Girls’ Generation has a boy and some serious gender troubles

‘I Got A Boy’ is the first music video I watched in 2013 and, honestly, it didn’t set the bar very high for the rest of the year. If you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you watch it before reading this. Here is a version with subtitles:

Musically, I have to say I appreciate the intentions of this song. Split into several parts following different narratives, it seems to be trying to be some kind of electro-pop, dubstep-infused rock opera of sorts and parts of it do work. The final chorus is really interesting with earlier parts being riffed over the top to bring the whole thing together at the end. However, mainly due to the production, the song falls apart in several places throughout and leaves the listener feeling a bit lost. But points for effort, SM, this is not your standard K-pop track. I would definitely like to see more of this kind of risk-taking in K-pop in general.

gg whisperSo if this is a rock opera, and I use that in the very loosest sense of the word, what is it about? Well supposedly, ‘girl talk’, as in the stuff that women talk about with each other. More accurately it is girls talking about men, talking about their appearance and how they should use it to impress men, bitching about and competing with other girls for men and fantasising about men. Why, I hear you say, this song is not about girls at all! It is completely about men! It’s as if the only reason these women, because really they are not girls anymore, exist is to think about and look pretty for men. This is not any kind of exaggeration, there is actually a line that states ‘우리 최고 관심사 다 다’ which translates along the lines of ‘[Men are] our biggest interest, everything, everything’.

It says it right there in the song. Which is written by a man, coincidentally (well the lyrics anyway).

snsd-geeNow of course this song is called ‘I Got A Boy’ and I am more than aware of Girls’ Generation lyrical track history so I wasn’t expecting a female empowerment anthem, as has, thankfully, become more in vogue in the past year. However, I was still shocked by how blatantly this song flaunts it’s reductionist, and frankly insulting, view of women. By using a more complex song structure to tell more stories and show more points of view, this song manages to create an even worse image of young women than songs like ‘Oh!’ by the sheer number of negative portrayals. Both the video and the song consistently portray women in numerous different examples as vain, petty, manipulative and incompetent.

The song begins by reaffirming the tired old trope that all women are constantly in competition with each other for the attention of men. In the first section of the song, two members, with a dismissive ‘Omo’ (think ‘Oh my gosh!’) from all round, discuss changes in  an unseen woman’s appearance and wonder about it’s cause.  I say ‘woman’, the noun used is ‘얘’ which I’m told, by my Korean teacher, is a shortened form of ‘이 아이’ meaning ‘this child’ infantilising both the speaker and the subject and enforcing the idea that women should be valued solely for their youth and therefore should act like children. The criticism is continued in the next verse with lines like ‘She became so pretty and sexy, it’s because of that guy right?’ effectively answering the earlier question surrounding why ‘she’ changed her yuri teddy

After this it moves into fairly standard theme for Girls’ Generation: being rendered unable to function at the very thought of a man (‘I got dizzy just by talking to him’) and then into a lyrically predictable chorus reminiscent of earlier singles:

I got a boy, cool! I got a boy, kind! I got a boy, handsome boy who completely stole my heart
I got a boy, cool! I got a boy, kind! I got a boy, awesome boy, I think I completely fell for him

Why lyrics like these are so problematic has been covered before better than I could explain but I will say that presenting the group as ‘aegyo girl’ child-women has a negative impact on the viewer’s ability to see these women as full human beings and reinforces the idea, particularly prevalent in South Korea with it’s big gender gap, that women are incapable and inferior to men. The one section in this song that particularly struck me as reinforcing this idea is when they call for their prince to come and save them. On one level the use of more formal polite language is a clever and playful way of marking the new section of the song and Taeyeon, who is an extremely capable performer, pulls this break off perfectly. However it also reinforces the notion that women are just waiting for a socially-superior man to come along and save them, their knight in shining armour. The reference to herself as ‘이 몸’ (‘this body’) is also troubling, while he is the ruler of a land she has not even made it to the status of person, resigning herself to just being a body.

