Ali Meets Father of 8 year-old Rape Victim “Na-young”

(Source: maniadb)

If you’ve never heard of Ali (알리), Na-young (나영; a pseudonym), or their connection, please see Seoulbeats for some background. Assuming that you have, I’d like to add just two things here.

First, that, back in December 2008, the combination of the particularly horrific nature of the crime and the light sentencing of the rapist simply incensed the Korean public. So, for a change, perhaps one can understand the severity of netizens’ reactions to Ali using Na-young’s name in a song title.

Next, I don’t mean to sound facetious, but in a sense that public reaction to the rape sparked a watershed in Korean pop-culture, which we’re still seeing the effects of today. For, triggered by Na-young’s case, public anger about sex crimes against minors came to a head by the following summer, leading to increased scrutiny and concern about those working in the music industry especially.

Combine that with the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon (장자연), and hence we came to have the widespread restrictions on and/or censorship of song subjects, lyrics, clothing, dance moves, and so on that we see today (albeit not just on minors). Working around those – or deliberately breaking them to create publicity – has now become an integral part of the production of K-pop.

(Source: 우리다시여기에)

[오늘의 세상] 아픔을 사랑으로 감싸다나영이 아버지, 알리 만나 주며 위로 / Enveloping pain with love . . . Na-young’s father meets Ali, gives flowers and consolation

Chosun, December 19, 2011,  by 정지섭 / Jeong Ji-seob

아버지와 같이 온 나영이, 부끄럼 많아 차에서 기다려 / Na-young, who came with her father, was too shy and waited in the car

나영이 아버지:”그런 고통 있는 줄 몰랐네요 많이 힘들었죠… 울지마요, 네티즌들 진정했으면 좋겠다” / Na-young’s father: “We didn’t know you had that kind of pain.  It was very hard, wasn’t it.  Don’t cry, I hope the netizens calm down.”

편지 5장에 마음 담은 알리 “나영이에 용기주려 했는데 미리 말씀 못드려 죄송해요… 언니가 정말 미안해” 눈물 / Ali’s heartfelt 5-page letter: “I intended to give Na-young courage, and I am apologize for not informing you in advance. I am really sorry,” tears

“제가 작사·작곡자인데 미리 말씀드리지 않은 것 죄송합니다. 힘든 일 겪어도 언니처럼 이겨낼 수 있다고 용기를 주고 싶었어요.” (가수 알리)

“I am the lyricist and composer, and I am sorry for not informing you in advance.  I wanted to give you courage by saying that though you went through a difficulty, you can overcome it like I did.” (Singer Ali)

“앞으로 할 일이 많은 아가씨가 이렇게 힘 빼서 되겠어요? 울지 마요.” (나영이 아버지)

“Is it okay for a young woman who has so much ahead of her to lose strength like this?  Don’t cry.” (Na-young’s father)

17 일 오후 서울 강남의 한 연예기획사 사무실. 자신의 또는 가족의 ‘성폭행 피해’라는, 어쩌면 인생의 가장 무겁고 감추고 싶은 짐을 진 두 사람이 마주 앉았다. 한쪽은 검은 정장을 입은 여가수 알리(27). 다른 한쪽은 2008년 벌어진 조두순 성폭행 사건의 피해 어린이 나영이(가명)의 아버지.

The afternoon of December 17th in the office of a Gangnam entertainment management agency. Two people, who personally or whose family bear the burden of the damage of sexual assault, maybe the heaviest and the one they would most wish to conceal of their lives, sat opposite each other. On one side, the singer Ali (27), wearing a black suit.  On the other side, the father of Na-young (false name), the child victim in the 2008 Cho Doo-soon sexual assault case (illustrator, right: 이철원/Lee Cheol-won).

모든 일은 14일 알리가 조두순 사건을 다룬 자작곡 ‘나영이’를 새 앨범에 담아 발표하면서 비롯됐다. 일부 네티즌은 ‘청춘을 버린 채 몸 팔아 영 팔아…’ 등의 가사를 문제 삼으며 알리를 무차별 공격했고, 알리는 그날 밤 나영이에 대한 사과문을 낸 뒤 앨범을 전량 수거·폐기했다.

The whole matter began on the 14th with the release of Ali’s new album, which includes a song she wrote, called “Na-young-ee,” about the Cho Doo-soon incident.  Some netizens questioned the use of lyrics like, “You threw away your youth, selling your body, selling your soul,” and attacked Ali indiscriminately; that night, after releasing an apology for “Na-young-ee,” Ali collected and discarded all copies of the album.

그래도 일부 네티즌의 악플이 멈추질 않자 알리는 16일 아버지와 함께 기자회견을 열어”3년 전 나도 성폭행을 당했다”고 고백하며 거듭 용서를 구했다. 알리 측은 14일 문제가 발생하자마자 나영이 가족에게 “찾아가 사죄하고 싶다”는 뜻을 전했고, 안산에 사는 나영이 아버지가 알리 측의 기자회견을 본 뒤 “내가 나영이와 함께 찾아가겠다”고 해 만남이 성사됐다.

However, some netizens’ negative comments didn’t stop, so Ali held a press conference on the 16th with her father and confessed, “3 years ago, I was also sexually assaulted,” and asked once more for forgiveness.  On the 14th, as soon as the problem appeared, Ali conveyed her wish to “go and apologize” to Na-young’s family, and Na-young’s father, after watching Ali’s press conference, said, “I’ll go with Na-young to visit her,” and the meeting was arranged (caption, left: 알리가 17일 나영이 아버지를 통해 나영이에게 준 사죄의 편지 / The apology letter Ali gave to Na-young through her father on the 17th).

이날 나영이 아버지는 알리가 눈물을 흘리며 사죄하자 갖고 온 백합과 안개꽃 다발을 내려놓고 거듭 알리를 달랬다. “나도 어제 기자회견한 내용을 들었어요. 그렇게 큰 고통이 있는 줄 몰랐네요. 얼마나 힘들고 어려웠을지 충분히 짐작돼요. 사전에 우리에게 알리지도 않고 노래를 만들었단 얘길 듣곤 화가 나 음반 판매 금지 가처분까지 생각했는데 노래를 폐기하겠다고 해서 마음이 좀 누그러졌어요. 그런데 그런 사정(성폭행)까지 있었다니, 내가 다독여줘야겠다는 생각이 들었죠.”

