Sookmyungians, you will have likely experienced commuting to Sookmyung Women’s University by bus and taking up a seat designed for two people all for yourself, thinking nothing of it. Perhaps there might have even been a man standing in front of you. However, how would you feel seeing yourself on a social media forum such as Facebook and being referred to as Kimchi woman which was then followed by insulting comments? Surprisingly, this case has actually happened, clearly showing Korean society's 'hated of women.'
Parting of the North and South Poles
Hatred of women has being spreading in Korean society. It is a phenomenon in which people express hatred for women and attack women openly. According to search conducted by a broadcasting station on a university classroom and internet community, 92.7% claimed to have heard the expression “kimchi women” (317 people). Also, 83% of women state that content connected to hatred of women needs to be banned but portal sites and/or the government, but only 60% of the men survey felt the same way.1 The survey responses clearly indicate that women are aware of society’s hatred of women and felt it to be an issue in need of attention. Generally, Korean society views this happening not as hatred by as mere belittling of women in fun on the media and in everyday conversation. For example, it is now common to see the phrase “Kimchi women” on a number of comment sections on portal sites. “Kimchi women” refers to women who act selfishly like when they expect the man to pay all expenses on a date. Also, “oh, molrang” is used to criticize women who hate government policies without good logical rationale. The reason why these phrases have become more and more widely used is not because of women. Although it’s not right to disparage sex, but there are numerous words that criticize women in Korean society. In addition to verbal abuse of women on social medias, women universities are having to deal with this “hated of women” attitude. Ewha Woman’s University came under attack by someone who posted on the Kimchi Women Facebook webpage. On the site, someone criticized Ewha Woman’s University’s students and said that the veteran extra point system was abolished due to Ewha Womans University’s students and its women’s rights community. As a result, Ewha Woman’s University’s Student Council replied with, “the posting on the Kimchi Women page on Facebook insults all Ewha Woman’s University students."2 and asked Seodaemun police station to start a thorough investigation. The situation may not be unique to Korea. Other nations have seen the phenomenon spread as well. In the book, ‘Women hate Women’ written by Ueno Chijeuko, who is a female scholar in Japan, it shows how the thought that women are inferior to men have been spread in Japanese culture, society, and politics. Also, in the United States, women there, too, are worried about the hatred towards them, so people are starting to address the seriousness of the situation. Martha Nussbaum, a jurist in the United States said, “Victims of slander and gossip through the internet tend to be mostly women” and suggested “hated of women” on the internet has become a normal phenomenon.3
A Magnet that Can’t Operate Rightly
One of the problems arising from this “hated of women” is that it interferes with the grasping of problems. The phenomenon comes from a variety of other problems. Many people have come to think that women’s faults were provoked by women and the character of women brings about the attitude in society. Hwang Gyoan, nominee for prime minister, said, “Busan women are wild” when commenting on family violence in Busan while working as a public prosecutor in Busan.4 This comment only adds to the misunderstanding of problems and their solutions. Therefore, the phenomenon affects not only women but all people in society because proper method for solving the problem just isn’t available.
Also, “hated of women” material has popped up all over the media, so it attracts public attention. For example, the famous coffee brand, Starbucks, advertised its “Happy Hour” event with the phrase “oh, molrang” which discriminates against women. This was really serious because Starbucks is a worldwide famous corporation that has the power to move people. Also, some music songs like “that men” and “I dashed..” music by singer Bro criticizes women and backs the resentment towards women. Viewing advertisements and hearing such music, people are likely to be influenced. Many people are then unaware of their unconscious “hated of women” attitude and are more likely to accept the state and phenomenon. Therefore, people have come to accept this hated of women as common everyday emotion.
Lastly, the "hated of women" phenomenon has led to other social conflicts. As the attitude grows in society, the number of women who hate men has increased making men more confrontational to women. They make use of terms like “Kimchi men” to criticize the opposite and ridicule men who express disgust towards women who claim men are inferior to women. On a female group webpage, women constantly express their hatred of men using methods that men once used to attack women. The site became a battleground in the war of women against men. This constant war breaks up unity in society and the genders no longer work together to solve problems.