gg yoonaWhen we finally see the members interact with each, remember this song is about ‘girl talk’, it is in the form of some very troubling ‘friendly’ advice. With a highly melodramatic exclamation of ‘멘붕이야!’ (a slang term which literally means ‘it’s a mental collapse!’) Yoona, who is often held up as the pinnacle of Korean beauty, frets about whether she should show her boyfriend her makeup-less face. The advice, ‘Oh! Of course you can’t!’ ‘Let’s protect what we should protect!’ ‘Until we have his whole heart, don’t ever forget this!’, with choruses of agreement from all the other members, is astoundingly terrible. It reminded me of a famous line from mother to daughter in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: ‘all pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap’, the idea that women must use their looks to somehow trick a man into loving them. Even in this play (written in 1944) this advice is shown as of a negative product of past time and yet here it is again in 2012 being glorified! This is straight-up telling young women that the only way to ‘get a boy’ is to hide their inferior natural selves and create a false more-perfected version of themselves to lure a man into their trap. It also creates the idea of ‘the battle of the sexes’ telling both men and women that they cannot trust each other.

gg tiffanyOn top of the lyrics, the video portrays these women as consistently childish and incompetent – Tiffany cannot eat without making a mess, Yuri is made ecstatically happy by a ridiculously oversized teddy bear, Seohyun is unable to tie her own shoelaces and Hyoyeon throws a toddler-esque temper tantrum because her boyfriend is slightly late. They are also, most worryingly, styled and filmed to look like dolls throughout with a particularly creepy close-up of Tiffany’s face which is oddly still and robotic with dead-looking eyes and Sooyoung dressed in a nightdress and oversized hair bow. Sunny’s boy even gets to paint her nails, just like playing with a real doll!

The simplistic representation of women in this video as incompetent, vain and catty is an insult to everyone. It presents ideas which have very real and far-reaching consequences in the way women are viewed in a society which is still deeply unequal, especially as they are Korea’s top girl group and are often held up to both young women and young men as the ultimate symbol of modern Korean femininity. Outside of Korea, it also has the potential to present damaging ideas to a young and mostly female fanbase. Most of all though, it is an insult to the members of Girls’ Generation, all of whom must be hard-working, driven and talented in order to have come this far. Their strength as performers is clear from their live performance which actually holds the song together much better than the studio version due to their precision and on-stage energy. They are a very hard-working, influential group of young women and giving them concepts like this reduces them to vacuous, pretty faces, shows a deep disrespect to them both as professionals and people and creates an example for how women should be valued which negatively impacts them and potentially all other women in society.

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  • Minzi

    *claps* well done! couldnt have said it better myself! :)

  • Hellodyme

    WOW this article is stnning !!! excellent !!!And that’s so meaningful !

  • Hans Pans

    Doesnt this count for 90% of all kpop songs from girlgroups? or even Pop-Songs in general like britney spears etc…

    • beyondhallyu

      This is a fair point. I think what irritated me the most about this song is on how many levels the terrible representations existed on. As well because SNSD are by far the biggest and most influential girl group in K-pop, their music is particularly important to look at, in my opinion.

      But definitely objectification and/or infantilisation of women is very prevalent in K-pop and other pop music.

      I think also in K-pop there can be quite a lot of what approaches objectification of men which is not healthy either.

      Thanks for your comment!


  • Gareth R. White

    Very well written and insightful. A complete contrast to the barking-mad AllKPop review,

    “Kudos to SM Entertainment for their obvious hard work to transition these girls from an object of the male gaze to a legitimate musical group.”

    I think IGaB is a great piece of music, and have a lot of respect for SNSD as a group, but as your article points out they’re still clearly perpetuating gender stereotypes. Curiously, from the 14+ million views this song already has, most are the female gaze rather than male,

    Top demographics
    Female, 13-17 yearsFemale, 18-24 yearsMale, 13-17 years

    With 65 million views, The Boys has the same demographic signature. Likewise for the 61 million views of 2NE1’s I Am The Best. For comparison, this is exactly the same representation from the 58 million views of Big Bang’s Fantastic Baby.

    It’s worth pointing out that in Gee’s 95 million, on the other hand, the 3rd category is Male, 35-44 years. Whereas Psy’s 1.1 billion views are mostly male,

    Female, 13-17 yearsMale, 13-17 yearsMale, 35-44 years
    In contrast, although perhaps not surprisingly, the (mere) 7 million audience for Miss A’s I Don’t Need a Man is primarily female,

    Female, 13-17 yearsFemale, 18-24 yearsFemale, 25-34 years
    Coincidentally that’s the same for Breathe’s 15.5 million.

