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  1. [BLOCKED BY STBV] @ESLBarry
    [BLOCKED BY STBV] @ESLBarry January 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm .

    “@holterbarbour: RT @gordsellar New post: Normal Sadism, Weak Boundaries: Why Korean Society is So Unhappy http://t.co/TTQcGXeG”

  2. [BLOCKED BY STBV] @uriworld
    [BLOCKED BY STBV] @uriworld January 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm .

    RT @ESLBarry: “@holterbarbour: RT @gordsellar New post: Normal Sadism, Weak Boundaries: Why Korean Society is So Unhappy http://t.co/TTQcGXeG”

  3. [BLOCKED BY STBV] @BarryPWelsh
    [BLOCKED BY STBV] @BarryPWelsh January 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm .

    RT @gordsellar: New post: Normal Sadism, Weak Boundaries: Why Korean Society is So Unhappy http://t.co/RGrouYi8

  4. [BLOCKED BY STBV] @DevaLee
    [BLOCKED BY STBV] @DevaLee January 7, 2013 at 11:59 am .

    Is Korean society “in the throes of a kind of society-wide case of PTSD”? A look at sadism in #Korea by @gordsellar http://t.co/6RliD03A

  5. Noah Body
    Noah Body January 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm . Reply

    One of my favorite Korean expressions: “My stomach hurts when my uncle buys property.” It nicely sums up much of what you were writing about.

  6. David Schnarch
    David Schnarch January 16, 2013 at 11:45 am . Reply

    Very nice article. Judging from the picture you portray so well, your application of normal marital sadism is dead-on. I was alerted to your piece by someone who sees normal sadism within the educational system, and in the families teachers are exposed to. Thank you for referencing my work.

  7. Tiffani
    Tiffani January 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm . Reply

    GREAT post. I agree so much with your perspective on this, especially the observations on boundary-setting in public & with strangers.

  8. Anne
    Anne March 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm . Reply

    This article really resonated with my own experiences of (Korean) family life. I have a complex relationship with my mother, because the reality of our often-sadistic relationship is more complex than the model you set forth here (as, I know, are most parent-child relationships).

    I actually would not agree with the theory of PTSD, because the strict definition of PTSD does not really apply to Korean society today… perhaps more recent experiences such as the Asian Financial Crisis, but I would argue that that is a vehicle and not a cause in itself.

    I would instead go with your explanation of unopposed cruelty in Korean society being enabled by the lack of formal boundaries, in conjunction with the tendency toward absolute and rigid hierarchy of privilege, based on age (not so much on sex, in modern times) and social position.

    I say this because my mother’s form of “sadistic” behavior is much as you described, but also includes elements you haven’t described, such as a total intolerance for any form of “talking back”, which includes pointing out her cruelty, the irrationality of her words and actions, and point-blank declaring my refusal to conform to her demands. According to my mother’s thought process, not only should I respect her position as elder by considering her word as law (or at least, her opinion to be rationally superior to any of my own simply by dint of her greater experience), but ignore all injustices, indeed not harbor any anger at all, for gratitude to her and a belief that everything she does, however hurtful, is done with my best interests at heart.

    And this is not a simply rhetorical device, but a real emotional hurt of hers, because she feels that I am rejecting her person by refusing to accept her advice and dictates, all made in what she genuinely believes to be my best interests. And, to a point, that is right, because I am so sick of our relationship that I find it helps my sanity best to pretend I don’t have a mother at all.

    Simply put, both a lack of boundaries AND a one-sided dimension to almost all relationships facilitates the expression of inner human cruelty. Koreans often rebut this claim* by saying that
    this lack of boundaries also allows an intense sense of fellowship and warmth not experienced by people in other, more polite societies, but I am personally of the opinion that, even if such a thing were true, the price is too great.

    *(Actually, I’ve noticed Koreans never confront criticisms, especially of society, head-on by deconstructing their validity, but come up with excuses for why such wrongs are a necessary evil, or try to “counterbalance” by pointing out why some other reality is just as bad.)

  9. Anne
    Anne March 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm . Reply

    Oh, definitely, Korean parents are often immature and little better than tantrum-throwing children. Once I figured out my mother’s tongue-lashings were in fact, just that–tantrums–it became far easier to bear. I now indulge her as I would a child who is incapable of reasoning, which sounds extremely condescending and terrible of me… but it does work.

    My boyfriend used to tell me that the job of the eldest child is to “clear the path” for the younger. Food for thought.

    It is odd, because my boyfriend’s family comes from Jeonju, have never been outside of the country, and are self-professed to dislike “drawing boundaries”… his mother was put-off that her daughter-in-law wasn’t, in the end, a surrogate daughter (having raised three boys, her disappointment is somewhat understandable). Yet in actual fact they’re the most respectful parents I’ve seen, and allow my boyfriend and his brothers freedom in their daily lives and in planning their careers and love lives I can only envy (though I’m curious if they would have allowed a daughter such latitude).

    I think with the vast majority of Korean parents, even the good ones, it’s a total crapshoot: a tyrant, or a benevolent monarchy?

  10. Meredith Folsom
    Meredith Folsom August 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm . Reply

    Pretty cool blog. I’m research (at the moment) boundaries and the sadism that develops in children that don’t have them… sort of like… they’ll experiment and keep experimenting waiting for a response. It’s the response they seek, not the result of their experiment. So they go too far. I suppose it’s the same in any relationship where one party feels power over the other party, such as parents over children, husbands over dependent wives, bosses over employees, guards over prisoners, etc. It can be a nasty world. Power to the people! Burn that bra! and … what would a child say?

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