The Gender Politics of Smoking in South Korea: Part 2

James Turnbull's picture

 

With apologies for the poor quality of the scans, those are from an activity in the ESL activity book Decisionmaker: 14 Business Situations for Analysis and Discussion (1997) by David Evans, which I happened to be doing with my advanced students when a reader sent me the journal articles that inspired this series.  It seemed a pity not to mention the interesting coincidence!

Yet another coincidence is that before I moved from Jinju (진주) to Busan in late-2003, I also happened to have a 23-year old female Korean friend who was similarly attracted by the possibility of working for British American Tobacco, which was then setting up a manufacturing plant in Sacheon (사천) just a few kilometers away (it’s still there). We didn’t quite have a conversation like Kim Jin-hiu did with her family, although I did try to discourage her from applying; as I would today too, although I’d have a much better appreciation of her motivations. In the end though, she ignored me and managed to get an interview, but surprisingly wasn’t offered a job.

Meanwhile, as David Evans explains, the marketing plan in the “secret memo” does sound outrageous, but in fact:

…some cigarette companies have undoubtedly targeted children in their marketing strategies. A leaked memo from a Canadian tobacco company listed teenagers as a target group,  and cigarette adverts are regularly shown on children’s TV in Japan (James: is this still true?). In 1991, a study showed that American children as young as six could identify Joe Camel (a cartoon character advertising Camel cigarettes) as easily as Mickey Mouse!

And in Part 4, which I’ll link to below once it’s up next week, I’ll outline how internal industry documents reveal that cigarette companies in Korea (including British American Tobacco) have indeed been using many of the same strategies mentioned above, albeit technically not explicitly to girls (or boys for that matter). Watch this space.

(Posted at The Grand Narrative)

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