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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. martina do you mean that you dated a guy that was a FOOT or an inch shorter than you? aren’t you 5’7? did you then date a guy that was 4’7? o.O
    one thing that irked me a bit about living in korea was people always asking me if i had a boyfriend. when i would say no, they would say “but you’re pretty, how can a pretty girl like you not have a boyfriend”? -.-

    8 years ago
  2. Do the older women who have experienced unhappy marriages in Korea or even young women in bad relationships have different perspectives on the issue? Or do they stay the same?

    8 years ago
  3. What stood out for me about this video – apart from the message – is the lack of aegyo, which obviously makes sense given the main idea of the video and the song. It was so refreshing to see a relatively simple dance and observe a lack of cutesy, exaggerated facial expressions! I also felt that though the song wasn’t outstanding/exceptionally good, it was also – not sure how to put this – very easy on the ear? Either way, I’m glad that Miss A and their management/songwriters raised this issue, and while Miss A are no Destiny’s Child, I like the image they project in this song and video, and they seem to be really enjoying themselves, too!:)

    8 years ago
    • Interesting you should say that, because I actually wrote a huge paragraph about the lack of aegyo in this video and what aegyo represents in Korean culture…but then I deleted it because this post was SOOOO BIG!!! Fake aegyo is just a “give me something” tool used (mostly) by women, and that’s why I dislike it so much ESPECIALLY in music videos since it’s encouraging young girls to adapt that style to be liked. My female Korean friends told me that they ended friendships with their friends over their use of aegyo, because their friend would turn on aegyo whenever a guy showed up, act all helpless and silly, and then as soon as the guy was gone it was just back to normal. It’s an interesting concept that I’ve been over saturated with, but when you meet someone who is naturally aegyo (ie: they don’t know how to ACT aegyo), like a really seriously shy, blushing person, it’s really endearing! My only naturally aegyo friend is actually a foreigner. :D

      8 years ago
      • Hey guys. First off, thanks for making a point to speak about something that should be addressed in any society. Here in the US, I see it often enough with Pop or Hip-Hop music. An artist, who has such an unproportionally-large amount of social power due to popularity, does nothing with it – or uses it in ways that makes things worse (ie glorifying selling drugs or stuff like that). So “Huzzah !!” to you for taking a stand.
        But here’s my question to you – while you guys have a pretty large (read that as HUGE in my opinion) following, both in Korea and among us waygookin – have you ever noticed a backlash to what you say? Not so much when you might say something critical about some fangirl/boy’s favorite idol … but about how it might be precieved that you are “attacking” Korean society? In some of the stuff I’ve read or watched that has come out of Korea – there seems to be (mildly)growing message of “we like your cars, movies, music, material objects” but we don’t care for you. Have you noticed that or is it really maybe just a very vocal minority that gets undue visibility? And if you have, has any of it been leveled at you? I’m really curious since I’m interviewing for a job in Yongsan and want to be have the most positive outlook on what might be my new home.

        8 years ago
      • Mav

        Hi, Martina

        I have a question about the aegyo thing. I’ve noticed that its accepted for both young men and women to use it, be it the “i’m shy and blush all the time ommo” or the “pouty, overly cute, childlike pyuing pyuing” type. However, as korean society has such strictly defined forms of social hierarchy, be it age or socioeconomic status, is there a certain line drawn on who is it acceptable to use aegyo with?

        8 years ago
  4. Mav

    In all honesty, sometimes I think that girls of my generation are throwing away all the work put by women in the 60’s and 70’s to advance the equality of the sexes. I’m originally Colombian -more importantly I’m a costeña, from an area of the country where gender roles are way more on the traditional side of the scale- and as Latina I have to say that this obsession with using a man as means of self-improvement (ha!) is sadly common in my culture. While, a lot of women in Latin America – and latinas in the states- are educated and generally in equal terms with men, this does not qualify them/us as successful women in the eyes of our culture. If you don’t have a man (a successful man, and in a pinch any man) by your side you are not really successful or are lacking in someway.

