[Viewpoint]Sex, scandal and midlife crisis

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[Viewpoint]Sex, scandal and midlife crisis

Most men, especially those with power and social status, have the tendency to believe that they can subjugate women completely with their masculine charm, not with their power or social status. Of course, this is a misapprehension.
The bigger a man’s desire to own a woman, the more powerless the man becomes, and he will ultimately become her slave.
It seems that the relationship between Byeon Yang-kyoon and Shin Jeong-ah is like that. Shin is not a kind of a woman who can be only for Byeon. But a man who has become a prisoner of a woman’s charm gets disillusioned and devotes all he has, even his own life, to win her favor.
He assumes the role of a knight for the woman and solves problems that seem impossible to resolve by exerting his marvelous strength. This is the naked truth of the “Shin Jeong-ah-gate” that is unfolding before us now.
Whoever he may be, a man inevitably becomes the prisoner of a life-long obsession to be recognized as a “a strong male.” According to Paulo Coelho, it takes a man only 11 minutes on average to sustain sexual intercourse.
Even for a man in crisis, who might feel 11 minutes is too long, the strong male image is the dream that he cannot let go of.
Therefore, a man is driven to the brink of crisis when his desire to be seen as a strong male does not match with reality.
Midang Suh Jhung-joo, a renowned poet who passed away several years ago, said, “About 80 percent of my career as a poet, I owe to my wantonness.” Of course, the wantonness that he described in his poem, “Self-portrait,” does not necessarily mean the fickleness of men only; he also admitted that women were the problem he could not overcome his whole life.
Kim Soo-hyun, the author of a popular television drama, “My Man’s Woman” which was the talk of the town some time ago, said when the serialized drama was near its climax, “A woman’s biggest worry is her man’s change of heart.” What then is a man’s biggest worry? It’s nothing else but the indifference of his woman.
In the background of the scandal that a 35-year old woman, Shin Jeong-ah, created ― bringing about such a stir as to shake the whole nation ― are the desperate flounderings of Korean men, especially those in their age of crisis, who do not want to be turned away in the eyes of the woman on their minds.
The first victim among them, Byeon Yang-kyoon, who was born in 1949, is still in his 50s.
As Holger Reiner, a German writer who is one year older than Byeon, sees it and writes in his book, “The Age of 50 for Man,” the extramarital relations enjoyed by a man in his 50s are so sweet as to be beyond description, but there is no more lethal poison than that.
In fact, there is a climacteric for men, too. One may ask in return how a man, who has never experienced menstruation, can experience a change in life, but Jed Diamond, who has 35 years of experience as a psychotherapist, says confidently that men do.
Perhaps, men should suspect whether they are in a climacteric if they feel a rush of physical fatigue, lose confidence in their sexual ability and feel annoyed or melancholy more often than usual. At such times, men used to have a feeling of isolation and uneasiness. They may imagine an affair with a young woman or even be caught in an impulse to confirm their virility by putting such imagination into practice.
Byeon must have had the same feeling.
In a man’s life, there are two peaks. In order to climb the first peak of life, a man should cross the valley of adolescence and to climb the second one, he should cross the climacteric.
Perhaps that is the reason why there are strange similarities between adolescents at around 15 and grown men in their 50s: they can do things that are amazingly thoughtless. What youths in their adolescence do amounts to running away from home at worst, but there is no solution to what is committed by adult men during their change of life.
In the backdrop of the noisy Shin Jeong-ah-gate, are men in their age of crisis hidden here and there. The persistent male instinct of men in crisis, and the temptations of Eve fanning that instinct, have created numerous incidents.
The accumulation of such incidents has now turned into a tsunami that sweeps the whole nation in its wake.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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