• http://twitter.com/sujumyeolchi strawberry myeolchi

    I don’t mind Hyuna’s stuff, although it smacks of internalized sexist views, but we don’t need to get into that because it gets messy what with WHOSE FAULT? and treading dangerously close to slut shaming… but to sum it up, there’s a different between being a sexual object and a sexual being.  To prioritize someone else’s pleasure at your expense or to provide and reap pleasure.  Ga-in did an amazing job of that — the sex scene is focused on her sexual fulfillment (not that the guy is unimportant — she’s singing about how he’s the one she loves! but you see HER climax, not him.)  and the idea of taking matters into her own hands? absolutely brilliant.  I’m excited for Miss A’s new Independent woman concept now…let fall 2012 be a turning point for k pop!

    • http://twitter.com/amionne92 Ami-ah

      I think the “sexual being” vs. “sexual object” angle works well in this case. Hyuna’s concepts come off as cheap and whorish with the continuous booty popping and the pressing the breasts together in the choreography for the simple reason of trying to be sexy. Ga-in’s comeback, while it is very sexy, doesn’t really go down that same road. The choreography is sexy but it isn’t blatant, in-your face, close-camera-crotch-shots at every turn. To be short and blunt about it, I think Hyuna’s character embodies a prostitute while Ga-in’s embodies a woman who is familiar with her body and sexuality. It’s no surprise as to who’ll get hated on then.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XNBPY4BNJ75FSCMEUAYGCEGS7M Heather

    Yeah…this is a tough one… I feel like Ga-in in Bloom includes the sexuality as part of the story.  It’s not about objectifying her (this coming from a straight woman’s perspective).  On the other hand, when other idols, male and female, do very provocative choreography, it is about the objectification of that person, it’s selling sex, not a story.  However, that might be a line visible to me that others do not agree with…

    • Jui Patel

      I agree with your view completely and couldn’t have put it better. 

      I have avoided watching MV completely, as I heard just the song first
      and its not my cup of tea.  But the MV above w/ all its sexuality
      somehow makes the song more palatable compared to just listening to it
      w/ the whole album.

      I also agree w/ the argument presented by SB
      writer as to why Ga-In has not gotten the big brunt of slut shaming as
      let’s say Hyuna.  And speaking personally, as a female I could relate
      more to Ga-In having sex in the MV (I felt hot while watching her OK)
      than Hyuna popping her breasts in Bubble Pop. In other for me watching Hyuna, was like watching porn made for males only whereas watching Ga-In it feels like porn made w/ eyes on both gender.

      BTW, are we going to get review for rest of the album.  For me I prefer to listen to The Gaze, Tiredness and Tinkerbell compared to the title song Bloom and Catch me if you can.

      • Jonah Murillo

        the album has already been reviewed, just go back a few pages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

    I can definitely see the merit in Bloom as a step forward for honesty in expression of female sexuality in Kpop, but I cringe when I see Ga-in get so much credit for making the statement. She was a mouthpiece, essentially, for the real writer of the song: Kim Yi Na. Why aren’t more people praising her for having the guts to lyrically detail such a controversial topic. Just reading the lyrics alone presents sex in a far different light than it had ever been done before in Kpop. 

    I have nothing against Ga-in, but I don’t necessarily think it is fair for her to be placed on a pedestal for initiating a shift in expression when she was just the poster child — meanwhile, the conceptual artists, director, and songwriters are not given their proper due.

    • Jonah Murillo

       Hurrah! well said once again. I always look forward to your comments.

      • regina_filange

        I’ve said this once and I’ve said this again. he should blog. Write 2 sentences on a friggin text post on tumblr if you don’t have time, Nate! I’d read it.

    • CJux

      I generally agree with your comments, but this time I have to disagree.

      I agree that the video director and the one who came up with the concept should get praised as well, but no one would’ve known the songwriter was talking about sex if it hadn’t been for the MV.

      The lyrics are as vague as they are. They don’t talk about nothing specifically. If it wasn’t for the MV, the lyrics could as well be a metaphor of her first kiss. “A flower that has yet to bloom” can have different meanings – in 19th century novels meant going through puberty. There’s a part in the translated captions of the Youtube video that says “Did you like it? Did you fake it?” and I thought it was referring to women faking their orgasms. But then I searched the lyrics in other sites and that part appears differently: “Are you good? What are you? Are you good? Are you fake?” – hum, not exactly what I was thinking. 

      Now, this might be a problem of translations not always covering the original meaning, but if there were any ‘lyrical detail’ about such ‘controversial topic’ I’m pretty sure translators would’ve caught that.

      Plus, even if the true meaning of the lyrics intended to be about losing one’s virginity (which is most likely), there’s absolute no reference to the sexual act itself. It’s full of pretty metaphors and floral words. It would be more a romanticized attempt to portray first time it all its traditional innocence, like all the times movies sell this completely idiotic first-time fantasy that hardly matches reality. There’s nothing bold or shocking about the lyrics itself, they’re tame as any other K-pop song. They even respect Confucian values (she’s still a virgin, so that’s all good). If you say these lyrics are about sex, then I say Kim Yi Na is being a coward at writing about it.

