• Mylène

    Ok, this commercial was incredibly awkward O.o

    As for the article, I do understand fully the author and I feel the same. Unfortunately, as stated above, Korea is quite far behind when it comes to gender equality. And sadly this commercial didn’t even surprised me, I mean the “beginning of porno style” format really did disturb me (btw people who never watched pornos of this style will not understand what we meant by that… and yes I just indirectly admitted to watching porns.. deal with it lol), but the hole dynamic of the “couple” in the video didn’t really surprise me at all.

    I mean the perfect women by Korean standards is a women that is not too opinionated, but is on the other hand obedient, good looking (following the korean standards of beauty of course), has a lot of eagyo (aka is dumb or pretend to be), cooks good, don’t work, take care of the kids as well as the home full-time, and is pure / innocent (whatever that means). Now, there’s men in Korea that probably don’t want a women exactly like that, and they are probably men that are for the empowerment of Korean women, but let’s not pretend to not see the harsh reality, which is that, because a lot of parts of Korean culture are very sexist and ageist, a lot of people simply grew up to think that way. Most of them don’t even question anything.

    And for the things to change, Korean people have to start to seriously questioning, analyzing, and criticizing parts of their own culture, and it’s not an easy thing to do. But hopefully as Korea is changing and moving, the mentality will do to. I mean they are already a lot of female celebrities that comes to the top of my mind right now who do not constantly nor fully play the role and the “ideal korean women”, and show that they have character, opinions, a lot even seem to refuse to pretend to be idiotic (*aegyo overload*) or quiet and I like that. And some of them are quite popular celebrities as-well. So I’m really optimistic about this issue, and I think Korea will eventually someday be a country of equal rights concerning men and women. Even thought, currently sadly, it’s really not the case… “sight”

    Also lastly, I just wanted to comment the “oppa” thing :

    It’s been 7 years now since I took interest in South Korea pop culture, and culture period (yes, I’m probably a granny on this site since I’m 24), there’s many things in Korean culture that I love but there’s also a lot of things that bothers me, and on this subject, I have to say the one thing that weirds me out incredibly, still to this day (and will probably creep me out forever) is the calling your LOVER oppa (or noona for that matter, even though my guess is this probably don’t happen often, as the younger lover will probably refuse to keep calling his girl that… or that it’s the older girl that would refuse to be called noona in order to feel more cute, although I’m not 100% sure on this).

    Here let’s take apart the sexist and ageist side of it, I’m talking about the disturbing creepy side solely : Seriously, I think that referring to your lover as your older sibling is creepaaay and weird… I guess it’s a cultural shock that I will never get over with. I just can’t freaking imagine sensual physical contacts, or sex with someone while calling them older brother *scream of horror !*. I’m not judging at all, it’s just that it’s a cultural thing I just personally could not deal with LOL

    P.S: I’m sorry if I made any grammar mistakes, I’m from Europe, and english is not my native language ^^

    • Judith Mopalia

      ” (yes, I’m probably a granny on this site since I’m 24),”
      RLTFLMAO – I’m 67 – you’ll have to wait a bit to be the granny here. And let me warn you – you never get older than 18 when it comes to music and pretty men to look at. If you do, you’re doing it wrong. ;)

  • iWantpancakes

    Look i’m the last person to defend anything that would seem degrading towards woman to even the slightest degree, but after reading your article I had to watch the commercial again to make sure I didn’t hallucinate the first time.

    “On top of all of that, there’s the fact that both commercials are just plain inappropriate. Some have called them “lewd,” and I think that’s a pretty apt description here. The way that the unseen oppa manhandles Kang Min-kyung might be fine for a drama, or for a movie (or maybe even an adult movie, which is what this whole CF feels like),…”

    The dude touched her shoulder. I would understand if they were like strangers, but you can tell he was portraying her lover. If my boyfriend touched my shoulder I would hardly classify it as being “manhandled”. I never saw a man lightly touch a woman’s shoulder and thought, “hey get a room” I will say that the point where she was just staring up into the camera was a very unsettling, but you should have mentioned that instead, but then again everyone seems to be agreeing with you that this is pornographic. I Seriously don’t know what is considered porn because every time I think something is inappropriate people say I’m overreacting, but when I fail to see sexual innuendo it turns out the content was completely lewd. And(yeah I started my sentence with “and”; big woop wanna fight about it?) for the whole “oppa” thing I can’t comment on that because I’m not from Korea and I can’t make any judgments on something I have no insight on. With that being said….
    GIRLS RULE! boys drool :p
    LOL JK, but seriously that commercial was extemely awkward.

