31 August 2006

The Korean Wave

Everyone knows about it in Asia. Korean soap operas, and their actors, are HOT. So much so, that even in the States, Washington Post has taken notice and run an article on it, quoting women of many Asian nationalities who want a Korean man as a mate. South Korea is seeing a huge jump in foreign tourists as a result, mostly these young women from elsewhere in Asia who are visiting the soap opera locales and looking for dates. It's even got to a point where gay bars in Japan are going Korean-themed.

This article is indeed interesting, but as I see my sister's marriage to a Korean man (who turned out to be an old-fashioned patriarch) dissolve already, I am shaking my head. The fantasy of a handsome Korean man - "the Italian man of Asia" - physically hardened through two years of compulsory military service yet supposedly very romantic, is sweeping across Asia, yet the reality I've seen is closer to the old-fashioned chauvinistic patriarch, thanks to conservative Confucian and Christian influences.

The Christian portion is particularly worrisome, in the context of Asian-American communities. The Korean-American community is virtually completely evangelical Christian, and as the Korean Wave sweeps through the Asian-American communities, contacts with the Korean-American community increase - and the wave serves as a Trojan Horse for fundamentalist Christianity to infiltrate these other communities. Already, evangelical Christianity is spreading fast through the Chinese-speaking communities. This hard turn to the right among Asian-Americans really worries me.

That's one reason why I am not on the Korean Wave bandwagon. The other reason is that the Korean Wave simply offers very little for this lesbian.