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Beginning of the #MeToo Movement in Korea

Since last February, the international “#MeToo” movement has spread to Korea, and victims of sexual harassment have started to share their stories in hopes of exposing the magnitude of the problem to the public.

#MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement is a social media campaign with the purpose of exposing the widespread sexual harassment within society. Social activist Tarana Burke first started this demonstration in 2006 with the goal of helping victims of sexual harassment overcome their painful memories through empathy. She was motivated to introduce this campaign when she felt powerless and could not say anything to a 13-year-old girl who shared her sufferings. Burke confessed she wished to have told the child “me too.” The recent spread of the #MeToo movement accelerated in October 2017, when Hollywood celebrities made continuous disclosures to reveal sexual harassment within their workplaces. Social service users then joined in with the hashtag #MeToo, making the movement a global one. The #MeToo movement has now spread to more than 85 countries over the world including France, India, and China.

Start of the #MeToo Movement in Korea

Prosecutor Seo Speaks on Sexual Harassment/ JTBC

The #MeToo movement in Korea has mostly been fueled since prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun exposed the sexual harassment taking place within the legal profession. Seo explained that one co- worker molested her for a considerable amount of time in 2010. Seo stressed that not a single person stopped it from happening, even though colleagues and senior prosecutors including Korea’s Minister of Justice were witnessing it. She claimed that no form of apology was given and received a demotion instead. Seo said she got the courage to reveal her story because other victims in the _eld were not receiving the justice they deserved, and are looked upon as women who seduce senior prosecutors instead. The interview with Seo had a massive impact on Korea and victims from various other fields of work stepped forward to reveal their own experiences. Flight attendants of Asiana, one of Korea’s airlines, told the press that physical contact was forced whenever CEO Park Sam-gu was present. Victims were found within the press as well. Byun Young-gun, a former reporter of the broadcasting company YTN and the economy newspaper Financial News, told of her experience of being sexually harassed as a journalist. The editor in charge of Byun’s training molested her during company outings, and one colleague reporter even forced her onto a taxi telling her to sleep at his place.

#MeToo in the Theatrical Field

Public Rally at Marronnier Park

Testimonies of sexual harassment shocked the public as the #MeToo movement spread on to the theatrical field. Scriptwriter and producer Lee Yun-taek was accused of sexually abusing actors while working at the Theatre Troup Georipae, a theater company founded in Busan. He sexually forced himself onto actors and used his position in the theatrical field as a means of threatening. One victim stated she was raped even after aborting a child she conceived through forced intercourse. The Theatre Troup Georipae was disbanded on February 19th due to recent controversies, but it was not enough to stop the frustration of many. On February 25th, a public rally against sexual harassment was held at Marronnier Park, a home to numerous theaters near Hyehwa Station. People at the gathering protested that assailants of sexual harassment should be forbidden from performing. In an interview with SKT, a current theatrical worker mentioned, “Changes that should have taken place long ago are now just beginning and it will take time before noticeable changes occur. Keen interest from the public must persist in order to abolish sexual harassment from theater groups.”

최영찬  cyc1117@naver.com

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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