    • ErinMHz

      The reason everyone agrees the commercial is pornographic is because it’s clearly inspired by point-of-view porn. POV porn is where the viewer takes the role of an unseen narrator with the camera, so you are the person holding the camera. The only body parts that you usually see of “yourself” are the camera person’s hands, and in cases of actual porn, their penis. POV porn is supposed to look homemade with slightly shaky cameras, just like this commercial. Also, there is a noticeable lack of soundtrack, which is normal in porn but not in commercials.

      • iWantpancakes

        Yeah I get that now after reading the comments, but I never knew that. That’s why I stated that to me I didn’t see it, but everyone else does. I have never seen POV porn to know that this is what it was if I did I would probably be saying the same thing, but I didn’t so I don’t see it. Thats all I was trying to say. It’s not like I condone this commercial at all. It’s creepy. I guess I didn’t get my point across well enough, or the fact that I didn’t get porn out of the commerical pissed people off. With that being said thank you for explaining POV porn because I honestly didn’t know. Based on your explanation I would say that yes this commercial seemed very pornographic.

  • iWantpancakes

    I thinks my head phones are messed up because I didn’t hear any breathing.

    • iWantpancakes

      Oops sorry I totally missed the audio track. WOW just….. WOW. Why is there an audio track? oh right probably for radio. It just seemed to wrong, listening to it was an uncomfortable experience.

  • http://www.m-rated.tumblr.com/ Michelle Chin


    First, the female is subjected to the male gaze. See how he’s always looking DOWN on her as opposed to looking STRAIGHT at her as an equal? Then, she’s doing all this unnecessary cutesy acts for someone of her age… um, I don’t think women of her age should be acting like that… AND SHAVING HER BOYFRIEND’S FACE? IT’S NOT OUR JOB HELLO. And the fact that we will never see the male’s face creeps me out. I mean, it’s an entirely different thing to pull the male counterpart in the CF but without seeing the male figure, it feels so PORNOGRAPHIC. It’s like those hand held cam stuff. OTL

    And I don’t like the way HE HOLDS HER SHOULDER. HE’S LIKE PRESSING HER DOWN and I don’t want to be accused of reading too deeply into this but this gesture seems rather forceful — domineering.

    Call me a feminist but hey, I’m not that /of/ a feminist. As a girl, I’m alright with cute and sexy concepts in MV (as long as it’s not OTT) but this is pushing all the wrong buttons, WHICH is something I don’t get. South Korea has already got a female president and this happened? Seriously, is this some kind of joke or what?

    But sometimes, I doubt things WILL change just because they have a female president. I mean, these values are ingrained in them and unless they do something about it, things are going to stay this way. It’s easy for us to sit here and talk about how they should reassess their own culture and keep up with the times but change is never going to happen soon by the look of this CF.

    Anyway, I have something to add. While it is true that male objectification garners different reactions from female objectification. Research by Vaes (2011) has indeed shown that females and males to objectify females in certain images (especially those without heads) but some researchers have also proposed that we’re approaching the age where men are increasingly being objectified as well. If you see fashion ads these days, you see females propped on top of males etc. Also, one does not need to look further than K-pop itself. Men have been turned into objects of sexual pleasure (and those comments like “MY OVARIES” or “chocolate abs” suggest this trend?) and desire. They are idolized, which makes them seen as different from human. Of course, reactions will certainly be different from when females are objectified. Scholars have even argued that men have been objectified for quite a while but it seems culturally appropriate.

    Either way, I don’t see the benefits of objectifying either gender. Having said that, we live in the world of images so it’s almost like we’re hardwired to objectify things because objectification has to come from somewhere. SIGH.

    • thedutchesse

      Just want to say, there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist, if you want equal rights and treatment for women, you’re a feminist. Hell, every woman on this planet /should/ be a feminist, though unfortunately not all of them are.