On this day, Ali apologized with tears streaming, and Na-young’s father put down the bouquet of lilies and baby’s breath he had brought and comforted her repeatedly.  “I heard what you said at the press conference.  I didn’t know that you had such great pain.  I can guess how difficult and hard that must have been.  When we heard that you’d made the song without letting us know beforehand, we were angry and even thought of an injunction banning sales of the album, but you said you would discard the song so our feelings softened.  But you had that kind of situation (sexual assault), so I felt I should console you.”

나영이 아버지가 “참 많이 힘들었죠?” 하자 알리가 울먹이며 입을 열었다. “(나영이와) 같은 해에 저도 당했어요. 그래서 (나영이) 기사가 나오면 스크랩해서 주변 사람들에게 보여주고 (나영이 돕기 모금 기관에) 익명의 기부도 했어요. 남의 일이 아닌 것 같아 더 적극적으로 돕고 싶었지만 그러면 주변에서 ‘혹시 너 뭐 있니’ 할 것 같아서 공개적으로는 못 했죠.”

When Na-young’s father said, “It was very hard, wasn’t it?” Ali was on the verge of tears as she spoke.  “I was assaulted in the same year (as Na-young).  So when the articles (about Na-young) came out, I saved them and showed them to the people around me, and donated anonymously (to the fund-raising organization for helping Na-young).  It didn’t feel like someone else’s problem, so I wanted to help more actively, but it seemed like if I did that, the people around me might ask, ‘Did something happen to you?’ so I couldn’t do it openly.”

나영이 아버지는 알리에게 “힘들겠지만 위축되지 말고 당당하게 정면 돌파해라. 그게 이기는 길”이라고 했다. “우리 사회 풍토가 슬프지만 ‘목소리 안 내는 사람이 바보’라고들 생각하잖아요. (성폭행 피해자들이) 자기 목소리를 당당하게 낼 수 있는 기회가 만들어져야 해요.” 그는 “이번 (나영이 노래) 일 때문에 네티즌이 많이 화가 난 것 같은데, 오해도 많이 풀린 만큼 진정됐으면 좋겠다”고 했다.

Na-young’s father said to Ali, “It must be hard, but instead of cowering, face things confidently head-on. That’s the way to win.  Our social climate is sorrowful, but as people say, ‘The person who doesn’t speak out is a fool.’  Opportunities need to be created for (victims of sexual assault) to speak out confidently.”  He continued, “Because of this matter (the song “Na-young-ee”), netizens seem to have gotten very angry, and I hope this misunderstanding gets cleared up so they will calm down.” (caption, right: 가수 알리가 (본명 조용진) 16일 오후 서울 종로구 홍지동 상명아트센터 콘서트홀에서 열린 알리의 정규 1집에 수록된 ‘나영이’곡 논란과 관련한 공식 기자회견장에서 2008년 성폭행당한 사실을 밝히며 눈물을 흘리고 있다 / Singer Ali {real name Jo Yong-jin}, at an official press conference at the Sangmyeong Art Center in Hongji-dong,  Gongro-gu, Seoul, regarding controversy caused by her song, 나영이, in her 1st regular album, crying while announcing that she was raped herself in 2008)

나영이 아버지가 1시간여 동안 얘기를 나눈 뒤 “바쁜 사람 시간 잡아먹으면 안 된다”며 일어나자 알리는 다이어리와 연필, 꽃 장식이 달린 머리띠가 든 종이 가방을 전달했다.

After talking for an hour, Na-young’s father said, “I shouldn’t take up a busy person’s time,” and stood up.  Ali gave him a paper bag containing a diary, pencil, and flower-decorated headband.

알리는 나영이에게 사죄와 격려의 메시지를 보내는 내용의 다섯 장의 편지도 초록 봉투에 담아 함께 전달했다. “내가 부족해 너에게 상처를 또 주게 돼 정말 미안해. (중략) 만약 괜찮다면 너의 얘기도 들려줘. 친구가 되었으면 좋겠어.”

Ali also gave Na-young a five-page message of apology and encouragement, contained in a green envelope.  “I’m very sorry that my mistake caused you to be hurt again.  (…) If it’s okay, tell me your story in return.  I’d like us to be friends.”

나영이 아버지가 집으로 출발하려는 차 안에는 나영이가 타고 있었다. 나영이 아버지는 “나영이가 차를 오래 타고 와 피곤했던 데다 부끄러움을 많이 타 밖에 있고 싶다고 했다”고 했다. 알리는 안이 잘 보이지 않는 창밖에서 “언니가 정말 미안해”라고 몇 번이고 말했다.

Na-young was in the car that her father took to go home. Her father said, “Na-young is tired from riding in the car for a long time, and also she is very shy, so she said she would like to stay outside.” Outside of a window into which one couldn’t really see, Ali said several times, “I am really sorry.” (end)

(Thanks to Marilyn for the translation)

63 Years On: Free Screening in Seoul this Sunday

With thanks to Shannon Heit for letting me know, this Sunday at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul there will be a free screening of 63 Years On, an award-winning documentary about the Comfort Women (with English subtitles). If you’re interested in attending, please see the press release (an MS Word file) for further details, and note that it actually starts at 2pm, not 3pm as stated in the poster (which I’ve confirmed is a mistake).

Slutwalk Korea (잡년행진) This Saturday!

(Source)

Sorry for the short notice, but I’ve only just found out about it. Still, that might actually be a good thing(!), as like Gomushin Girl put it:

…I’m sure part of the reason lots of expats haven’t heard about it is because the Facebook page and most of the planning has been done by and for Koreans, which is freakin’ awesome.

Indeed. But I’m sure the organizers would still be more than happy for any spectator support and/or even participation by expats, so please contact them via their blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed if you’re interested (and here’s the Wikipedia page for more about Slutwalk in general). And, with it starting at 4pm in Gwanghwamun, I’m happy to report that I’m actually going to be able to see it myself, as by a great coincidence I’d already just booked KTX tickets to see a friend in Seoul at the very same time and place!^^

(Hat tip to Dating in Korea)

Update 1: Here’s a Korea Times article on the event. More links coming soon!

Update 2: Impossible Black Tulip questions the wisdom of holding Slutwalks.

Update 3: Here’s Roboseyo’s excellent report on the event.

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“63 Years On: The Story of the Comfort Women” Screening This Saturday

With thanks to Shannon Heit for passing it on, this Saturday at Dongguk University in Seoul there will be a free screening of “63 Years On”, a documentary about the Comfort Women. Starting at 3pm, see the Facebook event page or this press release for further details, and here for a campus map. Also, please note that it does have English subtitles.

