Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate in New York's 27th Congressional District, has portrayed himself as somebody who respects women, but his now-defunct legal blog tells another story as he discussed Korean culture and objectified women in a series of blog posts that discussed prostitution and diminished Korean pop stars to "glorified eye candy."
McMurray, who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. government to study the development of constitutional democracy in South Korea, taught American law at the Judicial Research and Training Institute in Seoul, according to his campaign website. His academic success led him to get involved in a private law practice, where he helped American business interests in Asia.
McMurray worked at the Barun Law firm in Seoul in addition to operating a legal blog called, "Korea Law Today" between December 2011 and January 2013. The blog focused on some legal news, but it was heavily focused on Korean culture, specifically Korean women, according to the Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the internet.
"Korea Law Today provides legal news and perspectives on issues important to businesses looking to grow or start operations in Korea. Our approach is straightforward and practical—no legalese," McMurray's blog read. "We are not interested in setting cutting-edge legal theory or affecting policy. We just want to provide an insider’s perspective of what the business community is talking about on the streets of Seoul, Inchon, Pusan, Ulsan, Kwangju, and other major cities in Korea."
In a January 2013 blog post, McMurray diminished the Korean entertainment industry by judging their looks, calling them a "wave of indistinguishable, disposable, almost interchangeable, and largely forgettable dancing mannequins." He went on to say they all looked alike due to cosmetic surgeries that gave them "pretty faces." Later in the post, he explained his "stream of consciousness" post was not against cosmetic surgery, admitting he was a "pretty vain person" and that he might "go under the knife" in the future.
McMurray, who is married to a Korean woman, also focused on Korean facial features as compared to white facial features, saying Koreans are often "considered ugly" for their circular faces and dark skin. While he said he didn't consider Korean features "ugly," he added that what "people in Korea consider ideal are features that are not held by most Koreans" and that the "most desirable looks are very white." He went on to say that the "unwarranted adoration" for white features from Korean women is why "strange foreign men," including himself, never seem to leave Korea.
In response to a New Yorker piece on Korean pop music, in which the writer compared K-pop to the U.S. girl groups in the 1960s, McMurray explained why he strongly disagreed. He said that while the 1960s groups used sex appeal to market themselves, it was the sound of their music that was their primary selling point. He continued, "Thus far, the K-pop girl bands greatest innovation is marketing (and polishing) burlesque dance moves in a way that has slipped by the scrutiny Korean sensors." He later explained K-pop is "hook heavy and fun," but he hoped they would try to build on U.S. groups, calling K-pop girls "glorified eye candy."
McMurray was recently added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" list, which is a "battle-tested program" that provides "top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns."
The DCCC and McMurray campaign did not return requests for comment by press time.
In a November 2012 blog post, McMurray discussed the growing problem of Propofol, an anesthetic, as a recreational drug in Korea, which he believed is rising in popularity because of the increase in plastic surgery clinics. He concluded the post with an offensive joke about women getting botched plastic surgery, adding it "may be in poor taste."
I want to share one more thing. This may be in poor taste given the seriousness of this topic, but, given the season and the fact that I am sucker for this type of urban legend, I will proceed. The story of a cosmetic surgery ghost has been spreading here. The story goes like this. The ghost is a young woman with a bloody surgical mask hiding her mutilated face (apparently from a botched surgery). If she approaches you and removes here masks asking, "Am I pretty?" you have three options: 1. say yes and have her follow you home and eat your face; 2. say no and get killed on the spot; or 3. say, "I think you look normal" and watch the ghost wander off confused. You have been warned my droogs.
The Democratic candidate also participated in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in March 2013 where he talked about K-Pop. When he was asked whether he believed the music would gain traction, he was not optimistic, saying he believed the men were "too effeminate" and that they didn't even look as masculine as singer Justin Bieber, who at the time at just turned 19 years old.
"Frankly, the guys [are] just too effeminate. It may sell in South-East Asia, but it's never going to sell in the West. Because they don't even look as masculine as Justin Bieber. They're so glammed up, it's almost awkward to look at it at times," McMurray said.
In one blog post, McMurray did appear to acknowledge a culture of objectifying women in Korea was changing, though he continued to make eye-raising statements. He wrote of "Korea’s Sexual Revolution" and how Korean women are dominating Korean academics at an increased rate, including the field of law. He said that while Korean women have been under pressure to "look beautiful and to act demure," he believed that would change, saying they might then "learn to use female sexuality as a source of generating rather than undermining their power." He also made a comparison between the successes of Korean women and North Korea's former murderous dictator Kim Jong Il. McMurray wrote the academic achievements of the top student, a female, at the Judicial Research and Training Institute were like hitting a "hole in one on nearly every hole" like Kim. Kim's regime famously claimed he shot a 38-under-par 34.
McMurray is trying to unseat incumbent Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.), who was indicted in August on charges of insider trading. Collins initially suspended his campaign but decided last month that he would run for reelection. He has maintained the position that he is "not guilty."