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Miss A – I Don’t Need a Man: Kpop Music Mondays

October 30, 2012

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A GIRL BAND ON KPOP MUSIC MONDAY! It has finally happened! After 13 weeks of pure Kpop Sausage festivities, Miss A finally breaks the streak to be a girl band on Kpop Music Mondays! If you haven’t seen this record-breaking video, check it out here:

So I’ve noticed that as of late we are saving our deeper thoughts for our blog posts. We had a bit to say about this Miss A video, or more so, what it stirred up inside of us regarding implications about Korean culture, but we feel like Music Monday should remain at least a bit entertaining rather than a heavy lecture about what we think about stuff. But the fact that we have to hold ourselves back a bit for Music Mondays doesn’t make us upset because we feel like there are different communities of people existing on YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and on the EYK blog itself that have different kinds of conversations and enjoy commenting in different ways. While a lot of viewers overlap into all of these communities (the Nastiest of the Nasties!), we must confess that this blog here has our favourite group of individuals, who all seem to promote conversation and to discuss things in a level-headed fashion. YAY! So onto our thoughts about the video:

While Miss A’s message seems simple enough, truthfully, it’s difficult to fully grasp the context of the video if you don’t live (or if you have lived) in Korea. Even thought we really love Korean culture, there are some parts we don’t love, one of which being the rampant materialism. I’ll give you an upsetting example: when I was still teaching at my all girls high school, dating was a hot topic, so I tried to incorporate interesting concepts like opinions on dating into my lessons to foster class participation. One of my classes was an open class survey where I asked questions in English, and the students would vote, and then we’d discuss why they voted for what, and then they’d present their findings to the class.

One of the most appalling discoveries I made was during a survey about dating and marriage. Out of my 14 classes of over 40 students, around 80% of them would choose A) a good looking, tall, rich person that treated them like garbage over B) a short but good looking average paid person that treated them like gold. I was SO shocked and I wanted to know why they would make such a poor choice, to which they’d respond that appearance to other people was more important. And somehow, they thought their personal happiness would increase if other people were envious of what they had, even if what they had didn’t result in their own personal happiness. And there was also the added bonus they could buy things to make themselves happy.

Now, I’m glad that there was a small percentage of students that wanted to meet someone that wasn’t a jerk, but even when I adjusted the survey more in favour of the shorter guy regarding happiness, it seemed like shortness in itself was such a HUGE problem. A huge shallow problem. When I told my students I dated a guy who was a foot shorter than me (true) they were shocked and even responded with “ewww”. I really REALLY tried to impress upon my students the importance of a person liking someone for their personality, rather than for just money and looks, but it was hard to convince them when they’d say, “but you married Simon and he’s really tall.” I didn’t marry Simon because he was tall!!!! O____o

Now as I got to know more Korean adults, I discovered that, in my personal opinion, some of their priorities were out of order. When my friends started dating a new guy, I asked them what they were like and every single person started to tell me about their job, how much money they make, and if they were good looking. I even had one friend tell me in advance, “he’s not good looking and he doesn’t make a lot of money”. And I was like… “Um. I don’t care about that. Does he treat you well? Does he make you laugh?” I really had to needle my friends to find out WHAT their boyfriend were like outside of their jobs, so I feel like something is going wrong with priorities if people are more concerned about impressing their friends about their boyfriends’ job. Now obviously, not everyone in Korea is like this, but I experienced it enough to feel worried about my friends.

Now what does this have to do with Miss A’s song? Well, it seems that the idea of dating or marrying rich is a very big goal in Korea (and other parts of the world), but it’s more weighed towards a woman snagging a rich man, rather than a man snagging a rich woman.

Even if you look at Korean dramas, the concept of wealthy women seem to fall into three basic categories: a really old grandma CEO, a heinous b*tch of a crazy CEO, or the heinous b*tch daughter of a rich CEO trying to hook up with the rich guy that is interested in the poor girl. Why aren’t there any talented F4 flower girls that are sought after by all the boys? Super rich woman driving hot cars and saving a poor guy from his rough life of not-richness? I want to see a Korean girl forcefully grab a guy by his wrist and drag him somewhere against his will. I really think that this is a small reflection of how gender roles are seen in Korea.

