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” Using a mélange of markedly Singaporean English and Mandarin, the clip focuses on the current attention to exposed female legs in Korean popular culture, opening with the following words: Legs, legs and more legs.
From Girls’ Generation to After School, 4Minute and Miss-A, it seems that no shorts or skirt is too tiny for these Korean girl groups.
In this paper we concentrate on two complementary phenomena that have surfaced in the last decade, a focus in popular media on both muscled male torsos and long, slender female in Korea, transforming meanings and practices of the body and inculcating technologies of the self that have come to function as a panoptic discipline.
While other media-driven trends related to the body have also appeared, such as a growing interest in “average”-looking people who rise to fame through previously undiscovered talents in reality-show competitions, these alternative exemplars are inevitably measured against ideals shaped by celebrities.
Nonetheless, the enjoyable play of imagination still takes place within a context of power relations as the terms are primarily set by commercial interests.
Even as much recent discussion of women’s images has suggested (an admittedly problematic) empowerment through sexuality, the discourses we analyze above treat distinctions between men and women as a binary opposition rooted in biology, exacerbating differences and allowing them to continue as a basis for arguments that justify gender inequality.
The Arirang video went further and infuriated viewers via clumsy inattention to linguistic nuance.
Asian Studies meeting in Toronto in a panel on “Meanings and Practices of the Body in Contemporary South Korea.” We would like to thank our fellow panelists, Joanna Elfving-Hwang, Sun-ha Hong, Roald Maliangkay and John Frankl, as well as an attentive audience for helpful comments and discussion.