Update 1: Ask a Korean! reports that, sadly, a former Comfort Woman just passed away today. That leaves only 73 registered ones still alive.

Update 2: For anyone further interested in the topic of Comfort Women, consider also grabbing a copy of Behind Forgotten Eyes, an award-winning 2007 documentary (via @ornamentity).

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace & the 2001 Equal Employment Opportunity Law: What Still Needs to be Done

(Source)

With thanks very much to Marilyn for the translation of the following article from Ildaro (일다), I’ll quickly let it speak for itself:

고용불안 속, 직장내 성희롱 위협 커져

In the midst of employment instability, the threat of workplace sexual harassment increases

고용평등상담실 10년, 여성노동의 현실과 미래를 말한다(2)

10th year of the Equal Employment Counseling Office, discussing female employees’ present and future

[편집자 주] 2001년 남녀고용평등법 4차 개정으로 고용평등상담실 지원제도가 도입된 지 10년이 되었습니다. 민간단체들의 고용평등상담실은 그동안 여성노동자들의 실질적 보호장치로 기능해왔으며, 여성노동자들이 처한 현실을 사회에 고발하는 창구역할을 해왔습니다. 일다는 여성노동자회와 함께 고용평등상담실에 접수된 상담사례를 통해 IMF 경제 위기 이후 후퇴 일로를 걷고 있는 여성노동의 현실과 과제를 살펴보고자 합니다. 필자 황현숙님은 현재 서울여성노동자회 회장을 맡고 있습니다.

우 리 사회의 성폭력 문제는 온 국민이 알게 된 끔찍한 아동 성폭행, 유명 정치인의 성희롱 등으로 자주 언론에 오르내리는 이슈가 되었다. 직장내 성희롱으로 고용평등상담실의 문을 두드리는 여성들의 호소 또한 가벼운 성적 농담이나 접촉을 넘어서 심지어는 강간에 이르는 경우조차 발생되고 있다. 직장내 성희롱은 그 자체가 미치는 정신적․신체적 악영향, 노동환경의 악화뿐만 아니라 일자리 자체까지 위협받게 된다는 데에 그 심각성이 있다.

[Editor’s note] It’s been 10 years since the Equal Employment Counseling Office support system was introduced through the 4th Amendment to the 2001 Equal Employment Opportunity Law.  During that time, the Equal Employment Counseling Offices of private organizations have been functioning as female workers’ practical safeguards and have acted as liaisons that report to society the realities that female workers encounter. Through the case consultations received in the Equal Employment Counseling Office, Ilda and the Women Workers Association intend to look at the realities and problems of women workers, who are losing ground after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.   Author Hwang Hyun-sook  is the current head of the Seoul Women Workers Association.

Through incidents of horrible child molestation, a famous politician’s sexual harassment, and others of which the entire nation is aware, our society’s problem with sexual violence has become an issue that often comes up in the press.  According to the complaints of women workers who’ve knocked on the Equal Employment Counseling Office’s door because of sexual harassment, there are also cases occurring that surpass light sexual jokes or touching to go as far as rape.  Workplace sexual harassment itself not only has bad mental and physical effects and worsens work environments, but is even of such a magnitude that jobs themselves [of victims] may be threatened.

(Source)

일자리 위협으로 이어지는 직장내 성희롱

“과장이 ‘피곤하지?’라며 손, 팔을 주물러 너무 불쾌하여 늘 가슴을 조이며 지냈어요. 어느 날 허벅지를 만지기도 하여 우울증에 시달리다가 문제제기를 하였더니 그 후 재계약을 하지 않겠다는 통보를 받았어요. 성희롱으로 실직하게 된 것 같아 너무 억울해요.”(2009년 상담사례, 계약직)

“사 장님이 자꾸 만나자고 하면서 ‘옆에 오면 가슴이 떨린다. 만나면 안고 싶고 무릎을 베고 누워 얘기도 하고 싶고 즐기고 싶다. 나를 받아 줄 수 없냐.”고 하더라고요. 남자에 대해 관심이 없다고 거절했더니, 부장을 통해 퇴사하라는 통보를 받았는데……“(2009년 상담사례, 2개월 근무)

성희롱 가해자가 사업주, 상사 인 상담은 매년 75~85% 가량이다. 가해자가 인사권을 직접 가지고 있는 경우가 많아 성희롱을 거부하거나 문제제기했을 경우에는 직. 간접적인 괴롭힘으로 스스로 그만두게 하거나 권고사직, 심지어 다른 사유를 들어 해고하는 사례들도 나타난다. 그래서 성희롱이 발생해도 공론화하기 어렵고 이를 은폐하도록 가해자가 권력을 행사하기도 한다.

Workplace sexual harassment extending to job threats

“My manager would ask, ‘Are you tired?’ and massage my hands and feet; it was so uncomfortable and I always went around feeling anxious.  One day he even touched my thigh and so while suffering from depression, I made a complaint; because of that I received notice that my contract wouldn’t be renewed.  I became unemployed because of sexual harassment – it’s so unfair.” (2009 counseling case, contract worker)

“The president of the company often asked me out and said ‘When you come near me my heart pounds.  If we go out I want to hold you, put my head in your lap and talk, and have fun.  Can’t you accept me?’  I refused, telling him I wasn’t interested in men, and through the general manager I received notice that I was to resign…” (2009 case consultation, working for 2 months)

Every year, about 75-85% of the consultations are ones in which the perpetrator of sexual harassment is the business’ owner or victim’s boss.  There are many cases in which the perpetrator is directly in charge of the company’s human resources.  Because of this, when the victim has rejected the perpetrator’s advances or made an official complaint, there have been cases in which the perpetrator may cause her to quit though direct or indirect harassment, urge her to resign, or even find grounds to fire her.  Therefore, even though sexual harassment occurs, making it public is difficult and the perpetrator often exerts his authority to conceal it.

