experience.

    1 year ago
  5. I’m half Korean and I have experienced something somewhat similar in my own family. I live in the States, but when I was visiting a great-aunt of mine (in the States) with my grandparents and immediate family, we went to her house and had dinner. During dinner she barely sat down; all the men were served first and she spent the majority of her time running back and forth from the kitchen re-filling dishes for the table or making sure all the adults’ drinks were topped off; if the kids needed anything, away she went to get it for them. It’s important to mention that she grew up in Korea and she came to the U.S. when she was in her 20’s or 30’s, so this is a family member who both grew up in Korea and raised a family following a very Korean lifestyle, and at home everything is still very Korean in decoration, language, etc. Anyways, my aunt and I realized halfway through the meal that she had not eaten anything and we made her sit down to eat while we took care of the kitchen and serving the family. Throughout this, there wasn’t much comment from my grandparents, and my great-aunt was reluctant to actually sit down and surrender her “duties” to us. Now I love my family, and my own grandparents are very balanced when it comes to sharing responsibilities and such; I was shocked by how much work she was doing for one dinner, but I found out later that it was a combination of caring for guests and being a good host and also respecting both of my grandparents who are older and helped her and her family out a lot when they first came to the States. I don’t know if that helps shed some light on this, but I think it’s important to consider that some women, NOT ALL, see it as not only respect but also a duty. At least within friends and family, I’ve learned that a good relationship within a social circle or a favor owed often repays itself through acts of respect and finding ways to be helpful to make life more comfortable; this isn’t always applicable outside the Korean family/friends dynamic. This is my experience with this, no haters please!

    1 year ago
    • I’m Korean and to shed some light on this:

      Generally, when there is a family function/gathering, the women are doing all the cooking, serving, cleaning, etc.

      Though I’m not sure if this is that different from other cultures? I.e. a lot of the time the women seem to do these kinds of roles (not always)

      Don’t think this is a sexist issue though, more just division of labor that traditionally seems to happen in the way that women do more domestic things and men other things

      Workplace discrimination, etc is a different matter though and that is sexism

      1 year ago
  6. Please read above on ‘why’ do women get pay lesser than men. It is not a fact, it’s what other have said/heard but never proven. In addition, this is based on USA. Different Country are also have different treatment. Most Asian countries are another different field where it has not fully develop its course yet.

    2 years ago
  7. I know what you mean. A lot of times, the person will just do a little bow/nod instead of shaking my hand.
    Alternatively, we kiss all the other females on the cheek and just shake hands with the men.

    3 years ago
  8. Oh my god… Why are koreans so dramatic???

    3 years ago
  9. I find the term “woman belongs to a man” VERY problematic, with very being and understatement, but coming from the perspective of someone who is from another culture (cuban) and seriously almost married a Korean man I find that this is something that many cultures follow even if they don’t directly or openly admit it.

    My mother being a very liberal woman compared with the rest of my cuban family has unknowingly taught me to treat a man to think you belong to him, so let him think he does even if you not. I’ve trying to explain to her how wrong it is to continue that behave but she doesn’t understand. To her that is the way you need to treat a man and there is no other way.

    And on another note, again, just from my own experience I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will say that one of the reasons why I didn’t marry the korean guy I was dating was because of the way he was treating me. Not that this happened often, but he didn’t seem to understand that I have my own job and career that was very important to me. I mean I have serious and so far successful career in costume design. I just got a offered a full ride to attend grad school, but to him the idea of me going far away for a job, which is the typical life for a designer to be based in one place but be designing in many different places. He would tell me I can’t go away for the summer to work or take too many jobs far away and that it was more important to stay close to him and take care of him than it was to go a away for a little while and take a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is something I expect people who don’t work in theatre to have a hard time understanding, but after years of expressing this to him he still expected me to give up my career for him. Then when we finally did break up he would constantly show up at my home, text me, call me, show up at my work, etc to tell me that I should come back. I tried to tell him I was seriously not coming back and he would ignore what I say and follow me again after a few days. As if I wasn’t serious it was over. I finally had to call the cops to get him to understand how serious I was.

    Again sorry for the rant, but that was my experience and I can say that I’m very turned off to the idea of dating a korean man again, because of this. I would like to know if anyone else had any issues with when it comes to women having careers in korean culture.

    3 years ago
  10. … Ha ha. Everyone has jokes.

    3 years ago
  11. Lovely insight!

    I agree about Kim Sun Ah and Ha Ji Won ( except for a bit in Secret Garden when I wished she would be a bit more assertive at some points in time) this is why I adore those two actresses.

