A movement is underway in South Korea. It has been going since well before #MeToo burst onto the scene in 2017, and is still going strong. We explore the reciprocal nature of local and global feminist movements, how each fans the flames of the other, and what started it all in South Korea.
In 2016, a woman was murdered in a subway station toilet in Gangnam, Seoul, for no other reason than the fact that she was a woman. This sparked unprecedented protests in South Korea, affording women the opportunity to express their collective outrage at Korean patriarchal society – an opportunity they had never had before.
Despite having a highly developed economy, larger than that of Australia, Korea ranks terribly for gender equality. It is 118th in the world, sandwiched between Tunisia and The Gambia. It also has one of the highest gender-based wage gaps in the world.
One year after the anonymous woman’s brutal murder, #MeToo kicked off in the United States. One Korean academic speaks of a ‘global union’ forming around the world. It is much easier now to connect disparate protest movements in far-flung countries. #MeToo couldn’t have happened without the precedent set by other movements, but in turn, it has reinvigorated protestors around the world, and renewed their sense of purpose.
The protests in South Korea now mainly focus on the problem of hidden camera pornography, which has swept the country in recent years. Men threaten the campaigners and organisers, posting online threats to attack them with acid. But they protest regardless. For more info on feminism in Korea, head to Vox.