      I agree with most everything in your comment though. I

      • WonderfulZingMin

        Though some of them take the word and slam it around as an excuse to bring down men, which is really sad. Both genders deserve respect.

    • Dynasia

      I agree with you, I think as females we should be a little bit feminist (not extreme) because if we woman don’t have a bit of feminism in our beliefs, were not going to make it in this male dominated world.EVERY WOMAN will be objectified and dominated by the opposite sex who will see us as nothing but sex objects; disposable play things and I will raise HELL before that EVER happens..lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/dim.tso Dim Tso

    It was a stupid concept for a commercial to begin with, that’s for sure.
    Looking at the commercial one more time however….it isn’t any different than any other product that gets sexualized in order to appeal exclusively to males.
    Would’ve been nicer if the author made a case about these things in general…

  • takasar1

    it seems as if the author has just finished watching the c.f and has now decided to grace us with her rant on the topic. i know seoulbeats is a opinion-based site but should that include naive rants? by being a kpop fan she should have realized that this industry is all about selling sex (regardless of whether you condemn it or condone it) and that humans can very quickly change and/or put aside morals for a handsome sum. i personally know many of my fellow students, many of whom are studying economics, global strategy and management, acting in amateur porn films to help finance their studies. the fact that the author does not understand or like this fact (which very few of us do) is perfectly understandable, yet, if she is not willing to look past (ignore) this then that is her problem, especially since neither of our opinions will likely have a positive impact on the state of women in korea’s entertainment industry. as for the ‘manhandling’, where is it? i agree that the cf is too suggestive and highly inappropriate (although i dont care and am not too surprised).

    regarding korea’s relative lack of female rights, i am not surprised at all and if other people knew a bit about European history, then neither would they be. how long has the feminist movement been in place in britain, for example? well, let us just say that while suffragette movement took place around a century ago, korea’s adoption of ‘modern’ female rights have been far more recent. this begs the question: do you really expect korea to suddenly solve a problem that america/britain have still not solved (women are still treated worse than men) in the course of a century?!?!?!? good things take time and unless those women are being abused (some are) then people really should look more in-ward than out-ward. if you solve the problem of the american music industry objectifying women then logic dictates that korea’s issues relating to women may also dissapear. try and remove the phrase ‘big daddy’ from american culture for a start and then you can begin tackling the word ‘oppa’. stop american rappers from objectifying hispanic and asian girls and you might see korean idols/rappers beginning to reject the use of white women in their mvs.

    for now, i beg of you seoulbeats, please stop re-hashing content! if i was sad enough, i could go back through your archives and pick 6-8 very similar articles written on this topic in the past year. maybe you want to increase viewership, who knows? also please stop viewing everything through a feminist lens. we get it, the majority of you are strong, opinionated women fresh out of university (or college if you will), but if you want to write about a topic like this, try and do it with more tact and only pull the card out when the opportunity presents itself.


    • Miyuki

      Agreed. I feel like I’ve seen this same topic, objectifying women and how being cute will lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it, a thousand times here…

    • WonderfulZingMin

      You couldn’t had said it better : )

  • Miyuki

    Yup… I’m probably going to get a LOT of down votes for this, but I disagree. I agree with the fact that the video is very disturbing for commercial use. I mean, it totally looks like porn. On the other hand, I disagree with this objectification thing. In the commercial, they are obviously lovers. I don’t know any girl that doesn’t want to be cute for their boyfriend; it’s mating 101. I’m really tired of this cute-hating culture we have. Just because you’re cute doesn’t mean you’re trying to be infantilized. Cute is not something only for babies; you can be cute at any age. If you take the ‘looking like a child’ cute way, I can see why it might bother you. But in this video in particular, I don’t see how she’s being an infant, just because she’s smiling and spinning. Besides, I don’t see anywhere in this video that he is ‘disrespecting’ her. You’re talking like he’s pushing her down on the couch and holding her hands down against her will.

    • ErinMHz

      I completely agree with you. The POV porn style is kind of gross to watch, especially if you’re watching TV with your parents, but obviously the commercial has achieved what it wanted: everyone is talking about it and it gets stuck in your mind. If it had been shot in a normal, third person POV style, it would have been like every other commercial and nobody would give it a second thought.

