Park's Game: To Get Sexy, Raw and More Than a Little DirtyJust after 11 p.m., as the elevator door at the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation building was about to close, a tall, serious, tired-looking man rushed in. Wearing a sleeveless undershirt and shorts, he did not look like one of Korea's sexiest stars. But he was. Park Jin-young, 30, may be one of the best-known dancers, singers and producers in Korea. On stage he's often dressed in glittering, see-through costumes that show off his flashy dance moves. His sixth album, "Game," released in mid-June, has sold more than 350,000 copies.
Many people are talking about Park, but not about his music. They're talking of what he sings about － sex. His songs contain some of the most frank descriptions of sexual acts in mainstream Korea. In "Neoeui Son-ggeut" ("The Touch of Your Fingertips") Park details how he feels while having sex. In "Cheoeum Mannan Namjawa" ("With the Man I First Saw"), a female sings, "How far can I go with the first man I saw?" and Park answers, "Don't be afraid, just let it flow." Park, who married in 1999, sings about two-timing in "Nan Yeojaga Itneunde" ("I Have a Girlfriend, but Still"). That song caused the Christian Ethics Movement Korea and 49 more civic groups, to issue an official statement, urging Park's "Game" to not be sold to anyone under 18.
Seated in the conference room of the MBC building, Park lighted a cigarette. "I just wanted to express what I felt during the last six months in the United States," Park told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition. "I happened to write and sing about sex simply because I enjoyed it more often after marriage." The way Park sees it, sex should be a game that is fun to play, and he wonders what is wrong with singing about having fun. "At the least, there are two conditions － you should do it with someone you love, and you should be adults," Park added.
Despite Park's caveats, Lee Yo-han, a member of the Christian Ethics Movement Korea, said, "Park is apparently encouraging adolescents to have sex. Considering that Park is more influential to teenagers than Kim Dae-jung, this kind of distorted concept should be dealt with." Also, TV stations have decided that a half-dozen of his songs are not appropriate to be aired.
In his defense, Park said that his songs help teenagers rationally control their desires. "I tried to say sex is a natural thing but you should wait until adulthood," Park added.
The person who seems to be unhappiest about his controversial song is Park's wife, Yun-jeong. On more than one occasion Park has said, "My wife and I openly talk about having extramarital affairs." He added, "My biggest fear is that someday I might meet a woman more attractive than my wife."
A government censorship committee recently decided that Park's songs are not harmful to teenagers. However, the album's artwork, which suggests sex and drug use, should be modified, committee officials said. The 50 civic groups have protested that decision and asked for reconsideration.
This is not Park's first brush with controversy. He appeared nude in a women's magazine and has openly stated that he's a feminist, a rare announcement for a Korean man. Being a feminist, however, is more egocentric than altruistic: "It is just to have fun for myself; those women who believe in patriarchal structures are overly passive and boring."
Those who are against Park might be surprised to learn that his childhood dream was to be a schoolteacher. Curiously, Park has another dream － to become a news commentator. He said he knows current events and conditions in Korea well and that he is continuing to study political science at the Graduate School of Yonsei University.
After lighting another cigarette, Park said, "I wrote songs with a medium tempo for 'Game,' though people told me it would not sell in Korea. Koreans are always too busy, and what they want is something short, strong and extreme. There is no culture to appreciate and I wanted to make a sexual culture to savor. The controversy is just much ado about nothing."
by Chun Su-jin