Need to Operate Like a Magnet, Bonding North and South
To solve the “hated of women” phenomenon, above all, university action is needed. Proper gender equality education needs promoting. The programs should highlight not only woman rights but also men’s rights and teach students that the genders are not at war, but need each other for society to operate smoothly. Also, more gender equality committees are needed to teach about respect for the opposite gender rather than female student councils only concentrating on women’s right. Moreover, gender equality committees must address all gender problems and aim at peaceful coexistence between women and men. Gim Seonguk, Chung-ang University’s Gender Equality Committee vice-chairperson, said, “A Gender Equality Committee must take charge in the stabilizing the proper gender equality culture. Our committee is progressive in that we read and discuss books.” 5 Also, university students ought to recognize the seriousness of the “hated of women” attitude. They need to know it’s not “fun” to criticize women on the internet or even in daily life. Students need to look at this social phenomenon more seriously and put pressure on corporations to make changes. Recently, a series of hand written-posters about “Kimchi women” were posted on the bulletin boards at Korea University. The posters contained content like “Do you really like to be called a Kimchi Women?” Poster creator said, “No women in Korea are free of the title kimchi woman. I am trying to promote self-censorship and the realization that this “hated of women” attitude is simply not appropriate in society.”6 The movement is surely to make students seriously ponder the phenomenon, not only at university but also out in the rest of society. Lastly, society needs to act now to stop this “hated of women” phenomenon. First, people must stop diminishing women in adverts as the means of attracting the public eye. Also, women should never be depicted as toys for men on media, and society needs to understand that the “hated of women” attitude is neither art nor humor. As soon as someone is caught expressing hatred of women on a broadcast media, the director and manager need to warn the person and remove the person from the role (s)he plays on the program. On the program, Show me the money, a contestant sang a song that contained lyrics about a sexual act. However, the production crew broadcasted the performance to TV views because it felt the performance didn`t have to be needed for rap battle. Later, it decided not to broadcast this part of the show. By letting the uncut version air on TV, the station might have gotten higher ratings and more viewer recognition. However, the crew showed appropriate ethical behaviour by releasing the cut version. This is a good example of how to reduce discrimination against women in society.
The Perfect Magnet, Working Perfectly
Bae Eungyeong, Professor of Department of Sociology in Seoul National University said, “The attitude todays shows how Korea considers men the centre of society with acceptance of “hated of women” comments as unremarkable.”7 Koreans need to address the problem and not treat it as a running joke. Only by pointing out problems can society move forward to curing the “hated of women” attitude in Korean society. The problem is here to stay, so students at women universities need to lead the way on the path to solving the problem. Students who realise that “hated of women” expressed in any form is unacceptable and needs addressing are campaigning for a better and just society, not only for women, but also men. Also, society needs to understand that “hated of men” is not a productive argument and will not lead to any solutions. There is no need to encourage “hated of men” and follow the old adage ‘eye for an eye, ’ but make a cooperative effort to end this social conflict. Students can lead the movement against this “hated of women” in Korean society and become understanding of all genders.
1 Jo Sohui, “Why do 2030 Men Become to Hate Women?” Busannews, July 4, 2015
2 Yang Seungjun, "Without Hesitate... Infection Disease," Hankooknews, May 28, 2015
3 Gim Hyojeong, “Why do Korean Men Hate Women...?” ChosunNews, March 6, 2014
4 See Footnote 2
5 Son Hyeongyeong, “At University, ... Women Body Sink,” HanKooknews, October 16, 2014
6 Oh Jeonghun, “Are You Ok? Time of ‘Hatred to Women’,” Kookmin News, January 16, 2014
7 Choe Hunjin, “The Problem of Accepting Society’s “Hated for Women,” Seoul News, July 16, 2015