      Ga-in deserves all the praise for being bold enough to portray herself masturbating, having sex AND an orgasm. Unlike the lyrics, Ga-In is very explicit about it. Even if she wasn’t the one who came up with the concept, she’s still the one in front of the camera doing all this; she’s the one giving her face to represent women’s so much neglected right to own their sexuality and orgasms.

      Kim Yi Na gets a small praise for writing pretty lyrics, but that’s it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

        Fair enough. I like seeing different interpretations of the same subject. 

        I still believe, wholeheartedly, that the vagueness of the lyrics has more to do with trying to avoid being crucified in an industry that is known for turning the evil eye on anything that challenges the preconceived notions that have been established about what is and isn’t ok to express, sexually. I said that in the very first topic about Bloom, and have had no reason do go back on that view. 

        As for lyrics being a possible metaphor for a first kiss — to be honest, I would REALLY be stretching my rational mind to its limit to make that fit. I am a dedicated student of metaphor(s) (if you could not tell by how often I use them, as well as analogies), and I cannot, for the life of me, remember “blooming” being referenced in relation to a contemporary kiss before. I say contemporary because, while it is fun and even informative to go back to older material for inspiration (points to you for bringing up 19th century novels, by the way), modern writers, in many ways, tend to be more heavily influenced by the parlance of whatever era in which they happen to reside — they just chisel a little bit off the original flagstone and use it in their own “modern” way, with modern lingo to boot. With that in mind, let’s also remember that those 19th century novels used “blooming” as a metaphor for transition. 

        Childhood-to-puberty is a transition, puberty-to-adulthood is a transition — a KISS is a milestone. There are many different emotions that come as a result of a first kiss, but generally, blooming isn’t a metaphor for emotion — it is a metaphor for metamorphosis. 

        “-I am a flower yet to bloom,
          You made me bloom, 
          Sunshine,
          Smooth motion…”

        I’ve dissected these lyrics about ten different ways since I began typing, and I still cannot rationally attribute the above coming as a result of a kiss. Yes, because the word “kiss” was inserted into the lyrics later in the song, I think it gives the song some plausible deniability — but only if you really ease up on the analysis. That section above is textbook use of a transitory metaphor; Its entire purpose is to detail a transition between whatever the flower was before, and what it is synthesizing into now. 

        A milestone is something entirely separate of a transition. A first kiss is usually your first taste of the greater concept of love (as a young mind can interpret it), but it doesn’t change you on a physical, or profoundly emotional level. It is just a marker for your continued growth as a person. This is why your first kiss carries sentiment, but can always be eclipsed (in my experience) by another one that carries even more sentiment — whereas your first sexual encounter stays with you forever, for better or worse.

        So IF the song is purely about a kiss, I still have to give Kim Yi Na props for pulling off the biggest troll ever, by drastically over-complicating a very simple, yet meaningful, milestone. 

        We’ll go back to neutral ground here. 

        The beautiful thing about this song — and the reason why I give Kim Yi Na her just credit — is that it is the most obvious song about sexual exploration I’ve heard in Kpop… And it STILL leaves just enough doubt to make a reasonably convincing argument that it is all coming from an innocent place.

        That is far more than “pretty writing,” CJux; that makes me want to go to Korea and throw myself at Mrs. Kim’s feet in reverence. 

        Bear in mind that I never once said Ga-in deserves no praise — just that placing her on a pedestal is unfair when there were MANY people responsible for this bold statement. Ga-in was the interpreter, which means she deserves her own share of the praise. But to single her out by saying things like “Ga-in is so brave to have said this” just minimizes the contributions of the other people who brought this concept and song into fruition.

        • CJux

          Hm.. I wasn’t talking about my personal interpretation of the song, I was merely exemplifying how for some other listeners that probably don’t bother to dissect songs, the song might not be as straight-forward as the metaphors are not that obvious. I remember the “blooming flower” was used once in a reference for a story about one’s first kiss (and first bf) in a Japanese shoujo manga, hence I exemplified it. The song itself mentions kissing: first time right after she blooms under the ‘sunshine’, to which she says : “How is this so good? / What did you do to me? / On that listless late night / What made my eyes open wide / Was that one kiss”. She mentions kissing a second time in the end, after she ‘blooms’ again (lost her virginity twice? That’s harsh).

