While South Korea still likes to think of itself as a “conservative” Confucian culture, and Koreans will often still parrot that line, It is still apparent in the contemporary culture that this belief isn't much more than a pleasant fiction around which many people still organize their identities. Still, in Seoul, the Code and Cult of Demure Domesticity dictates that, despite wearing a Ludicrously Short Skirt, the shoulders should be covered. Somehow, the Korean fashion culture code doesn't see what Americans would call "Daisy Dukes"-length attire showing lately all the way to the bottom curve of the buttocks as at all provocative or even sexual.
The original Daisy Duke, from the Dukes of Hazzard show (1979-1985 on CBS)
However, showing any amount of shoulder or upper arm is seen in terms of a very sexual connotation and is very much frowned upon. In fact, Korean-American visitors to Korea in the late 1980s still recount tales of Korean middle-aged women slapping them hard on the shoulders for having been exposed during the summer and scolding them for having ripped jeans, which were fashionable items in the late 1980s.
By American, or one might even say Western, standards, the summers in Seoul seem to breed a lot of ludicrously short skirt lengths and shorts. The average skirt length in Korea, and this includes even office uniforms, is what would officially be termed a miniskirt. And remember, the original definition of miniskirt was any skirt with a hem under which to place your 4 fingers above the knee. While that strict original definition has gone to the wayside, any stroll down a Korean street will yield lots of leg from a Western standard. And combined with high heels that regularly reach past the 3 1/2 inch de facto limit of what many Westerners would consider casual heels, and the effects of hem length become all the more emphasized. And it's something that Daisy Duke herself seemed to know, since any appearance in the show in her extremely short cutoff jean shorts included stockings and pretty high heels. The funny thing is that the character of Daisy Duke was once somewhat of an issue on American television but in the land of the conservative Confucians, people dressing like her every day doesn't seem to cause anyone to bat an eye.
Not that we're complaining, but it is an interesting fashion-based cultural difference worth pointing out. What's also interesting to note is women wearing extremely tiny micro minidresses such as the one pictured below, but along with a sweater to cover the top, even on one of the hottest days of the summer in Seoul. were not saying that's bad or good, but just that it seems kind of contradictory, especially even as the wearer herself recognizes the sexual valence of the dress itself even as she wears another piece of clothing seemingly at odds with not just style of the thing it's covering, but with the season itself.
Of course, this attitude and social rule regarding exposing the upper arms and shoulder is just that: a rule to be violated. Any social norm is not defined by a reality in which everyone follows it, but the norm itself is worth looking at since it is the dividing line that meaningfully tells us something about people on both sides of it as well as attitudes that created the rule itself and what that rule was meant to protect. Of course, even the space of one picture, one can see different attitudes towards how much skin to expose and what that means.
And then there are individual interpretations and interesting remixes of trends and their constitutive social norms around clothing and appropriate gender roles. I like to call the picture below an example of “Geeky Dukes.” I see this as the result of the fact that the Daisy Dukes, or what Koreans would call simply “hot pants” have become so trendy and popular that the original type of girl who would wear them in the culture of their origin, or the kind of Korean girl who would wear them as somewhat socially transgressive trend items in Korean culture, have simply become what every girl is expected to wear in the summer. So, to put it simply, you get conservative girls who would never imagine themselves as wearing anything socially transgressive in what Americans might simply call Daisy Dukes, even if they are watered-down versions of them.
Watch closely to see Catherine Bach's "Daisy Dukes" in action.
And here's the opening of Wonder Woman, from the new one they did in the middle of season 2. Wonder Woman's look alawaays changes with the times, and her "satin tights" were hiked up particulrly high.