Historically eunuchs had important roles in Korean society, such as managing food and national security within the palace, where a lack of testicles is often still prized today. Researchers found the men's castration and general distance from women allowed them to live to an average age of 70 at a time when the average life of kings - who according to historical records were knee-deep in queens - was just 47.
Some eunuchs chose to part with their testicles in order to enjoy a relatively comfortable woman-free life, although according to one early writer, others were victims of accidents caused by dogs who were a little too zealous in cleaning naked children who had been to the bathroom in the streets.
Korean eunuchs were supposedly above being tainted by the degenerative physical effects of female interests and passions, but according to William Franklin Sands, an American who started working as an 'advisor' to the Chosun court in the late 19th century, they were not only "restless, eternally dissatisfied and greedy" but also "warped and suspicious by nature, jealous, moody and prone to sudden anger and vindictive hatred" with "one all-absorbing passion" – money. Some researchers however have taken issue with his descriptions, saying they were not meant to be specifically about eunuchs.
Today, Korean society is largely split between those who identify themselves as being real men and who regularly attempt to prove the existence of their testicles by beating their wives, and males who seek a less masculine look, but who definitely aren't gay because homosexuality is something foreigners get, not Koreans. 'Male longevity surgery' still remains a niche; while it has long been known in Korea that castration before puberty prevents the shift from boy to man, a fact that several entertainment agencies have utilized to increase the lifespan of their boy bands, these boy bands only account for approximately 10% of the under-25 male population.
However, health workers fear neither group is trying to reduce their exposure to women in Korea, with 'real men' seeking multiple simultaneous relationships and males with the boyish 'castrated look' often said to be adopting it to appeal to girls with abusive fathers, who see them as less of a threat.
Lee Myung-bak, the youthful-looking 71-year-old outgoing Korean president, said he was intrigued by the research, but refused to answer questions.
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