          I don’t disagree at all with your personal interpretation of the song, I’m merely pointing out that, because the song was so vague, a lot of people might not connect it to the act of having sex. There are far more explicit K-pop songs that make references to sexual acts out there (E.Via’s ‘Oppa Can You Do It?, T-ara’s I Go Crazy Because of You, etc.) Yes, these songs aren’t elegantly written, but even for the average listener, it’s easier to interpret the complete random sentence of Seungri’s “Mama let me be your lover” (Big Bang’s Fantastic Baby) as his wish to have sex with your mother than Kim Yi Na’s “I’m a flower that just bloomed” as Ga-In’s sex adventures. 
          While I agree the flower metaphor may have been on purpose to insert a hidden, sexual meaning in the song, the overall song is safe for audiences with no sufficient literary knowledge. That being said, a song like this could’ve been sang by SNSD and no one would’ve raised an eyebrow, as they already have their share of songs purposely written with double-meanings to milk the fantasies of their uncle fans. Hence why I said the song is tame. 

          The different between Bloom (admitting it’s about first-time sex), and Like a Virgin, is that Like a Virgin is not a song about first-time. It’s a song about a relationship with this new person that is described with clear references of first-time sexual experiences. The song was written under a man’s POV and it was supposed to be sung by a man, because back then there was nothing shocking about the clearly implicit statement that the male singer was no longer a virgin. What made it controversial was the fact that Madonna decided to sing the song. It wasn’t the MV that was shocking, it were the lyrics itself as the writer didn’t try to use pretty metaphors to cover the true meaning of the song. The song doesn’t leave room to alternative interpretations because Virgin was not used as a metaphor, but as a plain, straight-forward comparison. “Virgin” is explicit. “Blooming flower”, is not.

          That’s why, what makes Bloom ‘bold’ and ‘brave’ is the MV, not the lyrics. While one can interpret the lyrics in different ways, as they rely on metaphors and not on explicit comparisons, it’s impossible to interpret the MV in a different way othat than an MV about sex, orgasms and female masturbation.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

            Oh no, you won’t find any disagreement from me that the music video deserves the lion share of the praise. How the lyrics were interpreted by the concept designers and director should be lauded in as loud a voice as possible. My only intention is to point out, “Whoa, hold on a minute there — these other people aren’t getting the credit they deserve.” I don’t think people acknowledge that enough, however. Every article I’ve read raves on and glorifies Ga-in as if she dug deep into her soul to make this message. This is just not right or fair to the others who lent their creative juices to this project.

            Ga-in didn’t write the lyrics alone, compose the music alone, direct the video or fine tune the concept through her own effort. She acted out other people’s expressions — beautifully, which is why she also deserves praise for her part. Still, when I see her being elevated in such a dramatic fashion, I feel compelled to retort in an effort to shine a bit of light on the other people whose work allowed this to happen. 

            One big thing to remember — because I feel like this point is getting lost in our discussion — is that my respect for Bloom’s lyrics does not derive from a belief that it has made the first, or even most powerful sexual statement; it is about how Bloom made a statement in THIS fashion that makes it an entirely different animal from what has come before (no filthy pun intended). 

            Sex, as a topic, has been grazed by Kpop before, but every song you mentioned has a similar theme when it comes to presentation: sex as something elicit, dirty, something to use to entice. Where Bloom differs, and likely the reason why so many women (including my girl) like it, is that its sole focus is not only on the luxuriating that the GIRL in the song feels about this new experience, but it also doesn’t present this “blooming” as some elicit, dirty act that should be swept quickly into the closet out of shame or fear of eyes.

            Bloom presents sex in a way that no other Kpop group I can recall has EVER interpreted it — as a natural, beautiful act of transition. Something to be celebrated, not hidden. That makes all the difference in the world. Now for the shocker — I don’t actually like the song all that much.lol I don’t hate it, but I don’t think it is something I will ever add to my ipod. I do, however, respect the message it conveys (and Kim Yi Na as a result).

            Learning to acknowledge an accomplishment, even if you don’t personally find it to be your thing, is one of the most important lessons you learn as you grow. Because Bloom, lyrically and visually, had the guts to express this subject matter in this way, it deserves its praises. 

            Kim Yi Na, the director, the cinematographer, the editors, the concept artists, Ga-in, etc, ALL deserve credit for this statement. That is the only point I have been trying to make. Credit should go to where credit is due, and as long as I can type, I’ll do my part to point that out in my own small, most likely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, way.

            P.S. – On a personal note, I’ve sincerely enjoyed this convo. It’s nice to be able to have an intelligent discussion on something (Kpop) that you would not normally consider an academic realm.lol

    • digitalhikari

      I like your point but in reality when are actually lyrical writing artists ever credited for anything? (not that they never are just when you hear a song you dont think of the writer you think of the group who sang it and made the music video) You could give this song to many an idol and they will convey the message in a different way and the meaning will end up changing in a way to fit their image. Speaking of Hyuna, give this song with her and see what she does. It will be different.

      I bet there are many artists who have changed the tides in the music industry but it’s the Singer/idol themselves. The lyrical writer is in the credits. Unless your THAT popular and then the agency the idol came from will market BOTH artists and not just one.

