kpopandkimchi
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Korean Culture Time: What is an Iljin?

ljin is a tough word to define, its more of a concept.

It used to be used exclusively for gangsters mobsters and meant "first team" aka the gang's best fighter. Now, it is used more frequently to refer to a school’s “bad” kids — the ones that are constantly disrupting class, getting in trouble, ditching school, smoking, drinking, etc.

We see them a lot in dramas.

Despite the negativity associated with the word, iljin are actually really proud of their title. Because of this there are even internet cafes and message boards where other iljin can talk and plan events!
These events, or parties, unfortunately, are basically where underage students engage in a whole bunch of behaviour that isn't super awesome for them... sexy dance competitions, make-out and groping competitions, and competitions that involve stripping down and imitating sex for the grand prize of a couple of packs of cigarettes.

Why is this related to Kpop? Because the netizens, of course, dug up some idols' pasts and found a few to be involved in that scene.

The most famous is T-ara's Hyomin....netizens found pretty concrete evidence that Hyomin was a self-proclaimed iljin (her name, photo, and ID were found on a list of attendees for an iljin party on a community message board). Efforts to trace her ID to an email account produced an email address that is identical to her Twitter handle.

Recently Soyou from Sistar was accused of being Iljin...but why?

Because she has a hairdresser's license.

She mentioned it on a reality show and netizens BLEW UP trying to prove she was a bully in high school.

WHY?!

Well, because Iljin are the bullies and delinquents of school, they usually drop out and can't get jobs that require a college or high school diploma.

That means they usually work jobs like being a hairdresser (you don't need to go to college, just a hairdresser school that anyone can apply to!) and THAT'S why people look down on hairdressers in Korea.
There is a huge stereotype towards people with those kinds of jobs (jobs that just need certification, not a degree) and the older generation often looks down on any young person in that career.
You can learn more about this here.

Who else thinks this is crappy? My close friend is studying to be a hair stylist and I never though people would look down on that profession?!

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@RobertMarsh My high school English teacher always talked about what he had to go through when he spent a few years as a janitor. He was immigrating to the US from the UK right when 9/11 happened and couldnt get a job as a teacher like he expected. So many people lost their jobs during that time so the only job he could find was a schoool janitor. Kids and adults treated him horribly but now he's a loved English teacher. He didnt change, just the title of his job. It's so sad :(
one of the few things I don't like about Korea
They look down at hair dressers but go to the salon lol or need them to make Kpop stars look good. smh
@RobertMarsh you are so right - everywhere in the world it is like this about different jobs, and in the U.S. racism and classism are never ending! Hair stylists may not be a target here, depending on the "class" of salon, but most service industry people that I know (retail, restaurant, etc) are treated like crap frequently because people feel that they can. People also love to talk down to these mostly college-educated workers, assuming that just because they are working at a store or movie theater or restaurant or wherever, they must be dumb as dirt. Heck, here, even if you make a LOT of money doing a trade - plumber, electrician, construction - none of which require a degree - there are people who will look down on you! So, yeah, I totally agree with you. 😊 (And coming down from my soapbox now - hehehe)
we're just as bad... many people look down on people with jobs like gas station attendants, store clerks.. etc... but we still need them... every society has things like this... kinda the Korean equivalent to racism
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