      I don’t think Kang Minkyung is acting childlike, either. She says “oppa,” like millions of other Korean girls do, but it’s not like she busted out a buing buing. She’s certainly not “manhandled,” as the article says she is; she’s barely tapped and touched on the shoulder. If I was home alone with my boyfriend and looking beautiful, I would be doing the same thing!

    • CJux

      “In the commercial, they are obviously lovers. “

      They didn’t look like normal lovers to me at first, but that’s maybe because I don’t understand Korean, and I only judged the commercial based on the acting alone. There’s a really awkward distance between them, so my first thought after watching this commercial was that it was some wet fantasy of the guy’ favorite idol. She seduces him to join her in the sofa, and when he hesitantly approaches her – as if her presence is so surreal and fantasy-like – he puts his hand on her shoulder in such an awkward manner that it looked, to me, that he was just trying to confirm she was real. It didn’t look at all like normal interaction between loving partners about to have sex. It was as staged as an AV film.

      I mean, this could have been shot like those initial seconds in Ga-In’s Bloom MV. Those were also filmed under the guy’s POV (we also don’t see his face), and she’s acting all cute and lovely, but there is no cheap porno feeling about it, even when the camera zooms in her face and parts of her body. But it’s clear Gillette’s intentions behind this CF were very different from the director that shot Ga-in’s MV.

      In that sense, I do agree with Dana about the objectification of women in this CF, more noticeably in the audio file where she moans in a sexual manner. This speaking from someone who once shaved her boyfriend’s face. But to be fair, sexy females moaning suggestively is a concept not only reserved for commercial directed to males; after all, Herbal Essences tried to convince us once that their shampoos give us orgasms. Call me when they finally release a vibrator, because their shampoos suck.

    • Yee Kat

      It did not look like a heathy couple dynamic at all to me. Beside the awkwardness and weirdness of it, if you re-watch the video you can see how extremely passive and quiet she is. It’s like she is waiting for him to say or do something, because she is not suppose to take initiatives, but rather shut up be pretty, listen and be obedient.

      If the dynamic was one of a heathy couple, where both lovers are equals and respected, the scene could have gone like this for example : he comes out, say “hi honey”, she reply “hey darling”, then hugs him sweetly, and tells him that “he looks good all freshly shaved”, he replies “thank you” while they’re both giggling, she gently drag him to the sofa by taking his hand, they sit, he put his hand through her hair, and lean to kiss her, the end.

      In this video, she’s LITERALLY waiting for his reactions/demands/desires, so she would know how to react. When he slowly but kind of press on her shoulder to make her understand that he wants her to sit, she’s like thinking “oh, you want me to sit here? ok”. There is no action of her part in the couple, she just shut up and listen to what her lover wants.

      When he enters the room, it’s total objectification. He does not even talk to her (not once !), his just checking her out, and it’s as if she was thinking “why he doesn’t say anything… I’ll wait few seconds… oh he’s just checking me out, ok then I’ll just spin around like a model so he could fully appreciate my figure”.

      Seriously, the hole thing was WRONG (POV porn style, are you serious Gillette ?), to the making, to the format, to the lovers representation, everything.

    • theprophetblog

      Yas honey! U gotta werq it for your man!

  • Streby

    Its plain creepy; it gave me the creeps.

  • asianromance

    The objectification of women is always there in advertisements all over the world. What really surprised me is how heap and badly conceived this commercial is. If it’s one thing that Korea marketing does well is that it can sell sex without appearing to sell sex. This whole thing was filmed like the first few minutes of a porno. They could at least have added some cute jingle to fill the awkward silence. Even those GoDaddy.com commercials in the US are less cringe-worthy.

    And without seeing the guy’s face, how can we even tell if the razor supposedly works well. What if he’s all smooth, but there are like a gajillion nicks on his face. We learn nothing about how this razor is different from the previous Gillete razors and why the average Korean male should buy it. Does it lotion your face when you glide it? Does it postpone the 5 o’clock shadow to an 8 o’clock shadow? No results of “scientific” experiments on how this razor is better? Guys are going to watch the commercial, maybe jack off to it, and then continue using the razors they’ve been using.

