South Korean men are fighting against feminism


On the identical avenue nook in Seoul the place 10,000 South Korean girls rallied final October to demand an end to spy cameras and sexual violence, the chief of a brand new activist group addressed a small group of indignant younger males.

“We’re a bunch for authorized justice, anti-hate, and true gender equality,” Moon Sung-ho boomed right into a microphone to a crowd of some dozen males waving placards.

As feminist points come to the fore in deeply patriarchal South Korea, there’s a rising discontent amongst younger males that they’re being left behind. Moon, who leads Dang Dang We, a bunch “combating for justice for males,” is considered one of them.

He began his group final yr after a 39-year-old enterprise proprietor was sentenced to 6 months in jail for grabbing a lady’s buttocks in a Korean soup restaurant. The case provoked outrage {that a} man might be convicted on no proof past the sufferer’s claims.

Whereas some lashed out on the decide, 29-year-old Moon discovered one other wrongdoer: feminism. Moon and his group held a panel dialogue on the Nationwide Meeting, Korea’s high legislature, in early September, to reveal what they understand to be the alleged harms of the motion.

“Feminism is not about gender equality. It’s gender discrimination and its method is violent and hateful,” he mentioned to applause from his viewers of about 40, largely younger, males.

02:40 – Supply: CNN

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The emergence of mainstream feminist voices and concepts got here in response to the brutal homicide of a younger girl close to a subway station in fashionable Seoul neighborhood, Gangnam, in 2016. The perpetrator intentionally focused a feminine sufferer.

The girl’s dying triggered an examination of attitudes in direction of girls within the nation, which broadened to incorporate campaigns in opposition to sexual harassment, just like the #MeToo motion and anti-spy cam protests, dubbed #mylifeisnotyourporn.

To many, the dialogue was lengthy overdue in male orientated South Korea, which ranks nicely under the worldwide common on the 2018 Global Gender Gap report, with main disparities by way of wage equality and earned earnings for ladies.

Campaigners discovered help from the South Korean authorities and President Moon Jae-In, who vowed to “turn out to be a feminist president” earlier than he was elected in 2017.

Since then, there have been a number of high-profile prosecutions regarding sexual abuse involving politicians, K-pop stars, and regular men. With every courtroom victory, the disquiet amongst males, particularly younger males, started to construct.

“I don’t help the #MeToo motion,” mentioned Park, a enterprise scholar in his early 20s who vehemently disagrees with the notion that younger girls as we speak are deprived in society. “I agree that (girls) of their 40s and 50s (made sacrifices), however don’t consider that girls of their 20s and 30s are being discriminated in opposition to.”

South Korean demonstrators hold banners during a rally to mark International Women's Day as part of the country's #MeToo movement in Seoul on March 8, 2018.

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/AFP/Getty Photographs

South Korean demonstrators maintain banners throughout a rally to mark Worldwide Girls’s Day as a part of the nation’s #MeToo motion in Seoul on March 8, 2018.

Park will not be his actual identify. He desires to stay nameless as a result of he fears repercussions for his views. So does Kim, one other scholar in his early 20s who’s about to graduate from college. Kim says he sits aside from girls at bars to keep away from being falsely accused of sexual harassment. Though he was as soon as supportive of feminism, he now believes it’s a girls’s supremacy motion that goals to deliver down males.

“When a lady wears revealing garments, it’s gender violence and sexual objectification. However the identical critic will get pleasure from an analogous picture of males. Feminists have a double customary,” he mentioned.

Each Park and Kim say males like them are being punished for the crimes of a earlier era. “Patriarchy and gender discrimination is the issue of the older era, however the penance is all paid by the boys of their 20s,” Kim mentioned.

Park and Kim aren’t alone. A Realmeter ballot final yr of greater than 1,000 adults found that 76% of males of their 20s and 66% of males of their 30s oppose feminism, whereas practically 60% of respondents of their 20s suppose gender points are essentially the most critical supply of battle within the nation.

What angers Park and Kim most of all is the nation’s coverage of compulsory conscription, which forces males their age to serve within the army. On the similar time, they suppose girls are getting a leg-up from new authorities applications that assist them enter historically male-dominated industries.

For 62 years, South Korean males have been pressured to affix the military. The custom, which started with the Korean War, requires all able-bodied males between 18 and 35 to serve between 21 to 24 months within the army. However, not like their fathers, as we speak’s youth don’t consider on this conventional male obligation.

Moon’s authorities is attempting to growing the variety of girls within the army, the place they at present make up round 5.5% of lively troops, according to the latest figures. However proper now, girls are exempt from compulsory conscription.

Park – who was injured throughout his time within the military – says he received zero profit from army service. “It’s unfair that just one gender should serve throughout their early 20s. We must be pursuing our desires as a substitute.”

It’s a view backed by surveys of younger males carried out final yr by Ma Kyung-hee, a gender coverage researcher at Korean Girls’s Growth Institute.

Ma’s research of three,000 grownup males discovered that 72% of males aged of their 20s suppose that the male-only draft is a type of gender discrimination, and virtually 65% consider that girls also needs to be conscripted. Virtually 83% consider that army service is best to be dodged, if attainable, and 68% consider it’s a waste of time.

They’re not simply involved about shedding two years of freedom. They’re additionally apprehensive about lacking out on alternatives. “If I can’t use that point for self-improvement, received’t I lag behind girls within the job market?” Kim requested.

