Friday, October 21, 2011

One last thing

So I wasn't going to blog today, seeing as I did yesterday and don't really have anything interesting going on my life right now to add to, but I had to change my min after reading this article on "Illicit Sex in North Korea" from the blog Clever Turtles (thanks to James at The Grand Narrative for the referral). I know stuff about gender roles, sex and sexuality comes up occasionally here, so skip to the end for my cheery farewell for the weekend if it bores you or you don't want to be fairly horrified by the second article on sex trafficking in Australia - sorry.

First one:

An article about how North Korea is becoming a pit of sexual decadence.
A few things have to be kept in mind whenever reading stories "from" North Korea. Pretty much all news comes through a few anti-North Korean activists who cultivate communication channels with dissidents inside North Korea and refugees who have recently run the border. Several of them have religious motivations and ties with the South Korean evangelical community, who remain the most actively interested audience for news from North Korea. This is transparently obvious in this article. That said, it is an interesting window into the daily lives of the people of North Korea, and a reminder that they are no more or less than human.
I did find it humorous how the article emphasizes that extramarital sex or vaguely transgressive sexual activity is the fault of Chinese influence. Because pornography, adultery, and prostitution were alien to Korea until recent foreign influence. An ironic case where the North Korean party line matches that of anti-North cultural conservatism.
On a side note, apparently the 109 Group is special group formed under the People's Safety Department of the National Defense Committee. It was apparently formed as a task force specifically to crack down on transgressive social behavior in the northern border regions.
Original posted in the Segye Ilbo.
Prostitution, '8/3 couple' . . . Even in the North decadence spreads
Financial support to lure into adulterous relations often . . . teens prostitute in order to buy cell phones
Porno videos popular in marketplace . . . influence of weakened control over people
Also stripshow bars for the exclusive use of upper echelons

In North Korea's society, that is so closed that even romantic matters between men and women are regulated, decadent sexual culture is spreading. It is reported that prostitution as a livelihood is a matter of course and sexually promiscuous behavior is spreading like toadstools, to such a degree that they have created the neologism '8/3 spouses' for adulterous couples that finish up at the end of the workday.
An anti-North source, who early this year contacted refugees from the North Hamgyong province adjacent to China, said on the 9th, "In North Korea, in order to earn money for living expenses or disposable income, prostitution of women is spreading, and it was reported that the reality is that even young female students are appearing as prostitutes in order to buy cell phones." The source reported that in North Korea's interior '8/3 spouses' with adulterous relations are spreading like they are fashionable and some among them indulge in drugs, porn, and group sex. '8/3' refers to the date August 3rd, 1984, when Chief of the National Defense Council Kim Jong-il, who was named the successor at that time, laid down the pronouncement to "utilize the by-products in the factories and enterprises to make the necessities of daily life." but it has degenerated into a term for fake and shoddy products.
It is reported that recently they haven't stopped avoiding the net of surveillance and secretly steal looks at pornography, and even businessmen have appeared who mobilize North Korean women directly to produce and sell obscene videos. According to the results of one research study of domestically resettled refugees, 'adult products' are so popular that adult video CD-Rs, popularly called 'Sex-Rs', trade for higher prices than general movies and dramas in the North Korean markets.
Experts on North Korea see it that after the 'Hard March' period of the 1990s while economic difficulties were prolonged, they took advantage of the opportunities afforded by the weakening of the government's control over the people, and in the process of the rapid inflow of outside culture into the center from regions adjacent to China such as northern Hamgyong decadent sexual culture also spread.
In this way sexual culture became popular in all parts of society, so in a 2009 revision of the penal code North Korea strengthened the crimes of the transportation, possession, or distribution of decadent culture, strengthening the enforcement and punishment regarding sexual disorder, such as estabilished provisions so that in the case of transporting, possessing or distributing adult videorecordings one would face a 5 to 10 year sentence of labor reeducation.
But there are indications that North Korea's ruling class are an obstacle to the eradication of decadent culture. In several large cities strip show bars are operating that only party and public peace officers may enter, and refugees messages are that there are cases where public safety officers use financial support as bait to form adulterous relationships. In particular, they report that it is often the case that even agents of the 109 group, established to crack down on antisocialist activities, receive sums as bribes to pass over these matters.
Reporter Kim Po-un

Anyway, so I thought that was interesting, regardless of bias in the initial reports etc., especially after reading a novel about family and romantic relationships in North Korea (can't remember the name, sorry ㅠㅠ) that I think I got one Christmas as a present or was loaned to me by a friend which was written from the accounts of defectors, one of whom detailed falling in love with a boy in North Korea and then meeting him again when they were both adults and had made it to Seoul and the different dynamics and expectations that were at play each time they met or corresponded. I don't know where the original reference came from, but I also remember reading about someone (either a DPRK official or a visiting RoK politician) who had caused a lot of uproar when he drunkenly praised Kim Jong Il's sexual prowess at some meeting and how the DPRK Government had had problems dealing with it.

Second, a tragic article from the SMH (thanks again James) on sex trafficking in Australia. I have mentioned it here partly because one of my friends mentioned the other day about how Koreans sometimes don't see Korea as a developed country, and the fact that stuff like this happens so easily and that predators can find victims to walk into the trap of their own free will through the lure of 'education' in an English speaking country seems to kind of support that. Not to say that stuff like this doesn't happen in English speaking countries (because let's face it, there are always scam artists around anywhere you go) but I didn't realise that it happened in such a highly developed country as Korea. It's possibly also more evidence of the (somewhat ridiculous) lengths that Asian countries go to in order to pursue this desire for mastering English. Anyway, the article is really long so I haven't reblogged it, but please take some time to read it, even if it it's only to make you reconsider what you think you know about how 'safe' our country is.

Ok well that's my depressing stuff for the weekend. Sorry to bring you down! For those of you who read all the way through (and those of you who skipped to the end), here is some happiness to take you back up again into the sunshine :)
Disabled doggie still loves his walkies! Retired police dog with arthritis still living life to the full :)
cute monkey says what? ... BANANAS! teehee^^

Have a lovely weekend everyone! ^_^

And p.s. yes, I tagged this as 'love' because I don't want the kind of disappointment bound to follow from people looking for blogs about sex.

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