    Or maybe this is supposed to be a shit razor so the commercial was avoiding how to divulge how it messes up your skin.

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

    Wow, that porno had really good production value.

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

    I was somewhat disappointed by this CF.

    Somewhat as in entirely.

    Disappointed as in appalled.

    I wasn’t the least bit astonished that a CF like this was made. Nothing in it is atypical of the male dominated Korean culture (though I definitely do not agree that there was any excessive use of force — unless barely tapping a girl on the shoulder is considered battery (also, she fell on her own, which, while sending all sorts of cringe worthy messages about submission, is not, in and of itself, proof of aggression). What did disappoint me is that this would be seen as fantasy bait in this day and age. Still, my tastes are not Korea’s tastes. All any of us can do is post an opinion — but it will be Korean women at the receiving end of these CF’s who can, and hopefully will, continue to work for change. I hope they will see this ad and, at the very least, make some noise about it. This is definitely not a step in the right direction for changing societal views of female roles in South Korea.

    As for the audio, let’s just say I wouldn’t have pictured “shaving a face” on first listen. Sounds more like a bathtub than a sink.

    On the other side (if the focus of the CF had been a shirtless male celebrity), I don’t think it would really be any different. Women are far more mild than men. They wouldn’t react in such an overt way.

    Now that I’ve gotten that out of my ass, you’re damn right women would cat call. Objectification is NOT a male exclusive trait. That said, if the CF did feature a shirtless male idol, I can already tell you how it would look. The guy would be stroking his face, walking TOWARD the camera, as a girl talks in the background about how much cleaner he looks. Then, he would reach out of camera view and the camera person would fall back onto the couch, giving off the impression that she is being submissive. Then he would lean in for the kiss and you would have the same awkward mess — just in F*CKING REVERSE.

    The only difference between how it is done in these types of CFs in South Korea and how it is done in other places is that there are many other examples of non-submissive women from which young girls can see examples. Korean female archetypes who stand contrary to the male notion of submissive girl-women are pretty f*cking scarce in South Korea. Just look around. CF’s, dramas, Kpop and other aspects of mainstream culture tend to feed the stereotype of a submissive female. Thankfully, there are some aspects of South Korean culture where strong female examples can be found. Films would be one, some aspects of SK music, as well; the problem is, these aspects are considered niche, not among the primary shards of South Korean culture. That is the problem. In America we have the Axe commercials, which are just as ridiculously sexist. That said, we also have dozens upon dozens of contrary examples of female-centric media showing female characters coming from a position of — if not power — equivalence. So much so that the archetype of the smart, sassy career woman and mom coupled with a dumb-as-shit working class dad is a part of our cultural blueprint.

    That is what I one day hope to see more of in South Korea: MAINSTREAM media aimed at showing the contrary side of the established traits that South Korean women are, at this time, “supposed” to have in order to be desirable.

    A CF like this isn’t a travesty — it’s just a memorandum of a time that I hope young people in SK will one day look back on as a time of gross inequality and misrepresentation of the female sex.

  • WonderfulZingMin

    I honestly didn’t read into it as much as some people did, this was just a commercial done wrong for me. I honestly don’t agree for men to put women down as if they were objects but i also don’t agree with women putting men down either and that happens a lot too. Korea is really not bad at all with that issue when you compare it with Japan or other countries for that matter. Now that makes my blood boil.

  • SB_Mark

    Let’s be glad it hasn’t gotten as bad as AKB48 commercials…but it’s definitely heading in that direction!

    Share a drink with them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY9zwkDZHPA

    Feed them candy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o51FkR5kpDM

    And…what? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o51FkR5kpDM

    Which one did you find most disturbing?

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

    That Siwon picture was why I never bought the Mr. Simple album.

    • Tanya Joshi

      I know, as much as Siwon does have a nice body, I don’t really fancy him standing right in the front wearing nothing but a cape and neon green underwear…

  • http://2kob.com/ CRF Sanders

    I completely agree with everything you’re saying. The only thing I want to point out is your use of the word “gypped”. It undercuts the message you’re promoting by using a racial epithet like that, however unintentionally. Other than that, keep up the good work.

    • UncleFan

      Sadly, most people aren’t even aware that “gypped” is a slur, but yeah, you are right.