(Source: unknown)

성희롱의 온상, 회식자리 남성중심 문화

“입 사한지 1주일 만에 본사 간부급 직원들과 회식자리가 있었어요. 간부들이 버릇인양 손잡기, 어깨동무하기, 허리 감싸기, 끌어안기, 볼 부비기……. 마치 간부들을 위해 여직원들이 대접하는 자리 같았는데 어렵게 입사하여 그만둘 수도 없고 어찌해야 할지……” (2007년 상담사례, 정규직)

“회 식 2차로 노래방에 끌려가다시피 갔어요. 술 마신 남직원들이 안으려고 해서 피했는데, 갑자기 뒤에서 끌어안더니 들었다놓았다하는데 과장, 계장 모두 묵인하고, 계장은 블루스를 추자고 하더라고요. 그래서 울면서 집에 왔는데 동기들도 다른 구청이나 동사무소 근무하면서 회식자리 성희롱 때문에 너무 힘들어 해요. 블루스를 춘 여직원한테는 잘해주고, 안 추면 욕하고 못살게 군다고 하더라고요.” (2007년 상담사례, 공무원)

회 식문화가 변하는 곳도 생겨나고 있지만, 회식자리에서의 성희롱은 지금도 일상적으로 일어나고 있다. 회식자리는 직장내 위계적 관계의 연속으로 상사의 기호에 맞추어야 하고 그의 요구에 따라야 하는 업무의 연속처럼 진행된다. 우리 사회의 남성 중심적인 문화, 위계질서가 이어지는 회식 문화는 여성들의 고용환경을 악화시키는데 일조하고 있다.

The hotbed of sexual harassment, office dinner male-centric culture

“I was at an office dinner with head office management-level employees only a week after joining the company.  The executives had habits of holding my hand, putting their arms around my shoulders and waist, hugging me, pressing their cheeks against mine…   It was like a place for the female employees to serve executives; it was hard to get a job here so I can’t quit and [don’t know] what to do…”  (2007 case consultation, regular employee)

“I went to the second [drinking-heavy] part of our office dinner like I was being dragged.  Male employees who were drinking were trying to hug me so I avoided them; suddenly I was embraced from behind and picked up and put down.  The manager and section chief overlooked everything, and the section chief asked me to slow-dance with him.  So I came home crying; also my peers who work at other district offices or dong offices have a really hard time because of sexual harassment at office dinners.  They say the female employees who slow-danced are treated well, and if you don’t dance they curse and treat you badly.” (2007 case consultation, government employee)

There are places where office dinner culture is changing, but sexual harassment at office dinners happens regularly even now. Office dinners progress similar to the  business itself, in which one must adjust to the preferences of a superior ahead of one in the workplace’s hierarchical relationships, and follow his demands.  Our society’s male-centric culture and hierarchy-connected office dinner culture lead to the worsening of women’s working conditions.

(Source)

친밀한 관계가 질곡인 영세소규모사업장 성희롱

“5 명도 안 되는 회사에서 근무한지 2개월인데 사장이 아침부터 술을 먹자고 하고, 남자친구랑 몇 번 하냐고 묻고 ‘나랑 애인 같은 거 하자’는 소리를 자꾸 해요. ‘이런 소리 들으려고 일하는 거 아니다’라고 말하면 무릎 꿇고 안한다고 하면서도 술만 마시면 또 그러니 일자리가 아니라 고문받는 자리 같아요.”(2008년 상담사례)

“연 말에 사장이 송년회를 가자고 해서 부담스러웠지만 가게 되었어요. 결국 2차까지 가게 되었는데 노래방에서 강제로 키스를 하고 옷 속으로 손을 넣어 몸을 만졌어요. 거부하면서 강하게 밀쳤더니 “난 사장이고, 넌 경리야”, “너 내일부터 나오지 마.”라는데, 다시 직장을 알아보면서 화도 나고 얼굴 보는 것도 두렵고 생각할수록 화가 나고 억울해요.“(2008년 상담사례, 사업주와 2명 근무)

영세소규모사업장의 성희롱은 가해자가 사업주인 경우가 많아 실질적인 법적 조치가 어려운 점, 성희롱 예방교육 특례조항 적용 사업장이라 예방교육이 실시되지 않는다는 문제점이 있다.

업 무적으로 둘만이 접촉하는 경우가 많아 사업주의 부당한 성적 요구나 사적인 친밀감을 성적 언행으로 표시하는 경우도 잦다. 성희롱을 거부하면 바로 그만두라는 통보를 받는 노동권 위협의 문제도 크지만, 매일 가까운 곳에서 얼굴을 마주쳐야 하니 버티고 싶어도 버티기 어렵다는 어려움이 있다.

Sexual harassment in a small business bound by close relationships

“I’ve been working for 2 months at an office that doesn’t even have 5 people in it; from the morning on the president suggests drinking together, asks me how many times I do it with my boyfriend, and keeps saying ‘Let’s date or something’. When I say, ‘I don’t work in order to listen to this kind of noise’, even though he gets on his knees and says he won’t do it [anymore], when he drinks, he gets like that again, so it’s like a torture chamber, not a workplace.” (2008 case consultation)

“At the end of the year, the president wanted to have an end-of-the-year party, so I went though it was annoying.  I ended up going to the second part and at a karaoke room he forcibly kissed me and put his hands under my clothes and touched me.  I refused him and pushed him hard so he said ‘I’m the president and you’re the bookkeeper’ and ‘From tomorrow, don’t come in [to work] anymore.’  I’m looking for another job and I feel angry and afraid of seeing his face, and the more I think about it, the angrier I get and the more unfair it feels.”  (2008 case consultation, office with company president and two people)

There are many cases in which the perpetrator of sexual harassment in a small business workplace is the business owner, so real legal measures are a challenge, and they are workplaces to which the Sexual Harassment Prevention Education Exception Clause applies, so there is the problem of prevention education not being implemented.

There are many cases in business in which two people only have contact with each other, so cases in which the business’ owner expresses his unjustified sexual demands or personal feelings of intimacy through sexual speech and behavior also frequently occur.  If victims rebuff the sexual harassment, the labor rights-threatening problem of immediately receiving notice to quit is serious, but there is also the drawback that because they have to see the other person’s face nearby every day, even though they want to endure it [keep working], enduring it is difficult.

(Source)

늘어나는 서비스직, 늘어나는 고객에 의한 성희롱

“고객센터에서 근무하고 있는데 외주업체 소속 강사가 메신저로 ‘만나자, 남자친구와 몇 번 했냐는 등의 말과 스킨십을 하는데 법적으로 어떻게 처리할 수 있을까요?” (2009년 상담사례, 텔레마케터)

“노 인돌보미 일을 하고 있는데, 고객이 70세인데 전직 교장이래요. 첫날부터 자꾸 몸을 밀착해오고 ‘젊은 사람이 곁에 있으니 내가 다시 남성이 되는 느낌이다’, 어제는 노골적으로 ‘아랫도리가 되살아난다’며 치근대 괴로워요. 어떻게 해야 할지…….“(2009년 상담사례, 45세)

고 용형태와 업무 방식이 다양해지면서 업무상 맺는 관계의 폭도 다양하고 복잡해졌다. 협력업체나 거래처 직원, 대인서비스직의 성희롱도 다양하게 나타난다. 그리고 간병이나 노인돌봄 같은 사회서비스 일자리가 늘어남에 따라 재가 돌봄서비스에 종사하는 여성들의 성희롱 피해상담도 늘어나고 있다.