    So from this cursory glance it looks like -with a couple of obvious exceptions- most people watching K-pop MVs are actually girls, in their teens and early 20s. As your article points out, it’s certainly reasonable to assume that this audience is being influenced by the media they consume. But if the MVs are not in fact primarily trying to appeal to a conservative male audience, then why are young women buying into and hence complicit in perpetuating an image that apparently belittles them?

    There’s something far deeper going on here than just SNSD being the bad “guy”, as it were. Isn’t there a case to be made to say that they’re just selling what this (young, female) audience wants? Given that they’re mainly trying to appeal to young women – and clearly are succeeding – then isn’t the issue much broader? From an outsider’s point of view (as a man and and Englishman at that) I’d say there are much wider factors to consider. Certainly SNSD could be in a position to take a strong lead like Miss A, though comparing their viewing figures this might not be a good business decision as their (primarily female) market still clearly responds well to the more traditional image.

    Most of your article was dedicated to gender politics rather than music per se, but as other readers have pointed out here, the same criticism could (should?) be applied to a lot of other K-pop, and indeed a lot of Korean culture in general. If you’ll allow me to act as devil’s advocate for a moment, why focus solely on gender? Why not dedicate most of the content of the recent Zitten article to a critique of their lack of racial diversity? At least SNSD has foreign members.

    Beyond Hallyu has a noble remit, and there’s always value in critical analysis of culture and media. My concern is that BH might appear to be taking a stance of opposition to mainstream K-pop for the sake of it, without delivering an even-handed critique of their own personal biases. Furthermore, as foreigners don’t we run the risk of cultural imperialism, expecting others to live up to our own expectations of societal norms without necessarily fully appreciating and understanding the other’s specific background and sensibilities?

    Despite all this though, I’d like to finish by congratulating you once again on a well thought out and written article; don’t get me wrong, I fully welcome this discussion and applaud your work. If BH’s role is to be a critical voice, though, then if anything I’d like to see more – not less – of this kind of analysis throughout the site.


    • Gareth R. White

      Just wanted to reiterate how good the articles and site are; my comment comes across as really negative, which I didn’t intend it to be. If anything I was inspired to write it because Beyond Hallyu is the only place on the internet that supports deep and interesting discussions like this. This was my clumsy way of trying to join in and continue the dialogue, and I apologise for being condescending and flippant.
      Please keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll work harder to support you in the future!

      • beyondhallyu

        Hi Gareth, first of all thank you for your kind comments about the site! We really appreciate it.

        As for everything else, I set out to write about gender representation specifically because I felt that was the most influential and important aspect of this release. The group is the biggest female idol group in Korea by far and are probably the most influential young women in the country. Therefore the way they portray women in their videos matters because continuous negative portrayals like these do have a real impact on the way girls and women are treated and behave in real life.

        As for their market demographic, outside of Korea, yes, their primary demographic is young and female however domestically, companies like SM and JYP specifically market these young girl groups at a much older male demographic. (I don’t know if you’ve heard of ahjussi fans? There’s a few really interesting articles on this site: ) They also have a big following among younger men, specifically those serving in the army, and so as a result do tend to pander the fantasies of these men.

        However there is definitely something to be said for the fact that most women are happy to consume hypersexualised media of women which blatantly panders to the male gaze and it’s an interesting topic. Although, on that point, it’s interesting to compare SNSD’s Korean work with their releases in Japan. As their target Japanese audience is young and female, there are subtle but consistent differences in the way the girls are portrayed both in the songs and the video. In Japan, they are shown as much more independent and in control.

        I’m not sure how you could argue that having two Korean-American members equates to racial diversity. In my eyes, if anything, it does the opposite. It implies that nationality doesn’t matter, what’s most important is that you are of the Korean race.

        Thanks again for your thoughts and support,

      • Hellodyme

        Totally agree with your observation on the wensite, BeyondHallyu is definitively Beyond other websites ! their analyzes are constructive and open debat easily !
        Fighting girls !!