Now I know, we could look at North American TV shows and be appalled by what they say about North America, but yeah, I do think that a lot of the trashy reality TV shows out there are a reflection of what needs to change. How is Toddlers in Tiara’s still allowed to be on TV?! What is with this HoneyBooBoo crap?! But since I live in Korea, I’m out of the loop with North American TV and I just read random articles that appall me from time to time.

Altogether, I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a point in this blog post or form a hypothesis or anything. I just wanted to talk a bit about my experiences of gender roles in Korea and how those experiences relate to Miss A’s song and video, which might not be as relatable to people living outside of Korea. Living in Korea, though, this video makes a lot of sense to us. Alright, I need input people, input! Anyone else have similar experiences while living in Korea? Outside of Korea? Inside of a hamburger bun? What….

And, on another super serious note, JYP yells out his name whenever he pulls something out of his pants, and more in the bloopers!

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Miss A – I Don’t Need a Man: Kpop Music Mondays

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  1. My mom always wanted me to marry a rich guy, but that’s just because she wants to make sure my future husband can support himself. She wants me to make my own money, and (in her own words) be able to comfortably support myself and be rich on my own in case my husband turns out to be an ass.
    Boy, Asian mothers are hilarious.
    Me personally, I would of course like a guy with a decent job, but I want a guy who can treat me well rather than a guy who treats me terribly. I know my mom wants a guy with the money, but even she will never let me get with a guy who doesn’t treat me right. I’m pretty thankful for that.

    7 years ago
  2. I’m so glade that in my family the women are respected. We are told to get an education so that we can stand up for ourselves. But in other families it’s more important to marry the girl off, with or without an education. What happens to you when your “man” decides to leave you or when you want to leave him because he isn’t treating you right, but you can’t because you have no education and can’t get a decent job because of that? I really enjoyed the message of this song also because it touched on not taking money from your parent’s all the time but insted giving them money and taking care of them.

    7 years ago
  3. Yeah, my rents are Indian and care way too much about image and what others think and school and money and all that. It was really too much for me cause I was born and raised in Toronto. So yeah, it’s really old fashioned and sometimes I felt like I was living in the 1800’s. Indian parents are also really strict and controlling and think it’s ok to hit your kids. Well, that’s my experience. I’m also thinking of Japan cause I lived there too.

    7 years ago
  4. Dear Simon and Martina,
    With the presidential election coming up, do majority of Koreans pay attention to American politics? If they do which candidate (or political parties) do you see them supporting? Have your political views changed by living in Korea?

    7 years ago
    • Even when I lived in Japan I also experienced some extreme materialistic behavior which influenced me that time. But as I got older and traveled to other countries (and eventually settled in Toronto), I understood the cruel nature of being shallow, and changed my naive and foolish habit of looking at the external, superficial appearance to judge, rather than its (people’s/things’) true value. These kinds of problems are (from what I observed) solved through experience. We won’t really understand the problem with materialism unless we ourselves experience its consequence (e.g. being judged ourselves). So people in Korea will soon start to recognize this societal issue..hopefully. If there’s hope in Japan, why not Korea (or the rest of the world). Also I think Koreans think that people in the West are superficial and materialistic; even if American media portray this as so, its not always true…lets call this a stereotype ^^. So maybe if Koreans (or others in the world) understand that the shallowness of western culture is not what led to its international popularity/success, they would realize that its not really what they want. If people want to follow the footstep of westerns to be a “role model nation” (no country is actually a role model), they should look at what REALLY contributed: individuality, independence, morality..etc ..not just pretty clothes, promiscuity, violence (rebelling) and snobby attitude. SOO..yea, i think its good that Kpop is starting to promote these characters, not just their NASTINESS. Which brings me to another conclusion..now that I think about it, Kpop should consider dropping those superficial views of “perfect boyfriend/ girlfriend” or “perfect clothes” and spread nice ideas more (which some of them already do). THEY HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE INDIVIDUALS LIKE ME DROOL OVER THEIR COOLNESS. After all, its their confidence and strong character (music?..i dun understand their lyrics..) that made me love them..not just their clothes/appearance :)

      7 years ago
  5. The girls go for money thing isn’t so big here (the netherlands). But the “i want a tall guy” is. Rarely do i see a girl with some guy who’s smaller than her.

    7 years ago
  6. This brings me back to memory lane with most of Jane Austen’s novel; marriage and status! (random comment). =)

    7 years ago