Increasing service-industry workers, increasing sexual harassment by customers

“I work in a customer service center.  A supervisor [actually she uses the word for “lecturer” but I think that’s a mistake] affiliated with our subcontractor says things on Messenger like ‘Let’s go out’, ‘How many times have you done it with a boyfriend?’ and so on, and does skinship [touching like they’re in a relationship].  How can I deal with this using the law?” (2009 case consultation, telemarketer)

“I work in elder care.  My patient is 70 years old and says he used to be a school principal. From the first day he has often pressed up against me and said ‘Because there’s a young person at my side I feel like I’m becoming a man again’ and yesterday, saying bluntly, ‘My lower body is coming back to life”, he made pass at me; I’m really upset.  [I don’t know] what to do…” (2009 case consultation, 45-year-old)

As types of employment and ways of conducting business are diversifying, the range of relationships formed through business is also diversifying and becoming complicated. Sexual harassment of employees of subcontractors or clients, and personal service workers also presents itself in various ways.  Also, in line with the increase in social service positions like nursing or elder care, sexual harassment victim counseling for women working in in-home care is also increasing.

(Source)

성희롱은 사적인 일?

“남자 동료가 수시로 농담을 하면서 뽀뽀하자, 너도 밤일 할 줄 아냐는 등 수치심을 갖도록 하여 회사에 제기하였는데, 개인의 일이라고 개인적으로 대응하라고만 하는데……”(2009년 상담사례)

직 장내 성희롱은 안전한 환경에서 일할 노동권과 직접 관련이 있다. 그래서 남녀고용평등법에서도 직장내 성희롱을 금지하고 있을 뿐만 아니라, 사업주의 의무로 △직장 내 성희롱의 예방을 위한 교육 실시△성희롱 행위자에 대하여 징계나 이에 준하는 조치를 취할 것△피해자에게 해고나 다른 불이익 조치를 하지 말 것을 규정하고 있다. 그런데도 성희롱이 발생하여 이를 사측에 문제제기하면 위의 상담사례처럼 개인적인 일로 치부해 버리는 문제들이 여전히 일어나고 있다.

Sexual harassment is personal business?

“A male coworker often makes jokes and says, ‘Let’s kiss’, ‘Do you too know how to do night work [sex]?’ and other things to humiliate me so I made a complaint to the company.  They said it was personal business and just told me to deal with it privately…” (2009 case consultation)

Workplace sexual harassment is directly related to the employee’s right to work in a safe environment.  Therefore, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law not only prohibits workplace sexual harassment, it also stipulates, as the business owner’s duty, 1) implementation of education for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, 2) disciplinary action, or taking steps in accordance with disciplinary action, against the perpetrators of sexual harassment, 3) not firing or taking other disadvantageous action against victims.  However, when sexual harassment occurs and is reported to the management, problems with it just being regarded as personal business, as in the case consultation above, are still coming up.

(Source)

고용평등상담실 통해 가해자의 공식사과와 징계 등 확보하기도

“부 원장님이 간호사들에게 안마를 해달라고 하거나 성적인 얘기도 잦아 힘들었어요. 며칠 전에는 맨발로 제 다리를 쓰다듬었는데 징그럽고 수치스러운 느낌 때문에 정신과 상담까지 받았어요. 그런데 고용평등상담실에서 도와주셔서 부원장은 공개사과와 감봉처분에, 병원 전체에 성희롱예방교육까지 실시하게 되었답니다!”

“과장님 성희롱 때문에 괴로웠는데 상담실에서 도와주셔서 공개사과도 받고 가해자는 다른 근무지로 전출되어 얼굴보지 않고 근무할 수 있게 되었어요!”

직 장내 성희롱 자체가 노동환경을 악화시키고, 이를 문제제기하면 해고나 불이익이 따르기도 한다. 그러나 다른 여직원들을 위해서라도 그냥 있을 수 없다며 이에 맞서 문제를 제기하는 여성들 또한 늘어나고 있다. 이렇듯 권리를 확보하게 되는 사례도 많았지만, 일자리 자체의 불안정이 갈수록 커지면서 적극적인 대응을 주저하는 경우도 많은 안타까움이 있다.

Securing perpetrators’ public apology, disciplinary action, etc., through the Equal Employment Counseling Office

“The vice director frequently asked the nurses to give him massages or talked about sex, so it was difficult.  A few days ago he stroked my leg with his left foot; because of the nasty and shameful feeling, I even got psychiatric counseling.   But the Equal Employment Counseling Office helped me so the vice director’s public apology and pay docking measure, and even sexual harassment prevention education for the whole hospital were implemented!”

“I suffered because of my manager’s sexual harassment, but the Equal Employment Counseling Office helped me so I received a public apology and the perpetrator was transferred to a different workplace so I don’t see his face and I’ve become able to work!”

Workplace sexual harassment itself has a negative effect on a work environment, and if one reports it, dismissal or disadvantages often follow.  However, the number of women saying that, for the sake of other women workers, they can’t just [let it] be and accordingly, making complaints, is rising.  In this way there have been many cases that secured rights, but regrettably, as the instability of jobs themselves increases, there are many cases in which [victims] hesitate to take assertive action.

(Source)

직장내 성희롱 문화? 이젠 바뀌어야

직장내 성희롱을 겪으면 그만두라고 할까봐 참고 견디거나, 문제제기하면 결국 피해자가 그만두게 되는 상황이 더 이상 반복되지 않도록 해야 한다. 지난 해 여성노동자회 고용평등상담실에 접수된 성희롱 발생 사업장의 78%가 성희롱예방교육을 실시하지 않은 것으로 파악되었다. 그러므로 사업장에서는 형식적이지 않은 예방교육 실시해야 하고 사내에서 발생하는 성희롱에 대하여 조사와 조치, 재발방지 대책 등을 마련하여 실시해야 한다.

