[KS] Fri. April 6 - The Luxury of Love: Rise of the "Bats" in post-IMF South Korea

Center for Korean Studies cks at berkeley.edu
Thu Mar 29 14:47:46 EDT 2012

The Center for Korean Studies, UC Berkeley


Proudly presents:


The Luxury of Love: The Retreat/Retirement of Single Gay Men and the Rise of
the "Bats" in post-IMF South Korea

Colloquium: Center for Korean Studies| April 6 | 4 p.m. |
<http://www.berkeley.edu/map/3dmap/3dmap.shtml?athletic> Institute of East
Asian Studies (2223 Fulton, 6th Floor), Conference Room


Speaker: John (Songpae) Cho, Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Sponsor:  <http://ieas.berkeley.edu/cks/> Center for Korean Studies (CKS)


"Bats" refers to married gay men who blur the affective, emotional,
temporal/spatial, and financial boundaries maintained by single gay men
between their weekend gay lives and their weekday heterosexual ones.
Ironically, just as many single gay men are retreating and retiring from
their gay lives in order to focus on their careers or even marrying women
under the pressures of South Korea's neoliberal and biopolitical reforms,
designed to boost the flagging birth rate and stave off an imminent crisis
of biological/social reproduction, married gay men, who were all but visible
during the period of the country's gay community building in the mid-1990s
till late 1990s, are emerging as a powerful new sexual constituency. The
same force that compels many single gay men to retreat/retire-the lack of
job security and familial support, especially in their own age, from their
own wives and children-is what is seen to enable married gay men to enjoy
the "luxury of love." 

In assessing the paradoxical fall and rise of these two sexual
constituencies, this presentation asks: How do emotional caring, physical
nurturing, and even romantic love become the purview and luxury of the rich
or the lucky few? Or, more broadly, where does "security" come from in this
age of neoliberal insecurity and bio-politics? Indeed, in attending to the
pathos, regret, and disempowerment expressed by gay men in post-IMF South
Korea, it is too easy to miss those most absent/present within these men's
narratives-the voices of those women who are being currently actively
targeted by the Korean patriarchal state to marry, take care of, and
reproduce the nation. 

Ironically, in mobilizing and exploiting these women in order to maintain
their sense of emotional stability, secure their "social face," and fit into
the homosocial bonding of the nation, both single and married gay men may be
more complicit with-rather than challenge-the Korean government's
contemporary bio-political project.


Event Contact:  <mailto:cks at berkeley.edu> cks at berkeley.edu, 510-642-5674




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