South Korean women activists launch ‘Me Too’ movement following allegations

Women activists show their support for Seo Ji-hyeon, a female prosecutor who has charged a senior colleague with sexual misconduct. File Photo by Yonhap

Feb. 6 (UPI) — South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party condemned perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault following a bombshell revelation from a prosecutor in January.

In a nod to the U.S. “Me Too” movement and the rise of women coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct involving powerful men, South Korean women activists and politicians said more must be done to warn sex offenders of punishment for their actions, News 1 reported Tuesday.

Threats of retaliation against women for coming forward is not uncommon, said Lee Seong-mi, president of a South Korean women’s culture and arts association.

“While we were campaigning for victims of sexual violence in the cultural sector, the movement died down after threats of retaliation for ‘defamation’,” Lee told reporters.

Women working in the arts and culture fields have been targets of sexual violence because of structural problems in the workplace that include norms that make rape and assault “invisible,” male-centric work culture and “violence” that takes place for the “sake of art,” Lee said.

South Korean women active in the arts may not be alone.

In January, Seo Ji-hyeon, a female prosecutor who came forward with charges against a senior prosecutor, said she was groped during a workplace-related funeral in 2010.

Seo told local news network JTBC her complaints made it more difficult for her to move forward in her career. She also said she suffered a miscarriage owing to stress on the job.

The defendant, Ahn Tae-geun, was the director general for policy planning at Seoul’s justice ministry, according to the report.


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