    For example, i’m about to finish two majors in college ( as in 2 B.A’s) and begin a Masters. However, the first question I’m asked is not “how school doing?”,”did you finish your thesis?” ”what do you plan to do after college?” Nope, it is “Are you dating someone?” and when I answer ”no” they gasp and ask “Why? you should be dating someone, I mean you have to think about marriage!”- DUDE I’M 23! And it doesn’t matter from where in Latin America you are, or if you are in the States, that mindset is everywhere. You need to have a man next to you, get married before you’re 30. In addition it better be a good looking well off guy, if not it can be understood that you are lacking, since the man next to you is proportional to your worth.

    And going back to my initial statement that women from my generation are making this issue worse, well they are. It’s impressive to see them dumbing themselves down, so that they are more appealing to men and cuter. They are also crazy over how they look, not in because they want to look good for their self, but because being good looking/ hot w/e will help them move ahead in life, because in their heads, they’ll either get better treatment (as in favor) because of this or they’ll luck out “and snatch a good one.”

    8 years ago
    • ”And it doesn’t matter from where in Latin America you are, or if you are in the States, that mindset is everywhere. ”

      Hm, in my country Brazil, there is a few girls with this mindset, but most of the people I know, and my friends don’t put it above everything else. They want someone that treat them well, and most of them are happy to marry someone who at least earn the same as them (the guy doesn’t need to be rich but at least earn some money that can make them have a comfortable life without hardships)

      When I visit my relatives, their question is ”how is college?” ”did you decide if you are going to work with this or that?” They of course ask if I have a boyfriend, but that is because I never took one to my house kekekeke.

      But marriage? They are all against it LOL, they say ”you have to date a lot and just marry when you think it is time” ”you are still too young to marry” – I have 22 years btw.

      For example, my sister and her boyfriend are dating for 7 years now and my family is still marriage lol they want my sister to graduate from college first, get a job first and then marry…

      My sister is going to be a doctor, she will earn a lot more than my brother in law, and he also isn’t good looking to tell the truth, but boy do they love each other.
      He loves my sister so much that I can’t…. they are perfect to each other.

      8 years ago
      • Mav

        I can say I thankfully have a similar family, and that many of my friends think like you and me. However, your question makes me wonder what makes the general population of Brazil be apparently more progressive as oppose to other countries in Latin America.

        8 years ago
        • That’s really interesting. My mom, who is Colombian, always says to me, my sisters, and my cousins that studying comes before anything else. My family in Colombia does ask me if I’m dating every now and then, but whenever it comes up I usually tell them that I’ll date when I meet someone who I like and that I don’t want to put too much value on dating. Not that dating is bad, I just don’t want to look for my ultimate happiness in dating.

          My dad’s side of the family, which is Peruvian, was also gungho for the most part on studies, at least in recent decades. My aunt’s a doctor with her own practice. She had a really bad falling out with my uncle, her brother, because he said something to her about how women shouldn’t be doctors. They reconciled years later, but you can see what sometimes happens when these two thoughts collide.

          I think part of the emphasis on marriage and gender roles can come from culture, but I also think part of it is socio-economic and generational and perhaps also where your family is from. By that I mean, is your family from the city, from a town, or from a reeeally small town or rural area. I think it’s just a combination of these factors, because one can’t only say “People from the city put less emphasis on dependence on men” because then we wouldn’t be having this conversation about dependence on men in Korea in the first place.

          I’m glad to see some Latin American comments on this topic and on Eat Your Kimchi! Yeaaah! I’m glad to see many different cultures pop up here on Eat Your Kimchi, not just Korean or North American :D

          8 years ago
        • Mav

          I must say that while I’ve made a generalization, and that sometimes doesn’t do justice to the diversity of values inside an individual culture. I understand and to a certain extend agree with you. However, I’ve thought about the socioeconomic aspect and while it explains some cases, it’s not a defining character on the issue. And as you wrote, there is obviously a rural/urban break in gender roles, especially in countries with such disparity in the distribution of wealth, as Latin American countries tend to be. But, from what I’ve been able to observe and experience sometimes education, exposition to other cultures and socioeconomic status go out the window. There must be some common thread to this type of behaviors not only in Latin America but in other parts of the world.Probably some sociologist or anthropologist.

          Like you I’m happy about seeing Latinas/os here, since most of my latino friends are all “tu qué haces viendo eso ha?!” Even if they think Simon and Martina are hilarious, they don’t get the k-pop or k-drama thing.