    • Guest

      You just don’t understand Girls Generation’s #SWAG

    • Russell Parker

      You just don’t understand girls generation’s #SWAG

  • Tami9

    I respect the time you spend analyzing this song and I get your point of view but I kind of disagree.
    I’m often the first offend by lyrics showing women inferiority to men but I didn’t analyze this song the same way and therefore I don’t see it as an odd to the “male” superiority.
    For me it’s more the various stage of the way women fall in love.
    First, yes you change yourself and try to look prettier but it’s also an inside change. Being happy make yourself prettier too.
    And in the beginning of falling in love their are “crystallization’ of your love so you call it “prince”, “perfect” and want to go on a pink or white dream with the object of your love. It doesn’t imply that man are above women. This crystallization phase is true in both side.
    Then I see more the question about reveling her face without make-up like a metaphor about the trust.
    The dark part refers to the doubt every women have sometime with herself but finally it’s resolve because the more important thing is said in the resolution “Always next to me, it’s you, who’s on my side and listens to me” that show that finally the more mature and real fact is more important than the superficial and visual stage where they were in the beginning

    • Nyokou

      I think that’s the explanation one of the members gave for the lyrics too, I don’t know where I saw it though… must’ve been one of the recent interviews.

  • Hellodyme

    I came to post my comment here since there’s more people here than on Koreaddict kk

    This article was really interesting and I read it like 7 times already . Althought I agreed with some points, I aloso thought you were sometimes thinking too much.That line”우리 최고 관심사 다 다 ” was certainly reductive but I didn’t think the rest of the song was following. Except the “oh my prince when will come to save me ect..” line that I found totally ridiculous I felt that the change they were talking about are simply trhe change of a woman in love.

    I didn’t find them ” vain, petty, manipulative and incompetent” but there’s a shade to everything.
    Which woman doesn’t care of a appereance when she’s in love ? or even for a crush, it’s common for both sexe to try to appeal to the other gender. I don’t hink there’s more to see in it.

    And so for the make up , althought it’s not a big deal and many wonder when they should let their boyfriend see them without make up. I believe this have to do with culture and it’s difficult to change it …” ‘Oh! Of course you can’t!’ ‘Let’s protect what we should protect!’ ‘Until we have his whole heart, don’t ever forget this!’” …yeah.. I can sense a “be pretty and shut up” I totally agree with you on that ..and since SNSD is saying it .. the “don’t judge me on idol standart” is pretty hard to apply..I still think people are pretty aware of it, they look at idol girls but go out with normal/plain girl ( in comparaison) I feel like luckily it’s not a majority, but as long as there’s an will be hard..

    “Tiffany cannot eat without making a mess” what’s important here is not that, I bet you already saw a snece like that 100 times already in drama, be it a girl or a boy. The important thing is the gesture , from a mortherly gesture, to a lover one. Its just a gest you wont do for whoever just with yur hand.. If you’re not close, you will tell him , hey you have something there..or a bit closer, use a towel or tissu ..but it’s totally different with your hand ..

    “Yuri is made ecstatically happy by a ridiculously oversized teddy bear” I guess if it was roses the answer would have been different, but if it was jewerly she would have been portrayed as a materialist woman? Can’t a gift just be a gift whatever his size. Big teddy bear are good cause you can hug, cuddle and lean on it lol, harder with a smaller bear ! lol She smiled ecstatically because she received a gift…I would be just like her i think

    “Seohyun is unable to tie her own shoelaces” For us to know that she was unable to do it, we needed to see her try first.. This is just a gentleman gesture. I can totally relate because it happened to me. My shoelace was untied and he said he was going to tie it back for me , he didn’t even say it, he told me it was untied and was already down! i didn’t want at first but let him do it was a bit embarassing but I was still happy .. it’s not as if she put her shoes under his nose asking him to do it .. What will you say when you will see BF with their girlfriend “minihand bag” ? ( not even heavy but still “helping”) lol
    “Hyoyeon throws a toddler-esque temper tantrum because her boyfriend is slightly late” heeey maybe he was 30 lin late ? lol

    As for Sunny, I already saw that before , just like a girl painting her friends , he dit it for her ..Have you seen Kwanghee painting Sungwha nail in WGM did you think like he was just playing with a doll ?

    Except those little things I said before, I agree with the main point of the article. That doll moment was totally creepy ! It made no sense for me ! I was also shocked at the room, all those girls in one room as it it was an harem .. It was a bit disgusting ..and their expressions when the boy rings the was fake and liveless and reinforced that harem feeling where you should come and serve you ..

