I do not profess to be an expert on Koreans, but I do like to know what is going on in the culture around me. So I chose “Type-B Guys” as a topic for my conversation classes to learn if Koreans were as fascinated with blood-type stereotyping as the article in the British newspaper said they were. Each time I introduced the topic to a group of students, everyone would giggle; it was clear to me that blood types were topical.
A few students always dismissed the stereotyping as nonsense, but most students found it intriguing and expressed varying opinions. Quite a few girls spoke of their personal experiences with type-B guys, blaming their failed relationships on their ex-boyfriends’ blood. Type-B selfishness bothered the girls the most. Then there were the students that came to the defense of type B, saying that they had B friends who were mild-mannered and generous; one student used his younger brother as a positive example.
Most of the type B’s in the groups just grinned and bore it; but there was the occasional B who was fed up with being stereotyped. I noticed a student who seemed to be stewing in his juices; so I pointed at him and said, “You’re a B.” He admitted to this and then launched into a diatribe against the stereotyping, asserting that type B’s are as normal as everyone else. Sorry, but he did strike me as the stereotypical hot-tempered type B.
Blood types A, O, and AB were discussed at length, too. Type AB’s were stereotyped as crazies or geniuses; type O’s were stereotyped as easygoing, spontaneous, and positive; and type A’s were stereotyped as introspective philosophers who tend to be loners.
Some girls are attracted to a certain blood type. In fact, type-B guys seem to be getting more than their share of the babes. I often heard “All my boyfriends have been type B.” It seems that girls go for type-B guys because they are fun to be with and lavish attention on their sweethearts. That many type B’s are celebrities, famous artists, and CEO’s is good for their image as well; so I was told.
One English major had a fatal attraction to type AB’s, which she stereotyped as capricious, two-faced guys that always made her unhappy. She went on to say that she never met an AB genius; rather, “They were all crazy.” Would she marry an AB? “Never!”
“Being type B is a handicap for us,” said an ex-Katusa. “We get a bum rap.” He was immediately challenged and his blood type was vilified not by a jilted campus princess but by a type-A guy. “Everything they say about type B is true,” said the opinionated type A, who then calmly critiqued type B’s from his personal experiences. As for the type B sitting across from him, type A said that the ex-Katusa would have a hard time convincing him that he was not stereotypical.
I suggested that the two should get to better know each other over a beer at a Hof, but the type A remained steadfast in his opinion: “I’ve never met a type B that I liked and can’t stand being around them.”
According to the students, the entertainment industry is responsible for popularizing blood-type stereotyping, a theory borrowed recently from “Blood Types and Humanism” (1999) by the Japanese author Nomi Masahiko. A pop song, “Blood Type-B Guy,” warned young ladies to not do what the songstress had done, that is, do not fall for a type B because he will break your heart.
“My Boyfriend Is Blood Type B,” a humorous movie depicting the difficulties of a type-B romance, further popularized the stereotyping. This movie is going to be released in Japan and will portray a decidedly different Korean to Japanese women than that of Bae Yong Joon, a romantic idol adored by lovelorn Japanese women who make pilgrimages to Yong Pyong, Nami Sum, and Choon Chun, the places frequented by Mr. Bae (Yon Sama to the Japanese) and Choi Ji Woo, the star-crossed lovers of “Winter Sonata,” the soap opera that launched the Korean Wave in Japan.
“Everything they say about type-B guys is true about all types of guys,” said an aspiring actress from the Drama Dept. The other young ladies concurred. In sum, all guys are the same.
Curiously, the students were barely interested in the Zodiac as a parallel to blood-type theory, giving it little credence. It is generally believed that the Zodiac is misin, superstition. This is disappointing because Zodiacal animals and their astrological forecasts are much more fun to contemplate than some half-baked theory of blood type with undertones of racial superiority and all that. The Japanese themselves borrowed the theory from the Germans, who, after all, were proponents of the master race, and we saw to where that led Europe.
I was a college student during the Age of Aquarius (the 1960’s), a time that was celebrated in the Broadway musical “Hair” and when “What’s your Zodiac Sign?” was a common question asked by curious young women when evaluating potential boyfriends.
As for my blood type, students are stupefied when I tell them that “I don’t know what it is.” This is incomprehensible to them, but true. They then begin to speculate and always peg me for an effervescent type O, which a captain in my night class claims is the blood type that the army likes the most. There may be type O coursing through my arteries, but there was a time when my heart was pumping pure, unadulterated type A. Let the blood-type theorists make of that what they will.
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