“During the day, my boyfriend is energetic, feisty, and takes the lead. However, it is the opposite at night when he becomes cautious and uncertain. I want him to lead me when we are in bed but he turns dumb, stuttering ‘Can I touch you here?’ or ‘Can I turn off the lights?’” This ’dilemma’ was introduced in the 13th episode of a television program called “Witch Hunting”, aired on Joongang Television Broadcasting Channel(JTBC), a show designed to give advice on love relationships. After this episode was introduced through the TV program, the word Natibamjeo, which describes a type of boyfriend who leads his girlfriend like a man during the day but loses his dominance to his girlfriend at night, has become a well-used term among a number of online community users.
With TV programs such as Witch Hunting gaining popularity among people in their twenties, the trend of love consulting in the media has taken shape. Advice on love relationships and explicit details about sex are being openly discussed in television shows these days, on the Internet or in magazines. By comparison, it was not long ago that details or discussions about a person’s sex life were generally considered to be very private.
Increasing Interest in Frank Advice on Love and Sex
With more people opening up about their love troubles in online communities, the love consulting business is flourishing in mass media. For instance, on Nate Pan, one of the online communities providing an anonymous bulletin board for love advice, people posting messages about their love or sex related problems for others to see and reply to, offering frank advice based on their own thoughts and experiences. “I think that online communities encourage people to discuss their love problems which they cannot talk about in person even to their friends. Due to the secrecy and/or anonymity of online communities, people can feel free to provide detailed information while others can offer blunt advice,” commented Kim So-min, a Junior in the Major of Political Science and Diplomacy at Hanyang University(HYU).
In addition, a number of so-called “love coaches” have appeared on the scene, managing online boards or giving advice in magazine columns. Some have their own television shows such as “Kim Ji-yoon's Sweet 19”, a show hosted by Kim Ji-yoon, who is the Chief of a “love institute” called “Love Institute USTORY”, to give people down-to-earth advice. “The titles “love coach” or “love expert” makes them sound trustworthy when it comes to relationship problems. Since they seem more experienced and professional than others, I want to be advised by them,” said Ha Min-young, a Junior in the Major in Public Administration at HYU.
How Sexual Discussions Appear on Mass Media
Honest and open advice about love or sex reveals how the current mass media has transformed to where discussions about sexuality are freely discussed. Ahn Dong-keun, a Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication at HYU explained that this can be seen as a cultural phenomenon that has appeared as a result of mass media accepting and spreading public culture popularized in general society. In other words, as sexual exposure in Western media is being accepted more, as seen in the popularity of shows such as Saturday Night Live in Korea, the general public is signaling its approval of sexually explicit content. Mass media is serving to spread this interest by continuously showing increasingly levels of sexual exposure. Being repeatedly exposed to such content, audiences are subconsciously accepting more and more of it. “Sexual stimulation, when continuously triggered, makes people want greater levels as they become numb to it,” Professor Ahn added.
In addition, Professor Ahn suggested that the boundary between public and private space is diminishing, leading to more private conversations being exposed in the media. “This can also be seen when people are talking on the phone. Talking on the phone used to be considered a private matter, but now it is done commonly in public spaces. Similarly, people have already started to discuss their personal problems in public, expecting answers from others who have gone through similar situations,” said Professor Ahn.
Talking about Love Earnestly and Healthily
People openly discussing their private love and sex problems in mass media that is readily accessible to the public seems paradoxical. Nevertheless, the media available are appealing to young people who want and offer straightforward answers. However, those seeking advice through discussions on sex should be careful not to trust everything they read or hear. “Even though talks about sex are publicized in the media, often they do not discuss serious issues concerning sex,” said Kim Hyeon-jung, a sex columnist. While satisfying one’s curiosity, conversations on sex and love in the media should be healthy as well.