    3 years ago
  12. The topic really seems to have inspired a lot of discussion and sharing. The Nasty population really seems to enjoy this type of serious topic.

    3 years ago
  13. Great job!! this is the kind of topic many people avoid.

    I think Korea should learn that even when being polite you could hurt someone’s feelings (in “Marry Stayed Out All Night” there’s actually the first or second episode where we could encounter “polite rudeness” well it wasnt sexism related but still…). Even if they couldn’t shake Martina’s hand because she is married they could’ve at least acknowledged she was there and bow saying “Thank you for coming (as well)”.

    the part with the club is outrageous…

    Great work!

    ♥ ♥♥ ♥

    3 years ago
  14. Hi, Simon and Martina! I’m definitely a big fan–you two introduced me to the wonders of kpop. But I’d just like to point out something that bothered me in your video:

    1. (in your disclaimer) You’re not saying that Western culture is superior to others

    2. You tell your friends that Korea has 2050’s technology but a 1950’s mentality

    When you say 1950’s and 2050’s, it’s implied that this is Western/North American time. Korea has technology equivalent to that of North America’s future, and a mentality equivalent to that of North America’s past. Put this way, you can see how this could be problematic (though I hate using that word). By extension, Korea will someday progress to be as advanced as North America in their values. Now is the time for some disclaimers of my own: even though I’m pretty sure you meant to imply nothing of the sort, even though you said Korea is more advanced technology-wise, even though in your blog post you pointed out some positive aspects of Korea’s value system, I still feel uneasy about this.

    Also, disclaimers. I don’t like all of the ones you’re forced to make–for example, when you have to defend yourself against crazed fangirls/boys. But I do like the ones of the kind that you make in this video. You see, even though I am a fan of your videos and I’ve watched a lot of them, sometimes it’s still hard for me to remember/interpret some of these you mentioned at the beginning and end of this video. And I think that these points are important to make. Better to say them than left them unsaid. I know that having to censor yourselves sucks, but just remember, racism sucks more. In all its various forms. And again, a disclaimer: I’m not saying that you two are racist, just that some of your statements could be taken as such. Sometimes, by some people. Now that I’ve qualified myself enough, I’d like to hear what other people think about this.

    3 years ago
    • Sorry, I should have made myself more clear. I listed 1) and 2) as two separate statements that were made in the video that I considered to be contradictory.

      I think I understand the point you’re making. But I’m not completely convinced yet (on the other hand, I’m not not convinced–that is, I could be wrong). The idea of Korea or other Asian countries being backwards in the culture department just resonates with a lot of misconceptions and even imperialism on the part of the West over many, many years. Maybe I’m making a big deal over something small, but when I heard Simon and Martina say the bit about 1950’s North America, it just gave me a weird feeling. Even if you have a lot of respect for North America in the 50’s, it’s still part of our past. Even if there were positive and negative aspects of that time period, it’s something that the West has moved on from. Korea as 1950’s North America implies that one day, Korea will become as advanced as modern-day North American societies. The reason I pointed this out is because it contradicts what Simon and Martina said earlier: in their disclaimer, they reminded their watchers that they’re not trying to say one culture is better than another. My point is, it seems to me like statement number 2 works against what they’re trying to do in their videos.

      I don’t wish to level accusations at anyone here, so please don’t apologize. A lot of the words we pass around every day can carry underlying currents of racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination. I know I make mistakes all the time, but I think the important part is to become aware of the unintentional meanings of our words and to correct them when possible. Simon and Martina, by blogging publicly on Youtube, are especially vulnerable to having their words singled out. In the spirit of constructive criticism, I pointed out something that I still consider to be problematic. In my first post, I don’t think I made my thoughts really clear so hopefully this helps.

      3 years ago
      • I think I understand where you are coming from here. They may say something which is ‘ problematic’ without intending to?

        3 years ago
  15. Been here only two years but yea every staff dinner it is the women who pour the drinks (usually until the men get drunk and then they go around and start pouring for everyone lolzers). And the women usually arrive first at the dinners and if when the men arrive they are in a spot that the men would prefer to sit, they usually get up and move.

    My anecdote… and like you guys mentioned, I would NEVER want this story to discourage a foreign woman from coming to work in Korea. The women were all ok in the story and the men DID do the right thing at the time. The injustice is what happened afterwards.

