Jeju Island officials are considering a plan to turn one of its tourist spots into the nation's first ever nudist beach in a bid to attract visitors from across the world.Yes, there are nude beaches in foreign countries, but the above is a pretty base assessment of the tastes of foreigners and foreign tourists. My first thought was that this plays into the image of the hypersexual, promiscuous Caucasian; after all, they always use foreign lingerie models on TV, and often use bikini-clad foreigners in advertisements and in the newspaper. I'm curious, then, if they'll make it foreigner-only in order to ensure privacy from gawkers, from cellphone cams, and from quote-unquote journalists. Or privacy from . . . well, the average Korean, who let's be honest can turn many an innocuous encounter into a stressful one with stares and catcalls. We turn heads in the supermarket and in the hallways at school, so I can imagine the situation would be greatly amplified at a nudist beach.
Jungmun Beach, a favorite summer vacation spot among Koreans, has reportedly attracted ``undressed" foreigners who apparently wish to enjoy the sun while naked.
The Jeju government believes that if the area were designated as a nude beach, more foreigners would be attracted to the island and enjoy its natural beauty.
``It will be the nation's first and the island will compete with world-renowned places such as Nice in France or Lighthouse Beach in the United States,'' said Kang Tae-seok, a Jeju government official.
During a recent meeting, most residents were reported to have shown a positive response to the place, based on the assumption more foreign tourists would visit the island.
But of course most tourists to Korea aren't Caucasian, and it occurred to me that this would indeed present an interesting tourism opportunity as the only official nudist beach in Asia. I suspect you'd find pockets of interest among visitors from neighboring countries. Korea has made a name for itself as a medical tourism destination---even clinics in Taipei advertised their Korean-style procedures---so it's not unrealistic for lightening to strike twice. The only question is whether Koreans would take pride in that source of popularity: so much time spent pushing the food, the clothes, and the break dancing, only to have the foreigners come for the nudity. Come to think of it, I don't take pride in that source of popularity either.
While I don't think Jeju should put the interests of imaginary foreign tourists ahead of its actual residents, I don't think you can cite offended Victorian sensibilities when it comes to sexuality or nudity here. Though the KT article mentions a previous attempt at a nudist beach stopped because of a "public antipathy toward nudity," I feel a healthier attitude toward it here than back home. There are, of course, public bathhouses in every neighborhood: quite popular and quite relaxing. And who can forget "Jeju Loveland," a sex-themed sculpture park that I won't link directly to since I'm at school. As a poster on Dave's said:
So you can drink from an ejaculating fountain at Love Land, but a nude beach down the street would be indecent... hmmm.. Korea is funny
Designating a nude beach for foreigners, though, seems to run counter the aims of a nude beach to begin with. In spite of what some will tell you, the point of a nudist beach isn't to stare at attractive young women, it's to feel free and relaxed. As you can see, in this post I've conflated nudist beaches with sex, implying that the point of the former is to stimulate one's appetite for the latter. Given the way foreign women are rendered as sexual objects in the media, and foreign men as sexual predators, the beach won't represent anything other than a proverbial orgy. And, without strong domestic interest, this would just be an unwelcome foreign imposition.