  • http://twitter.com/superwoman5060 Hannah

    Awesome article! This is along the same lines of what I was thinking… Ga-in’s video is more about how WOMEN view sex, not how men do. Shes not presenting herself as an object to be desired (intentionally, at least), she’s portraying herself as a grown women who wants, and enjoys, sex. 

  • Whirly Pop

    I don’t hate Hyuna. But Hyuna comes off trashy and stripper pole sexy. Gain could at least sing.

  • bd005

    Ga-in probably gets a pass b/c she is 5 yrs older than Hyuna

    No one raises an eye when Hyori or  Son Dam-bi has a sexy stage performance.

    And there’s a difference btwn “sexy” and bordering on indecency.

    Splaying one’s legs wide open is more tacky than sexy.

  • LikeXClockwork

    “A lot of people have attempted to make the argument that Ga-in has
    avoided the “slut” stamp because she’s in some way classier than are
    other K-pop stars. I don’t know how one could prove this” I would have said that it is easy to prove as in you just write an article about why, Ga-in tackles female sexuality in a mature tasteful way and has a song to back up her message, props to Kim Yi Na, whereas Hyuna’s Bubblepop for example is basically just a girl grinding against thin air and popping her boobs in yo face with a song void of any meaning.

    • bd005

       Agreed.

      When Stephanie (the dancer) was on X-Man, her “sexy” moves where the bump & grind and bending over and sticking her rear out.   Those are stripper moves.

      Otoh, Han Ji-hye (the actress) would go on variety shows, she would have this fairly simple dance movement that was just sexy as hell due to the swaying and movement of her hips; totally classy but oh so hot at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/swheekun swheekun

    !! This answers the exact propositions I made awhile ago in the last GaIn article haha. Thank you for fleshing the issue out and drawing the distinctions between their behavior, because context definitely makes a difference. Taking into account “Abracadabra” and “Irreversible”, there were similar cases where GaIn portrays prostitute characters but the lyrics and storylines had meanings that transcended her sexualization.
    Of course it’s really not fair to place judgments on either party (positively or negatively) because as has already been said, neither are fully responsible for the material they promote. Hyuna is just another unfortunate victim of idoldom, and it’s sad to see her forced into this role of a sexual object when for all we know she could be a smart, wonderful girl with good qualities below the surface.

  • samlun100

    Ga-in is 25, Hyuna is 20. So Ga-in is better at sexy concept than Hyuna.
    Sometimes, Hyuna seems to try too hard to look sexy, but ends up looking awkward.
    In reality, Ga-in is a mature sexy girl, and Hyuna is a cute talkative girl.

  • arghhblarghh

    Unfortunately, GaIn is still getting “slut shamed” though. The only difference this time is that there are just MORE people being vocal on what they like about GaIn’s song/mv because this was something bold to showcase female sexuality. If it wasn’t for the fact that so many people are talking about it, all you would basically see is people slut shaming her (and there is actually quite a lot of that). 

  • k_db

    I think part of why girl groups get “slut-shamed” is because how indirect they are about it.  Like you said, the purpose of “Bloom” was to be as sexual without any pretenses.  Most girl groups generally go for catchy song with the added stigma of not-so-subtle sexuality.  Being that it’s so obvious, it essentially causes a reverse effect and makes sexuality a taboo.

  • Jane Doe

    Well said. Watching Hyuna always makes me feel uncomfortable for that reason. She reminds me of the girls in those “Girls Gone Wild” video who think they are freely expressing their
    sexuality but some sleazy producer comes along and turns it into a cheap looking porn video.

  • toak

    Shame that you squander several good points with actual slut-shaming yourself. You say Hyuna doesn’t deserve the shaming, but apparently that doesn’t go for you – you see yourself fit to deem her sexuality unfit for anything but ‘slutty’ goals of seducing men, and you assume she has no advocacy in her own career — this despite herself coming out with reasonably (for an idol) controversial comments about her opposition against strict censorship (on outfits, performances) in Korea limiting her artistic expression and saying that the moves she does comes so naturally to her she ‘doesn’t really need choreography’. In other words – this is how she wants to be, on stage, as an artist. Your aesthetic judgement should not go as far as to end up a judgement on the person’s ‘right’ to be sexy. This is a very dangerous line to cross.  

    ‘Bubble Pop’ is a bright and light song, and the video is the same. She shakes her tailfeather and shows a little skin, but it’s carefree, summerly fun that’s in focus. In 4Minute and for her other promotions the sexuality has been more in your face, but never passive, coy, designed to invite nothing but male fantasies. Watch her live stages, or those of 4Minute, and you’ll hear almost exclusively female fan chants. How you come to describe one of the female k-pop artists with most female fans as for ‘men alone’ I don’t know, but again it seems your own perspective allows you to define others’ roles. 

    “Bloom” is a great video, showing sex as something positive and enlightening. In that it is unique among music videos in both Korea and the world, and it’s right to point out what Ga-In does different that makes her avoid criticism. But you miss the target, and end up adding to a dangerous current you yourself allude to as something bad when you say Hyuna has to change because some perceive her to be ‘slutty’. I hope you see that as well. 