    We went to Nami Island for a staff retreat this last December (Northwest of Seoul in the mountains in December are they crazy you ask? Yes.) After an evening of meetings and the such we went to the restaurant to drink. Being the foreign teacher I sit with my co-teachers who happen to be women, so I am with the women at dinner (the separate eating is another thing I wonder about). After an hour or so the maintenance guy / janitor was pretty drunk. He pretty soon was badly stumbling around and got it in his head that he was interested in my co-teacher. I don’t speak Korean but I guess he was saying pretty lewd things and I got the idea anyway when he started trying to grab her. It became so bad that it took a constant 2 or 3 of the other male teachers to hold him back (tenacity plus dead/drunk weight). The women left and retreated to their pension while the men stayed and finished dinner.

    Now here is where the old style vrs the new style comes in that I saw.

    My co-teacher and I are pretty close and so she was angry and embarrassed. Of course nobody wants to go to a staff dinner and be attacked by a drunk man. Can you imagine if everyone hadn’t been there to stop him? Well, frankly I don’t want to think about it. So needless to say I can’t imagine how embarrassed and downright unsettling/scary it probably was.

    Well most of the young teachers are women at my school and there was much support for her to go and demand an apology. She even asked me (a foreigner) if she should go do it. I told her she had all my support in the world but I was afraid my support doesn’t count for much (another discussion for another time on being “Korean” and that the lack of being such devalues your opinion). She opted not to ask for an apology due to Korean cultural pressure I assume. But of course, coming from an western culture, in my mind I was thinking that that dude should be apologizing not just to her but should be groveling for his job after sexually assaulting a co-worker.

    Anyway, my takeaway from this is that things are changing. The outcome should have been a lot different at my school. But the reality is that their was an acknowledgment from the faculty that some injustice had been done, even though that acknowledgment did not come from the administration. I think that 20 years ago, the support from other women to demand an apology may not have been there.

    Take it as you will. Korea is a country going through it’s growing pains like many countries. There is a good argument to be had for supporting older people. I am sure they feel like their culture is being ripped away from them far faster than they would like. Us younger folk see the light of justice on our side but we often leave our older generation in the dark.

    3 years ago
  16. Heh, not all of them are male. The most well known ( to me) drama writers are the two separate ‘ Hong Sisters’ writing team.

    One set ( Hong Mi Ran and Hong Jung Un) wrote stuff like ‘ Delightful Girl Choon Hyang’, ‘My Girl’ , ‘You’re Beautiful’, ‘Fantasy Couple’, ‘Hong Gil Dong’, ‘My Girlfriend is a Gumiho’, ‘Best Love / The Greatest Love’ and their last one was ‘Big’.

    The other Hong sister duo (Hong Jin Ah and Hong Ja Ram) wrote ‘King2Hearts’, ‘Beethoven Virus’ and ‘Over the Rainbow’.

    3 years ago
  17. This is hilarious and is totally relevant.

    3 years ago
  18. Hm, would men starting to wear makeup and take care of themselves for business and their love life fall under sexism too? I have been reading that Korea is the top in the world for men’s cosmetics and it is growing. And companies are now requiring classes for men too on make-up application and skin hygiene. I was just wondering if this had anything to do with sexism as well or if it was just something entirely different.

    3 years ago
  19. Martina I got ignored by an Asian male too!! I went to a Japanese restaurant with my boyfriend and our waiter was Japanese (i mean he was born in Japan). He only talked to my boyfriend and completely ignored my presence and everything I said! I felt like shit, but I know why they do this. By not looking at the “man’s woman”, (like women are somebody’s property) they are “respecting” the man or something like that. I hate this reactionary behaviours. I am from Argentina btw.

    3 years ago
  20. I’ve given up reading comments anywhere else but here. This, in my opinion, is the real residence of the Nasties! It is our comfortable little home where we can all communicate with each other but more specifically you guys. And it appears most people respect it as such and really don’t let others disrespect anyone on here. Plus your administrators do an awesome job cleaning house ;)

    3 years ago
    • ;_; Thanks for the compliment. Made me feel all schmoopy inside. I agree that people on the site tend to be a lot more respectful. They can often even usually disagree without name calling. And when they don’t we remind them of our guidelines.

      Be Respectful
      Do Not Spam
      Stay on Topic
      Mods are Watching.

      And then there is the almighty ban hammer. :-). Cari, Fuuko and I save that for the bad days.

      3 years ago
  21. I guess the wording “do they know it’s unacceptable in the Western world” sounds really kind of…ehhh. As if the fact that it’s “unacceptable” in the Western world (and to be honest, it’s not considered entirely unacceptable or even bizarre for a lot of people) matters that much.

