They Don't Want No Chub in da Club

Another advantage of being a ChubbO in Korea: You never have to worry about being harassed by these guys. Thanks to Roboseyo, for posting this. I was really surprised to see this, even in Cheonho, down the street from my apartment. This is one of those times I don't wish to be thin and gorgeous like Korean girls. 


  1. I am both surprised and not surprised that so many people watch these guys physically restrain and pull women who are obviously trying to walk away and no one says a thing. I suppose it's been such a regular occurrence for so long that people are desensitized to it (or even think of it as a compliment to these women), but that's no excuse to walk right past without even checking in.

    I am a great believer in the power of ads (both for good and evil). Perhaps it's time for some public service ads that say the Korean equivalent of "if you see something, say something."

  2. Interesting video. It certainly made me feel uncomfortable. That said, the videographer seems quite willing to interpret events unequivocably. Perhaps this is premature. For example, the videographer notes the wrist and elbow grasping without also remarking on facial expressions. In the most protracted incident the women seem to be smilling. My sense is that these are very nervous smiles, but I'm not in a position to ascribe motivations. Is the videographer? Thus, it would be interesting to here followup interviews with ladies who have been pulled in that manner, or even with the hired men who do the pulling.

    Interestingly, the grasping depicted in this video may be more common, even systematic, in Korea, than when club owners pull pretty girls into the club. Anyone who has viewed Korean dramas will be familiar with scenes where a male agonist (pro and anti don't fit Korean drama's well, I find) graps a woman just above the wrist or elbow. Any Korean drama will show this behaviour repeatedly. I dont' know what reactions a Korean audience would have to this. In these scenes the lady is angered, dejected, or put out with the man in some way. She is turning to storm off when the male character will seize her arm pulling her back to look at him again. I wouldn't say he is trying to kidnap her, or force her to stay with him, but to think twice. Of course, this always or usually works. A little restraint succeeds for the man where words alone didn't, or at least that is my impression.

    Given that these men on the street are convincing or coercing women into the clubs with them, I can't help but wonder if the attitude behind their grasp is similar to that portrayed on Korean TV. I wonder what kind of lines are drawn between convincing and coercing by typical Koreans. Are Korean social norms being violated or upheld here? And is the failure of this behaviour to illicit public response connected to its normative status? Or maybe Seoulites, like many highly urbanised denizens, simply don't like interfering with others' affairs even when norms, mores and taboos are on the line.

    I can't begin to answer any of these questions, but It does give me something to talk over sometime with Korean friends.

  3. hey there. I'm the videographer, and yeah, elrohil, you're right that the rules of engagement for these bikkis is more complex than I could lay out it in a video. There do seem to be rules about which girls get grabbed and which don't, which aren't purely a function of attractiveness, because I've seen really beautiful women NOT get harassed, while I've also seen less beautiful girls almost lifted off their feet.

    You're right that others don't get involved with the bikki targeting because of social norms geared against getting involved in other people's business. . . but the bikkis themselves tromp all over that taboo with impunity.

    The things that bother me most about the bikkis are that passersby, and as far as I know, woman's right groups etc. haven't said or done anything about this practice. Meanwhile, if I ask women about it (as I did in my classes) they basically seemed to think that being grasped and restrained and targeted for their looks is something that comes with the territory for a woman in Korea, rather than something that no human deserves to have done to them. Some even seemed to think of it as a kind of backhanded flattery (which is the same kind of ass-backwards leap of logic as "she deserved to be raped for wearing a skirt like that"). Meanwhile, this is happening in one of seoul's busiest neighborhoods, letting every tourist know, "Hey. This is how women are treated in this country". Other pedestrians don't even give it a second look (which reflects even more strongly that maybe this IS how women are treated in Korea). Whether it's precedented in Korean dramas (where women are grabbed by people they KNOW, not strangers) is moot to the fact THIS is how Korea looks to visitors.

    If you want to talk more about it, I invite you to take up the discussion on my blog.

  4. Ewww... I hate having strangers touch me. That guy would be getting slapped silly if he grabbed my arm.


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