Long live the ‘Great Battle of Solos’
Koreans have adopted English words and used them in creative ways. The term “Burberry coat” is a prime example. In Korean, a Burberry coat refers to a trench coat, regardless of its brand. Koreans like to localize foreign words as needed. You cannot find “skinship” in an English dictionary. The creative Konglish word refers to intimate physical contact.
Another trend is combining English words with Chinese characters. Men-bung is a portmanteau of the English word “mental” and the Chinese character bung, meaning collapse. The Konglish way to say “mental collapse” was one of the most frequently used newly coined terms in 2012.
Another example is the word “meeting,” which here often refers to a group blind date. The recent “Battle of the Solos” had nothing to do with war. It is the title of a massive “meeting” of single men and women as they searched for a date during the Christmas season. The foreign press reported on the gathering as “a mass blind date event.” Some called it “a flash-mob blind date,” but these descriptions are not enough to capture the essence.
While the events were held in major cities around the country on Christmas Eve, not many of the participants found partners. In the aftermath, some called the event “The Great Disappointment of the Solos.”
But the truth is that it doesn’t matter what it was called - it does not make sense to try to find a partner at such an event. Some said the main problem was the male-to-female ratio. Police estimated that some 70 percent of the participants were male. But they are missing out on the true nature of love. Relationships are private by nature, as it is all about the subtle glances and gestures that provide the spark for romantic relationships. This doesn’t translate with thousands of people in an open public space.
In fact, the Battle of the Solos was nothing but a new form of entertainment among the young generation used to the social networking services. It was rather silly to take it so seriously. The police forces were mobilized to prevent cases of sexual harassment or other forms of misbehavior, but no such incident has been reported. The grown-ups who were so sensitive and serious about the event feel awkward and embarrassed for attempting to file reports.
American psychologist James W. Prescott compared the cultures of more than 400 communities and concluded that the culture with affectionate interpersonal relationships tends to be less aggressive and violent. A society that promotes intimate contact among families and loved ones is less likely to experience violence, aggression or religious fanaticism.
Making love is a human instinct. The desire is in our DNA. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t exist. That sweet temptation of love making enables species to carry on and flourish. For the sake of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, the single men and women need to continue their march to make love.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Bae Myung-bok