UN Concern at 'Ethnocentric' Korea

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has expressed concern at persistent ethnocentric thinking in South Korea. "There was a genuine fear that overemphasis on and excessive pride in the ethnic homogeneity of Korea might be an obstacle to the realization of equal treatment and respect for foreigners and people belonging to different races and cultures,” it said. It urged the country to include a human rights awareness program “that stressed understanding of societies with multiple ethnic/cultural backgrounds” in the official education curriculum.

Meeting in Geneva from July 30 until Aug. 17, the 71st UNCERD reviewed national reports on Costa Rica, New Zealand, Mozambique, Indonesia, and South Korea and released recommendations for them. On Aug. 9-10, it looked into reports submitted by the South Korean government. In the recommendations, UNCERD expressed discomfort about a prevalent notion in Korean culture of "pure-bloodedness," saying, "The whole concept came very close to ideas of racial superiority."

The committee praised the Korean government for the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and the Basic Act on the Treatment of Foreigners adopted in May and establishing an Interpretation Support Centre for Foreign Migrant Workers last year. But it urged Korea work out better systematic devices and suggested the country legally guarantee equal rights for foreign workers and children born from international marriages in employment, marriage, residence, education, and interpersonal relations. It called for information about the history and culture of various ethnic groups and peoples to be included in elementary and secondary school textbooks.

UNCERD also expressed concern that foreign women are improperly protected from potential harassment from either their Korean husbands or international matchmaking agencies. It highlighted cases of abuse -- some international marriage agencies demand exorbitant fees for their services or confiscate passports and travel papers from foreign wives-to-be without giving them sufficient information about their future husbands. Foreign workers, it noted, “were allowed to change their place of employment four times during the course of their three-year stay. They gravitated to relatively low-paying jobs that were deemed difficult, dangerous or dirty by the Korean population.”

Half of Korean Women Have Had Cosmetic Surgery

Updated Feb.22,2007 10:41
Eight out of 10 Korean women over the age of 18 feel they need cosmetic surgery, and one out of two has undergone cosmetic surgery at least once, a survey has found.
According to a doctoral dissertation published Tuesday by Um Hyun-shin of Kyung Hee University's Clothing and Textiles department, a survey of 810 women aged 18 and over living in Seoul and Gyeonggi revealed that 69.9 percent, or 566 of the respondents, said that they suffered stress because of their appearance.

In particular, 81.5 percent of women between 25 and 29 felt the need for cosmetic surgery and 61.5 percent of that group said they have already had it, suggesting that cosmetic surgery has become commonplace for 20-something Korean women.

As to whether cosmetic surgery is necessary, 72.6 percent of respondents said it should be done if needed, while only 20.4% said it should be avoided if possible. Asked to identify which areas of their appearance they were most dissatisfied with, 17.1 percent said their lower body, followed by the abdomen (14.6 percent), body weight (12.5 percent), height (11.6 percent), skin (11.1 percent), face (9.6 percent), and upper body (9.5 percent).

The most important factor in determining beauty was cited as the face (25.8 percent) and body shape (18.6 percent), which placed above personality (13.5 percent) and attitude (10 percent). As confirmation of Korean society's emphasis on appearance, 55 percent agreed that “external factors, rather than internal factors, are more important in defining a person’s beauty.”

As a Korean-American high school student,

I recall the anger of a close friend as he accused me
of being a traitor. My crime had been the refusal
to support his idea that Korea was the best country
in the world and that Koreans were of a superior race
and culture.

Peer Pressure Plastics

It wasn't too many generations ago that South Korean kids had no control over their looks. Their hair, for example, was considered a gift from their parents—never to be cut. But today, kids drop into the plastic surgeon's office after school, and when they get home their folks can barely recognize them.

As in the rest of Asia, South Korea's primary cosmetic obsession is with the eyes. Having bigger eyes is every girl's dream, and it can now be realized through a simple $800 operation, in which a small incision or suture is made above the eye to create an artificial double lid. Teenagers as young as 14 are doing it, and eye jobs have become a favorite high school graduation gift from proud parents.

Clinics are busiest during winter vacations, when high school seniors are preparing themselves for college or for entering the workplace. The majority come for the eyelids, but nose jobs are also becoming popular among teens. "Teenagers are plastic surgery experts," marvels Dr. Lee Min Ku, a Seoul surgeon whose patients are mostly in their teens or 20s. "They tell the doctor, using scientific words, which surgery method to use." But despite the medical knowledge they bring to the clinics, many teens still show their age. "They end up handing you a magazine," says Lee, "and asking for T.V. star Kim Nam Ju's eyes."

South Korean teens buy dreams of beauty in Plastic Alley

In a beauty-infatuated society, children as young as 10 are ready targets for the surgeons of Plastic Alley, reports ANNA GIZOWSKA

The dazzling neon lights, designer boutiques and bustling streets are much the same in cities the world over - but Seoul is no ordinary city and Plastic Alley is no ordinary alley.