In South Korea’s hyper-competitive job market, well-paying jobs at giant conglomerates are few and much between.

Within the final 10 years, the youth unemployment fee has jumped from 6.9% to 9.9%. In the event you embody youth who’re working half time, in addition to those that aren’t in jail, faculty or the army, that fee soars to 21.8%.

And whereas the nation underwent an financial development spurt from the 70s to the 90s, the younger era of Korea are working in a sluggish financial system. In the meantime, housing costs stay excessive: the median value for an residence in Seoul is $670,000 – whereas median incomes within the metropolis fall in need of $2,000 monthly.

02:42 – Supply: CNN

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Competitors for jobs is intense – and it has solely turn out to be extra so because of authorities applications to deliver extra girls into the workforce. Though the nation’s training hole is all however closed, women earn less than males within the workforce and are poorly represented in authorities.

In November 2017, the Ministry of Gender Equality revealed a five-year plan to broaden feminine illustration in ministries, authorities enterprises, and public colleges. Final February, it was proposed that the plan be prolonged to the non-public sector to incentivize giant conglomerates to rent extra girls and alter the male-centric company tradition.

However some males say these measures are giving girls an unfair benefit. “I fear whether or not I’d be deprived find employment,” Kim mentioned. “As a result of earlier than, it was a place that I may have simply received by advantage, however as a result of gender quota, (if I don’t get the place) it will likely be unfair.”

Park factors to girls’s universities as one other instance. In South Korea, there are greater than a dozen women-only universities and no male equal. A few of these colleges supply programs in extremely coveted professions like regulation or pharmacy – and because the nation caps the variety of regulation college students, the extra locations that go to girls, the less there are for males.

In her report revealed final yr, researcher Ma mentioned South Korea was in a time of “infinite competitors the place it’s unattainable to discover a steady job.” The older era of males grew up at a time when girls labored in factories, so whereas many noticed girls as weaker beings, they understood that girls made sacrifices for them, Ma mentioned. “To males of their 20s, girls are seen as a competitor to beat.”

The battle is being exacerbated by the web, the place informal misogyny is being normalized, mentioned Ma.

Ma discovered that males who realized about feminism on-line had been extra more likely to be anti-feminist than those that acquired data offline. She was additionally stunned to find that higher-income and higher-educated teams had been simply as more likely to maintain anti-feminist views as their lower-income and lower-education counterparts.

02:13 – Supply: CNN

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And whereas their fathers noticed girl as needing safety, Ma discovered many youthful males consider it’s girls who now maintain the ability. For them, the #MeToo motion, obligatory army service, and authorities applications for ladies’s development are indicators that the taking part in area is tilting in opposition to males.

Solely two years in the past, males of their 20s overwhelmingly supported President Moon. Now, lower than 30% of males of their 20s supported Moon, in comparison with 63.5% of girls, in line with December’s Realmeter ballot.

The pattern – which might be defined by the President’s perceived feminist leaning – has prompted some to hunt out politicians that replicate their views. However once they look, they discover there are few choices.

Protesters demand fair trials for men accused of sexual assault at an anti-feminist rally in Seoul, November 2018.

Dang Dang We

Protesters demand truthful trials for males accused of sexual assault at an anti-feminist rally in Seoul, November 2018.

One is Lee Jun-seok, a 34-year-old senior member of centrist Bareun Mirae Celebration, who has publicly accused feminists of creating an unfair seize for privilege on the expense of males. A collection of YouTube movies titled “a feminist being destroyed by Lee Jun-seok in debates,” have greater than 4 million views and tens of hundreds of feedback, virtually all praising Lee.

“As (the ruling Democratic Celebration) strikes in direction of girls’s rights, the era (of males) of their 20s and 30s feels clearly misplaced,” Lee says.

That’s as a result of, at present, no political celebration is exploiting the rising variety of disgruntled males. Lee suggests a celebration with a robust anti-feminist message may emerge at subsequent yr’s normal election, simply as proper wing teams surged in Europe.

For now, Bareun Mirae’s efforts to draw younger males appear to be paying off. In line with a Gallup Poll earlier this yr, males of their 20s and 30s had been Bareun Mirae’s largest supporters.

02:24 – Supply: CNN

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Regardless of the dearth of political events focusing on younger males, Moon Sung-ho, from Dang Dang We, will not be discouraged. “The present social ills that feminism have created wasn’t inbuilt a day. It should take effort and time to crumble it. We have to do it progressively,” he mentioned.

Ma, the researcher, believes that the battle received’t be resolved so long as South Korea has army conscription. “We should cease forcing manhood on males,” she mentioned. “Society should assist males discover a new masculinity, as a substitute of anti-feminism.”

However Park and Kim really feel helpless to alter a society that they suppose is placing girls first.

“We’re a punching bag,” Kim mentioned, when requested to explain the standing of younger males as we speak. He factors to how younger males are struggling to purchase their very own properties, and even pay for dates.

On the similar query, Park turns into deflated. “Males of their 20s aren’t a part of the institution. We should comply with no matter folks of their 40s and 50s say,” he mentioned. “If everybody may simply get a job and the financial system was rising, then possibly we wouldn’t have to battle this a lot.” | South Korean males are combating in opposition to feminism

Aila Slisco

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