    Truthfully more than the lyrics I tend to analyse the choregraphy and moves. Those shake shake your ass moves where totally reductive , hands on your pussy ect..ect.. Altought the song was not full of hello winky aegyo thing, ( not like the Mercy one I couldn’t even watch it) ..Their intenton with the music and style were good and I applaud that tentative , but for me it’s a fail .. all i could see was awkard and disturbing..

    As for the main point ..I belive SNSD can be a speaker for their generation one day, but not with that kind of songs…since lots of people still think a woman has to work for her family, take care of her husband and will be very difficult to change that..Girls have to believe in their own value and not as an added value to someone.. only education will change that ..or we need more songs stating “I don’t need a man” ..Music is the only “tool” than can help doind what the education can’t ..for SNSD to be like this, we will need to wait some years..

  • Jamie Sung

    To be honest, I never even thought it was sexist until I read this article. I think in high school, and with friends, the “conversation” being held here is really true to the theme “girl talk.” Things get exaggerated, whether it be jealousy, diffidence, etc. Take for example, Taeyeon’s line about the prince. I really don’t think she was actually waiting for a perfect man to come along and “save her.” Rather, I think after hearing about this girl that “got a boy,” she felt dissatisfied with her single status and wondered when she was going to meet a guy cool, kind, and handsome to steal her heart :)
    Instead of looking just at the lyrics for interpretation, I also largely drew my impression from the performances of the song. The Girls look like they’re having so much fun, and they seem so confident and comfortable that it’s hard to imagine them as anything other than in control.
    I’m sorry if I used too many quotation marks.

  • Carrie

    Thanks for this article! I was glad to finally come across an analysis of the lyrics, rather than just grumblings about its messy composition.

    Only thing I have to add – I think the part about “showing him your bare face” etc. is a sneaky metaphor for sleeping with him. At first I was also baffled by the shallowness of the lyrics at their face-value (no pun intended, yuk yuk), and thought, come on, that couldn’t possibly be the actual meaning of those lines.

    Of course, SM does not have a great track record when it comes to absurd lyrics that urge women to care more about their appearances – see SNSD’s song “Etude,” among others – but I really think this one is a sly trick by the songwriter. I mean, the sex interpretation doesn’t make the meaning that much better, but it’s certainly not as ridiculous as the idea that women are so strongly against showing their significant others their face without makeup. It also makes much more sense in the context of the surrounding lyrics, which seem to take a rather moral stance on this seemingly non-issue.

    Also, when would a guy get to see a woman’s face without makeup? The morning after, perhaps?

    Again, the female population doesn’t fare much better in this interpretation than in the original one – it still signifies a society where women (and girls) can and should be “sexy,” since that allows them to be objects of pleasure for men, but God forbid they should actually have sex and have pleasures of their own! That would make them sluts, as opposed to just gals who prance around in short skirts and coo “oppa saranghae” and “tell me your wish”! Because if you think the latter implies actual sex rather than mere, “innocent” sexiness, you are the one with a dirty mind.

    For further discussion on portrayals of female desire in K-pop, I recommend The Grand Narrative’s article on Ga-In’s “Bloom” (which I’m sure you’ve read already :) )

    • beyondhallyu

      Hi Carrie, thanks so much for your comment!

      That’s a really interesting perspective that I never thought about but I think it’s a great point. Something about this line really made me cringe and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I think you summed it up exactly.

      Reading it like that, I guess you could also say that it implies the idea that a woman’s worth lies in her virginity (or lack of) and that women should use their sexuality to manipulate and get what they want from men.

      You’ve really made me think a lot, thanks and yes I have read that article (it actually links to an article I wrote about the lyricist of Bloom, I believe).

      If you don’t mind, we sometimes like to post interesting comments in their own separate article in order to promote discussion and we would like to make an article for this comment as it is such an interesting perspective.

      • Carrie

        For sure, that would be great!

        From a further search I found this additional article from Sogang University’s publication, analyzing Ga-In’s song and music video from an even more progressively feminist viewpoint. (It was a difficult read due to the academic language, but with the help of Google Translate I was able to trudge through it.) The author’s main problem with the song and the music video seems to be that they portray a girl/woman as being incomplete until a man comes to make her “bloom” – that a girl only becomes a fully “bloomed” woman after a man comes along. So rather than being an example of a proactive woman, the woman in Ga-In’s song is still seen as being incomplete without a man. She argues this as a counterpoint to the article translated in The Grand Narrative, which she also quotes.

