Even the handicapped can have virgins

The above title being a quote from this Korea Times article referencing a regional road sign advertising for immigrant wives from SE Asia…

(Brian from Jeollanam-do, btw, takes great offense to the almost immediate connection of brutality with white American racism in the post. I don’t, but I think it is misplaced. I agree that it reveals how racist the writer is and may reflect how many Koreans feel about Americans. But I also know much of this zenophobia is built out of deep-seated jealousy. And this particular instance, the brutality is unmasked Korean male brutality against women.)

In addition, an actual photo of another advertising slogan used in the article:

Sign that says, vietnamese brides never run away
Sign that says, "vietnamese brides never run away"

As an adoptee, I bristle at the thought of importing anyone across cultures and languages – especially if it is not based upon relationship, but on an imbalance of power.  In Korea’s case, much like the U.S., the power is economic.  In S.E. Asia’s case, the have-nots are willing to sell themselves in order to have. See this New York Times Article, on Korean Men Use Brokers to Find Brides in Vietnam

Mr. S. is on a reconnaissance mission to the Philippines.  He is to take a photo of a woman being arranged as a bride for his handicapped friend.  This is to ensure that her skin color is light enough…

Never mind that it smacks of trafficking and that it repulses me.  Never mind that the skin color thing smacks of colonized mind-set and classism.  I tell him it’s a bad idea.

“But he’s a good man.”

“So…he’s buying a wife.  He’s PURCHASING another human being”

“But she will be happy because he has money!”

“No.  It’s a bad idea.  She will be unhappy.  She won’t be able to speak Korean and she will be totally alone and resent being stuck with a handicapped man.  She will divorce him and take his money. And what does it matter what color skin she has?”

“Koreans don’t like dark skin. Philippinos are dark skinned, so I must photograph that she is lighter.”

“But it’s not like he’s perfect.”

“But he is rich so she will be happy.”

If he is such a good man, why doesn’t he let some handicapped woman know love too?  It’s not like SHE will be in any position to go purchase a husband from S.E. Asia…Then, maybe he won’t be so lonely, as someone will be fully able to relate to him.

But no.  “She is very beautiful and has very white skin.  My friend has money.  She will be happy.”

I think I am going to vomit.  I am seriously ill over this. This is from my enlightened new boyfriend. This is from one of the best minds in Korea?

There is also some correlation between this and Korean men’s willingness to completely destabilize and separate their families and send their women and children abroad to live in the U.S.  I remember there are various levels of these fathers.

  1. Eagle fathers are those wealthy enough to visit their families regularly
  2. Wild geese fathers may see their families about once a year
  3. Penguin fathers have no wings and just never see their families.

See Tongue-Tied, a documentary about the lengths Koreans will go to regarding English education as a means of getting ahead, and this New York Times article, For English Studies, Koreans say goodbye to Dad

The correlation is getting ahead.  Of appearing successful.  To hell with love.  To hell with family.  To hell with values.

Koreans think Americans are cold egoists and materialists with no family values or respect.  Yet for the majority of people I’ve met here, they are what they accuse. If I hear even one more such reference (And I do. Far too often.) I am going to go ballistic.

This week I really don’t like Korea.  It’s upside down land.  Inside out land. And people wonder why so many of the English teachers here develop nasty attitudes towards Korea…

Perhaps the only thing I like about this place are the kids. Half of them are already totally warped by the time I see them, though. I want off this ROK.
I also don’t like men or adoption or adoptees or politics or people today.

Please, can’t something heart-warming (sans pathos) happen soon?

7 thoughts on “Even the handicapped can have virgins

  1. Wow this is a little bit disturbing! who wouldve known finding a wife would be so hard in korea?!?! im sure those ladies of the night up on hooker hill would be accommodating to Mr. S’s handicapped friend. it kinda sounds same-same to me anyway.

    Am i still helping you make your kachina dolls tonight?