그 리고 정부는 이런 사항들이 실질적으로 이루어지도록 적극적인 행정지도·감독을 해야 한다. 또한 남성 중심적이 아닌 성인지적 관점의 성희롱 인정, 영세사업장장의 성희롱 예방교육 지원 확대, 돌봄서비스노동의 성희롱 실태조사와 예방교육 및 대책 등을 마련해야 한다. 이를 통해 우리 사회와 직장 전반의 남성 중심적인 문화가 변화될 때 직장내 성희롱에 대한 인식과 대책의 변화 또한 이끌어낼 수 있을 것이다.

Workplace sexual harassment culture?  Needs to change now

We need to make it so that situations in which, if one experiences workplace sexual harassment, they hold back and endure it because they’re afraid of being told to quit, or in which if they report it, they end up quitting, are no longer repeated. Last year, 78% of the workplaces reported to the Women Worker’s Association’s Equal Employment Counseling Center for sexual harassment were places where sexual harassment prevention education had not been implemented.  Therefore, in the workplace, prevention education that is not cursory needs to be implemented, and for sexual harassment that occurs in-house, research, action, recurrence prevention measures, etc., need to be arranged and implemented.

The government needs to use assertive administrative guidance and supervision to make these remedies become reality.  Also, recognition of sexual harassment from a gender-sensitive perspective that is not male-centric, securing support for sexual harassment prevention education for the owners of small businesses, research, prevention education, and measures regarding the sexual harassment of care-industry workers, etc., have to be arranged. When, through these, both our society’s and all workplaces’ male-centric culture changes, they will also be able to lead to changes in the understanding of and countermeasures for workplace sexual harassment.

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Countering Sexual Violence in Korea (Updated)

Once again, Korea has gotten the lowest score of all high-income countries in a recent survey of gender-equality worldwide. And, at 104th out of 131 countries surveyed, it was bested by numerous much poorer countries at that.

Given that record, then it’s very easy to focus on Korea’s shortcomings when talking about gender issues. But that can mean that we can easily miss the positive developments that are occurring though, and sometimes right in front of our very noses.

Take what this humble-looking subway ad for instance, and what it ultimately represents. First, a translation:

부산 해바라기 여성 • 아동센터

Busan Sunflower Women & Children’s Center

여성 성폭력 피해자와 가정폭력 피해자, 학교폭력 피해자들을 돕고 있는 부산 원스톱 지원센터와 아동과 지적장애인 성폭력 피해자 전담센터인 부산 해바라기 아동센터가 2010년 1월 1일부터 부산 해바라기 여성 • 아동센터로 통합되었습니다.

From January 1, the Busan One-Stop Support Center, which helps female victims of sexual abuse, victims of family abuse, and victims of physical abuse at schools, and the Busan Sunflower Children’s Center, which helps children and mentally handicapped victims of sexual abuse, have joined together and become the Busan Sunflower Women & Children’s Center.

(Source)

여성부, 부산광역시, 부산지방경찰청에서 지원하고 동아대학교병원에서 수탁운영하는 여성 • 아동 폭력피해자 전담센터입니다.

With support from the Ministry of Gender Equality, the Busan Metropolitan City Council, and the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency, Dong-a University Hospital has been given the responsibility of operating the center, which provides consultations for female and child victims of abuse.

가족폭력, 성매매, 학교폭력, 성폭력 피해를 입은 여성과 아동을 보호하고 지원하고 치료합니다.

Women and children who are the victims of family violence, sex trafficking, school violence, and sexual abuse can receive protection and treatment at the center.

의사, 간호사, 임상심리사, 심리치료사, 성폭력 • 가정폭력 전문상담원, 여성 경찰관 등 각 분야 전문가들이 상주하고 있어 위기상황에서 가장 전문적이고 질 높은 상담, 의료, 심리치료, 수사, 법률 서비스를 무상으로 제공합니다.

Experts in many fields such as doctors, nurses, clinical psychologists, psychological therapists, family and sexual violence consultants, and female police officers and so on will be permanently stationed at the center, and when you are in a crisis you can receive the best professional and highest quality consultations, medical treatment, psychological counseling, legal advice, and assistance with launching criminal investigations. All these services are provided free of charge. (end)

(Source)

In my experience, usually the amalgamation of two government institutions in any country is in response to cost-cutting. Fortunately however, there’s a great deal of indirect evidence to suggest that that isn’t the case here.

First, note that the ad is actually quite dated, mentioning that the amalgamation was effective from January the 1st for instance (although the center didn’t officially open until February the 9th), and in particular that the Ministry of Gender Equality has a supporting role in it, whereas the Ministry actually reconverted back to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs (여성가족부/MOGEF) back in March. Presumably then, the ad has already been posted on Busan subway trains once before, probably late last year or early this one.

Why suddenly post the same ones again in late September then? What has changed to prompt that?

As Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling has well-documented, what has changed is the public perception that there has been a sudden and dramatic increase in the numbers of sex crimes against children, whereas in fact they have remained steady (but appallingly high) for years:

There is not a “recent series” of such sexual crimes – this is always happening. It’s just that the media has decided – as it does whenever a particular case angers people – to highlight these cases, which would usually either not be covered or covered by perhaps only one or two media outlets, and which are now linked together in articles in order to point to a great problem that exists. To be sure, there have been several laws passed since the murder of Lee Yu-ri in March (and the Yeongdeungpo case in June), and it’s great that the issue has finally gotten enough attention to get things moving (see here for a brief history of the slow pace of change since 2006). I’m not entirely sure that the solutions being offered are always the best ideas, however, and public fury (and worry) whipped up by this media coverage may be putting pressure on politicians to act first and think later.

And see past Korean Gender Reader posts for more details of those and other sexual crimes. By coincidence, one of the most notorious of those – the murder of Lee Yu-ri – also occurred in Busan, and several of my coworkers here have reported seeing rooms like that on the right pop up in Busan public schools they teach at in the months since, although unfortunately they have no information on the quality of their staffing or how often they are utilized. Have any readers also noticed them, in Busan or elsewhere?

(Note that the English translation on it may be a little misleading though: a better one would be “Consultation Room [for] Mental Anguish [caused by] Sexual Harassment or Sexual Violence”)

Regardless, the point is that given the current climate then it would be wise for the government to highlight all it is doing to prevent sexual violence, let alone to continue or even increase funding to women and children’s centers. And however cynical and reactionary the motives, this is to be applauded.

Granted, the amalgamation was decided and instituted well before the public outcry over the supposed recent spate of sexual crimes against children. But that doesn’t necessarily imply it was the result of a reduction of funding: although it may receive little if any funding from MOGEF for instance, I find it significant that the Ministry’s assumption of old responsibilities came with a big increase in staff and 4 times larger budget (albeit from a base of 0.03% of the government total), so when the plans for the change were announced late last year there was already a political climate conducive to more funding for feminist causes.  Signs of a change of heart from President Lee Myung-bak also perhaps, who originally promised to abolish it before his election, only to back down and merely considerably downsize it in response to protests afterwards?

