In a recent episode of Sixth Sense, one conversation went off on the wildest tangent—and it has since sparked a heated debate online among Koreans. The conversation began when comedian Yoo Jae Suk pointed out Jessi‘s backpack.
Asking if she’s “going to school,” Yoo Jae Suk took interest in Jessi’s outfit. Then, Jessi responded—with a slight reserve that—she was wearing the backpack for “extras” because it was “that time of the month” for her.
Yoo Jae Suk: Hey, Jessi. You’re wearing a backpack. Are you going to school or something?
Jessi: Oh, no. That’s not it… I have it on because it’s that time of the month for me.
Yoo Jae Suk: Oh…
Shocked by the unexpected response about her menstrual cycle, Yoo Jae Suk apologized for even mentioning the backpack. Before he could shut it down though, the female members of Sixth Sense dove straight into period talk.
Yoo Jae Suk: I’m sorry about that.
Mijoo: Yeah, so don’t mess with her today, okay? Today is not the day.
Jessi: Mm-hmm. I’m on my period.
Mijoo: She’s on her period.
Oh Na Ra: Wait, who was on their period last week?
Jessi: Mijoo was!
Mijoo: Jessi probably got hers [early] because of me.
And no matter how desperately Yoo Jae Suk tried to change the topic, the female members were having too much fun watching the male members get flustered over menstruation!
Yoo Jae Suk: You know, I appreciate that you basically treat us like family now. That’s great. But this is…
Mijoo: So I haven’t been on my period in a long time. I missed two months of it because, I think, it was a part of the side effects I had from COVID-19. And I asked—
Yoo Jae Suk: Stop talking about [your period], Mijoo! YOU’RE ON TELEVISION!
Mijoo: I ended up asking [Jae Suk] if he remembers whether or not I had my period each month.
Yoo Jae Suk: AND I WAS BAFFLED. I can’t believe we’re [talking about periods] this early in the morning.
Initially, when the clip started circulating on Twitter, the female members’ conversation and the male members’ reactions were both well-received as “absolutely hilarious.” Koreans compared the flustered Yoo Jae Suk to a “male homeroom teacher at an all-girls high school” and laughed about how neither he nor actor Lee Sang Yeob seemed to know what to do.
Some even believed Jessi and Mijoo to be breaking the norms in Korea/Korean entertainment by “being so open and casual about menstruation.”
Haha. This is adorable! Most women deal with menstruation. It is a natural part of life. I would love Koreans to become more comfortable with discussing it more openly, instead of shushing and treating it like it’s a taboo to talk about it.
— Anonymous Online Comment
When the Korean media picked up on the clip and started reporting on the conversation, however, the internet became divided what started as a harmless interaction between the Sixth Sense members. While most agreed that “becoming more comfortable with discussing [periods]” is needed, the comments also argued that “it can be done without crossing lines.”
- “What is wrong with her, does she not know boundaries exist?”
- “It’s fine to ask your boyfriend about your menstrual cycle. But he is a male colleague she met at work. A husband and a father, at that. Why would she ask him about if she got her period each month?”
- “Way over the line.”
- “I thought the clip might help me find it funny. But which part of that am I supposed to laugh at? Wowza.”
- “Literally too much information, Sixth Sense. The members do tell a lot of dirty jokes on this show. I don’t really find them funny. It only makes me wonder why they act like that on television.”
- “It’s probably best that celebrities don’t make jokes that are too personal or ‘off the record’ in nature on camera.”
- “Be honest. Can you ask your close coworker if they remember when you had your period, too?”
- “Talking about periods is not the problem here. Mijoo asking a married male coworker about her period cycle is the problem. That isn’t normal. She crossed the line.”
- “The clip doesn’t make the ‘joke’ any better.”
Some Koreans grew uncomfortable with the fact that Mijoo asked Yoo Jae Suk about her menstrual cycle—kidding or not—and criticized that no matter how close, there are boundaries to respect.
Watching the clip makes it even more difficult for me to understand this at all. It’s not the ‘talking about menstruation’ that is problematic. It’s absolutely fine that she mentioned her cycle being thrown off as a COVID-19 side effect. What is problematic is the fact that she felt the need to cross the line and ask a married man about her menstrual cycle. I understand that she thinks she is really close to [the male members] and maybe, between them behind the camera, the statement is no big deal. But like he said, they are on television and people are watching. Jokes that don’t respect boundaries are not entertaining at all, at least to the viewers who don’t have the full context. They are unpleasant.
— Anonymous Online Comment
The debate is fierce between those who “can take a joke” vs. those who “value respect and boundaries.” Neither the involved members nor the program as a whole has responded to the debate—and while a response is unlikely, thousands of Koreans remain clashing on online communities regarding the appropriateness of the conversation to have taken place at all, never mind aired on television.
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