Where else can a girl call at a plastic surgeon's office after school with a celebrity magazine in her satchel and return home unrecognisable to her parents?

While chitchat about boys, celebrities and fashion is commonplace in playgrounds throughout the Western world, in Seoul the hot topic for kids as young as 10 is plastic surgery.

This isn't just idle tittletattle. Most of these Korean children are planning for their futures and as soon as many of them reach 14 it's off to surgery.

Beauty is big business in South Korea and many a future job has been secured by the curve of a surgically altered cheekbone and the wink of changed eyelids.

The practice has become so widespread in Asia that Japan and China introduced regulations last year to control the industry. But plastic surgeons in South Korea remain unregulated. And many unscrupulous surgeons are operating on teens without parental consent.

Although the South Korean Government does not keep official records, the number of unqualified surgeons is thought to be in the thousands. That's something the Korean Society of Plastic Surgeons is fighting to regulate.

For love and money, Koreans turn to facial tucks

By Su Hyun Lee The New York Times
SEOUL Fat is something that most people would want to remove from their cheeks. Kim Eun Young, however,
had her cheekbones plumped up by a cosmetic surgeon in the hope that her husband's business would blossom.

"People say that the fortunes of a husband and a wife go hand in hand," said Kim, 36, a housewife.
"But I've never had plump cheeks and two fortune-tellers told me that this meant that money would slip away."

In South Korea, where cosmetic surgery and fortune-telling are national obsessions,
it was perhaps inevitable that the two would eventually combine.

Men and women of all ages are increasingly undergoing plastic surgery so that a new nose
with a straight bridge and distinct nodules, a slightly wide and protruding forehead, or sufficient
cheekbones will bring wealth and the drive to take charge of their lives

Korea Won, but Japan Gets to Stay at a Better Hotel

According to Park Chan-ho (San Diego Padres),
the discontent of the team stems from the suspicion that the WBC organizing
committee reserved a better hotel for Japan, the anticipated winner of the Asian final,
while booking a lower-grade hotel for Korea, the expected runner-up.

A Korean Baseball Organization official explained that it was not because
there was a mix-up or discrimination, but simply because Phoenix has few deluxe hotels.
It could be just that: a simple misunderstanding. But still, not everybody can wave things off as easily.

Koreans to pretend to be Japanese


Korea was ahead of Japan

and major advanced European countries in
terms of the level of donation: key U.S. ally Japan's consists of
$1 million in cash and relief goods such as generators and tents.

カトリーナ支援金反強制割り当て物議 [世界日報 2005-09-13 03:18]

政府と経済界によれば政府は去る 4日イ・へチャン総理駐在でカート里も避けて関連緊急
関係長官会議を開いて民官合同で 3000万ドル(約 300億ウォン) 規模の対米支援の中を用意して,
一日後の 5日本経済5団体常勤副会長と金融団体関係者を呼んで全体支援金の中で 2000万ドルを

去る 5日会議に参加した一人士は 12日 “その日会議で政府側は予備費 500万ドルと宗教界を
含めた国民寄付 500万ドル以外の残り部分(2000万ドル)を財界で分かってしてくれと言う主旨のものを
言った”と “4日関係長官会議で全体サポート規模を 3000万ドルで定めた部分はもうアメリカから
感謝あいさつまで受けただけ金額を (下向き) 調整することができないという話まで出た”と伝えた.

また他の参加あいさつは “協議のための会議だったが事実上強制割り当てと違いなかった”と


Asia rides wave of Korean pop culture invasion

"Japanese were very good at the analog era, because they are good at following steps,"
said Professor Kang Chul Keun, director of the Hallyu Academy at Seoul's Chung Ang University,
which teaches the business and analysis of the culture trade.

"But this is now the digital era, which requires dynamism and creativity, and Koreans hold clear superiority." ttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0512230216dec23,1,5005954.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Japan's bubble babes blow life

into Men of the Morning Calm
May 24, 2005
South Korean men are pouring into Japan to use the country's
imaginative sex businesses, literally creating cultural friction,
but that by no means suggests there's any trouble,
says Shukan Post (6/3).

I've serviced about five Korean guys so far.
They're all very gentlemanly at first. They've all had military training, too,
so they're fit, really go it hard and want it time and time again.
I start feeling it for real and am exhausted by the end of a session," one worker says.
"I suppose the biggest impression left on me is that all the time we're going at it,
they keep asking me in broken Japanese,
'Am I better than a Japanese guy or what?'"

50% of Korean women in 20s have cosmetic surgery.

By conservative estimates, 50% of South Korean women
in their 20s have had some form of cosmetic surgery
There is little stigma or shame attached, many of the operations have come to seem routine.

S Korea's cosmetic surgery boom

Thursday, 12 July, 2001
Pop stars Kim Ji Hoon and Kim Suk Min are busy recording their next album.

