Saturday, July 12, 2008

Here are some pictures of a Korean woman in a bikini.

Korea Beat told us about some pictures of the Korean Miss Universe contestant Lee Ji-seon (이지선) in a yellow bikini. Those pictures are here, and the Chosun Ilbo has all kinds of other pictures of her if you scroll the galleries along the top. Ji-seon made the news a little while ago because her ethnic Korean costume looked too Japanese to some netizens, who as you know are quite the history buffs *cough*.

I don't know if it's good or bad that she doesn't look very quote-unquote Korean. Since I'm not a 19-year-old Korean-American on or a North Korea public official I won't get bent out of shape about that, but I just remember the comments made by North Korean dancer Lee Myong-ae after meeting Lee Hyori in 2005, as quoted in the Chosun Ilbo:
In an interview with a local broadcaster at the scene of the shoot, Cho thanked her fans, saying she knew she had many in South Korea as well. However, the dancer toed her country’s party line on cultural and racial purity by saying Lee was “beautiful, but with her dyed hair and everything, she doesn't look like a Korean woman."

Um . . .

Hmm, if there's one thing North and South Korea can both agree on, its the importance and joys of racial purity. But with international marriages taking place today with increasing frequency, with more biracial children being born, and, hell, with Korea's long yet unacknowledged history of genetic mixing, I think people should warm to the idea that "looks Korean" can mean many things.

If you're interested you can browse loads of other photo galleries on the official Miss Korea site. It's kind of weird because if the women weren't wearing sashes that say "2008" on them I'd have guessed the photos were taken in 1994. Or 1974. LOL at this one . . . don't tell me they had a sexy dance competition at the prestigious Miss Korea contest. Incidentally, you can browse photo galleries of past Miss Korea pageants, all the way back to 1959, here. The gallery from 1957 just contains two pictures of posters, like this:


viperinkorea said...

Hello Brian, longtime reader first time poster. I'll probably never get a chance to say that on a radio show so wanted to use it here. It seems that the frequency of their eye surgeries to look more "Western" would eliminate their argument for "looking Korean."

Brian said...

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Mr. Viper. I don't have time to find more information right now, but I recall several times reading that the eye surgeries---and the skin-whitening creams---aren't to look more western but are to move more toward what Asians have historically considered beautiful. Light skin has been favorable for a while, because it means a person wasn't out in the fields doing work, and big eyes . . . are popular in Asia, I guess, and having double-eyelids occurs naturally among some Asians. I remember a Taiwanese friend telling me that many Taiwanese considered the cartoon character "Mulan" ugly because of her small, narrow eyes.

Regardless, the point remains that having such a narrow definition of "looking Korean"---when you've got all kinds of skin colors, facial structures, eye shapes, hair colors, etc.---isn't healthy. Not only because surgery is so widely-practiced and -accepted here, but because you've got a lot of historical diversity that is being ignored in favor of some bloodline, nationalist stuff.

Brian said...

I guess I should have written "shades of skin color" rather than just "skin color," because there is some variation in Koreans' skin color. Of course having a healthy tolerance of different skin colors would be nice, too, for foreigners who come here to teach, come here to marry, and for those who choose to stay here permanently and raise their children.

Roboseyo said...

I personally had two Korean friends who were teased for "not looking Korean" -- one had a longer nose than most Koreans, and darker skin, and her friend never stopped teasing her and telling her she looked Philippine rather than Korean; another had facial structure similar to "what looks japanese" and was likewise teased.

Alex said...

I love your blogs - consistantly interesting.
Also, the picture of 이효리 with the North Korean is priceless...what awesome facial expressions! :D