    • http://twitter.com/sebsobandsky Sabah

       I agree, it does come across as elitist. 

    • Olivia Cunningham

      Unfortunately most of the commentors here don’t understand this – and are justifying their reasons for calling Hyuna slutty (and other girl groups), but not Ga-In. Your comment needs more likes

    • hanje

      YES. so much love for this comment. it says everything that i wanted to say in response to the author but much more eloquently. 

    • digitalhikari

      I agree with both the author and your comment…

  • http://www.facebook.com/karheng279 Aaron Ho

    And now I have finally realised what that pole dancing scene meant. Thank you.

    And here I was wondering why on earth was that oddly placed pole dancing scene was in the MV in the first place.
    Well played.. producers of Bloom…well played  

    • digitalhikari

      That was so obvious the first time I watched it though LOL

  • http://twitter.com/sebsobandsky Sabah

    I was surprised to read a few comments concluding that this disconnect was due to the age difference between Ga-in and Hyuna OR even a ‘degree’ or ‘style’ of their sexual expression.  I would have to disagree. 

    For me, if there is a disconnect then I would say it is between expressions of sexuality in MV by Kpop artists and their actual personalities.  I remember my shock after watching a few Brown Eyed Girl’s MV and then two of their interviews.  There was such a difference in their demeanour.  Of course, I am not saying that if you have a sensuous/sultry side to you, that you need to have it on show 24/7 to prove its authenticity.  However I am reminded of something my Feminist Literature Teacher once said about how women have been conditioned into hypocrisy.  We have been taught to play up, act out certain sides to our femininity in certain roles, upon certain occasions, for instance the ‘damsel in distress’ who needs the ‘strong’ help of a man.  I think we have all guilty of it to some degree. I remember dissecting my actions after that class and remembered one instance when I had car trouble and a man stopped to help me, I acted ‘relatively’ softer than usual.  Some might disagree but for me such manipulation is just hypocrisy.

    [Men do it too, of course, though to a lesser degree, maybe because they never needed to play by such rules in patriarchal societies which are enduring in some parts of the world even today.  However, in this instance we are talking about women, so I will put a pin in that for now.]

    Back to being relevant.  I am not saying that Ga-in isn’t allowed to use her sexuality to sell her music, nor that she needs to hold herself to that persona permanently because no one can deny that using sex in marketing is very successful and nowadays very much acceptable.  My point is that people are holding her up to be a sensual/sexual person like say Marilyn Monroe or Jessica Rabbit, when in fact if you look at her personality in interviews she is not.  HOWEVER, Hyuna’s overt sensual nature is very much part and parcel of her character.  If, and I underline if, one of them had a ‘right’ to use her sexuality to sell her music, and on a sliding scale, it would have to be Hyuna.  THAT is the hypocrisy that I believe the article is trying to point out.

    Why is it acceptable and even laudable for Ga In to use her sexuality to sell her music, but keep it more subdued in all other instances BUT unacceptable and even repugnant for Hyuna who is very much a sensual/sexual person to do the same?  Age? I would have to disagree. If I had to hazard a guess I would say it has something to do with the Madonna/whore complex which is very much a male psychosis.

  • muggle87

    why ga-in gets a pass is cause she is well liked. ppl will come up with 101 reason why she gets a pass cause they like her. its no secret that most international fans don’t like hyuna.

    that is why certain groups gets a pass while others don’t despite the fact they are doing the same thing.

    it all comes down to how well like the celeb is.

    • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

      With all due respect, I don’t think that’s the only reason. :/

      • muggle87

        think about it, let say that ga-in level of likability is on the same level of t-ara right now, do u think ppl would be praising her or hating her new mv?

        i am just talking from my experience as a kpop fan of over 5 years.

  • Amber Goss

    Great article, one minor quibble “less unscathed” would imply that she has faced more backlash. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513439726 Sharon Overlord

    I think the writer did a good job explaining it. The more a video panders to men, the more I’m not interested in it. 

    I can’t explain it fully, but Ga In’s video seems to be praising a women’s sexuality and her desires. Plus those men in her video are awesome, thanks for that Ga In. I enjoy watching them,lol. 

    Here’s the thing with Hyuna. Everytime I watch her videos it looks like I’m watching porn. I dont know why, it just does. Maybe the bad acting makes it seem like porn? I dont kno. Ga In’s video is more sexual but it’s natural. It’s like watching a women fall in love and seeing her desires for her lover grow. There is nothing wrong with that, so I don’t feel like its something inappropriate to watch. 

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    I think the key between Hyuna being accused of being a slut and Ga-in not receiving the same insults is a result of how Ga-in’s directly addresses sex and portrays it pretty clearly in the video. The song is deeper and the MV portrays a girl becoming a woman. While, in the “Bubble Pop” MV, sex isn’t directly addressed. It’s left up to our imaginations to decide what exactly Hyuna’s saying, and, well…I think that suggestiveness is a lot more risque than how the “Bloom” MV was very direct about its material.

