Do you know #Metoo? Maybe you've heard of it on the Internet, through SNS, or in the news. The Metoo movement, or campaign is a movement that shows the seriousness of the crime of sexual assaults. It was created when women (and sometimes men) started to put a hash tag on Metoo ('#Metoo') in social media and reveal their experience of falling victim to a sex crime. It started in the United States and now is ongoing in Korea as well as in the rest of the world. In the March issue of the Hongik Tidings, we dealt with the beginning of the Metoo movement and talked about what it is. In this issue, I will cover the ongoing events in our country.
Korea, #Metoo, begins
The Metoo movement in the Republic of Korea began with the disclosure by prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun, who appeared on JTBC news on January 30, 2018. The disclosure was about sexual assaults which were committed within the Public Prosecutors' Office. The prosecutor Seo revealed that she was touched on her waist and hips by Ahn Tae-geun (the head of the Ministry of Justice policy planning department at that time) at a funeral hall on October 30, 2010. She contended that after the terrible sexual harassment, she miscarried her child due to the shame and trauma, and reported his sexual harassment to her supervisor, but the Justice Department did not reply. She also contended that she received unreasonable personnel measures even she had her good career, such as two commendations by the Minister of Justice, and a large number of excellently-handled cases. In the meantime, in August 2017, there was also a big controversy. She insisted that she didn't get any reply, though she had filed a complaint with Minister of Justice Park Sang-ki and met with a member of the Justice Department's prosecution office in October. Since then, the prosecution has been investigating this and other cases, establishing the special investigation team for sexual assaults.
Behind the Scenes
The disclosure of Prosecutor Seo created a great sensation in society and propagated the Metoo movement throughout all walks of life, including politics and culture. The Metoo movement has also caused a stir in the art world, which already had a crisis in 2016 due to the disclosure of sexual assaults. Metoo movements in the art world began with the poem 'Monster' written in 2017 by Choi Young-mi, a poet. In this poem, Choi described another poet, Ko Un, as a monster and bluntly condemned his behavior. From this poem, the hidden ugly scene of the artistic world was revealed. Among several cases, news about the late actor Jo Min-ki (a former professor at Cheongju University) shocked the public.
Jo Min-ki was a famous actor in Korea. However, in February 2018, an anonymous netizen posted online that "the entertainer, a professor of theater studies at Cheongju University, was deprived of his professorship because of sexual harassment to female students for several years." After that, it was revealed that the celebrity was Jo Min-ki. At first, he and his management company continued to deny the charge and insisted that they would take legal action against those who spread the rumor. However, when additional disclosures of the victims continued, he was summoned by the police, and he committed suicide on March 9, 2018, leaving a letter. Though the letter contained an apology for the victims, he was criticized by the public for not directly apologizing to the victims, and acting cowardly to escape from his sins.
Just in case? Just as expected!
While many disclosures were being made in the arts world, the political world was quiet.
However, the exposure of politicians, which was already suspected, also began. From the beginning, the biggest incident that was disclosed, was the Ahn Hee-jung (former Chungcheongnam-do Province governor) sexual abuse incident. On March 5, 2018, JTBC news reported the shocking fact that Ahn Hee-jung continued to sexually harass and sexually assault his personal assistant for eight months. Subsequently, Kim Ji-eun, the personal assistant of Ahn Hee-jung, appeared on the JTBC news program and revealed the incident. Like Jo Min-ki, at first, Ahn denied the charge, but eventually he admitted it and apologized on SNS. He resigned from the job of governor and stopped all of his political activities. The reason that this incident caused a bigger wave than those in other areas is that Ahn Hee-jung that was a prominent figure in politics. In the ruling party, he was regarded as the next presidential candidate. In fact, his political career and future was quite bright, but he destroyed everything with his own hands. The ruling party expelled Ahn Hee-jung quickly from the party. However, other members of the ruling party were additionally pointed out as *perpetrators, and were attacked by the opposition parties. Because of that some people who criticize the Metoo movement as political *maneuvering have appeared.
* perpetrator - someone who has committed a crime or a violent or harmful act
* maneuvering - the action of cleverly planning something to get an advantage
There are some people who want to diminish or *pervert the Metoo movement, even though there are many people who support the movement. One moderator of the TV program suggested the conspiracy theory that conservative groups are using the Metoo movement to divide the progressive camps. Some women's groups stood by the side of the victims too late because of their political position. There are also some people who use the Metoo movement, to make jokes or make a malicious interpretation of it. However, even with this malicious public opinion, the Metoo movement is spreading in Korea, changing people's perceptions and attitudes. A lot of people support victims who have suffered from terrible damage.Then those is the WithYou movement, it exists for people to listen to the suffering of the weak in a patriarchal society, to share their pain, and to support their voices. In other words, it supports the Metoo victims. It is obvious that a final goal of the Metoo movement. It is to make a society that accuses perpetrators of their injustices and punishes them severely. It is time for society members to watch the people in the Metoo and WithYou movements, who support such a society.
* pervert - to change something so that it is not what it was or should be, or to influence someone in a harmful way
Choi Bugeun email@example.com
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