[FOUNTAIN]The growth of pornography

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[FOUNTAIN]The growth of pornography

A "secret room" in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples caused heated controversy in the early 19th century. In the room, which at one point only high officials had been allowed to enter, 102 pieces of a "special collection" originally had been placed. Rumors that the locked room held "obscene art," including a nude of Venus de Milo and various erotic paintings and sculptures, spread among the public. Pressed by the growing curiosity about the expansion of the secret collection, the museum opened the room to the public for a while, then locked it again. The museum repeatedly opened and locked the room through the 19th century. At one time, the museum locked the room after hearing criticism that the room was corrupting morality.

In the late 19th century, the room added a collection of obscene objects excavated from Pompeii and Herculaneum, two Roman cities obliterated when Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. After that, the room became a favorite spot of tourists from various countries and a focus of research by art enthusiasts.

The History Channel, a cable TV and satellite broadcast channel, last week began airing "The History of Pornography," a documentary in series form. The program covers the relics of Pompeii and eroticism from churches in the Middle Ages to sexual experiences via present-day computers. The documentary, which was made over a 10-year period by Channel 4, a private broadcast firm in Britain, has gained public approval. The project covers the effects of the advance of technology on the development of pornography and how pornography is expected to change in the future.

The origin of the word pornography is "porno-graphos," a Greek word that means "the thing written (graphos) about prostitutes (porno)." The word refers to obscene literature in English. Obscene means "out of scene," in other words, something secret that cannot be shown in public. The criteria for distinguishing pornographic literature, paintings and sculpture from nonpornographic ones have been changed according to the times. Simply, pornography cannot escape blame for making women tools of sex. Witch-hunting over the 200 years after the Renaissance was justified with the degradation of the sex of women.

Recently, the controversy over pornography has become more heated, thanks to the media. Online pornography upsets parents of students who use the Internet. And adult movies televised on cable TV and satellite broadcast channels cause continual disputes. There should be a way to keep pornogoraphy from underage children.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Choi Chul-joo

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