        Me, I’m somewhere in between the two. In the end, what Ga-In presents is a far better alternative to what the K-pop industry currently serves up as examples of “female sexuality,” and for that, she should be lauded. But clearly, there’s still a long way to go.

        • Sang Heon

          I’m a Korean man so probably not the best person to comment about this but I personally don’t see a problem with a woman expressing that she feels like she is finally blooming after her first sex.

          Please note the Ga-In’s song is about first sexual experience, not just about having a boy friend.

      • Sang Heon

        What Carrie has said is exactly right. It is common sense in Korea when a man say he would like to see her bare face it implies he would like to sleep with her. You should be aware that most of women in Korea put on make ups in the morning before they go out and wash them off in the evening, most likely before going to bed. You missed the point if you thought it was emphasizing that girl’s should always look pretty.

        Although I agree with most of the points you made and I really enjoyed reading the article, I must point out your criticisms on the words ‘얘 (child)’ and ‘이 몸(this body’) are from misunderstanding of Korean language and culture. Women in Korea calls each other ‘얘’ regardless of their ages if they are close friends. This cannot always be translated as meaning ‘child’. It’s like you can’t directly translate ‘baby’ in English language songs into another language as if it literally means ‘baby’.

        ‘이 몸’ also doesn’t really mean ‘body’ although literal translation would be ‘this body’ as you pointed out. It just means ‘Me’. In English when you say ‘Everybody’, you are not really referring them as physical ‘bodies’. It’s just another word for ‘Everyone’. However, I agree the word was used to lower herself in the context of this song.

        My point is that you cannot translate foreign language literally word by word and criticize about what it implies without thorough understanding of the language and context.

        • beyondhallyu

          Hi Sang Heon,

          Honestly as soon as I read Carrie’s comment, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. It seemed so obvious so thank you for confirming that it is indeed the case!

          I think I will in future not read into language as closely as I am still learning. Honestly, the main reason I added the part about 얘 in is because I spent so long bugging my teacher with questions about it that I would feel bad to not include it! I knew it wasn’t very relevant… Although that is interesting that you say it is used by women specifically? But then I suppose women in this country often refer to each other as girls. Although I wasn’t aware that 이 몸 was used as a pronoun until someone corrected me, it does still very humble in comparison to 왕자님, as you seem to agree.

          Thanks you for your comment and criticism. It has definitely made some things clearer and I will definitely bear this in mind in the future.


          • Sang Heon

            Hi Lizzie,

            I’m glad that I could clarify a few things for you. But overall you have made many valid points and I couldn’t agree more.

            Just to add another note, the word ‘이 몸’ was used in 2NE1 song ‘I’m The Best’ as well and in that song it was not used to humble themselves (In fact they are very proud women). So I think it all depends on the context, especially for Korean language which could be not as specific and explicit as English language some times.

  • Michelle Chin

    As much as I like the song and choreo, I agree with your take on this.

  • berybizkyt

    I like Yoona’s part but yeah the lyrics are quiet irrelevant.

  • Angela Parsons

    mouth wide open I am shocked! I love this song really catchy but not once did i think to find out what the lyrics mean. They took all the rights that women have been trying to build and threw it out the window. jeez worst part had to be ‘what should i do he wants to see me without my make up on’ yeeesh i still like the song just wish it was less superficial

  • Bea

    No, the tying of shoelace shows how a girl likes to be treated gently by a man. And I find that part cute though I really don’t understand the lyrics. And why the girls had a blast with their date except Hyoyeon. Is it because she is considered the least beautiful in the group?

  • ♥KRY♥

    bingo !

