Monday, November 22, 2010

The outcry over Blackout Korea

Blackout Korea, about which I gave my two cents last year, has suddenly become a bit of a hot topic lately. The Marmot wrote a post on it, in part because of this write-up on it, due to this interview with the site's anonymous owner.

Though I did suggest last year that the site was somewhat amusing, I agree that a few of the posted pictures do cross the line (the Marmite assault, the simulated ass rape, and perhaps this one below). I also hadn't been aware that, despite the supposed sociological justification for the site (see the interview link), the owner had been deliberately avoiding posting pictures of blacked-out foreigners because, "when I was starting it out I wanted to establish the site as a mostly Korean phenomenon." A tad distorting, methinks, but okay, at least now he's got pics like those familiar to anyone whose college life included keggers, except it's outside.

Frankly, it hadn't occurred to me last year that a string of such posts would encourage more and more outrageous behavior on the part of the picture taker. I would have thought that most of the shutterbugs would realize that legal considerations in the ROK over invasion of privacy might make it a tad imprudent to be making the happy face in such photos, much less the randier scenes.

What I really don't get is exposing the face of the guy who's blacked-out, while blacking out the face of the guy who's exposing himself.

Ah, why fight it? I encourage you to send me submissions of foreign nationals exposing themselves in Korea for my new blog, Exposed Waygooks!

I decided it would be a little more prudent and a little less hypocritical if I altered these pictures myself to obscure the drunk guy's face. I mean the drunk Korean guy, the one who's passed out. (I'm fairly confident about the inebriated status of the others in the photo.)

And yes, I realize my choice to "add noise" to the photo does make it look like he vomited a bunch of pixels.


  1. Without condoning the actual frat-boy fuckery of the Marmite Assault itself, the comments on that particular post are hysterical.

  2. They are indeed. Being the optimist that I am, I imagine something good possibly (or even likely) coming out of this.

    At base, the guy might see this as something of a wake-up call about his drinking. If he's being forced to drink with his boss or his sŏnbae, then he has a built-in excuse he can remind them about the next time he wants to duck out early. Some mentioned that his terrible condition the next morning might have prompted his woman to take him back.

    My worry, however, is what will be the next outrageous BOK photo shoot where BOK fans try to outdo the Marmite assault, then try to outdo whatever outdid the Marmite assault, and so on. This can only end badly.

    Still, I'm surprising myself with my own lack of qualm about the site, much less outrage. Without the over-the-top pics, I find nothing much wrong with the site.

  3. Yes, a policy of non-intervention from the BOK dude would be a good way to a) prevent his site from turning into a cautionary tale, b) thwart a potentially disastrous hooligan arms race, and c) mitigate somewhat the humiliation factor for those involved.

    When the site was simply photos of passed out people (white dudes included) in public spaces, it was tasteless but sometimes amusing... the harassment-bordering-on-somekindof-assault factor adds a bitter taste to the whole thing though.

  4. Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I suggest that you post this same prime directive over at BOK. He might be amenable to it. I have no idea if he reads this blog, even with a few people link to his from mine, so the idea may go wasted here.

  5. I'll admit the past 'gotcha' photos of passed out folks was mildly amusing. This recent turn of mucking about the drunk folks while taking a photo has made the site a bit ugly.

    Oh, and Exposed Waygooks? Bookmarked.

  6. Well, I left a comment on the (somewhat alarming!) latest entry here. Hopefully the blog owner takes the suggestion into consideration.

    Co-incidentally, the guy in that particular photo might actually be my father-in-law. I have a photo of him out on the sauce, in the exact same garb as the gentleman pictured.

    PS. Best. Episode. Ever. I love the novella that episode is named after too!

  7. Hey guys. Saw your comment on my page and checked this out. Indeed, this does seem to be the biggest netizen uproar to date.

    I'm a bit torn on the matter. I have, truly, tried to tone it down a lot since the Marmite incident. While I still personally think it was a relatively harmless prank, I can definitely see how doing that to a drunk stranger can be perceived as kinda horrible.

    I also try my best to keep homeless people out of pictures, for obvious reasons. People sleeping on subways, too, unless they are in ridiculous situations, like, oh I don't know, asleep on the floor.

    At the heart of the matter, I began the site because it was amusing how an entire country is completely okay with their citizens passing out in public, at any time of day. I suppose I should perhaps be a bit more sensitive about the content of the site now that it is getting more popular.

    I still don't see anything inherently immoral about it in general, but upon further examination, some of the photos (like on Ryan's "exposed Waygook's page) are definitely pretty out of line.

    I'll try to be more careful about posting in the future, and when I get some time go through and review some of the more controversial pictures. This does go against a large part of my personal fiber, however, being very opposed to any kind of censorship, but I also understand the national sensitivity of such an issue. I guess we'll see how things turn out.

    I stand by that I don't think harmless, non-touching posing is hurting anybody (except possibly, the poser). But in general I do agree that the blackout victims have a right not to be "fucked with". Thanks for your suggestions, i'm welcome to any others.

  8. BOK, the country is under attack as we speak, and you're waxing philosophically about censorship and the dignity of the homeless. I admire that kind of dedication to purpose.

    And for the record, Exposed waygooks! is my baby (I'll deny this later, I'm sure). And if you have any not-ready-for-BOK pics that might qualify as EW pics, feel free to send them my way.

  9. Here are some pics for your "Exposed Waygooks" blog. I found them on Blackout Korea's Facebook page.

  10. Here are some more:

  11. Ryan wrote this almost a year ago...
    PS. Best. Episode. Ever. I love the novella that episode is named after too!

    ... but I only just now realized I'd missed the last part of his comment. Thanks for that, Ryan. I guess when I first saw this I'd forgotten I'd written a my Simpsons quote (i.e., the "newsletter" sentence), so I didn't realize you were making reference to that.

    Frankly, until I just now looked it up, I was unaware that that particular Simpsons episode "Mountain of Madness," was named after a novella from 1936 called At the Mountains of Madness. I should get out more. Or stay in more.


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