South Korea’s sex doll industry disputes “life-size” imports

A sex doll sits on a chair in a warehouse of Korean sex toy retailer Bururu.com and MS Harmony. The doll costs about $ 2,068 and comes with a customized Japanese face. After the South Korean company won the dispute, it promoted the legal import of densely packed sex dolls in June 2019 and is currently on sale at Bururu.com.

credit:
Kelly Cassouris / World

The one-room office was hidden deep in a warehouse near Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport, packed with cluttered cubicles and piles of paperwork. It looks like any other office, except for the unopened lube oil box and ice cube tray with penis-shaped slots or condom-shaped stuffed animals that smile from the top shelf.

This is the office of Bururu.com, a South Korean sex toy company that works to change the country’s “restrictive” import regulations.

Since their win in June, their latest victory-fighting for the legal import of “life-size” sex dolls-has been controversial. To date, more than 260,000 South Koreans have signed a petition on the website of the president’s office asking the government to overturn its decision that sex dolls target women and lead to more sexual crimes.

Related: To win #MeToo movement in South Korea, government gives harassers more jail time

“The more fans and followers we attract, the more hatred we will get. Now that the imported products have been legalized, we have received many inquiries from people interested in buying dolls.”

Bururu.com CEO Lee Sang-jin
“The more fans and followers we attract, the more hatred we have,” said Lee Sang-jin, CEO of Bururu.com. “Now that imported products have been legalized, we have received people who are interested in buying dolls. Ask a lot. “

Lee whispered softly and freely. He walked through the company’s tall inventory shelves, from anal plugs to BDSM (binding, domination, sadism, masochism) constraints, and then to silicone models of female torso. He showed off a doll imported by the company, a low-end doll from China with a customized Japanese face, for about $ 2,068.

The realistic sex dolls imported by Bururu.com are often referred to as “real dolls” in Korea, with heights ranging from 67 to 88 pounds and heights ranging from 5’1 “to 5’6”. They can cost up to $ 10,000. Lee explained that some men buy them for sex, while others dress and shape them to achieve their gender, female fantasy.

“Until 2008, penis-type sex toys were illegal in South Korea, and before 2010, vaginal-type sex toys were illegal. We fought the government for all these actions and won.”

Bururu.com CEO Lee Sang-jin
“These are often very popular,” he said, pointing to a fake vaginal box. “Until 2008, penis-type sex toys were illegal in South Korea, and before 2010, vaginal-type sex toys were illegal. We fought the government for all these actions and won.”

Growing controversy
In recent years, sex toys have become more mainstream among Koreans. Shops selling male and female vibrators have attracted a large crowd in the university district, and major Korean retailers like Shinsaegae and E-mart even started selling sex toys last year.

However, according to critics, “real dolls” are not ordinary sex toys, and the South Korean government has not legally launched a sexual revolution by legalizing its imports (the government blocked about 895 pornographic websites in February last year). Some Twitter users have chosen to call these products “rape dolls,” and the original petitioners said they would further trigger sex crimes, which have become a hot topic with South Korea’s #MeToo campaign.

“Do you think the use of [sex dolls] will reduce sexual crimes? On the contrary, those who are dissatisfied with a motionless doll are likely to commit sexual crimes against living women,” the online petition wrote. “Don’t these dolls seem to seriously harm human dignity?

To be honest, Kathleen Richardson, a professor of targeted robotics and ethics and culture, said that there has been no research on the impact of sex dolls on their users or the possible links between sex dolls and sex crimes. Artificial Intelligence at De Montfort University. However, Richardson believes that sex dolls can still cause harm.

“I think we can go further and say that these people (the consumers of sex dolls) are less likely to be sympathetic to women, they are less likely to worry about sexual assault, and less likely to worry about women’s safety.

Kathleen Richardson, Director of Oppositional Robotics
“We live in a business world built for men, mainly to get the bodies of women and children,” she said. “I think we can go further and say that these people (the consumers of sex dolls) are unlikely Compassion for women, they are less likely to worry about sexual assault, and less likely to worry about women’s safety. “

“The story of the origin of these dolls comes from a very objective point of view of women. For these reasons, I think this is always problematic,” Richardson added.

Some Korean women’s groups also oppose dolls, especially when they look like children. An official of the Federation of Korean Women’s Associations asked to remain anonymous for fear of being affected, saying that sex dolls “directly correspond to misogyny.”

“It treats women as sexual objects. She said.” One thing the lawyers are discussing here is that there is currently no law on doll customization. Men can customize dolls to have a friend’s face or a child’s face. “

Currently, South Korean lawmakers are trying to pass other legislation that at least prohibits the sale and import of child sex dolls.

Although Bururu.com does not sell plump dolls that are less than about 5’1 tall, there are also reports that some companies sell dolls that are only 3’3 “tall.

Legal loopholes
As far as Bururu.com owners are concerned, sex dolls are a personal choice-they are already in South Korea anyway. Lee Sang-jin attributed the rally to a “gender war” and added that Bururu.com also sells sex dolls on men’s bodies. Meanwhile, the company’s founder, Lee Joon, said that lifting restrictions on strong sex dolls only cleared arbitrary laws and made importers more transparent.

Until the law was changed in June, companies were still allowed to import sex dolls with isolated body parts, such as bodies with no torso, legs, hips or genitals on their bodies. He said that only systemic dolls were banned from importing, and some were still brought in and sold under the name “plastic” or “mannan”. At the same time, dense dolls designed and manufactured in Korea are also legal.

Related: South Korea’s “not Japan” boycott is new. But the wound is old

“Many government officials just don’t want to face strong opposition or take responsibility for allowing rich dolls to dress up. It’s like the last thing they can insist on.” Li Jun said. “But many people I meet at foreign trade fairs, such as American or Japanese merchants, often ask me: ‘Is n’t it really weird to just use body parts [to have sex]? Is n’t it very normal for dense sex dolls? It is a long-established double standard in South Korea. “

However, their moral basis for dolls is still being challenged.

“As we become more developed, I can feel the collective loneliness (increase) in our society. Everyone is lonely …. I don’t think everyone must use a sex doll. This is just a response A way of loneliness can be a useful tool, even a friend of the people … Having a sex doll is a personal choice, not a public matter. “

Lee Joon, owner of Bururu.com
“As we become more developed, I can feel the collective loneliness (increase) in our society. Everyone is lonely.” I don’t think everyone has to use sex dolls. This is just a way to deal with loneliness, it can be a useful tool, and it can even be a friend of people … having a sex doll is a personal choice, not a public matter. “

Professor Richardson is skeptical. “They would say that because they have a product and want to sell it. People can take drugs privately, but it’s still irresponsible in society because it affects social relationships with others, doesn’t it?” She said. “It’s a very liberal, individualistic and self-centered idea. We live in these isolated worlds. But this is not the reality, because we are a social species. These men (using sex dolls) must be in a certain Time to get out of the world and interact with women. “

Lee Joon estimates that there are currently about 10 companies importing and selling sex dolls in South Korea. Despite the controversy, he still considers the sales of these dolls a “very bright future” and looks forward to a robotic version that can convey the future of advanced emotions.

He said: “I believe that sex must be enjoyable, and this type of sex toy is like a Lego toy for kids: it’s all about fantasy and inspiring imagination.” “I just want a society to accept it as All kinds of thoughts. “

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