  • Alice Williams

    First off , I find you a bit gross. You took simple aspects and made them into sexual innuendos. The make up on the face? Teenage girls where I live are always talking about living on make up. To hide pimples and dark spots. When you meet a guy , do you really want him to see all of those even dark spots all over your face? It’s sexist to think that it is not okay for a female to think that way. Men also worry about their looks. You are taking it too far. No make up=sex?…..what? First off females tend to remove the make up as soon as they get home. Its bad for the skin other wise.In Korea where skin is important to take good care of , they know better. Again, the make up covers up their faults. It is the true test on if the guy likes YOU for YOU if he doesn’t care about your breakouts and uneven skin tone. Tying shoelaces? I always ask my friends to tie my shoelace ,I’m too lazy to tie it myself. It is convenient and for a guy you like to do it is like right out of a k-drama. On WGM couples have painted each other’s nails plenty of times. Lately Korean men have been a lot more open to nail art and painting their nails…so to do their girl friend’s is cute. Like K-Drama cute. Hyoyeon hitting the guy for being late. It wasn’t a full episode of a drama he could have been an hour late. So yeah she could have had full right to hit him. All the girls in the room together? It was just a cute opening sequence meaning “OMG!I got a boy!” Sooyoung running to open the door? I’ve seen guys also getting excited when a girl they like comes near or looks their way. Food on Tiffany’s mouth? CLASSIC MOVIE ROMANCE SCENE. Not only in Korea but in anime and American movies too. The lyrics? The girls that start off are haters. They use Korean slang and even go “uhhh” sounding judgmental. Then the POV changes to the girl going through “first boyfriend” troubles. Not only do girls change after getting a boyfriend , boys do too. They start caring more about their looks and their aura my change due to the new experience. I have my first crush at the moment and I’ve always been the ” jeans and graphic t’s” if I don’t feel like thinking person. (Although I’ve beeninto fashion and such too but it use to be easier to leave the house that way.) Now every time I get dressed I think of him. My sister , who is known for her chains , black clothing and glaring at everyone , now that she has a boyfriend I’ve seen her act cute. CUTE. If you knew my sister you’d fall off your chair once you read that. People’s tone of voice changes when speaking to some one they like. Also SNSD’s songs have never been female empowering? Um……Run Devil Run?( your a cheating asshole and just wait till I find a better man you’ll be wishing you had me.) Hoot? ( the girl basically says your a douche and annoying) I’m a Diamond ( how amazing they are and how pretty and their worth.) The boys?( Both the Korean and Japanese ver.) Get off your ass and take control of your dreams. Into the new world? Every time I’m sad I listen to the song and remind myself that I’ll get to a better place. Gee? yeahh it’s cute but it’s an accurate description of me in my block 2 class or walking past “him” in the hallways. Girls’ Generation? “Yahh oppa I know i’m a kid but just watch , i’m bigger than you think!” and not in a sexual way. Etude? Bro , that’s my anthem right now. I’m awkward and I ran away from him TWICE. To me it says “Girl , get him you got what it takes.” It’s just a song going from haters to girls in love for the first time and going though tough stages. So girls shouldn’t be shown as cute due to “gender stereotypes”? So we should all be sexy and punch people in the face right? Yeah no , there are cute girls out there too. Not because they are girls but because they are well… cute? SNSD shows all sides unlike 2NE1 ( who i do like) that don’t represent a large chunk of females. They just …don’t. Ugly yeah that song people can relate to. But most of the songs they sing is about how great they are and when they did “fallin in love” I can’t relate that to me and my crush like…at all. Still love the song though. My point is I think you took it overboard and you sound like a conspiracy theorist. It’s a fun song that tells girls like me”yeah it’s okay to feel this way. It’s just the typical feeling you may get.)Many of my non-kpop friends have fallen in love with the song and watch it with eng-sub. My friend who only wears jeans and an anime t-shirt and a giant hoodie even worries about how she looks in front of the people she likes. I think you are one of those people that shame the “Girly” community into thinking being girly is not okay. You are one of the many people who made me afraid to wear pink in the 6th grade. I’ve read your other articles and I agree with the others in those articles that it is an over calculated analyst on something that really is not that big of a deal. Like writers of a tabloid.

  • Hongjae Yim

    What this article says is all right and I totally agree. But this whole concept in the music video shows Korean dating culture and the modern and traditional gender role. If a girl actively pursue a man or overpower him, she doesn’t look attractive. Men supposed to protect and take care of the girls and girls also want his manliness and leadership. Of course, she is grown up so she could do everything herself but in Modern Korean dating culture. It is gentle man’s job to do that he does every little thing for her as if she is a princess. Making her to feel like she is valued high as a noble being is important. So the man serves and takes care of his girl like fragile being is considered romantic. This modern trend became popular because women was treated low in the past. Now It is time for girls to be treated like queens.

    • Melzy Cheezesticks

      So let me get this right: In the past, women were treated lowly. Right now, women are being treated as royalty. And if a women actively chases a man or assumes a more boyish/rough role, she looks unattractive?

