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[Opinion] Condoms in Korea

Posted October. 15, 2004 23:18,   


The history of the condom, used to prevent disease and pregnancy, goes back several thousand years. Records show that Egyptians used modern style condoms before 1000 B.C. The Romans used goat bladders as condoms. The Chinese used silk rubbed in oil. Production of the easy-to-use and popular condom started in the 19th century, with the development of the rubber condom. It is known that even the legendary playboy Casanova used condoms for contraception.

Controversy remains on the origin of the name “condom.” There is a rumor that it was named after the court doctor of England’s King Charles II (1630 - 1635), who first devised this instrument. King Charles II had ordered his doctor to develop an instrument that could protect him from syphilis, and the doctor developed a cover made with sheep intestines lathered in oil. However, a more convincing theory is that the name came from the Latin word “condos,” meaning “dish.”

The Korean Anti-AIDS Foundation launched a television advertisement this month encouraging condom use for the prevention of AIDS. This is the first time a condom has appeared in a television advertisement. There are 40 million AIDS patients worldwide, and 2,100 in Korea. The government is estimating the unofficial count to be up to 5,000. The Korean Anti-AIDS Foundation is currently contemplating on a Korean name to replace “condom,” which may be too awkward to mention. Among the candidates were many amusing names, such as “go-chu jang-gap (gloves for the testicles),” “go-ggal mo-ja (peaked hat),” “ddol-ddol-e (coat for the testicles),” “an-shim-I (safety),” and “ji-kim-i(protector).” Since “glove” is for the hands, maybe “boots” would be a better word.

The health certificate policy that was forced upon employees of the merry-making business is judged to have contributed greatly to holding back the spread of AIDS in Korea. However, the health certificate policy is in danger of disappearing because of the ban on prostitution. When asked in an interview published in the November issue of Shindonga about the proliferation of AIDS due to the abolishment of the health certificate policy, Minister of Gender Equality Chi Eun-hee emphasized the use of condoms. She said that having sex without a condom when there is the possibility of infection is an act of suicide. Minister Chi is about to become “Minister Condom.”

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com