    I also think there’s a bit of a difference between how the two women are portrayed. Hyuna kind of seems like a seductress, while Ga-in honestly seems more like she’s talking about her first time (putting her in a more innocent light) and also seems like she’s more devoted to the man in her MV. 

    I just think it’s a difference between the maturity and depth between the two MVs and songs. Hyuna seemed like she was being sexy for the purpose of being sexy, while Ga-in seemed like she was being sexy for the purpose of relating this message of an empowered woman. So I definitely agree with you, author-nim. :)

    • haiitsvi

      I completely agree! It is much more mature to address the issue of sex head on rather than subliminally imply it. Hyuna is also portrayed as some sort of “ideal” girl while Ga-in’s MV is much more realistic (at least the acting parts of it not the dance sequences). Just the way she is dressed and the setting of the drama clips before the song starts gives her a maturer, classier image.

  • hanje

    “Neither Ga-in nor HyunA deserve to be slut-shamed, but until HyunA’s brand of sexuality appeals to females as well as males”
    um why is there a but? women don’t deserve to be slut-shamed. period. i don’t care if you think hyuna’s brand of sexuality only appeals to males (which is ridiculous since all the hyuna fans i know are female so clearly she appeals to females as well as males) but your article has this implication that makes it seem like hyuna herself /deserves/ to be slut-shamed this because her type of sexuality isn’t “classy”.

    • ilpass

      “I don’t care if you think hyuna’s brand of sexuality only appeals to males (which is ridiculous since all the hyuna fans i know are female so clearly she appeals to females as well as males)”

      Thank you for pointing out the obvious that people insist on ignoring.

      The vast majority of HyunA fans are girls. Straight dudes check her out, drool a little and MOVE ON. The fanbases of “hypersexual” female pop idols like Britney Spears have always been predominantly female (and more gay male than straight male). Most of the haters bashing them are female too (with some male pop-cultural arbitrators pronouncing their valuable judgments on the matter from high above), and the stans who go rounds with them are, you guessed it, mostly girls.

      Most straight guys would rather stan athletes than popstars. Straight guys prefer to spend their money on Eminem than Britney. Straight guys stan “winners”  they want to emulate, not poptarts they objectify, whose names they might not even know. That is, if they stan at all. Young straight guys DGAF about actors; they buy movie tickets for explosions and special effects.

      None of the above is news to anyone who pays attention. Yet every time the idol slut-shaming debate comes up people take as given that the idols are slut-shamed for trying to woo the straight male gaze and antagonizing other females. Exactly why do you think a pop agency would want to appeal to a demo group that notoriously do not care to participate in pop fandom much less pay for it, and alienate the customers who basically feed the entire industry?

      Lastly, while standing up for feminism, it helps not to dismiss Real! Breathing! Girls! telling you they like someone or something.

      • Paloma

        Just on a note, girl groups and female soloists do have huge male fanbases in Korea (whenever a girl group does a comeback the music programs are flooded with fanboys), so although from an international fan perspective it may not look like that, truth is that girl groups are indeed marketed for males in Korea. Or well, marketed for everyone since they do have lots of female fans too fo course.

      • haiitsvi

        I don’t think it matters than most of Hyuna’s or any other girl group’s major fan-base is made up of other girls. I’m not going to say I don’t like Hyuna because frankly she’s my favorite member of 4minute. The fact of the matter is – their companies (headed most likely by male top management) are marketing them in such a way that is for the male gaze. And us girls who are fans buy into it too because we live in a male dominated society. Not to be a pessimist but try as we might, it’s hard to stop the never ending cycle.

  • CJux

    I have a question. Not about Ga-In or Hyuna, it’s just about this part:

    “Usually, these double standards have something to do with girl groups vis-a-vis their male counterparts; relative to groups comprised entirely of males, girl groups often become the sole and unfair targets of legislation that aims to end “objectification” and inconsistent, arbitrary bans on revealing clothing and inappropriate choreography. The standard complaint (one that I have made time and time again) is that male idols tend to get a pass on shirt-ripping and pelvic-thrusting, but female idols that do the exact same thing wind up getting roundly criticized and ultimately penalized within the entertainment industry”

    I’ve seen Seoulbeats making remarks about the double-standards of MOGEF’s decisions several times, but I don’t think you have ever developed this topic. What I mean is, what boys bands MVs and choreos exactly are you talking about, that you consider to be so sexually suggestive that should’ve been banned under MOGEF’s logic?

    Just a question. I honestly don’t have a concrete opinion about this because my knowledge of boy groups MVs and choreos is limited, and also, I don’t know exactly which sexually suggestive MVs and choreos have already been censored by MOGEF, in order to draw a comparison. 