    3 years ago
    • As a woman from a Western culture, yes, it matters that much. Because it is unacceptable. It only passes as acceptable to a lot of people because it’s institutionalized sexism — it’s been normalized for so long that we don’t see a problem with it anymore.

      But did I say that Western perspectives were the ABSOLUTE truth? No, so don’t put words in my mouth, or at least find a better argument than “ehhh”.

      3 years ago
      • Jeez, touchy. Like I’m agreeing with what you’re saying but I can’t really do it because that last sentence was dripping with condescension.

        First, I did follow up “ehhh” with an actual argument. Please read. What I meant that you said “Western” in a way that it was to be compared. Of course sexism in Western culture matters–but that’s completely out of context of this discussion. I mean that the COMPARISON–why should it matter to those Korean women that it is “unacceptable in Western society”? Why shouldn’t that question have been “unacceptable” as a general thing? It’s sort of like saying “Oh, well don’t they know that’s not what WE do”, with a rather superior/arrogant undertone. Of course, it’s difficult to really get an undertone in writing, but like I said; wording.

        And second, that wasn’t putting words in your mouth; that was this thing called interpretation and inferring, or implying. Like, reading between the lines. Like I said in my last comment (again, PLEASE READ) that the WORDING seemed like you were holding Western culture as some sort of standard or absolute point of comparison. If I was putting words in your mouth I would have said that “you said Western culture is the standard”. And if you really want to get defense-lawyer-nitpicky, I didn’t even say anything about making an interpretation or inference. I just said “don’t make Western culture into a standard”.

        Anyway, point is that there always tends to be this comparison, unconscious or not, between East and West, and with the wording (again, unconscious or not), it’s so ethnocentric, like instead of simply seeing differences people are gauging another culture based off their own. And when you say “don’t these women realize it’s unacceptable in the West”, it puts emphasis on Korean culture on a scale with Western culture (which actually is pretty broad and vague, now that I think about it). Again, it brings up the question of why Korean women would care about what’s acceptable or not in the West, as opposed to being concerned about sexism as a whole.

        3 years ago
        • Tl;dr. But you’re right, we aren’t disagreeing. So let’s leave it at that.

          3 years ago
        • Hey guys, you are having a really great debate. This is just a reminder to keep it respectful ( don’t worry you are doing a good job of it so far) which is one of our forum rules. Just keep it in the back of your head that on the Internet tone is implied and not necessarily what you actually meant it to come off as and ‘ it is ok to agree to disagree’.

          Please continue with your ongoing respectful and interesting debate.


          3 years ago
  22. A great Korean gender blog is http://thegrandnarrative.com/. It’s written by a professor at a Korean University, and covers many topics, from sexism to gender roles to body image.

    Thanks Martina!…..oh….and that dude that just works it for the camera.

    3 years ago
  23. You guys, your TL;DR videos are priceless… Seeriously! NOT saying that the rest of the videos aren’t (I watch all of them like a crazy nasty), it’s just that TL;DRs are kinda straight into the point about everyday life in Korea. And there was no other way for me to know all the things, and experiences, and behaviors you talk about. And I bet that there are many others like me that aren’t here just for the pretty Kpop boys and girls (no offence, I adore Kpop…..). I actually want to know this country….. ^_^

    As for the sexism issue, I hope Korea will evolve in time and Koreans will realise women are not shiny (not Shinee :P) products that you just place beside you…. And this is not only for Korea, but for most of the countries I guess, as “civilized” as they want to present themselves. Women are far from appreciated yet…. :( Fighting!!!!!!!!!

    3 years ago
  24. Thanks to all the Nasties below who responded to this comment in a constructive manner. This comment is a view that is widely held by many people who think it is not appropriate for anyone not a native of a culture to speak about it. I can understand that point, but I also note that Simon and Martina make a point to say -repeatedly- that this is a foreigner’s perspective with a few stories from their Korean Friends and not a end all be all. Thus why they asked us to engage in discussion about it and learn from each other. If we were all forced to not have conversations about cultures that we are not ethnically a part of then pretty much many interesting conversations discussing differences in culture would not be allowed to take place.

    Let us just agree to disagree with this person’s comment. Obviously they have their own perspective and take perfect fluency in Korean as an indicator of ability to speak about Korea. Whereas many of us are enjoying the discourse that this conversation began. Notice that this video has spurred comments from people all over the world talking about their own experience with sexism, because it is not just a Korean issue but an issue with cultures all over the world. I applaud all of you for being able to have this discourse in a respectful manner.