          8 years ago
    • I know how this feels totally as a Latina myself. It’s frustrating how people can totally judge you just because you are not in a relationship. So frustrating. You Go Mav!!! Going for two majors>>>>>That is totally badass!!

      8 years ago
    • I’m from mexico and I’ve seen all this that you’re talking about so many times.
      Everytime I meet with my aunts and grandma all the questions, instead of “when are you starting college?”, “what carreer did you choose?” or something of that kind, its “do you have a boyfriend?” I answer no and they go all “Oh, why?”, it’s so tiring.
      This concept of “I have to be married to be a woman in every sense” is totally overrated. Many of my mom’s friends won’t divorce from their crappy husbands just because they think being single at their age (40s) is just a sign of not being femenine enough to keep a man beside you or whatever.
      Even at this age I’ve had to go through some people thinking I’m lesbian because I don’t fully fit into the stereotype of what an 18 year old girl should be. I barely use makeup, I hate using skirts and high heels, play videogames that are usually considered “just for guys” and a vast majority of my friends are male. I’ve been said countless times “If you were more girly I would date you”.
      It’s been around 30 years since women here started to get a more equal treatment around men, and I still don’t see how still at this point the gender roles stay as strong as they were before. I’ve heard of countless girls that just go to college (and the expensive ones usually) in order to find a guy to marry. They don’t even fininsh their carrer because they think they already secured themselves a stable money source for the rest of their lives.

      8 years ago
      • Hahaha yeah :D I just want to make teleportation possible because I’m such a Star Trek fan and it would be awesome if you could go anywhere in less than a minute!!

        8 years ago
      • Oh god. I know what you mean. My family is Peruvian & Guatemalan and though my parents don’t generally care whether I date or not (actually it pleases them that I prioritize my education over that and other things); but when it comes to my godmother or other family members (including my sister), they just think I am crazy because I am not interested in dating around. Like when I was around your age my sister literally thought I was a lesbian just because I just did not want to get a boyfriend or whatever (I am fairly feminine–but not flowery– but I have a lot of guy friends so she thinks this is weird). And its true it is definitely all about whether a guy is good looking and if he is financially stable/supportive. Honestly, I prefer depending on myself and have my own plans that I intend on fulfilling.
        As much as I joke around with my friends about “needing to find a man with dem dollar billz”; that doesn’t matter to me as much as whether a guy is well read or is goal oriented and knows what he wants out of life.

        8 years ago
    • Girls dumb themselves down at my school all the time and it’s so annoying. I think my mom would honestly kill me if I decided that school was pointless and that I should shack up with a rich man. I’ll be honest: I don’t consider myself very attractive, and so I don’t think my boyfriend has to be either. If he respects me, makes me laugh, and gets along with my family, then that is all I need.
      On a side note, what are you majoring in? Double majoring and going on to get a Masters is really impressive^^

      8 years ago
      • Mav

        My mom would have killed me too, but I wonder if those girls moms would do the same. And if they actually are against their daughters acting that way, what motivates these girls to act like that…
        May I say that I love the fact that you listed respect as a quality!

        hehe thank you, I’m almost a Historian and a Journalist ( my grammar doesn’t show it but yeah)

        8 years ago
        • That’s actually an interesting thing to take into consideration: maybe their mothers WANT them to act like that? Or maybe they just want to know that their child will be taken care off financially, I’m not really sure. Respect is a big factor in any relationship I might have^^
          That’s really interesting! I’m thinking about double majoring in English and International Studies and possibly minoring in Education, but I’m not really sure yet :)

          8 years ago
        • Mav

          Ohh Nice! As I was previously minoring in IR ( IS and IR’s are so closely related) and will be doing my masters on that I am totally biased and say go for the double! Are you also a victim of MUN?

          8 years ago
        • Not to sound dumb, but what does MUN stand for?^^

          8 years ago
        • Mav

          it okay, Model United Nations

          8 years ago
  5. There are actually woman who tries to hook up with a rich married man just because of, well you guessed it, their money. It’s actually a really common thing where I came from (well I’m Asian).. people will just bash at that woman but no one will really do anything about it though ._.

    8 years ago
  6. Am i the only one who looks for little meemers to show up ^_^

    8 years ago