    (I don’t know, if you are lacking topics to write about, I guess this is a suggestion…)

  • snowclrops

    I always find it weird when people say that when a girl is being sexy, she’s trying to appeal to the male viewers. Hello, isn’t this kpop? Isn’t the fanbase, at least the international fanbase, overwhelmingly female? Generally, people seem surprised when they see a kpop fanboy and yet evidently all the girls are marketing themselves to those elusive fanboys.

    If you go on youtube and check the top demographic for pretty much any girl group song, you’ll find that it is primarily the girls who are watching these videos and enjoying them. Maybe I’m wrong but I think a lot of girls admire and look up to the lady idols who are being sexy.

    It’s like when Girls’ Generation released their song “The Boys” in which they bragged about how they could bring the boys out. That sounds to me like the girls were boasting their sex appeal in order to look cool in the eyes of other girls and not guys.

    • http://twitter.com/LizzieParker LizzieParker

      In the English lyrics they were, in Korean, not so much. If you read a translation of the Korean lyrics you’ll see they’re talking about bringing the boys out in the sense that they are bringing them out of their shells to help them achieve their fullpotential, acting like muses or cheerleaders. Basically saying that their only value lies in their ability to support men while they acheive rather than achieving for themselves. http://www.wonderfulgeneration.net/2011/10/snsd-boys-lyrics-romanization.html

      But I think the more overtly sexual groups, rather than the ones who use their sexuality just as much but hide it behind winks and cutesy hand gestures, do actually tend to have more female fans than a lot of the more cutesy ones who often have surprisingly large numbers of male fans in Korea. I think it’s often because they seem to be more confident and independent. Also often entertainment companies will try and specifically market to older male fans because they have more moeney to spend.

      Also it’s always important to differentiate between Korean audiences and other international ones because they are often very different.

  • Bonita Singleton

    Although I do appreciate the artistic direction of Ga-in’s music video for “Bloom” in its depiction of female sexuality as something healthy and natural; I don’t agree with the overall representation of a girl’s transformation into a woman. Becoming a woman involves more than simply “losing your virginity.” Why is it that girls’ coming-of-age stories usually center around some sort of physical transformation alone. I’ve always thought of female adolescence and womanhood as much more complex than that. Simply having sex for the first time does not make you a woman. Girls must go through just as many “stages” as boys do during their transitions into men. The changes are often spiritual, emotional, and mental along with being physical. Depictions of female sexuality within the entertainment industry in general just seem so “black and white.” You’re either a delicate, naïve, innocent, childlike virgin or you’re an incredibly seductive, lust-driven, and sexually aggressive “flower in bloom” always ready for more.

    • http://twitter.com/flawlessunnir shinhwa jjang

      “I don’t agree with the overall representation of a girl’s transformation into a woman.Becoming a woman involves more than simply “losing your virginity.” 
      This.
      My point too. 
      And also the message the MV delivered for young people (yes the MV is for R-19 but who said underage can’t watch out of curiosity? in fact the MV stat is shown that the viewers are mostly underage). 

      I was watching the explanation of the MV from Loen and GaIn herself. Repeatedly saying the scenes was about expressing a woman in love, a beautiful love story. What bothers me (though many of you will disagree) is the equalization between sex and love here. The declaration “I’m a woman. I’m mature. I love a man and I’ll give my virginity to him. and also express it by doing masturbation in the kitchen” It will deliver the impression to the viewers (youngers ones who watch if out of curiosity, especially) “If i want to be a woman..I need to have sex with a man (I love)..oh..and masturbation is apparently an act of love too”, thinking it’s an acceptable thing to do.  while in the way I was brought up, it’s absolutely unacceptable, even taboo..or you can call it as sin. Too far-fetched? Maybe. But people must remember, GaIn is an idol who has power to influence her fans’ way of thinking…and some of her fans are young teenagers.

      While “Blooming” doesn’t always mean women lost virginity, to a man we love or not isn’t the point. Love never equals to sex or give our virginity to any man (before marriage). And certainly masturbating is NOT an act of love, it’s pure lust. Sex is not a bad thing, indeed. But it brings consequences and responsibilities we must take. Doing it with a man  to “bloom” in the name of love, well..it’s your choice..but as I said above, if you hold on to your values of life, you’ll be able to see what’s ‘wrong’ with that. And as a mature woman in love, we should’ve known these.

      There are many other plots in which the MV could’ve done rather than addressing it this way This way it seems like they are selling sex wrapped in the name of beautiful love (and a visually stunning MV). It’s saddening, because GaIn is actually a talented singer who doesn’t have to do such things to sell.
       

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GQM7Z4RO6NKS63XPKA4X5PQYYA KYleW

    anb

  • SeoulSeulgi

    To the author of this article, you must remember where you are… This is not the West, and Western views on sexuality and gender in society do not apply here. This is East Asia. This is Korea. This is K-Pop. There is very little intrinsic value in any of the major hits released these days, thus one has to sell on “image”, hence the sexually charged, racy videos. 

