Controversial ads fuel South Korea’s sexism debate

SEOUL, May 28 – This month three South Korean corporations and the Seoul police have needed to pull ads and different content material after males’s rights teams claimed that “small penis” symbols have been used, insulting males.

The offending photos? Hands with the thumbs and the index fingers pinching in the direction of one another illustrating the reaching out for an object. But the gesture can be typically used to point one thing small in dimension and in South Korea, it’s related to a strident, albeit now defunct, feminist group that used the picture in its brand.

Exacerbating the issue, one advert and a menu concerned have been additionally promoting sausages.

Following its advert, South Korea’s largest comfort retailer chain, GS25, noticed a handful of members from the boys’s group “Man on Solidarity” protest outdoors the agency’s headquarters. The group’s YouTube channel, which posts movies of its protests, has gained greater than 200,000 subscribers in simply two months.

GS25 withdrew its advert and fried rooster chain Genesis BBQ pulled its menu, issuing apologies and stating they’d no intention to demean males. Kakao Bank Corp has apologized for a hand drawn equally in certainly one of its ads and the Seoul Metropolitan police additionally eliminated a hand from a highway visitors advert saying it wished to keep away from any misunderstanding.

The controversy is the most recent flare-up in long-running pressure over gender rights in South Korea that has pitted women and men’s teams in opposition to one another and which has additionally resulted in police trying into whether or not feminine comic Park Na-rae broke any legal guidelines with a ribald joke made in March.

The joke on a YouTube video involving a Stretch Armstrong motion determine whose arms have been introduced close to his genital space resulted in a storm of complaints {that a} comparable joke by a male comic would by no means have been acceptable.

Park, 35, and her company JDB Entertainment issued statements apologizing and her YouTube channel was scrapped. Police are obligated to look into the matter after a criticism was filed on a web site set as much as handle residents’ grievances, although it stays unclear if expenses might be filed.

Park and her company didn’t reply to Reuters requests for touch upon the potential police motion.

Kim Garo, director of the ladies’s coverage division on the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, stated whereas the issues of misogyny and misandry weren’t new in South Korea, the current concentrating on of corporations and people was.

She stated it was tough for the federal government to intrude when protests took the type of client motion however it will proceed with outreach packages that invited younger women and men to debate points equivalent to gender equality and jobs.

Political fallout

When President Moon Jae-in got here to energy in 2017, he pledged to be a president for gender equality, vowing to do extra to repair disadvantages for girls in South Korea.

South Korea has one of many largest wage gaps of any OECD nation and low political illustration for girls who maintain simply 19% of parliamentary seats. Since Moon, ladies have seen some enchancment in wages and are additionally eligible for larger authorities subsidies than males when beginning a brand new enterprise.

Political scientists say, nevertheless, many younger males now really feel their very own wants and rights aren’t being sufficiently acknowledged, including to widespread discontent over the shortage of job alternatives for younger folks.

“Anti-feminist sentiment is strong among men in their 20s and early 30s, as well as the generation that is becoming adults,” stated Jeong Han-wool, a senior fellow at Hankook Research Company. Research for a 2019 guide he co-authored discovered 58.6% of Korean males of their 20s stated they strongly opposed feminism.

That complicates the outlook for the ruling Democratic Party because it seeks re-election subsequent yr when Moon’s single five-year time period ends.

The celebration has additionally misplaced assist amongst ladies after a number of sexual abuse scandals involving politicians, contributing to crushing defeats in current mayoral elections for Seoul and the port of Busan.

Park Jun-young, a 27-year outdated engineering graduate college pupil, says he’s amongst those that assume males are actually at an obstacle.

“Feminism in South Korea started with gender equality, allowing women the same access and to break the glass ceiling, but it’s turned into something where the nowadays young men – who aren’t better off than women the same age – have become a target of criticism,” he stated. (Reporting by Seoul bureau; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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