It was as if Korea had turned upside-down.
In January this year, when a female prosecutor Seo Ji-Hyeon decided to publicize her experience of sexual assault, as well as the ongoing custom of muffling the cries of such victims, the citizens of South Korea fell into a shock. Many were shocked that such vulgar and disgraceful activities occurred within the walls of one of the most respected offices in the nation. The fire soon began to spread and people quickly came to realize that this fire would last – with its indelible legacy.
“I was surprised by how quickly and deeply the #MeToo movement spread throughout Korea,” Park Ji-Eun said. Ms. Park is a 42-year-old single female living in Daegu, Korea. “I have always considered Korea to be a conservative country, and I had never imagined that Korea would go through such a transformation in such a short amount of time.”
Because the movement has occurred so recently, the “transformation” that Ms. Park mentioned is yet to be seen – however, there seems to be no doubt that the entire nation is going through the jolting process. One of the fields to which the #MeToo movement spread to is entertainment, and countless allegations, among which a few pointing towards acclaimed artists, have been made.
The incident surrounding a prominent actor and a respected professor, Jo Min-Ki, was perhaps the most controversial. “When I heard that actor Jo Min-Ki sexually harassed his own students, I was utterly disgusted,” said Kim Ki Yeon, a 20-year-old college sophomore living in Seoul, Korea. Encouraged by the fervor of the #MeToo movement, previous students of Jo Min-Ki had decided to let their voice be heard. The incident ultimately resulted in Jo committing suicide before being investigated by the police.
Some people have expressed concern over the “witchhunt nature” of the movement. According to The Korea Herald, some have went as far as to criticize the death of Jo as a result of “misandry.” Anti-feminists and other opponents of the #MeToo movement deemed the allegations from victims as weak grounds to begin investigating those who may have had committed sexual misconducts in the past.
Yet, such perspectives of anti-#MeToo advocates make me wonder: how can justice exist if we plug our ears against the aggrieved cries of the victims? If what the victims had to say were simply ignored, can we proudly say that we are a part of a civilized, morally conscious society? Is it not the fact that this phenomenon has to occur as an indication of communal insensitivity and immorality? And you still choose not to be a part of the movement? These are all critical questions that need to be asked.
Despite it all, some may still choose to consider this movement as an ultra-liberal and fleeting phenomenon. I, on one hand, sincerely hope not. I believe the change was needed, and the change is happening.
Keebum Kim, Grade 11
Seoul International School