Female Korean high school student Byun Bo Kyung recently wrote an article in response to MBC‘s “The Shocking Reality About Relationships With Foreigners” piece, and it has been getting a lot of attention from the international community.
In her effort to fight the racism in the MBC piece, she asserts a bunch of opinions, including why she ironically thinks white men are superior to Korean men.
She’s being praised a lot at the moment, primarily by (shockingly) white men, but in a long-winded, roundabout way, her point basically boiled down to this:
1) The MBC piece was stupid and ignorant.
2) Korean women want to date foreign men, but Korean men don’t want to date foreign women. Thus, the men are racist/xenophobic.
3) Korean men are insanely traditionalist and sexist.
4) White men are very liberal and respectful.
Let me just say that the piece is impressive for a high school student. The prose is solid and she’ll probably excel as a writer eventually.
Logically though, her point makes almost no sense to me.
1) Agreed. The MBC piece was insanely stupid, and seeing her non-racist, non-xenophobic view on it was refreshing, especially as a break from media story after media story out of Korea portraying things to the contrary.
Thus, historical and ideological factors predisposed Koreans to lean toward ethnic nationalism, and to condemn those who act in an un-“Korean” way as unpatriotic, disloyal, and even morally corrupt—as was obviously the MBC show’s view toward Korean women dating foreign men. But the thing is, though ethnic pride might have been the key to uniting against turmoil in the past, it is somewhat of an anachronism in today’s globalized world. Radical forms of ethnic nationalism actually serve to cripple diversity and open-mindedness—even now, problems concerning the abuse of immigrant workers, multicultural families, and injustices caused by jus sanguinis policies have become leading social issues in Korean society.
It’s too bad that logic she provides is coming from an illogical place, as she shows later.
2) I don’t understand her citation of this as evidence. Besides sample size problems, females are far more likely to answer a female honestly, especially if they are talking about foreigners with somebody of the same ethnicity. The males in that same scenario are going to say “no” whether they want to or not. As she pointed out, this is especially true in a Confucian-influenced, patriarchal society, where more is expected of the men.
Put it this way, men in general, and especially men in that context, aren’t going to reply to her, “OH MY GOD YES I TOTALLY FUCKING JACK OFF IN THE DARK TO AMERICAN PORN WITH BLONDE WOMEN WITH GIGANTIC FAKE TITS ON THE REGULAR!”
Of course Korean men want to date foreigners. In fact, that Korean men like foreign women was constantly mentioned by foreign males as a rebuttal point to the MBC piece.
As for the girls in my class, they seem to be much more liberal. Perhaps it’s because they want to avoid the traditional duties expected of Korean women—whatever the reason, almost all of them chirped an enthusiastic yes when asked whether they were willing to have a relationship with a non-Korean. Some even remarked that they preferred foreigners over Korean men.
This is the first of the stereotypes she applies in almost an ironic way, as her goal is to disprove stereotypes. Also, it’s the first bit of iffy evidence/logic that she submits.
3) This seems like more of an excuse for her preference in men than anything to be legitimately concerned about. She’s applying negative qualities to Korean men and positive qualities to white men, all while refusing to look at the opposite because, well, as she explains later, that’s just what she likes. Plus, that would totally ruin her point! Oh well, she’ll learn about that in college during Argumentative Writing 101.
As for me, I’m all for their side. From what I’ve seen, being the wife of a man who is “Korean” to the bone is taxing, to say the least. All housework and parenting duties fall under the exclusive charge of the wife, regardless of whether or not she has a career (my mom’s a pharmacist). It is also taken for granted that she help prepare for ancestral rites of her in-laws, held at least twice a year. On such occasions, the men gather around in the living room, chat, and watch TV while the women knead, chop, mix, and fry in a frenzy to prepare traditional dishes for the ancestral rites table. My mom always emerges from such ordeals with menthol pain-relief patches on her shoulders, vowing not to take part in such “madness” next year—and yet she joins her sister-in-laws in the kitchen every ancestral rite season. Social expectations and pressure from family members—recruiting phone calls from sister-in-laws, for instance—are not easy to ignore; having observed this since childhood, I hardly want to submit to such ordeals myself. And because there are “plenty more fish in the sea,” many Korean women (me and my friends included) feel no need to restrict ourselves to conservative, traditional (and often chauvinistic) Korean men merely because of the fact that they happen to have the same nationality.
I could make up any excuse I want for why I prefer to date/marry Korean/Japanese women. Same for why I like legs or whatever else I prefer, but I don’t because I know it’s just a preference. Unlike her, I don’t choose to make absolute declarations of dedication to my preferences, and I don’t try to use racism and stereotypes to justify the inherently subjective topic matter at hand in some lame attempt to make myself feel special.
