Antifeminist Movement In South Korea
South Korea is a country known for its magnificent industrial and technological development with its titan skyscrapers and most of its population having access to 5g networks at superspeeds. But for a country that seems so advanced and progressive, it's still plagued with a deep hatred for women and feminism.
Seoul, South Korea sees many protests and feminist marches but many of these marches are quickly overtaken by the male activist groups, such as Man on Solidarity, dressed in black as they shout “Thud, Thud Thud!” to “mimic” the noises that the “ugly feminist pigs” make. These male protestors have gone to extreme lengths to attack women that they deem to be misandrists like when they forced a university to cancel a lecture by a feminist woman. They also attack women who don’t fit their ideal vision of “femininity” such as An San, a three-time gold medalist in the Tokyo games because of her short haircut. But reached the all-time peak of ridiculousness when they boycotted a commercial that shows a pinching hand gesture because they deemed it as “ridiculing the size of male genitalia”.
According to a study conducted by journalist Cheon Gwan-yul and data scientist Jeong Han-wool, 58.6 percent of Korean men in their twenties are fiercely opposed to feminism. The New York Times says “South Korea is reckoning with a new type of political correctness enforced by angry young men who bristle at any forces they see as undermining opportunity — and feminists, in their mind, are enemy No. 1”. In the past, South Korea was even more patriarchal and decades ago when South Korea was still an impoverished country, only sons were allowed to pursue higher education. The name for newly born daughters was Mal-ja or “last daughter” and in some families, women were not allowed to eat from the same table as men. Today, South Korea has become a world-dominating economy and these practices seem to be an artifact from the past with families sending their girls to university and women having more opportunities in government, although there is still a significant glass ceiling for women.
With South Korea going through a deepening economic crisis which is resulting in lower wages, fewer jobs, and rapidly increasing housing prices, many young men are angry. Oh Jae-ho, a researcher at the Gyeonggi Research Institute in South Korea, states “Men in their 20s are deeply unhappy, considering themselves victims of reverse discrimination, angry that they had to pay the price for gender discriminations created under the earlier generations,”. These men now consider women their rivals and are angry that they have even more competition in an already cutthroat environment. This does not take away from the fact that it is women who are the actual victims of the whole accumulation of these economic and sexist issues. South Korea has the highest gender wage gap among wealthy countries, it only has ⅕ of its lawmakers as women, and only 5.3 percent make up business leaders. Many male figures in Korean entertainment have also been found guilty of promoting these anti-feminist sentiments such as San E with his song Feminist. In fact, it has gone so far as to Korean pop stars, Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon being found guilty of rape, with Jung admitting that he filmed women without consent and distributed it over social media and on group chats with his friends.
Women in South Korea face the most hatred online as the words “women” and “feminist” have conjured up the most online hate in recent years. Interestingly, in a recent poll online nearly 79 percent of men in their twenties have claimed that they are victims of gender discrimination in SK. Kim Ju-hee, a nurse who organizes feminist protests, claims “There is a culture of misogyny in male-dominant online communities, depicting feminists as radical misandrists and spreading fear of feminists,”. Also, women have become victims of spy-cams that record them in intimate spaces such as bathrooms and dressing rooms. These videos that are recorded are published online and are repulsively enjoyed by many people. Seoul-based journalist Min Ji Lee says “Some men watch because they want to be in control of women. Seeing women in a vulnerable state, unknowing that they’re being filmed, makes them feel empowered,”. There have been many marches that have gathered thousands of people in protest against the allowing of such spy cams and some of their billboards read “This is not a country. It is a vicious pimp. We can’t live like this anymore. We will overthrow this country”. Unfortunately, although these protests were enormous they still have not been able to create any solid legislation around such invasive crimes.
Many women are continuing to fight for women’s rights and continue to support feminism in South Korea and no matter the setbacks they face they will follow through on their visions.