  • theprophetblog

    Meh, I’d do this shit for my man if he asked.

    • Mel Watkins


  • UncleFan

    I thought the ad was hot… loved it actually. KMK is a dimpled sex goddess for sure. But what do I know? I’m just one of the guys who actually buys Gillette razors. You wouldn’t want to let the opinion of someone to whom the ad is targeted get in the way of a long-winded session of feminist hand-wringing!

    I’ve been buying Nong Shim slurp noodles by the CASE from Amazon ever since IU did those cute CFs, so I’ll probably stock up on Gillette products just to support KMK.

  • cx123

    wait can someone tell me whats wrong with yuri’s cf? i don’t understand it….i mean i watched it…it just looked like a guy gave her a bag, but i don’t understand korean so………can someone tell me about it? whats exactly happening in that cf?

  • Mel Watkins

    What an interesting article. I found the CF cute and a little sexy actually. I think it’s easy to decry it as porny and inappropriate if one comes from the standpoint that relationships are all about male/female power dynamics…but if they’re not, shaving a man and being mutually cute and kissy are actually really nice, intimate things with no real moral or sociopolitical charge. There’s no real power dynamic involved here…he’s not bending her over into a vat of shaving cream and calling her a whore. They’re just following gender roles which are a)not all bad if chosen rather than forced and b)not at all inappropriate.

    Also, this is an ad, for a grooming product that can make men feel sexy. Sex sells. The idea behind the ad is that men who watch it will want to be him, and therefore buy the razors. This ad wouldn’t work if she stood back looking stiff, “appropriate” and sexlessly empowered, said “oh, guess you look ok” and wandered away. Get real.

  • Scott N

    very progressive advert

  • EnzoAbbacchio

    Maybe it’s because I’m european, but I can’t really feel the problem. Personally, I don’t like this kind of CF, just as I don’t like the 99.9% of the CFs running on the media. I mean, what can you appreciate in a CF?
    Anyway, the author tells us about objectification, bad acting, control. What I see is a home made video concept, so acting is not really important. Nobody use a script and multiple takes when shooting with a camcorder on the fly. To provide this feeling, they didn’t even cut the part when she hit the table while going backwards. It also seems that she is the one in control. She wants sex, she starts the game, she takes him where she wants to be. The male is simply testifying her beauty on tape. You can see that he’s overwhelmed by the situation when the camera stops while approaching, before the kiss.
    Is Min-kyung being objectified? I don’t think so. Getting a important amount of bucks for few seconds of CF has nothing to do with that. Working 24/7 in a Foxconn plant for much, much less, that’s objectification.

  • jaefuma

    The reason this is bad is because it doesn’t even feel like a couple. It was like he was friends with the derpest girl and then decided to take it to the “next level.” I mean, when he puts his hand on his shoulder, he’s hesitant, and she looks like, “what…what are you doing? Why are you touching me?” If they’re a couple, shouldn’t regular touching like that not leave either of them nervous? And when he pushing her back, her expression wasn’t aware or even playful. She looked a bit stunned and surprised. She didn’t smile until she seemed to register what what about to go down. So I don’t think there was an innuendo of “forced” relations, but it did look like a start of some weird “girl next store” fantasy.

    And, as others have said, we literally have no idea what this man’s face looks like. He could be covered in blood from a bad shave, we literally have no idea. We just know that it apparently makes young korean women twirl around with joy.

    I believe that if we saw the guy (and, you know, the damn product) and if Min-Kyung looked a little bit more control of herself and aware of her “Oppa’s” intentions, it wouldn’t seem quite so creepy. As an america, I see shaving commercials where a guy shaves and women are literally dry humping him with the joy of his clean shaven face, but something about this felt weird to me.

  • shannie4888

    I don’t like the CF. It was just awkward and seemed very amateurish. I think if the director had provided better direction and if it was more fluid, it wouldn’t have been so awkward. She just kept pausing and it just seemed very odd.

    Gillette has too much money to put out something like this. They need to hire better people to write the CF script and a better director that can tell the actress how she needs to play the role. I don’t fully blame Kang Min Kyung for this. I blame whoever was in charge of directing her. Obviously she could have done a better job, but she just proved that she is not an actress.