Korean Sociological Image #56: Start ‘Em Young!

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Apologies for the continued slow posting folks, but I have several good excuses, one of which involves spending a lot of time in doctors’ waiting rooms. Unlike most normal people however, that’s actually something I look forward to, as I simply relish the opportunity to peruse the hundreds of advertisements in the thick women’s magazines there.

Like Laedygyeonghyang (레이디경향; Lady Trend) below for instance, which at 8200 won (US$7.32) a pop, is normally much too expensive to buy just for the sake of a few pictures. But then I saw the February edition, and was hobbling to the nearest bookstore literally as soon as my bandages were changed (the nurses had to call me back inside for my injection).

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You see, this being the start of the school year in Korea, just the first 30 pages or so had 6 full page advertisements for children’s schoolbags, all of which featured stark contrasts in the ways they advertised boys’ and girls’ bags. Perpetuating gender stereotypes much more reminiscent of the 1970s than something you’d expect to see in 2011, they were really quite shocking, and an indictment of how – in terms of socializing children at least – advertising has definitely regressed in recent decades.

Alas, the magazine was no longer available, but as you can see I did manage to find at least the 2 K-SWISS (케이스위스) ones online later (the other 4 were from HEAD {헤드}). Paraphrasing just a little, the Korean on the girl’s ad reads “What style shall I choose today?!”, while that on the boy’s reads “Through [this bag's] strength/firmness and lightness, achieve children’s dreams!”. Sigh.

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But as you’d expect from the visuals. And given that, the fact that Caucasian models were used, and that K-SWISS is an American company, then I was curious as to if in fact this was an American ad that had been used in other markets, with just the text translated. A quick check of its main website though, shows that only Asian branches had kids’ lines, but which still leaves the possibility that they’re generic ads for the Asian region.

Have any Asian-based readers seen their own local versions? Or – wherever you are – any other children’s ads like these?

(For more posts in the Korean Sociological Images series, see here. Or, for more on the Korean women’s magazine industry specifically, please see here)

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Filed under: Body Image, Gender Roles, Gender Socialization, Korean Advertisements, Korean Children and Teenagers, Korean Sociological Images Tagged: 레이디경향, 케이스위스, K-SWISS