  2. Ah, but those ladies aren’t going to give him a son…

    yes. please. I can’t possibly fill a trash bag full of them myself! Bring any extra newspaper you might have in your recycling bin…

  3. Thanks for the link. I admit I was confused about what I was taking great offense to, until I saw the link was a year and a half old. In hindsight I think only mild offense was called for. The more I read Korean newspaper articles—especially in the Joongang Ilbo—the more I notice how prone they are to tangents. The line about slavery came out of left field, but I guess in the writer’s mind they both have to do with slavery.

    You’ll notice I have a whole category on “international marriage.” I’ve said a few times that I’m not necessarily opposed to it. I mean, in places throughout Asia we’re not that far removed from arranged marriages, where husband and wive wouldn’t meet each other until the wedding. I assume this is still practiced in some places, because I’m currently petitioning for a fiance visa for mine, and there’s a box to check if you—as an American—haven’t yet met your fiance in person. Moreover, in this day and age internet dating is becoming more and more popular. And, we all know thirtysomethings who are desperate enough to marry that they’re asking anybody who will listen to set them up.

    But, yes, I do strongly dislike that women are being bought and imported to Korea to replenish its rural areas. These women are bought to marry men two or three times their age, men who are often handicapped or otherwise unmarriable. Koreans have many reasons for abandoning their rural areas, but let’s not forget that the gender imbalance comes after generations of infanticide and, more recently, gender-based abortions. Hard to be sympathetic to a country that spent a good bit of time killing off its females.

    These women aren’t entirely blameless, though, insofar as there is “blame” to go around. These women are looking to earn money, are looking for the “Korean dream.” I do think they’re naive, though, and don’t realize that they’re not going to end up in a swanky Gangnam apartment, but will wind up being an incubator in some town of 1,500 in rural Jeollanam-do.

    This will really be a problem in another generation, when countries like Vietnam and Cambodia start to catch up to Korea’s level of development. How do you think all those Southeast Asian countries will feel when a country like South Korea has been buying—and in some occassions killing—all their young women?

  4. Brian,

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this breakdown from the Korean Immigration Service as written up by Korea Beat blog. I thought it was interesting how there were 671 in Gangnam! (high-rent financial area in the center of Seoul)

    I understand that there are parallel things all over the world and the U.S. (like the movie trailer I showed above – hilarious movie btw – a mockumentary so real it takes quite awhile before you realize it’s not real) But it’s considered a repugnant practice in the U.S. and it’s more the acceptance of it in society (my Korean colleagues think nothing of it) and the cavalier attitudes about exploiting an economic imbalance and the comodification of people that are so disturbing here.

    Even speed dating and internet dating is, for the most part, in the west a hope for relationship…But the farmer’s wife is more for slaving and the urbanite’s wife is mostly for incubating. And saying it’s okay because arranged marriages are still done is based on the premise that arranged marriages are okay…

    What is the value of a human being? Does quality of life mean anything? Does self-determination mean NOTHING here?

    How informed are these women about their future lives, enjoying the economic miracle of Korea?

    We can say it is “their choice” to become imported brides, just as we can say it is “their choice” when women give up their children for adoption. But why would anyone resort to either?

    Because their choices are limited and they feel they have no other options…and those with more power profit by them. Until women have equal rights, propositions such as importing brides from less developed countries or importing children from women from oppressive countries is nothing short of exploitation.

    Korea is like an abused child, acting out what was perpetrated upon itself. The cycle must stop. And just like if I were living in Afghanistan, I might be told wearing a birka, and all that wearing one signifies, is part of Afghan culture, it doesn’t mean I should accept it or that it can’t and shouldn’t change.

  5. From the article you linked to:

    ” We should import more of them and export some of Korean girls who threaten their husbands to divorce. This way we can have more children and Vietnamese people can have economic benefit because they can become the mother country for many Koreans”

    Wrong. We should export this old man. May his defective wife and three wrong girls take the balls he throws and make him eat them.

  6. From the article you linked to:

    ” We should import more of them and export some of Korean girls who threaten their husbands to divorce. This way we can have more children and Vietnamese people can have economic benefit because they can become the mother country for many Koreans”


    “My wife was quite incapable of giving a son ― we have three daughters only. I gave her the right balls, but she did not manage to catch them.”

    Wrong. We should export this old man. May his defective wife and three wrong girls take the balls he throws and make him eat them.

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