Korean crying is the intrinsic, and highly volatile vocal wail common in the Korean populace. It is a distant relative of amateur Pansori and shares only minor similarities to western-style crying. It is known for its supreme difficulty to recreate artificially, elevating practitioners to celebrity status in South Korea. The cry is considered by scholars to have been highly influential in development of karaoke. It has a biological half-life of 21 days. It is the only example to date of 'racial-centric emotion', in that it only appears in ethnic Koreans.
The Korean Cry is instantly recognizable by its duration, and dynamic pitch modulations. It has a pitch contour not dissimilar to a modern dial-up modem. In Korean mythology, each pitch has been attributed to one of the 7 Korean Deadly Sins. The tears produced by a crying Korean are chemically complex and 60x more acidic than western-style crying. Regular criers have to engage with caution, with 95% of the Korean population having to have cosmetic surgery to cover up acid burns. Before the 20th century and the development of plastic surgery, they were described as the scariest-looking racial group in the Asia; Marko Polo noted, famously, journaling his account of Korea as 'a society of facially disfigured chimp people.' Defining the specific acoustics has been difficult in that there are many variants. The most common form of cry is the dial tone wail. In other cases, a cry may emulate the sounds of various machines of industry. Other sounds may be reminiscent of high powered fixed wing aircraft, high voltage electric powered trains, and more rarely, spinning jennies.
Role in Korean entertainment and performance arts industry
Today, Korean crying is considered a staple of comedy acting, routinely performed in stage shows, television serials and the Korean motion picture industry. Due to its thorough complexity and difficulty to perform unnaturally, some masters in Korean crying are some of the most popular entertainers in the Asia-Pacific region. Such performers require remarkable diaphragmatic control, coupled with vigorous daily training regimes. In 2006, Choi Ji-Woo was hospitalized after a 36 hour continuous training session. She was admitted to hospital suffering from severe hallucinations, oxygen deprivation and extreme hypo-tension.
When performed incorrectly, it can cause unintentional mood distortions, and can make an otherwise light-hearted scene appear melodramatic and emotional, invoking deep sadness amongst audience members. Formal acting education has been considered maladaptive and, in extreme circumstances can hinder a performer's ability to perform the Korean cry. Some of the best practitioners of the cry are members of Korean girl groups, with little experience in acting and a low talent threshold. Historically, as with Pansori, it has been considered a vocation strictly attributed to women, but today, it isn't considered unusual for men to engage in Korean crying.
- Choi Ji-woo
- Son Tae-young
Criticism and health issues.
Some detractors of the Korean cry have focused on several negative elements that have been observed following and during a performance.
A survey amongst white European men found that many considered the cry to be audibly inhumane, with various people commented on it sounding like "a wail of displeasure, while undergoing forced bukkake and brutal sodomy by a group of well hung, black rapists."
A potential health related side-effect is that it can create a feeling of a much fuller lump in the throat compared to western crying. There have been numerous cases of choking and fatalities from asphyxiation as a direct result. It is considered the second highest cause of death in South Korea, after suicide.
Arthur Schopenhauer suggested the cry to be paradoxical in nature, causing more harm than good to a human’s psyche, providing neither psychological function of sorrowful or contrasting joyful crying. He also mused:
“The cry is culturally inclusive of the Korean peninsula. I fear western philosophy is too limited in its scope, to provide a correct and just evaluation of this specific form of emotional release. It will remain one of the many unanswerable truths.”
As a tool of warfare
It was formally introduced as an anti-air raid alarm at the height of the Korean war, during the siren-famine. Up to 30 koreans would collectively gather in the center of a township at the sight of an overhead bomber, and cry. They are considered martyrs of the war, with homage being well represented in the War Memorial of Korea, in Seoul. In 2004, Korean War excavators/archeologists discovered over 892 liters of Korean tears, with 4 fully preserved human corpses underneath a Thai business in downtown Seoul.
Controversially, when conducted through a loudspeaker, it has been observed to impair sensory and executive function in humans. In extreme cases, it has been known to cause an onset of dissociation disorders, and increases the risk of schizophrenia in young and middle-aged Arabian men by up to 70%. It has been universally condemned by all membership states of the United Nations, excluding North Korea, and South Korea who contested the condemnation.
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