Alas, quite the opposite: in fact, he is using MOGEF to raise the dire birth rate by – wait for it – criminalizing abortion, as I explain in detail here. But to play devils’ advocate however, perhaps this blinds us to some of the positives that it has achieved?

One is its survey of teenage entertainers in August, which – among other things – revealed that many were pressured by their managers to wear revealing costumes, and which ultimately resulted in the National Assembly’s setting up of a committee (albeit under a different ministry) to further investigate MOGEF’s findings. And which after hearing evidence from entertainment company CEOs has just laid down new regulations for the treatment of minors in the entertainment industry (see here and here also for more background).

And finally, take the recent video produced by MOGEF below, which encourages people to pay more attention to the needs of immigrant women. Granted, it’s just a video, and again it may be just be in response to the recent murder of a Vietnamese bride by her husband after only 8 days in the country (see #13 here), but then it’s not like such efforts started only recently. One thing that instantly comes to mind for instance, is the above survey that was sent to all foreign spouses in Korea in August last year (see #3 here), in an attempt to better find out their specific needs.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Any other positives readers can think of, however minor, then please pass them on!^^

Update: As per request, here is what the voiceover in the video is saying (and I’ve put the additional text in brackets as it came up):

이주여성들을 힘들게 하는건 (부부갈등 상담 8, 452건)

The things that make it difficult for migrant women… (8, 452 consultations for married couples having difficulties)

어려운 한국어와 (가정폭력 상담 4205 건 [2009년 이주여성 긴급지원센터 상담통계)

…are difficult Korean… (4205 consultations over family violence/abuse [2009 Statistics from Migrant Urgent Help & Consultation Centers])

낯선 환경, 다른 문화

…the strange environment, the different culture…

그리고 우리의 무관심입니다. (국제결혼 이주여성 16만여명)

…and our indifference. (lit. international marriage migrant women 160,000 women [James: just in 2009?])

이주여성들에게 작은 관심은 큰 힘이 됩니다.

Just a little help and support helps migrant women a great deal (same in the text)

이주여성들의 힘이 되어주세요.

Please be strong and supportive to them.

이캠폐인은 여성가족부와 복권위원회가 함께 합니다. (이주여성긴급지원센터, 1577-1336)

This campaign is brought to you by MOGEF and The Lottery Commission. (Migrant Women’s Urgent Help & Consultation Centers: 1577-1366)

And by coincidence, something else positive that MOGEF has some role in: a seminar about women’s career development at my university tomorrow (stalkers, take note of which one). Things like this seem to go on there at least once a month or so.

Maybe this has something to do with that, which I only just noticed today:

Please let me know if anyone would like a translation of the first poster. Meanwhile, do any other Korea-based readers have anything similar at their own universities?

Groping in Korea: Just How Bad Is It?

(Source: leftycartoons)

I never did think that women should consider street harassment as flattering of course. But still, this cartoon is eerily effective in getting that message across. It’s no wonder that’s it’s received nearly 300 comments over at Sociological Images.

Most of those dealing with the US though, now I’m curious as to how bad street harassment is in Korea in comparison. And in hindsight I realize that I’ve largely overlooked that in favor of covering workplace discrimination previously, most recently the landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against Samsung.

I did know about bbikkie (삐끼) though, or men that literally drag attractive women into nightclubs to encourage men to spend their money there (see here also); that Korean dating culture actually condones stalking; that this sometimes affects foreign women (see #12 here); and that Caucasian women especially are hypersexualized by the Korean media and/or often get confused for Russian prostitutes; and so on.

But groping? I’d never really thought about it, except in passing. After all, what guy does?

Hence my surprise and naivety at discovering that it’s not a problem confined to subways, and in fact was a pervasive problem among crowds during the World Cup, as the following report I’ve translated makes clear. And, even in broad daylight today too, as Krista of Salt City Girl wrote in her email to me that I’ve posted after that.

(Source: Sinfest)

“골인” 환호 순간에 웬 남자 손이…/ In the Moment of the “Goal in!” Cheer, Some Man’s Hand…

Kim Shi-hyeon, The Chosun Ilbo, June 26 2010

서울의 한 고교 2학년 최모(17)양은 지난 17일 강남구 삼성동 코엑스 앞 영동대로에 월드컵 길거리 응원을 나갔다가 봉변을 당했다. 아르헨티나 에 0 대 2로 뒤지던 전반 막판 이청용의 만회골이 터지자 시민들은 일제히 소리를 지르며 서로를 부둥켜 안았다. 최양도 친구와 손을 붙잡고 팔짝팔짝 뛰었다. 소리를 지르며 정신없이 뛰고 있던 중 갑자기 뒤에서 한 남자가 어깨동무를 하며 다른 손으로 가슴과 엉덩이를 더듬었다. 놀란 최양이 뒤를 돌아보자 20대로 보이는 남자 1명이 순식간에 군중 속으로 사라졌다. 최양은 “남자 얼굴을 제대로 보지 못했고 사람들 속으로 숨어 버려 경찰에 신고도 못했다”면서 “월드컵이라 부모님이 특별히 밤 외출을 허락했는데, 완전히 기분을 망쳤다. 앞으론 절대 길거리 응원은 안 나갈 것”이라고 했다.

Choi Mo-XXX, a 16 year-old (western age) second year high school student in Seoul, had a bad experience on the 17th after she arrived at Yeongdong Road in front of COEX in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu to cheer [the Korean team] during the World Cup.

Korea was losing 2-nil, but then at the end of the first half Lee Cheong-yong suddenly exploded back into the game with a goal, and everyone in the crowd cheered in unison and hugged each other, with Choi Mo-XXX too holding tight onto her friend’s hand and jumping up and down. But while she was doing this and not thinking about anything else, a man who was behind her placed one hand on her shoulders and with the other groped her breasts and buttocks.