4) The implication in her piece is that foreigners don’t do all the bad things that Korean men do, which ironically stereotypes foreigners as well, even if it is a positive.
I think I’ll take my chances with non-Korean guys, be they the incarnation of pure evil or not.
Either way, whenever anybody makes a declaration to swear off certain types of men/women or to limit themselves to certain types of men/women, I honestly wonder to myself what their issues are.
We all have preferences, but systematically eliminating people based on things like nationality and race? That seems … uh … bigoted, racist, and ignorant.
Wait, I thought she wrote this to fight against that? Oops.
While she expressed her opinion much more eloquently than MBC did, the core arguments of both are shit. She basically turns all Korean men into traditionalist sexist pigs (except for a few good ones), whereas all foreigners* are liberal-minded, superior options (except for a few bad ones). Her piece goes awry because towards the end she starts going down the same road the MBC piece does, except in the opposite direction.
*Let’s not get it twisted here, by “foreign”, she means “white”.
I can still remember the incredulous look in my classmate’s eyes when I told him I preferred foreigners (or perhaps Koreans with foreign experience) to completely “Korean”-Koreans (those called “tojung,” or truly native, having never left the peninsula) when it comes to having a relationship. So MBC, make of it what you will; surely there’s a scandalous scoop here. Meanwhile, I’ll defer to my friend who once said, “The world is large, and men are plenty.” I think I’ll take my chances with non-Korean guys, be they the incarnation of pure evil or not.
Now if you’ve read this site before, you know I have no problems with interracial relationships. I’ve been in them myself, so it would be insanely hypocritical for me to have issue with them.
Still though, I would roll my eyes the same if she told me what she said to that guy. Many Asian women and white men interpret that rolling of the eyes, whether literal or figurative, as jealousy or envy or hatred or whatever, but for me, it’s the same roll of the eyes I give somebody who thinks they’re superior for doing something different when they’re really just pretentious, predictable, and full of shit.
Why do I think that of her? Because in reality, she’s not more open-minded or intelligent than the people she hates. She’s simply playing the role she does because she thinks it makes her superior to do so. She’s a fucking hipster, basically. Hipsters also think they are more open-minded and intelligent than others, primarily because they are going counter to popular culture, and they believe their superiority is inherent due to that choice to go opposite the norm. In actuality though, they are just as close-minded and ignorant as those they resent, much like the author of this article.
Sorry, but choosing to buy into white hegemony or to believe white superiority is NOT against the grain, it’s the status quo. Newsflash to Asian women and men who think it’s the rebellious thing to do, it’s not. It’s the status quo in Asia and it’s the status quo around the world.
The fact that she wants to date foreigners is not the problem, but rather it’s the idea that she would limit herself to them because she feels they are superior due to their race/nationality. That’s what’s fucked up.
Would all these foreigners praising her* in the comments feel the same way if her conclusion was that white men were disgusting and that Korean men were superior due to whatever made up reason she gave?
Spoiler alert! No.
*Speaking of that, it’s hilarious how the foreigners in Korea came out in droves to protest the MBC piece, but they read this piece and start tongue-jacking this Korean girl’s asshole because she loves them. Ironically, it shows that they don’t give a fuck about racism or discrimination, as long as it’s in their favor. It’s like Asians who flip out if you say they are all short, but let the smart stereotype slide. Why? They’re equally damaging and limiting in their own way. But hey, stay ignorant.
Stereotyping foreigners as good and Korean men as bad is just as shitty as doing the opposite. Just because one goes against the societal norm doesn’t make it right or better. I feel the same about Asian American men who say things like, “Fuck Asian women then, white women are better anyway.” No, dumbass, being just as ignorant as Asian American female counterparts who have that attitude is not equality, it’s stupidity.
Regardless though, the author wants and has gotten much praise and adulation from the English speaking audience for her opinion, but she won’t get that from me.
In a piece that is trying to curry favor with foreigners (her own admitted preference) and prove that she’s liberal and intelligent, she has done the exact opposite. Declaring you don’t want to date Asians doesn’t make you worldly or liberal, it makes you naive and every bit as racist and ignorant as the people she’s trying to rally against. In the end, her true intention and perspective was revealed, and going to the other end of the spectrum when arguing against crazy is equally crazy and inherently pointless.
Maybe one day she’ll grow up and realize that. At least she has a chance though, unlike the hypocritical commenters praising her for the article.