    3 years ago
  25. I like what you said here about listening to the older people and their views ( even if their views obviously don’t measure up to yours. Coming from a small country I have seen how our people adopt ideas from larger countries en masse and don’t consider how drastically we are changing our own culture to another countries’. Tings need to change yes, but lots of wisdom can be gained from looking back at the past values and seeing what things are worthy of keeping.

    In the past, my country was known as one of the nicest, cleanest and safest places to visit. Now we are running into trouble with people who don’t have respect for anyone; themselves, their surroundings or elders and who see no problem with coming onto a school compound and cursing at their children or even at a teacher. That is one thing I think we need to get back to. Alas, materialism and entitlement culture has started to worm it’s way into our national psyche.

    So as much as sometimes things that the older people say make me want to roll my eyes, I look at the essence of what they are saying e.g. an older person saying ‘Dem wan gine church’ = we need to focus on morals and values.

    3 years ago
  26. Hahah! That image just made me laugh ( silently as I am hoarse) but way to go for all the shy girls!

    3 years ago
  27. “Instead of their own gender”. You make it sound like we should be supporting our own gender more so than the opposite, why do we need to take a side at all? But I think I see where you’re a coming from; you’re talking about those fans that don’t even give girl groups a chance, which is plain unfair.

    I think the bias for female fans to support boy groups partly has to do with eye candy, and generally female fans falling in love with male idols and madly supporting them. But I just also think that many people prefer to listen to the opposite gender. I prefer to listen to a male’s voice than a female’s voice when it comes to music, while most of my male friend’s prefer a female’s voice to a male’s. Of course that’s just my experience.

    As for males dominating the EYK charts, besides eye candy and voice preference I also agree with what Riley Kent mentioned, that the whole cute/innocent/girly image probably turns some people off.

    3 years ago
  28. Regarding Martina sometimes getting the invisible treatment, I think there are two reasons behind it. First one is obviously that there is this deeply rooted idea of a man as the head of family/organization. The guy takes care of the business (and his women), hence you deal the the guy. (And I don’t think this idea is exclusively Asian or Confucian concept. Same attitude used to be, and even in some cases still, prevalent in Western societies as well. Remember the SATC episode where Samantha was getting an apartment for herself?)

    The other reason, and I think this actually is far more applicable for physical meet and greets, is the rule of sexual segregation, which stems from Confucianism, but exists in somewhat altered version. Grown or married men are not supposed to physically interact with women who are not their family, and vice versa. So if a guy meets a couple, he would shake the husband’s hands, but it would be strange for him to offer to shake the wife’s hands as well (it could actually be seen as very rude and disrespectful to the husband to do so. After all, hand-holding is the first step of the “skinship”). Instead, he would just nod and bow to greet her (and he might even altogether ignore her until the husband formerly introduces his wife to him). Similarly, if a woman meets a couple, there would be no touching involved between her and the husband. And if a couple meets a couple, typically only guys shakes hands and women just nods to greet. Even if they are close, any kind of physical contact (handshaking, hugging, patting, etc) will be limited to between wives or husbands.

    Now, in a formal business setting, handshakes between a man and a woman do naturally occur, even if one or both of them are married. However, even in such cases, shaking hands of the other sex while the spouse is present can be a delicate thing, which I guess applies to you guise all the time since you work together. So even in professional meetings, guys will probably avoid shaking Martina’s hands and women won’t offer to shake Simon’s hands. In those situations, it would probably help if Simon introduces Martina to the guy to sort of set off (i.e. allow) the interaction.

    3 years ago
  29. It took me a really long time to get into girl groups because a lot of them really seem to play up a cute/innocent/overly-girly image that feels wrong to me. it took me a really long time to like Gee, for instance. 2NE1 is the exclusion, obviously (there are others as well, I know). Now I can appreciate whatever “concept” they’re going for at the moment, although that overly romanticized dolly-innocent thing still irks me, unless it’s played up/exaggerated to the point of being borderline ironic (Orange Caramel!).

    3 years ago
  30. To be honest, the only western country with the most stringent anti-discrimination laws is Canada. So in terms of sexism and other discriminatory issues, Canada would win (from a legal perspective).

    Every other Western country still holds on to legal technicalities when addressing issues such as discrimination in the workplace and rape and sexual assault. An example of this can be seen in New York -the definition of rape is strictly limited to vaginal penetration. A woman was raped in other intrusive ways by a police officer and despite the overwhelming evidence against him – he was convicted of sexual assault. Sure, the prison sentence was in her favour – but the fact that socially and legally the definition of rape is so constrained doesn’t help the continued cycle of sexism and oppression for women.

