[Trend] K-POP’s Inadequacy; No Nurse Wears High Heels while Working

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2020.12.15
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2020.12.15
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미러사
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K-pop girl band BLACKPINK’s latest song “Lovesick Girls” became the talk of the town as the music video on YouTube earned over 100 million views in just three days after its release. In the music video, there was a scene where Jennie, a member of the group played as the role of a nurse in red high heels, a tight skirt and wearing an old-fashioned hair cap. The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union criticized the scene because the video presented the typical depiction used for provocative sexual appeal targeting nurses. Furthermore, the Korea Nursing Association urged BLACKPINK’s agency YG Entertainment to rectify the music video, claiming that the appearance of nurses’ costumes, which is unrelated to the lyrics is not an art form, but rather a reflection of the prevalent distorted images of nurses in our society. In response to the growing controversy to the nurses’ outfit, YG finally decided to amend all scenes that features the nurse avatar from the music video.  



Sexually objectifying of nurses is a common concept in K-POP. Even though the Korea Nursing Association has consistently sent complaints about the sexual portrayals of nurses, no one took this issue seriously. Most said that the nurse garment in the media was done under the name of ‘art’. The Sungshin Mirror grabbed an opportunity to interview a student of Sungshin Bae Nayeon (Department of Nursing Science 16), who is about to graduate and become a professional nurse. “After watching BLACKPINK’s hotly debated music video, I was left feeling drained and hopeless since reforming an existing perception for the career of a nurse would be such a long way to go. Every year when Halloween comes, a nurse costume is at the center of the controversy. And still in 2020, nothing has changed. If the agency wanted to depict a nurse image in the music video, they should have prepared the clothing that is an actual nurse uniform rather than choosing apparel which degrades the occupation. The nurse garment in BLACKPINK’s music video is utterly inappropriate. The agency stressed that equivalent outfits were used in the past, but professionals in the medical field didn’t wear tight clothes even once. Any occupational group wouldn’t be able to work wearing such tight clothes.” 

Why are there varied kinds of gaudy nurse costumes? The obvious answer Nayeon holds is that nursing industry is mostly taken up by the females. Misconceptions that nurses are working passively under the direction of a doctor and just caring for patients lead to a significant impact on sexual objectification to specialists. The profession of nurse is distinguished by a gender of woman, not an intrinsic occupation. 

The gravest problem with the current nurse’s misrepresented apparel is that it interrupts the actual nurse’s duties. The bias against the nurses is presented by a patient’s behavior. While our interviewee was undergoing a practical training at a hospital, some patients said “Hey, young lady, you are chubbier unlike other girls.” It was absurd to listen to such a thing because weight is not a vital factor for nurses to perform their duties. Through the appellation of a word lady, she could recognize that people regarded her as a typical female, not a professionally educated healthcare provider. Moreover, sexual assaults such as physical touches frequently happen. As an example, there was a patient who touched Nayeon’s chest and buttocks. Nevertheless, she had to put up with the sexual harassment because she would not be able to care for other patients at a fixed time if she wrangles with the sick over such a matter. 

Besides, nurses in mass media generate intensive influences on the mistaken views of the public. In comedy or drama being aired in Korea, nurses are usually characterized as talking behind doctor’s back and chatting over coffee, but Nayeon has never seen anyone who takes a break with a sip of coffee while training at a hospital. Staff nurses get stuck documenting the patient’s condition meticulously, preparing the medication accurately, and administering a dose of medicine at the right moment; being in charge of countless tasks besides taking care of patients. 

The medical law classifies five occupations as medical personnel: doctors, dentists, oriental doctors, midwives and nurses. Since the direct medical treatments are provided by doctors, some patients regard nurse as a stress reliever. However, doctors and nurses are in the equal position, not a vertical correlation. If a doctor is a person who sets the method and sequence of cooking, a nurse plays a leading role of cooking. Doctors and nurses consult each other to get dishes done. From this example, the sufferer should remember that a nurse is a medical staff member, just the same as a doctor. The kindness is not a prerequisite for medical services provided by the medical personnel. Nurses are under the medical profession, not the service industry. 



The popularity of South Korea has reached its peak with K-Pop. No wonder youngsters in foreign countries are learning Korean by watching Korean TV shows and singing along to Korean music. Yet, K-Pop culture is becoming a source of entertainment that doesn’t respect one’s vocation. Since BLACKPINK is one of the leaders of the Korean wave, their lackadaisical planning could be a subject of debate and criticism. Before dismissing nurses as being sensitive, hearing why they feel unpleasant at the uniform shown in the media should come first. At the hospital, nurses are struggling for the lives and safety of patients, risking the threat of infection on the virus. Nonetheless, nurses are exposed to sexual violence at the highest rate among hospital workers. The more K-Pop repeats the distorted image of nurses, the worse misperception of nurse becomes. As K-Pop and K-Drama are a representative brand of Korea, a deep understanding of the peculiar culture of the job used in media must be supported to produce better music and video content industry. 


By Jung Hyowon Reporter (n9510958@gmail.com))

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