She turned around, and saw a man who appeared to be in his 20s, who disappeared into the crowd in an instant. She said “I didn’t really see his face, and he disappeared into the crowd so quickly, that there’s really no point in telling the police,” and added that “because this was the World Cup, my parents gave me special permission to come out and cheer with everyone, but now my feelings have been completely ruined. From now on, I’m never going to attend any cheering events like this again.” (Source, right)

월드컵 기간 길거리 응원을 나가는 여성들에게 ‘성추행 경보’가 켜졌다. 남아공 월드컵은 시차 때문에 저녁 8시나 11시, 새벽 3시 30분 등 어두울 때 경기가 열려 성추행 범죄가 일어나기 쉬운 상황이다. 특히 위기대처 능력이 부족한 여자 중·고생들은 성추행을 당하고도 무서워서 가만히 있거나 수치심 때문에 주위에 도움을 청하지도 못하고 있다.

A big “Groping Alert” to women has been issued to women going to the streets to cheer during the World Cup period. Because of the time difference with South Africa, games are played at 8pm, 11pm, 3:30 in the morning, and so on, providing easy opportunities for gropers to strike. Especially women least able to deal with such a situation, such as middle or high school students, may be so scared as to quietly accept the groping and/or through a feeling of shame or disgrace be unable to ask for help.

인터넷 게시판에는 길거리 응원전에 나갔다가 성추행을 당했다는 제보가 끊이지 않고 있다. 네이버 한 카페에서 ID ‘바람’은 “사촌동생이 거리응원 나갔다가 성추행당했다고 그러더라. (이겨서) 너무 좋고 정신없어서 당시엔 잘 몰랐는데 가슴을 대놓고 만졌다고 했다”고 썼다. ID ‘단탈리안’도 “친구가 길거리 응원 나갔는데 계속 가슴에 어떤 남자의 손이 부딪혔다고 했다”는 글을 올렸다.

On internet cafes, there is an unceasing stream of information from women who have been groped during World Cup cheering events. On one Naver cafe, a commenter with the ID “Baram” wrote “My younger cousin said she was groped at a cheering event. Without her realizing at first, while she was concentrating on cheering her breasts were roughly grabbed, with no attempt by the groper to conceal what he was doing”. Another with the ID “Dantallian” posted the message that “When my friend went to a cheering event, a man kept feeling her breasts when she was crushed up against him.”

한 인터넷 커뮤니티에는 “거리응원 가서 생각지도 못하게 여자 가슴 만져서 레알(진짜) 기분좋음 ㅋㅋ” 등 성추행을 한 사실을 밝히는 글도 올라 있다.

(Source)

[But] On another internet community site, there have been messages like “At a cheering event I touched accidentally touched a women’s breasts. But it (really) felt good LOL”, clearly stating that the writers have groped women.

인터넷에는 16강 진출이 확정된 24일 아침 서울의 한 거리에서 남성 5~6명이 핫팬츠를 입은 여성을 자동차 보닛 위에 올려놓고 성추행을 하는 사진이 떠돌고 있다. 지난 21일 경기도 파주에서는 한국과 아르헨티나전 경기 응원 현장에서 여중생 김모(16)양을 성추행한 40대가 경찰에 입건되기도 했다.

And on the 24th, when it was confirmed that the Korea team had made it through to the first round, a picture of 5 or 6 men lifting a woman in hot pants onto the bonnet of car and groping her was posted around on the internet. Also, on the 21st, when Korea was playing against Argentina, a 40 year-old man was booked in the town of Paju for groping 15 year-old Kim Mo-XXX at a cheering event.

26일 열리는 우루과이 전 길거리 응원에서도 여성들의 각별한 주의가 필요하다. 경찰은 우루과이전에 서울광장 15만명, 영동대로에 12만명, 한강공원 반포지구에 12만명 등 전국에서 182만여명이 응원에 참가할 것이라고 예상했다. 서울경찰청 고평기 여성청소년계장은 “월드컵 길거리 응원을 나갈 때는 혼자 가지 말고 어른들이나 여러 일행과 함께 가는 게 좋다”며 “성추행을 당하면 큰 소리로 ‘싫다’고 소리치고 주변 응원객들에게 알려 붙잡도록 하는 것도 방법”이라고 조언했다.

Women need to take special care on the 26th, when Korea plays Uruguay. The police expect 150,000 people to participate in the cheering event at Seoul Plaza, 120,000 at Yeongdong Road, 120,000 at the Han River Banpo Baseball Stadium, and roughly 1.82 million people nationwide. Seoul City Police Women & Adolescent Crime Division Chief Go Pyeong-gi said that “it is better if you don’t go to the cheering events with older people or in groups rather than going alone,” and recommended that “if you get groped, the best method to deal with it is to scream “I hate this!” to the surrounding crowd to make sure they know what is going on and can help catch the groper.”

And now Krista’s experience, whom I’ll let speak for herself. And thanks again to her for giving me permission to print this part of her email (Source, right):

It seems to me that sex, sexuality, gender and race are somehow at more extremes in Korea.

I have never been as groped or inappropriately grabbed at in my life until coming to South Korea. Just a few days ago, I was assaulted by a man in the rainy streets of Chungju in the middle of the day in front of other men. He had no problem at all with putting his hand in my shirt and grabbing my breast. I have resorted to wearing high-necked tops at all times because of the experience. When I shared this experience with a Korean man, he seemed to suggest this was surprising and unlikely to happen because I am “foreign” but then went on to suggest I may be to blame for wearing a low-cut top. I cannot believe either of these instances happened. I did not make that man grab my breast and my low-cut shirt more than covered my breasts. And I certainly expected a more sympathetic ear. But the fact that anyone anywhere thinks it’s okay to grope anyone else is absurd. (I wish I could also explain how demeaning the blatant staring, pointing and discussing of any waygukin woman in the area is.) This hypersexualization of Caucasian women allows an attitude which makes it easier to discriminate against Caucasian women and the people who are willing to help them, work with them, talk to them or have anything to do with them. Obviously the objectification of women everywhere has lead to and continues to allow for misogyny, albeit often in a more subtle form in the US.

It would be a lie to say I haven’t been groped or otherwise harassed in America, but again, it does not compare to South Korea. The behavior is more extreme, bizarre and accepted.  Quite frankly I do not even begin to understand how Korean women tolerate it and I believe it goes a long way towards explaining why it is so rare to find a Caucasian woman who has been in Korea for more than five years. It is something that gives me pause when considering whether or not Korea is a place worth living.

I hope that gives you some insight into how at least one Caucasian woman sees hypersexualization in Korea.

Not to downplay Krista’s experiences in any way, but I had no idea that things were so bad here that many foreign women were persuaded to leave. Do readers agree that it is a big problem here, or has Krista merely been extremely unlucky?

Update: Read about a slightly bizarre 2-hour long case of groping on a train here and here.