      What are your opinions, though? I’m interested.

      • Hongjae Yim

        Yes you almost got my point. An overly attached girlfriend or boyish girlfriend won’t be seen as attractive. Many Korean men’s ideal girl will have cute personality, innocent look and curvy body, who isn’t too shy for PDA in Korean standard. However even if the girl fit in the ideal type if she is too immature, self-centered or doesn’t know what to do a thing alone will make the boyfriend tired of her.
        In the dating relationship women are treated as royalty but the marriage life isn’t so much. Public services and education for women is superb, but women’s social status still need to work on. Mothers manage home economy, but women’s economical power in industries is still small. Nevertheless, South Korea elected Ms Park as the first female president and the society is rapidly developing.

  • Fernando Martins

    Really, you all cant see how tendentious this article is? The bit where the writter gives his allegedly insightfull opinion on the make-up “advice” given to yoona, is so unreasonable. So Yoona is advised not to show her make-upless face, and he understand that she is told so to encourage women to trick men into loving them, and you ppl find that opinion insightfull? This advice is the same as a guy telling his friend not to wear his holed shirt to a date, but instead look his best, theres a conotation about vulnerability, and not letting your full self show on these first dates, its not the best example, but its not bad

    Now, how could you say that they are portraying women badly, really? Anyone one who cares to talk about girls generation in a reasonable manner knows they work hard, they are dancing, singing like crazy and acting on this video, and you take your message about female competency from those little moment you so ironicaly described? Sunny has a guy painting her nails (in real life that gesture would be understood as the guy being sweet, making a favor while doing something that can be embarassing, but he does for her), tiffany has a guy cleaning the corner of her mouth (thats a mess dude, cmon?), yuri looks sweet, smiling cheerfully when she gets a stuffed animal as a gift (what is wrong with that?), and seohyun has her shoelaces untied and the guy notices it, that all makes more sense if you understand it as a message that that the guys that are with the girls are all acting like nice, caring, gentle guys and that thats the kind of guy the girls appreciate, its a positive message “Be gentle, have aegyo (which is acting sweet, nothing more) and you might have a girl like one of the girls from girls generation falling for you.”

    About aegyo and how its allegedly creating the image of child like women, thats just really nonsense, men have aegyo as the video hints, aegyo is not a person acting childish, its just someone acting sweet, they have a name for when the aegyo is exagerated and gets too sweet and reaches the point where its childish, its called aegyo that calls for a punch in english, they have a word for it. About the gender gap, its a cultural thing that is changing, as oficialy, when it comes to laws and rights, the gap doesnt exist, which is how things beging to change, hopefuly.

    I’m from Brasil, where women are trully objectified. Every tv show has a hot girl in small bikinis just shaking their asses subtly so that a camera may take a shot every now and then. So, from somebody that really experiences women objetification on a daily basis, girls generation is the furtherest thing from women objetification, i do see some sexual conotation in the videos and everything, but its all sweet, pretty and light. Its about elegance, purity, when they were younger and they had a stronger focuse on the ahjussy fan appeal, on the videos, if you really observe without prejudice, you will see that they like loving daughters, acting cute, inoccent and silly, thats what the ahjussi fans are, they appreciate these girls being sweet and silly. For boys, that kind of appeal makes you feel a calm, quiet attraction because you are being charmed by something special, again, pure, sweet and innocent.

    Girls generation is known for not being overly sexy or vulgar, thats a great example they are setting, as they are likely to be copied by other girl groups and by girls in general, their girl fans are encouraged to be themselves, to not be slutty, to not use their body to attract men, but instead to be confident and be sure of yourself, they send the message that men need girls and want them, because a girl can make them better men if these just respect themselves. These girls got fame, wealth and respect from their whole country by creating a audiovisual experience that makes you see how romance and women can be totaly diferent from what our culture suggests, instead of something problematic, influenced by pessimistic tendencies, it can be something real, intimate, sweet experience in our lives.

    (im sorry if i was redundant at times, english is not my native language)

  • Danielle Helena Marie

    jan. 5th 2013 this video brought me into the wonderful world of k pop and everything else korean… I thought nothing more than “it looks like they make janet style videos in korea, perfect.” but now that I’m learning the language and more about this culture, I find this article very insightful. thanks.

  • Fre Yuh Lib Aero

    Their target audience are dudes so what would you really expect.