    Its interesting to realise that in New York, where they have legalised gay marriage and are considered to be liberal, women are still let down by the legal system.

    PS. Simon and Martina – LOVE the fact that you discuss serious issues in your TL;DR :) – BTW, if you did decide to make a 30 minute video, there would be a audience for it…just sayin’…

    :) xo

    3 years ago
  31. Watch My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox.

    3 years ago
  32. Oh geez, dramas and the girl main characters. .__. How they can make a strong woman go to a sudden wimp amazes me.
    Soo Zee’s idea is brilliant. It reminds me of this time, although it’s not too similar, when I was around 6, my dad and I were on a walk. Two Caucasian women were talking to each other really loudly making racist comments about Asians, assuming that we wouldn’t be able to understand them. Then I just started talking to my dad in English casually. Stereotypes…. e.o
    Anyways, back to sexism. Thanks for the TLDR about this. It was really interesting to hear about what it’s like in Korea. ^_^

    3 years ago
  33. If you want to see the gender tables turned in a Korean drama, you should watch My Girlfriend Is A Nine-Tailed Fox! It’s pretty great how a ton of those stereotypes (the man dragging the woman around, the woman not being interested in sex) are reversed. And it’s just a fun drama all around.

    3 years ago
  34. A few years ago, I was in Korea for about a month and had an experience with these club bouncers. My friend and I were walking around a part of Seoul and unknowingly walked down a street full of clubs. Now I have to say that both of us are white, and my friend is like super model attractive, tall and blonde. As we were walking down the street, we saw all these guys in suits with like secret agent earpieces walking around. We had no idea why and just thought it was weird. But then a couple of the guys come to us and ask us to come and dance in their club. We smile and say that we can’t. And then one of the guys grabs my friend and starts to pull her into the club. Me being the older one (she was only 16 and I was 22) and having now idea why these strange guys are taking her, I like freak out and grab her arm. I tell them very clearly no, and pull her away. As we were leaving the street, other bouncers moved toward us, but I just glared at them and we kept walking. I have to say that we were pretty freaked out about it afterwards.
    Maybe they only went after my friend, who was clearly foreign, because she was so attractive? Or maybe they were weird bouncers? Because most of everyone else’s experience is that they leave foreigners alone, but the definitely did not leave my friend alone.

    3 years ago
  35. Meh, I wouldn’t get so riled up over k-dramas. Is it bad that they portray the women like this a lot? Probably, especially with the modern world changing and women being more independent. However, these plots are modeled after fairy tales. Damsel in distress is saved by prince charming. Lots of western movies are all about men swooping girls off their feet and making them fall in love, and yes, even in western media the men save women constantly. It’s just more prominent in korean media. You can’t blame the drama character for falling for the jerky rich guy when I’m willing to bet a large majority of girls would do the same. As they say, girls love bad boys. :P

    I’m a tough girl, I’ve got muscles and can take care of myself, but I still have those girly instincts. I do long for a guy to treat me like I’m special and come to my rescue when I’m distressed. That doesn’t make me any less of a strong independent female.

    3 years ago
  36. I love you both, dont pay attention to harmful comments, pay attention to me n_n *yeiiiiiiiiiiiiii* … I personally like that you also include this kind of topics in your videos, afterall you are introducing to us a whole new culture, so thank you thank you ! *hugs*

    3 years ago
  37. ooooh, this was very interesting!

    3 years ago
  38. Hello??Martina experienced racism in Korea at least to some degree, so I think she can talk about it. It’s not like they are talking bad or anything they are talking about their experiences living in Korea. That’s all.

    3 years ago
  39. Because most of the fangirls don’t give a crap about talent or musical quality, they just want eye candy. :P

    3 years ago
  40. There’s no doubt that sexism exists, however, I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem. I mean Martina is a Western woman, where women enjoy perhaps even more power than men when it comes to court cases and treatment in public. So when somebody doesn’t take her seriously simply because she’s a woman, it’s a pretty big insult. But Korean women tend to be submissive and they look for a strong wealthy dude who do things for them. It’s normal, and I don’t think it’s truly a bad aspect of their society. The woman’s job is to look pretty, and I think many Korean women feel just fine having that job. Likewise, many men are just fine making lots of money and hoping to attract one of the pretty girls

    3 years ago