    And of the two stars, Ga-In and Hyuna, who has a more present image on the K-Pop scene? Without argument, that’s Hyuna. 

    Hyuna is the more famous of the two stars as not only being a member of the popular 4Minute, but also as a solo artist. She debuted in the group 4Minute, and their image, well was to display pretty women with good physique, who thus sing and dance to catchy tunes. Well, mission accomplished with a string of catchy hits behind them. 

    While on the other hand, the Brown Eyed Girls, the highlight of their career has been Abracadabra. Before that song and video (And after), they have not experienced all that much popularity (In comparison to 4Minute, or other K-Pop female groups). Thus their popularity and their image lies and remains in their racy “Abracadabra” video. The video shows all the members in very racy outfits displaying their sexuality for all the world to see. 

    While 4Minute has yet to release a video as racy (Or one that garners as much attention as “Abracadabra”, thus their image has remained a bit more wholesome with the general public). So when Hyuna released “Bubble Pop”, which was a racy video by K-Pop standards, public outcry poured in about her being a “slut”, and it’s easy to see why. She strayed from the group, and made a splash not quite on par with 4Minute’s image, thus the branding of her being a sexual fiend. While Ga-In and the BEG, well they already sealed their fate and image within the Abracadabra video.

    So when Ga-In debuted her video for “Bloom”, not that many were surprised by sexuality in the video, as well, that’s the image she’s had all along, as well as being the less popular of the two artists. 

    Ga-In’s “Bloom” music video was released over 3 weeks ago now, and has not even garnered 4 million views on YouTube, while Hyuna’s “Ice Cream” MV has over 10 million views in not even a single week since it’s debut.. 

    So who’s the more popular?

    So thus, who is going to receive more public bashing; the girl who is known for her hip thrusting moves (Thank BEG), and near lesbian kiss, or the girl who isn’t? 

    And also who will receive the more public bashing? The girl, who has a music video that has received over 100,000,000 views on YouTube?

    It’s not about double standards, and women’s sexuality being on display, it’s about the image they debuted in with their groups, and the popularity race between the two… 

    And also as to the K-Pop boy groups and male singers? When has one ever masturbated with themselves in an MV, or had sex with a female in a video?… Not many come to mind…. The parade their body physique just as the females to do sell their videos… All K-Pop stars have to the same, otherwise they would not be K-Pop stars… Has nothing to do with their sexuality being out their for the world for that… It’s much more commercial… This is East Asia. This is Korea. this is K-Pop…

    • Jan S

      I do have to agree with the majority of your comment. However to ignore and in your case deny the existance of double standards because somehow they don’t exist in “East Asia”, in “Korea”, or in “K-Pop” seems a bit much for me. You are right, there is much less intrinsic value in the K-Pop music industry versus the Western music industry. It is more often times just a race with K-Pop especially with the female soloists or groups.

      In a larger context though there is without a doubt a male vs female sexuality roles issue on display. There alsways is. It’s a popularity race? Yes. But What do those races consist of? Who usually dictates those races? Who decided their debut image in the first place? Men and their own desires. 

      I agree with you, don’t get me wrong. I just think you’re ignoring the fundamental idealogy of women in the K-Pop industry. It doesn’t stop at “the image they debuted with in their groups”….at least imo it doens’t. This may be East Asia/Korea/K-Pop but they’re most definitely still women just like you’d find in the western world. The author does a good job of creating that point in her articles….whether or not people respect that or believe that it’s a different or non-existant issue in another part of the world is up to them and I also respect those opinions.

  • Mishka Moncrieffe

    A reason I enjoy Ga-in’s provocatiity is that she has proven she is talented without the need for being sexy. Hyuna’s talent is questionable at best and has not been shown without the use of “sexuality. Whether you liked Ga-in’s song or video, they were both wonderfully composed and gained strong positive reviews. The same cannot be said for Hyuna’s which I would generic and unimaginative.
    My second reason is that Ga-in displays a definite case of feminine sexuality as defined by a woman. Hyuna’s includes obvious and desperate pandering to males.
    For other’s, Hyuna’s age may still make them uncomfortable. I know I was uncomfortable during “Change”. I also speak as someone not too much younger than Hyuna so it was not a case of imagining my daughter doing something so explicit. But on another note, when watching “Ice Cream”, I cringed everything the tattoo about her mother came into view

  • senskin

    Say what you will. If K-pop became what you seem to suggest, it would no longer interest me. I have always been a fan of the thankfully-still-understated sexuality of female K-pop. The overt sexuality of American pop turns me off. You seem to be saying that tasteful and suggestive sexuality somehow takes something away from women, but overt sexuality and simulated masturbation are empowering. I can’t claim to understand that but to each their own. I find overt sexuality to be cheap and distasteful. I can’t really comment on the double standard with male groups because they don’t appeal to me for obvious reasons.