A study was done in 1979 and revisited for the purpose of writing an article in a journal called Sex Roles: Gender Role Portrayals in American and Korean advertisements. The study done by Erving Goffman showed how “East Asian cultures grow increasingly Westernized; the depictions of both genders are likely to be influenced by Western values”.
In comparing Korean and American women, American women are socially different than Korean women. Even though American women have not fully obtained equal salaries and job opportunities as men, they have made progress when entering the workforce. There is a growing number of women entering the workforce and holding professional and managerial roles (pg 890). Korean women still live by their cultural norms despite a changing society, from traditional to modern economic societies. They are conflicted between traditional homemaker roles and the social opportunistic role (pg890). The conflict is rooted from Western images of women holding values of “competition, freedom, professionalism and individualism” (pg 891).
To begin the study, Goffman and numerous revisiting sociologists took a series of sample of magazines from Korea and America in the years 1979, 1991, and 2000 (pg892). The two largest circulations targeted toward a Korean female audience were Women’s Donga (middle-age women) and Ceci (young women) whereas the two American magazines were Good Housekeeping (middle-age) and Glamour (younger women). The issues of January, April, July and November 2000 were used for Women’s Donga and Good Housekeeping while Ceci used the July, August, November, and December 2000 issues. Glamour also used the same issues as Ceci but could not obtain the December 2000 issue but instead used January 2001. 160 advertisements were used from US and Korean magazines and 30% of Korean ads used White female models whereas 1.9% of US ads used Asian female models. 0.6% Korean ads and 8.8% US ads used Black models in their advertisements showing a huge disparity in using different races in advertisements. The coding categories used in US advertisements such as ritualization of subordination (bowing, lowering oneself; person of opposite sex elevated) and feminine touch (person’s hands of fingers used to caress objects or people) were more popular whereas Korean advertisements used licensed withdrawal (Person covers mouth or face with hands, turns gaze from other(s)) and body display (person wearing tight, revealing, short clothing).
What was eventually found in the study were Korean ads offered fewer stereotypic images of women. Sexist images appear more frequently in the sample of American magazine ads. The magazines used, both Korean and American, were geared to a predominantly White audience and the use of White models in Korea confirms the trend among Asian countries to adopt Western images in their advertising as well as the adoption of Western emphasis on White/ European beauty standards. (pg 897)
Source: Hovland, Roxanne; McMahan, Carolynn; Lee, Guiohk; Hwang, Jang-Sun; Kim, Juran.Sex Roles: Gender Role Portrayals in American and Korean Advertisements. Vol 53. Numbers 11/12. December 5th 2005.