Known as Duke, the singers rose to fame with their upbeat music and down-to-earth attitudes. But they still created a stir after publicly admitting they'd had cosmetic surgery.
"I got my nose done to please my fans, so I could look more attractive. Also I had some breathing problems, and the surgery helped with that as well," said Kim Suk Min.

"These days, a lot of women have surgery. We wanted to show that men also have a right to look attractive."

In South Korea's entertainment business - where looks are as important as talent - few have been as honest. But surgery is becoming more and more common.

A petrol station is currently running a promotional campaign called "Dreams Come True", in which customers can win prizes for filling up their tanks. One of the prizes is a chance to undergo plastic surgery.

Kwan Ki Yong, chairman of SeouSeoul petrol stations, says it shows how mainstream surgery has become. The promotion has led to a 20% surge in customers.

"There is one plastic surgery clinic for every building in this neighbourhood," he said. "I think the density of so many clinics here with top class surgeons has really removed taboos associated with plastic surgery."

With just a few clicks on a computer, a doctor can use digital imagery to show his patients how surgery can enhance their looks

The Rising East

Sunday, June 30, 2002

Koreans still find it
difficult to be good
sports about Japan

The World Cup soccer tournament jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan closed today without having noticeably eased the century-old animosity between the neighbors in Northeast Asia.

There were a few signs of goodwill, such as Japanese cheering for the Korean team after their own team had been eliminated. Underneath, the grudges, particularly among the Koreans, remained.

Indeed, it is no longer pertinent to write in an even-handed manner about the antipathy between Japan and Korea because most of the ill will is found in Korea.

This is a lopsided, asymmetrical relationship. The palpable Korean hatred for Japan is deep-seated, pervasive and obsessive. Koreans who are rational about everything else can become irrational when Japan comes into a conversation. In contrast, Japanese often ignore Koreans or are indifferent to them -- infuriating Koreans even more -- although some younger Japanese profess to be interested in Korea.

The conventional explanation for Korean antagonism is Japan's harsh colonial rule of 1905-1945. That, however, doesn't explain why Korean anger has lasted longer that the colonial period itself.

Something deeper and hard to discern is at work here. Trying to psychoanalyze an entire nation is undeniably risky but may be permissible when applied to Korea's tightly knit society.

Koreans have long had difficulty in dealing with outsiders, partly because of the geographic isolation of the Korean peninsula. It is, American GIs once said, tucked into the upper left-hand corner of the world.

More comes from having been overrun and subjugated for centuries by the Chinese, Mongols and Manchus, which led Koreans to draw back into the Hermit Kingdom and try to fend off foreigners. That lasted until the mid-19th century when Western nations demanded that Korea open up.

Then the Chinese, Russians and Japanese fought over Korea, with the Japanese winning out and seeking to absorb Korea into the Japanese empire. All of this seems to have bred xenophobia into Korean society, the Japanese being the latest target.

Korean antipathy showed up in myriad ways during the World Cup. Most Koreans resented having to share the spotlight as host with Japan and insisted that the tournament be called the Korea/Japan rather than the Japan/Korea World Cup. Korea's Web site and publicity largely ignored Japan. Japan was rarely mentioned in Korean TV coverage.

When Turkey defeated Japan to eliminate the Japanese, Koreans applauded. When Japanese cheered for Korea as the Korean team advanced, Koreans said: "They Japanese are faking their support for the Korean team."

There was evidence that the support was not faked. A professor in Japan asked over 100 of his students what they thought of the Korean performance in the tournament. About 70 percent gave positive replies, 22 percent were negative, and 8 percent said they weren't interested in Korea.

A Korean-American who lives and works in Seoul said privately: "Koreans are taught by their grandparents, parents and the educational system that the Japanese are evil. Hear this every day since birth and you have a running experiment of a Brave New World."

He said he had found an "enormous insecurity/inferiority complex" among Koreans. "They do not like the fact that their economic and political status in the world is inferior to that of Japan and the United States. They do not like the fact that nobody in the world really pays attention to them. They do not like the fact that they are not a power in the world."

"Korea," he concluded, "is still a nation learning to deal with its economic, political and cultural development."

Some weeks ago, at a gathering of Korean, Japanese and American strategic thinkers at the Pacific Forum, a research center in Honolulu, the discussion anticipated the World Cup. The Koreans berated the Japanese, the Japanese sought to defend themselves as not being anti-Korean, and the Americans deplored the hostility between their two main allies in East Asia.

"Today," lamented an American experienced in Asia, "what ought to be a natural strategic relationship between two geographically proximate, liberal democracies with common allies remains problematic because of history.

"If ever there was a issue that cried out for decisive, assertive U.S. leadership," he concluded, "it is the issue of knitting together a sustainable virtual alliance among the U.S., Japan and Korea."


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